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December 5, 2014

John Calipari

Texas – 51
Kentucky – 63


Q.  Can you speak to Willie's play tonight, especially against a team that big?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, he was ridiculous today.  Just so you know, at halftime he played so well, I called he and Marcus in, and I said, Marcus, you're his backup today.  When he wants to come out you can come in.  If he doesn't want to come out, you are not going to play a whole lot today.  He's too good.  And Willie said, hey, just be ready for me, but I'm going to try to go blow this out, and that's what he did.  And I told my team, I'll do that with other guys, too.  Somebody else is playing so well, Alex or Trey or Devin or Tyler or Andrew or Aaron, I mean, what happened today is our guards shot 4 for 27, and we won and got out‑rebounded by 12 and won.  What?  How in the world did we‑‑ but we were making threes, 1 out of 12.  (Laughter).
What just happened?
Ricky B was great after the game.  He looked at me and said, that was a big boys' game, and it certainly was a big boys' game.  They're good right now, but when they get that guard back that's out, they're legitimately‑‑ we could be seeing them hopefully right down the last game, it's us and them.  It could be that.  I hope we're good enough to be that, but I see them being that kind of team.
Defensively both teams‑‑ that was ridiculous.  It's hard to get a pass‑‑ just a rebound, and‑‑

Q.  Just to follow up on that, Ricky B said that this game was like an argument for a wider NBA lane to give everybody some room.
JOHN CALIPARI:  Oh, it was ridiculous.  And then the bodies are so big.  I mean, you had so many big people on the floor at one time.  I mean, I looked at Holmes before the game, because usually they'll say someone is 6'8", and then he comes in the game, how big is he?  6'6".  He came out at the warm‑ups, and I'm like, holy geez, he looks 6'10".  So you've got him, you've got the other big, Lammert, they're huge.  And then they come off the bench with two big guys.  They're big.  And neither of our guards played as well as hopefully they'll play.  My four guards did not.  We did all right.  I mean, I was really‑‑ Andrew showed the courage that I know he has, which is why I put him in at the tend, and I told him, you're going to make the play, you're the veteran, make a play.  He made that three in the corner that was huge that gave us some breathing room.

Q.  You said yesterday the best thing that could happen to you guys is they come right out and punch you in the mouth‑‑
JOHN CALIPARI:  Yeah, but what I wanted is we come out and play great defense and someone makes 10 straight shots and we're doing everything right, and we come down and we go 2 for 10 and we're getting great looks.  And I want to see if you can continue to play, continue to have fun, continue to fight, you know, and again, please don't think that I got away from platoons.  I didn't.  Just Willie played so well, we had some foul trouble, someone plays well you kind of slide them in on another platoon.  I'm coaching the way‑‑ I talked to Marcus Lee after.  He said, Coach, I'm good, Willie was so good today, I accept it.  I know how good he is.

Q.  You may not take much out of it, but from a rankings standpoint you've beaten the two best teams in the Big 12 this year.  Do you take anything out of that?
JOHN CALIPARI:  No.  No, they're both really good teams.  We've got one on a neutral site and one at home.  We didn't have to play them on their court.  But they're both good teams.  We're a good team.
I mean, the thing‑‑ if we can figure out offensively what we had to do, and that's on me, that's not on these kids, we're still at about 50, 60 percent where we need to be offensively.  So I've got to really do a better job of evaluating how we're playing, if it's the right way.  I've got to look at the shots we had.  When we missed these 12 threes, were they good threes that we just missed or were they bad shots?  I don't know, I'll have to watch the tape.
But the greatest thing is it's December whatever it is, and we've got‑‑ our team is not nearly what it can be.  We're just not.

Q.  You've had a team in the past statistically be the No.1 defensive team in the country, another one that was ranked second statistically in the country.  Is this one your best?
JOHN CALIPARI:  This is the longest team.  What was my other one?

Q.  '09 was ranked No.1, defensive efficiency, '08 was No.2 in the country in defensive efficiency.
JOHN CALIPARI:  What about 2012?

Q.  Maybe top six, seven I remember.
JOHN CALIPARI:  Ooh.  That team was really good.  No, we're big, and we're long.  I was happy Alex played well.  We need Alex to really give us something, and I thought he did.  He's got‑‑ I keep telling these guys, in these situations, if we're a world‑class team, you have a ball.  You love it.  You're having fun with it.  Even if you're not playing well or we're not playing well, you figure it out and you keep enjoying it.  That's what I'm talking about to these guys.

Q.  We've seen some games where Willie just struggled against teams like this, physical, teams like this.  What's the difference now?
JOHN CALIPARI:  He's older, more mature.  The biggest thing I'm working on him with our people and Kenny is he's got to come to wide bases when he comes to a stop.  When his feet are really close, he's just got no balance and he just flops around.  When he comes to that wide base, he's seven‑foot and he just jumps over the guy.  He reaches up, literally he's shooting the ball and he's above the square shooting down.  The other thing is I like the fact that he made free throws today.  I liked the fact that he's not afraid to shoot the ball in the middle.  How about Dakari shooting that 15‑footer?  I want these guys to work on their games and then go do it in the game.  We've got guys in the gym at night spending time, extra time, and again, one of the strengths of the team are our guards.  Andrew and Aaron, what they did last year, what they're doing now, and now Tyler and Devin, and they didn't make a shot today.  4 for 27.  You think about that.

Q.  I'm confused as to how you said you didn't abandon platoons.  You subbed 2, 3, this guy, that guy, you played Willie 33, Marcus 4.
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, what I'm doing is I'm coaching to win a game.  We platoon, someone gets in foul trouble, I'm still platooning but there's a different guy in the platoon.  I subbed even in the second half, I went and put Devin and Tyler and all those guys in, and I went back with the other guys, but only three of them went in because the other guys were in foul trouble.  I don't know what you call that.  Plateens?  I don't know what you call it.  (Laughter).
But I'm not abandoning‑‑ what I'm doing is I'm making this about these guys.  Now, the only guy that got left out was Marcus Lee.  He got left out for a reason, which we talked about.  And I told the other players, if you're watching a player that's splitting minutes with you and he's not bringing it, go sub him out.  Tell him, I'm splitting minutes with you.  You've got to respect that.  You've got to come and play.  It doesn't mean you have to be great.  It doesn't mean you have to make shots.  It means you're going to bring energy.  Someone inside there grabbed me and said the energy that your team plays with for 40, and it's not that we're pressing.
And this guy, Rick is a terrific coach.  Do you know what he did at the end of the first half?  All you Basketball Bennies that were watching the game?  He spread the court and did what?  Just tried to beat us on the dribble.  That's all he did.  He said, just drive them, because we spread out too much, and that's why in the second half we backed up a little bit, so we weren't spread, going nuts 35 feet out.
But it's something that we've got to work on and think about what we're doing, but I loved our post defense.  I loved that we were switching different things, that we were playing guys, driving, rotating, cracking back.  We did a lot of good things.  Defensively we're at about 70 percent.  Offensively we're at about 50 percent, which is a good thing because I want this team to get better.

Q.  When the lead was down to five and you called time within 1:37 to go and you went to Willie, I don't know if that was intentional, but what should we draw from seeking a clutch guy in a clutch situation?
JOHN CALIPARI:  You know, what we were doing is we were running an offense that it didn't matter who's making the play.  What I like is Willie wanted to make the play.  See, guys that make those clutch or game winners are not afraid to miss the game winner.  Now, if I see a guy in that situation have a play that he can make and he won't make the play because he just‑‑ well, you're out.  You can't be afraid to make the play.  Well, I haven't made a shot all game.  Well, then you shouldn't be in that if that's how you're thinking.  So you haven't made a shot all day.  Just make that one to win the game, and then you walk off and they say, boy, he played great.  What are you talking about?  That's the only shot he made.  But that's the mentality we've got to be in.  Everybody is going to come after us.  It's everybody's Super Bowl.  The beginning of that game was vicious.  Arms flying, bodies flying, hips flying, dudes driving right at people, and us too.  We were all doing the same thing.
I thought they kind of‑‑ it was a dogfight, and their dogs were bigger in the first half.  Let me just put it that way.

Q.  Do you have any thoughts on Eastern, Cal?
JOHN CALIPARI:  I haven't watched any tape on Eastern, but I'm going to tonight or tomorrow, probably tomorrow, and I know they shoot 30 threes a game.  I know they have five guys that they play Princeton, and their 5 man is like a 3.  They shoot 30 three‑point shots a game.  They've beaten some good people.  They've lost to BYU and somebody else.  They're on the radar, but I have not watched any tape.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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