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February 21, 2015

John Calipari


Q.  You talked about‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, he's getting in the lane.  He doesn't have a choice.  If he doesn't get in the lane and he's not attacking, I'm taking him out and he knows that.  And he's starting to find out, wow, I'm really big, I'm really strong and I'm really skilled.
Aaron did the same today.  Instead of sending them all jumpers, you saw him get in the lane and create shots for us and for himself.  That's what those two‑‑ that's the difference, they are 6‑6.  They are big.  They don't have to settle.  They don't have to play slowly.
I think defensively, it's the same thing.  I thought Karl and Dakari were outstanding today.  The other guys all played pretty well but those two stood out.  Willie was okay.  I know, you look, he's 4‑for‑4 and four rebounds, but he played 20 minutes.  He could have in my opinion done more.  But, you know, it was a good start to the game.

Q.  As good as Anthony was, the minute he got here, we watched him get better and better over the course of the year.  Does what Karl is doing remind you of that?
COACH CALIPARI:  I sat him down at the end.  I said, you're making strides.  Now he had an offensive push off because he didn't want to sit down.
You have to understand, he's physically not near what he's going to be like in two or three years.  He is an 18‑year‑old body physically.  So there are times he tried to do everything up here which leads to offensive fouls.  There were a couple defensive breakdowns he had but the reality of it, he's starting to be the best version of himself but all of them were.
And that's all I've been talking about.  Let's not worry about all this clutter.  Everybody's talking about this, that and the other.  Let's just be the best we can be.  They are looking after each other.  There are 25 assists.  There are six guys in double figures.  You know, two other guys with nine, Trey and Willie.
So it's what we want to be.  And, you know, we scored a lot, made a lot more shots than we normally do, but they also did.  They made 11 threes.  That's one of the things everybody says, to beat us, you've got to make threes.  Well, they made 11.  I think Mississippi made 12.  Maybe that's not the answer‑‑ I don't know, maybe it is.
But we've had teams out‑rebound us.  But when‑‑ and again, we had a couple guys, I think Devin had four turnovers, probably had three or four too many turnovers, but in a game that fast, you're going to have a few extra.

Q.  You had talked about reestablishing dominance in the paint.  How well do you think you guys did that?
COACH CALIPARI:  Did good.  What happens is it forces them to make choices.  So are they going to try to front the post?  Are they going to try to trap?  If they do trap, are they trapping from a big guy?  Are they trapping from a guard?  Are they just going to dig.
And then we had to play off of it, and we played well off of it.  We kicked it out for threes.  We kicked it out for drives.  We posted the ball when the court was spread.  Dakari, instead of slowly‑‑ he was do you know when he caught it, so he could just raise up and shoot the ball.  He rebounded and kept the ball above his head.  And I thought Karl was doing the same things.

Q.  When you got here, this program was not in good condition obviously.  Three Final Fours in five years, top recruiting classes every year, playing like tonight, how have you gotten this done?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, first of all, you've got to have a lot of family lies have trust that we have their child and give us that opportunity to coach him and help him reach their dreams.  Their dreams become our dreams.  We sit on the same side of the table as them.
And then the second thing is, when they get here, they have got to know we are about them, because there's no way they will share.  I don't care what you're in, what business you're in, team, program, us, we're going to do this‑‑ everyone within that organization is going to want to know, what's in it for me.  I'll do all this, but what's in it for me.
Well, these kids know what's in it for them.  I think that trust is a big part of it.
And then, you know, we've got an administration here that understands that these kids have done well academically.  They make us proud in our community.  They leave us and make us proud.  And the other communities, they have learned servant leadership, and if we have a turnover and every once in a while have a bad year, at NIT lose to Robert Morris, it's going to happen when you have this kind of turnover.
Now would I rather coach kids for four years?  Yeah, it would be better for me.  I don't think it would be better for them to stay four years.  But I would say, if you asked me, it starts with family lies, and I said‑‑ we went, after that first year, when I figured out what in the world do we have here, the first year, went from the business of basketball to the business of helping family lies, and then it all took off because we made it about them.

Q.  How important was it for your defense to stop Arvin's top three scorers‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  The whole idea was you've got to be on these three.  They can score, and they can score in bunches, and they did.  I mean, Mason had 29; could have had more.  Harrell had 17.  Those two can play with anybody in our league.  And when they felt that kid get baskets and they got into a comfort level, they made shots.
If you didn't guard them, they were going to make shots.  I watched them against Mississippi, had them beat.  They beat LSU.  I watched all their tapes.  They have been in every game they played and had a chance to win every game until this one.
We got 'em pretty good today.  They hit us on a tough day.  We were working on all cylinders and really guarding, but it was‑‑ Marcus Lee gets six, so basically the nine guys that are playing all got six or more, crazy, 25 assists, crazy.
Wait a minute, why aren't they playing for themselves?  They are playing for each other.  They all got each other's back, and the reason they can do that is because they know we have their back individually.  I got you; just be about each other.  And it's been fun.

Q.  Was this closer to Michigan, Marcus Lee?
COACH CALIPARI:  He did some good stuff.  He did some good stuff.  I'm proud of him.  He's getting better.  How about Willie making jumpers.  He's in the gym working.  Shoot him in the game.  Trying to get Trey to catch and shoot more, one‑dribble pull‑ups, that's what he is.
But you know, like I said, this is a good team.  Now we've got to go on the road.  We say, oohh, it's Mississippi State.  Really?  They had Arkansas down by half and lose by four.  They had Mississippi down ten in the first half.  End up losing by six, I believe.
Now we're coming to town.  Do you think it will be a tee shirt day?  A white‑out, a maroon‑out‑‑ it's going to be something, blackout, something.  So we have got a another tough one coming up.

Q.  When you talk about the 25 assists and Andrew has nine of them, when he's distributing the ball, how contagious is it ‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  It's not distributing.  He's attacking and getting in the lane.  He's getting in the lane.  When he gets in the lane, because one, he can make shots, he can make free throws and he's a great passer.  He plays on instinct.  He's unbelievable.  I want and he his brother to do it more.  If they don't attack; if they jog it up or they catch it and hold the ball, I'm taking them out.
I don't even care if they turn it over some, and I told them that.  You're going to turn it over some playing that way, I'm good with that.  Just attack.  Be in that mode.  If they totally back off, shoot it.  Play.  I don't want to run a whole lot of plays.  We've got good enough players.

Q.  How have you evolved since you got here and how has it affected your program?
COACH CALIPARI:  Probably the same how I've been my whole life‑‑ did they beat that?  That's what I've been told, anyway.

Q.  As a person or a coach‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  If you watched me, would you say I'm more calm during the games than I've been?  I don't think so.
You know, as much as winning matters and championships and all that, at this stage of my career, the greatest day you have is you're in that Green Room.  You're at the All‑Star Game.  You were in those homes.  You saw all that.  And what happens is, the way this has played out, they drag us where we want to go:  Our fans, the Big Blue Nation.
As long as we keep after looking after them, they just drag us.  Like when you make life about everybody else, it kind of gets easier, and this has gotten a little bit easier.  Even though we have our days, but I have a job that when I walk in a home, kids only know three years, folks.  They don't know ten years.  They don't know '96, they don't know '98, they don't know 2005.  They are barely remembering 2010.  They remember three years.
Their parents, on the other hand, remember the last 20 years.  So we've kind of got it good both ways, and it's a big advantage.

Q.  You've been saying all year, it's November, I want us to look like a November team, not a March team.  It's February 21.  When do they need to‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  Do you know what we looked like last February 21?

Q.  I do.  Oh, yeah.
COACH CALIPARI:  We looked like it was November 1.  Do you remember that.

Q.  Yeah, I remember.
COACH CALIPARI:  See, it's like everybody saying, we're this and that‑‑ it was just a year ago that we were on the cusp and if we would have lost the opening game to LSU, we would not have been in the NCAA Tournament.  Oh, they can say, oh, you're just saying it.  We wouldn't have been in.  Gave them an excuse to keep us out.
By winning those games and getting to the Finals and then we got a beautiful 8‑seed, then we turned it around.  But it was late February, we weren't very good.
Now, last year at this time, we were practicing three hours a day.  They got one day a week off only because I was forced by the rules to give them one day a week off.  Now, we're going two days off a week, and the most the day before a game is an hour and 15 and the middle practice is an hour 45, and they are getting two days off.
That's the difference.  I trust them.  I trust giving them time.  I know they have believe in one another.  I couldn't do it last year.  We started five freshman, there's no way.  And I had never practiced like that‑‑ we have coaches that do that.  They practice three and a half hours late in the year and they still win, that's fine.  I've not done it that way.  But last year I did.  Last question.

Q.  Tony Niely told us that your home record is now 100 wins, four losses.  How does that record strike you?
COACH CALIPARI:  Who are the four losses?

Q.  Baylor was one‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  Go ahead, you know them all.  Take them.  Take us out.  Take us down.

Q.  Arkansas‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  Who is coming to town.  They know they can beat us.  Who was the other one?

Q.  Florida.
COACH CALIPARI:  Florida beat us.  A&M beat us.  A&M, the kid had 50.  The stupid coach didn't double‑team him and he got 50 on us.
No, this is a hard place for an opponent to come and play.  But please, I think every coach here that's coached here, his home record has been almost, if it's not been‑‑ I don't know what Coach Rupp's record is here, but I bet if you looked at Coach Hall and Coach Patino and look at all their records, their records were 80 percent, 90 percent here.  I mean, this is a tough building to play.  We've been fortunate.  We've had really good players but we've been fortunate.
That means I'm done.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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