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January 3, 2011

John Calipari


Q. In the first half it seemed like you couldn't buy a basket. Was that their startling defense or do you think a little of a hangover?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you've got to give them credit for how they played in the first half. They controlled the whole half. We were lucky we were not down ten at halftime.
We made a couple baskets right at the half -- we were down 12 with four minutes to go in the half. They were executing, making shots and we were not being aggressive enough going after balls. They were just doing whatever they wanted and they were comfortable.
You know, that kid, Tyler, was unbelievable. He was making everything.
So in the second half, you know, when we got it close, we just said, hey, we got it to five we just got lazy. We stopped and I said that's it, and then we went and got it up to 12, 14.
But they had a good game plan. They tried to force us to the baseline. Wherever we caught it, they were forcing us that way. When teams do that, you get seven-footers, you just sort of drive that way, and not many teams have played us that gives us that length and that layup. But it was good, because it kind of got us a little bit. In the second half, I think we settled in a little bit and really made shots.

Q. Do you subscribe at all to the last four minutes of the first half, first four minutes of the second half?
COACH CALIPARI: Oh, yeah, it's important. But you think about it, we had it. We were up seven ready to go; up five ready to go; and we played great defense, and one guy stops, and the ball is thrown into halfcourt and our guy walks and they give it to their guy. And you know they are getting a three now. Our guy could have stolen that ball and we could have been up seven.
You know, it's just the importance of every possession, we don't get yet. And young kids don't. Inexperienced players don't.
Really pleased with Josh again tonight. Pleased with DeAndre's effort; not shooting the ball as well as he had been. Brandon Knight running the team, and Doron making shots again. Doron offensively really gives us a lift; 12 turnovers and playing as fast as we are is pretty good stuff for a young team and for an inexperienced team.

Q. There was a stretch in the second half where you got three straight blocks on the basket and got three straight threes in a row, talk about that stretch that broke the game open.
COACH CALIPARI: Again that's all effort and hustle plays. You want us to play like that all the time. And I know I'm asking a lot. I'm asking guys to come every game ready to go and ready to battle.
But I think if you demand a lot, you get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, you're going to get it every single time. If you accept what they want to give you, that's what they are giving and you so my career has been about, I'm not accepting anything but your best.
I don't care how old you are, if you're 18 or 24, doesn't matter to me, and so you know, we had guys, they stepped it up in the second half. They just stepped on the gas. But I'm telling you, if we played in a league game and did this, we're down 15 at the half and it's a struggle now. You know, the other team, you know, they are going to grind it a little bit more and make us make chances; and they keep making shots, you lose the game. I mean, that's the lesson of this game.

Q. You've got some of the nicest suits and the great fashion sense; do you talk to your players about how they should dress and look?
COACH CALIPARI: No. They wouldn't listen to me. They get mad because I pull my pants up.

Q. How much has Josh Harrellson benefitted from practicing with Enis (ph) every day?
COACH CALIPARI: It's helped him but what's helped him is he's changed habits. He's conditioning 40 minutes before practice. He goes out and does full-body conditioning. Goes in the locker room, lays around for about 15 minutes, tries to get his mind back, and then he goes out and practices for two hours.
And that's what's changed him, nothing else. His habits have changed, and he's building his own self-esteem because he's performing in games. You can do whatever you want in practice. You walk in that game and you can't demonstrate performance, you're not going to build self-esteem and confidence. Walk in there and turn it over and get rebounded on or get scored on twice, I don't care what you do in practice, you could do it against Michael Jordan, does not matter. Got to do it in the game, and he's performing in games right now.

Q. Obviously in the first half, they made a lot of threes, and then the second half they couldn't even get them off. But what changed there?
COACH CALIPARI: Subbed some guys. Subbed some players. It only takes one guy breaking down. The first half, we left corners, which we never do. We just left guys in corners. We don't leave corner shooters. We come from the weak side to block and we stun off-court. We don't leave corners. But we gave them I think four first-half looks in the corner with no one on; we left them, and I was going bananas. Like, I cannot believe we are doing this.
And I thought the second half, they did a better job. But you've got to give Penn credit. I mean, they game in with a game plan and they executed. If we didn't have that run at halftime, they may have beaten us.

Q. You talk about that play at halfcourt where somebody quits on the ball and they get a three out of it. You said yesterday that your will is stronger than Terrence's; is he testing that?
COACH CALIPARI: No. It's just habits and he's got to know what's acceptable and what's not acceptable, just like Josh does and just like Eloy does.
Eloy went over in the first half and played pretty well. Did some good things. Second half, I put him in, the first ball that comes out, there's no one near him and he one-hands it. That's what we are talking about -- one hand, unacceptable, you're out. That's an error that we talk about a thousand times a practice. We do everything with two hands. If your habit is that bad, you'd better change it or you're coming out.
So there are those kind of things. It's not like everybody makes a mistake. That is not the kind of a mistake that's a good mistake. You know, there's things that you're going to do as a young player.
But again, you look at Josh, he's going after every ball with two hands. Look at him; every ball with two hands, and he's leading our league in rebounding. Josh Harrellson is leading our league in rebounding, because he's changed his habit and he's going after every ball with two hands. I've got to get Eloy doing the same, just got to get him doing the same thing.

Q. Darius has had --
COACH CALIPARI: Darius played great in the second half.

Q. Are you getting the sense that he's starting to get that consistent type of form?
COACH CALIPARI: No, because in the first half he didn't go after any balls and he just was flopping around on the court. Boom, next guy, here we go.
So second half, he went in and he played. Did all of the stuff he could do. I mean, again, I think he should be All-League. That's what I think. But it doesn't matter what I think or you think. It's what he thinks. And I think he should be as good as anyone in our league. There are some guys who give him problems, but he'll give people problems. You saw him in the post; he can shoot a three, he can make free throws, he's good with the ball. Just got be tough, man. Mix it up, man. Come on. If he does that, I told him, you guys wrote stories and had him in the front page of a newspaper; he had seven points and seven rebounds. All-League play; because he jerks the ball away from someone else, we are all stunned and writing stories. He can do that. He needs to play that way.

Q. Jerome Allen said he had you guys right where he wanted you, especially with the youth. How do you think you guys responded; are they over that youth part where they couldn't get rattled now?
COACH CALIPARI: No, we are what we are. This is who we are. You know, they had a couple guys that could make shot and made them and they are up 12. We had a couple guys break down and gave them baskets and we are down 12. They settled down in the second half and they all -- if one guy wasn't playing, he was out, because I needed five guys to compete so we could create a gap. And then when we got the gap, then I went back to those other guys and let them play a little bit. We had to get the gap. We're here to win games.
Look, we just shot -- like I'm, like, wow. We just went 12 -- 18-for-22 in the second half shooting the ball. Brandon Knight goes four assists, no turnovers, eight for 12, for four seven, two for two, two rebounds and he defended Rosen, and did a good job.
So, wait a minute, he was pretty good. Doron was pretty good. DeAndre was pretty good; didn't shoot it as well as I would like, and he's been shooting great in practice; I don't know why he's missing shots.
So when you look at this, we have got good stuff. But you know what, we want more. I want more than just, okay, we won by 12. I want this team to start understanding, you've got to be a little bit of a juggernaut and that means five guys, one heartbeat. We are not one heartbeat right now. We are about a heartbeat, and a half, and a half. We are not, bang, bang, bang. We are not there yet. At times, against Louisville, we were. At times against Notre Dame, we were. At other times, both of those games, we were not.
So, you know, when you're coaching young teams, and I've done this a few different times in my career, your will has to be stronger than theirs and you are not giving in, and I don't give in.
At the end of the day, if I have done my job, and Terrence has responded, Terrence Jones will be the best player in the country by the end of the year; if he wants to be; if he wants to listen and change. Change some habits, he'll be best player in the country by the end of the year. Or he may be nudged by somebody else on our team. But if he wants to be, then change habits, do these things, and you can do it. And you know what? If he's capable of doing that, shouldn't I expect that? Well, he's only 18. So? What does that mean? And I should expect that.
And that's -- you know, but now we have got Georgia, at Georgia, already sold out. Does that surprise anybody here? Another Super Bowl game we've got to play down in Georgia. League is going to be terrific. I mean, it's going to be hard.
I'll tell y'all this: We are playing on our half, the Eastern half. Our ten games in the Eastern half, I'm put up against any other league's that they are playing their teams when they are not playing doubles. They are not playing teams twice; they are playing them once.
So our 16 games, we have got ten of them on are on this half. Think about that. Our strength of schedule at the end the year will stay in the Top 15 or 20. Maybe higher. On a team that's this young, all freshman and inexperienced? Yeah. Yeah. It will be a tough road for us.

Q. Back to Josh for a minute. He's not the greatest leaper, with all due respect, yet he's pretty good at blocking shots. Why is that?
COACH CALIPARI: He times them. He's pretty good. He'll get a body on a guy so a guy can't jump and then he goes after it.
But I would rather him just body up than block because we cannot afford him to be in foul trouble. I was thinking about playing the small team today some just to do it. And I didn't get a chance to, because I also want to try to get Eloy minutes to see if he can do this. So we're a little bit in a jam, but, you know, just have to figure it all out.
You know, here is Darius, and I said he just played okay. He has 11 points, seven rebounds, 16 assists and two blocks and two steals. I'm, like, not satisfied. I don't start him in the second half. That's how good I think he is, how good I think he is.
Brandon, I'm so proud of him. How many of you were in Hawaii with us? Different player, isn't it. Different player. And that's what you are trying to see with guys that want to change and want to get better. We're on him about his defense and you know what, today he went out and said, I'm going to guard better, and he did. So a lot of good stuff.
Anything else?

Q. (No mic).
COACH CALIPARI: And Eloy argued and that's why I took him ought. He said: My fault, should have grabbed that with two." He started arguing; boom, out. You know these guys have got to understand that I want, and what's happened. Because Brandon is really running our team and playing for his teammates, he's not playing for himself anymore. He's playing for them. He can say whatever he wants now. Earlier in the season, he can't speak much. Looking at you like, man, how about passing the ball. I mean, now, he truly is running the team and playing for everyone. Did you see the pass he threw to Doron and told him to shoot it? "Shoot it! Shoot it! Shoot it!"
I mean, he is playing for -- now he can do this. He's taking more of a leadership role. I think he wants to lead but it's hard. Every player that I've hit that's been in a position like he's been in, you don't come in and just take over a team. You've got to earn that and you've got to do it over a period of time. And he's slowly and surely doing it.

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