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UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE


March 1, 2011


John Calipari


VANDERBULT 66
KENTUCKY 68


Q. You guys won a close one, decided by five or less; what was the difference tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, let me start by telling you at halftime when I had to call time-out to just get out of the half alive, I told them this is going to be a one; we need it. We need this to be a close game. Let's start the half the right way. Well, we didn't. A guy comes off a handoff soft. Just pushed out of the way, and they tipped the ball -- that's how we started.
As we had to fight through it, it was good for us. It showed that we have to get tougher. But the will to win was there, making free throws. I would never call a timeout with eight seconds to go except I'm coaching this team, so I've got to call timeouts, and I've got to talk them through every phase, every player. We decided to foul. And they almost beat us, but we decided to foul to say, you know what, you're too good a three-point shooting team, and if you watch what we did, we gave up two so they weren't shooting threes. That's how we played today. We just made a decision and said if Ezeli goes for 30 -- how many did he go for, 22? If he goes for 30 and they win, well, I know this, they'll make threes. So we guarded the three-point line a little differently than we did up there. The guys executed pretty well.

Q. What did you think of Josh's overall game but especially defensively the last few minutes?
COACH CALIPARI: Josh fought like heck. What a great thing. You think about it, here's a young man that played 35 minutes last season and is playing 35 minutes a game, and eight points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three steals, and by the way, he was invited to Portsmouth with the other top seniors in the country. You have to understand, that's not easy to get in Portsmouth. It's a combine for seniors. It's the first players that they look at. He's worked himself, and he's been invited.
And so a lot of good things happening for him, and I'm proud of him. Just happy for him.

Q. (On Brandon Knight's performance:)
COACH CALIPARI: He wouldn't have been in the game a year ago, but he was good. I thought Brandon with a 6'7" guy guarding him did a pretty good job. Terrence, the walks, some of those missed baskets, but here's the greatest thing: I had two freshmen on national television in a huge game go to the line and make both free throws. Think about that. Think about what we're asking our freshmen to do. Doron didn't shoot it as well as he has, but I thought he played pretty good. And DeAndre, not only did he score some points, he did a great job.
We had one turnover at halftime. How do you have one turnover? I don't know if we're not playing fast enough or if we're like the magicians with the ball. I haven't figured it out yet. But we end up the game with nine turnovers, a team that's all over you, mauling you, body to body off screens and playing, and they did a good job.

Q. Can you talk about the defense on Jenkins, and early on it looked like he got preoccupied with trying to draw fouls rather than play basketball.
COACH CALIPARI: We just told him he's very good at drawing fouls and flopping and making it appear as though -- just stay down. Guys just got in his grille a little bit better.

Q. What did you think of Darius tonight? Seemed like he was a little up and down based on your reactions.
COACH CALIPARI: My reactions or your reactions? He didn't play like he did yesterday or two days ago. He didn't play the same game. Didn't play aggressive. Taylor got the best of him, and so we switched it around and we put Terrence on Taylor. Terrence did a good job. And when he wasn't guarding Taylor, Darius was fine.
There's some guys that he just thinks are better than him, I don't know, and I told him at halftime, you are better than him. Why do you think this guy is better than you? You are better than him. So we switched him off, and from that point on he was fine. He made baskets, we went at him, and he had -- it was an and-one, that lay-up he had, so he made baskets. He scored points for us. He got 12 points and they were big in a game like this. We needed those points.

Q. Maybe now that will to win and struggling and getting a close win, what do you hope that maybe will do for your team?
COACH CALIPARI: We'll expect to win close games. That's a big part of it. You expect to win close games. You have to understand, based on the history of the last five, six, seven years, we're in a close game, my mindset is we're winning. The problem is I seem to be the only guy thinking that way. But that's because of past performances.
And so now, again, I'm going to be honest, who do we go to? Who do you go to now? How do we get a basket? Who's going to be the guy making the stop? How about the play where they got five straight rebounds and tipped it out and the kid makes a three? I hope someone gets this; no, you get it. There should be three of our guys saying I'm getting this ball. That's a competitive spirit.
But that all happened, we didn't hang our heads. We still executed down the stretch, got the ball where we needed to, got open versus the press, did what we had to do to win the game. And to be honest, at this point in a close game, we're just trying to run off the floor.
Was it smart fouling? We won. What if he would have tipped in a ball? You all would have looked at me, why did you foul? There was eight seconds; maybe you should have waited till five. I've heard that one before. I just made the decision based on our team. I didn't want them to get a look at a three. They're too good a three-point shooting team.

Q. With about six minutes left on missed shots you guys rebound, you're putting on the brakes when Brandon is bringing the ball up the floor. Are you trying to shorten the game, change tempo, what?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we're trying to get a good shot off. We're coming down, flying in, shooting lay-ups and we're not making any. We've got to get something and shorten the game and hope we're going to be the tough guys and make a play and make a rebound. I believe in the team. I mean, I'm looking at us right now, I'll bet you the RPI we're 14 or 13 or 12th rated. Our strength of schedule is probably under 10 now. With that young team, inexperienced team? Come on.
So I believe in them. Now, we just have to go on the court and do it. The game we have left is going to be a senior night, impossible game, how do you even stay in the game? It's going to be a hard game for these guys.

Q. You've talked before in these close games you want better leadership, someone to step up.
COACH CALIPARI: It doesn't need to be better. It needs to be someone has got to run our team and get the ball where we're trying to get it and move people and show some emotion and get guys to do what they're supposed to do. I thought Brandon did a pretty good job of it.
What Josh did is plugged up the hole. Again, this kid is doing stuff, I've not coached a player that's gotten more out of his body, out of his talent, out of his athleticism as Josh Harrellson. There's nothing more he can give. Now, I'm asking for more. I want him to take some charges.
But think about it; here's a guy that jumps that high and had four blocks. How did you get those? What are you doing? It's just an effort, man, just a desire to go make plays.

Q. It seemed like he gave more in these last 24 seconds than he had in other tight ballgames.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. They all want to win. These kids want to win. But it's the preparation to win. It's the toughness you have to have. It's the play -- there's no fadeaways the last few minutes of the game. If they want to block your shot, put it in the official's hand to either swallow the whistle or not. Don't shoot a fadeaway. They're not going to give you a foul; you can never get a foul on a fadeaway. We had too many of those today. But we'll learn.
Anyway, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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