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December 26, 2015

John Calipari

Lexington, Kentucky

Kentucky - 75, Louisville - 73

COACH CALIPARI: We spent two days doing all kind of drills to just loosen them up offensively. Let them shoot 3s in transition, getting back to how we play. We did a lot of screening in the last two, three days.

I really believe having Christmas off for these guys was great. Cleared the mind. Let's come back and let's do this and I've done that every year since I've coached. Part of it is for them, the other part is I like spending time with my on family.

But when we came back, we zeroed in on those areas and I thought it helped us today. But Louisville is a good team. They're well coached. Those guards are really, really good. The big kid, they were throwing it in and he scored on us. 10 rebounds, they out-rebounded us by 10 rebounds. We missed some free throws down the stretch and we had a chance to do some things, but it was a good ball game.

Q. Did you see the weakness in the zone for Alex in the first half? It looked like he really spurred the team from there on out?
COACH CALIPARI: We put Alex in the middle and told him to attack. That's what he did. Then I love the fact that Tyler just threw him the ball down low and he posted and he was -- Alex is an elite athlete. Be that guy. Just play. Be that guy. Did you see the block he had coming down in front of our bench? It was ridiculous. Only Superman can make that play. And he made it.

So, again, we're still coming along. Skal, I wanted to leave him in the game. That one rebound he could not bring in. We got to win the game. I told him, you're getting better, you're way better, let's just keep this going and see what happens.

Q. Can you talk about putting Alex on Lee on that last possession for Louisville.
COACH CALIPARI: It was a switch. They switched out. That's what happened. We were just -- we told them to, if he comes off, just someone else take him. We were going to -- as a matter of fact, the goofy coaches, we were thinking about trapping a pick and roll. So thank God they didn't pick and roll because someone would have made a three and we would have lost by one.

But I just didn't want to sit there and let them dictate what was going to happen. So, if they had gone pick and roll, we were trapping.

Q. Talk about the importance of Dominique's offense other than when he passed up that last shot, but the shots that he made --
COACH CALIPARI: I had a flash back. What was the flash back to? What game? Oh my gosh -- how do you remember all this? And then what happened? The other guy came down and banged a three and we lose by one. Why do you bring that up?

He played good. He played good. We got to get Jamal, Jamal's got to try to make easy plays. He's still trying to make the most difficult play. But he's going to be fine. He made threes that really broke up open the game. He's a great free throw shooter who went 3-6. So his numbers -- the turnovers, a lot of the stuff he tried to go all the way into the middle of the lane before he passed. He really didn't need to. And it's stuff that just we got to show him on tape and correct and that.

But it's great win for this group. But they do know this is who we have to be and how we have to play. That kind of energy, that kind of aggressiveness, that kind of attack, that kind of loose offensive, how we played. And again, that's against a really good team. That team, Louisville's going to do damage and I don't know how we'll finish, but they will be one of those teams left standing. We may have them again.

Q. What did you think of the atmosphere tonight, especially at the end of the first half after the technical foul on y'all?
COACH CALIPARI: No, this is Rupp Arena. I don't even -- this is what Rupp Arena is. I just look up, I think it's 2:22, to make sure there's people in those upper deck seats and there are. They're packed in there. So we're good.

Q. How did you see -- what did you see that was different about Tyler today. It seemed like finally whatever's been bothering him, whether it's elbow or something else, he shook it off and also why was he taking the ball out so much?
COACH CALIPARI: Because I knew he would get it in. And then we could get it back to them. The way they play, that guy, you can throw it back to him. So, they didn't -- even when they put a guy on the ball, that guy usually is trying to trap. So, that's why we did it.

But like I said, we got -- I'm giving them two days off. They got the rest of today off. And they got tomorrow, we're going to have dinner and watch the tape at my house. And then we start up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and we're going, two, three a days. We're going every -- just throw your phones out, throw your computers out, because it's on. We have to get better.

And what we're going to do -- I mean, I did two things. I'm mad at myself. The three-point shooting stuff I should have done all year. It should have been who we were. I should have known we were struggling shooting threes. You got to free up their minds.

And the second thing was screening and making Skal screen. I'm telling you, Ty screens, like he screens. He screens. His man, your man, and your the guy coming off, y'all get screened. And Isaac is the same.

So, now we're doing a better job. Alex did a better job. Alex is in a great frame of mind. You have it to understand, before the Ohio State game he didn't practice for four straight days. I could have told you what was going to happen in that game to him. I could have told you. And I told him. You were injured, you had to take the days off, but that's who you are. When you take days off, you come back, that's what you look like. He's practiced, when we came back and he went hard and he's really proud -- I'm really proud of him.

Q. What have you done or how have you talked to Tyler about his leadership style in terms of what players he might be able to go harder on, who he might need to kind of cajole?
COACH CALIPARI: I let him figure it out because they're in that lodge together. They know who they can get on. And my staff's saying I'm too hard on Skal, and I need to back up. But I said, you know, I talked to the team about it and the reason is, if I'm going to be hard on Derek Willis, and I'm going to be hard on Dom, if I'm not hard on Skal, they got to know why. Maybe he can't handle it as much. You know what I'm saying? He's growing, the growing pains of this. And that was my staff. So I still kill them today, but.

This is a work in progress. We're -- it's funny, we walked in, no Isaiah. What? What happened?

He stepped on a foot. What?

Where? On the way into the building.


And then we got to figure it out.

But this guy, that may have brought us together, who knows. It may have helped us.

Q. You're saying he got hurt not in the pre-game warmups, but --
COACH CALIPARI: He did, he stepped on somebody's foot. I wasn't out there.

Q. So is it a twisted ankle?
COACH CALIPARI: I guess. He'll probably go X-ray it.

Q. Tyler played almost 40 minutes. Is he just a superior conditioned athlete or he plays through that fatigue or how is he able to do that?
COACH CALIPARI: He was cramping up. I was just trying to get out of the game. That's all I was trying to do. One of the things that I saw, these, the players at Louisville were playing 29 minutes a game -- and not the Michigan State game. That game they played 39 and 37 -- and so I said, if they're not subbing theirs, I'm not subbing mine. They're not in better shape than us. So he didn't sub his, I'm not subbing mine. Now, you know, I thought Jamal tired out a little bit. I thought Dom really fought. But Tyler figured it out. With a minute to go, whatever it was, he was cramping, I said, can you get through this? He said, I got this.

Q. I think I remember you saying Isaiah's one of the toughest the grittiest guys you got.
COACH CALIPARI: I was surprised he didn't play. But I walked in, I said, are you going to give it a try? He said, let me go out there. They came back in and said, he doesn't want to start. I looked at him and I said, do you think you're going to play the second half? He said, I don't think so. Then I had no intention of playing him after he said, I don't think so.

Q. I wonder what you think about how much grit you guys showed without him?
COACH CALIPARI: Let me -- the one thing is, I hope he didn't get Wally Pipped. Decide to take a day off and all of a sudden -- who is the player? Lou Gehrig. Well, he's saying it's Dom. No, I don't think Dom can hit a baseball. But you know -- I'm teasing him. He knows. He's a fighter. Now what he'll do is he'll come back and kill people next week, if his ankle is healthy. Because that's how he is. The other one, I wanted to play Derek more. I think Derek gives us another threat. We can space the court. You must play him. You can't say, like Ohio State, just don't go guard the guy. No, this, you know you have to go play him. But he's got to rebound. And there were two or three big huge rebounds that we could have got the game to 16 or 18 and put it away. And he just didn't get the ball. Like I said, that's what we're working on with him. But I'm proud of him and what he did. That three he hit at the end of the half was huge. It really started shifting the momentum of the game.

Q. Third time let's try on Dominique. Forgetting about the flashbacks of what he passed up, talk about his game. He hits huge shots, it's a career high, the lift he gave the crowd went crazy.
COACH CALIPARI: Never changed his emotion the whole time. He defended, he'll fight like crazy, he's got a great temperament, a great demeanor. One of the great kids of all time. I mean literally one of the great kids. He's kind of like Alex, you want him to do so well, but they got to do it. You can't do it for them, you could wish it, you could hope it, you could say that's the guy you really want to make it. But they got to go do it. They got to go fight. Telling them -- part of our issue, and I said this, is our -- we needed enthusiasm and I thought we had it today and we had it for two days in practice. I demanded it. But it's kind of like we're saying, we're throwing you a life raft, but you got to swim. Like, you got to swim. And I said, and all you guys on the boat that threw the life raft, you got to say, swim. Come on, baby, you can do it. There's a shark behind you. Swim. Or you could sit on the boat and look around at each other and say, do you see that shark behind him? The shark's going to get his leg. You watch this. Watch this. Watch it. The enthusiasm that we need for each other -- and that's the story I told them -- they think I'm crazy. But enthusiasm matters. Fight matters. Obviously you got to have a skilled team and good players and I think we do, but.

Q. That makes Tyler Ulis Michael Phelps. Take us through that, the deep three he hit when the shot clock running down and he's out by the logo.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, courage. Courage. He's not afraid to miss. I've said to all these guys, the guys that make game winners or make big plays that are like just the knife in the back, they're not afraid to miss that shot. The guy that's afraid to miss it will ball fake it and take a tough one. That I was trying to draw a foul. No, you weren't. No, you weren't. You did not want to take that open shot, so you ball faked, you drove and you threw a lefty up and then look like I got fouled. The guy -- I had Sam Cassell. That's when I said, Sam, you, like you like throw daggers, what is it? He said, I'm not afraid to miss. If I miss, I go to the next game and I'll try to throw a dagger next game. If I miss that one, I know eventually I'm going to make it, because I'm not afraid to miss it. And that's Tyler.

Q. Jamal had the big second half against Ohio State and then struggled today. Alex I think you said struggled, then big game today. How much going into each game are you kind of looking to see what am I going to get today how am I going to handle it?
COACH CALIPARI: No, I'm not. I'm trying to get them to play the way I'm asking them to play. If I'm getting that they don't have to make every shot. It's like I told Derek, he missed that three in front of our bench, I don't care about that. It was the rebound you didn't get the play before that cost us a basket and one. I can't leave you in the game. Like if you rebound the ball, you can miss a shot. It's even. Even Steven. But, you don't get the rebound, and you miss the shot, and you get beat on defense, I can't leave you in. Oh, he takes him out. No, I'm trying to win. You won't believe this. We're trying to win the game.

So they understand it. And I told them and he's, he's doing great. He's practicing good. I would like him to be our stretch four. I like him to be Alex's sub. I would like Skal or one of those bigs to be Marcus Lee's sub. I would like Dom, Charles Matthews, to be that guard sub. That's who I would like. But they got to do it. They got to earn it.

Q. Speaking of enthusiasm, your kids did respond, could have been a coincidence after the T, what was going well for you in that stretch when you built that big lead?
COACH CALIPARI: I think he got a T, too, didn't he? Mine was not deserved. His probably was deserved. I don't know. I'll watch the tape. Merry Christmas, everybody.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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