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November 7, 2011

John Calipari


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What did you think?
COACH CALIPARI: We were better. That's what I was looking for. I was looking for more intensity, a team that was a little more athletic and a little bigger. I wanted to see how we came out of the gate. I thought we came out of the gate really strong.
If I'm not mistaken in the first half, I think my starters were 24-24. I've never heard of that. I also want to tell you we had 31 assists, which I was happy about.
Again, the game got crazy. Played those last six minutes and we only had 13 turns. So we're ahead in some cases, but we're behind in others. But you saw the toughness was better, the defense was better. All the things we worked on.
I hate to say this. We look like we may be a pretty good zone team when I go big on this team. With Anthony on that one wing, you're not getting a shot off. Forget it. Play the other wing. Means you got to play half the court.
I like Terrence at three. So now you're 6'10", 6'10", 6'9" on your frontline. Michael Gilchrist with a 7'3" wingspan as your two. Doron Lamb as a two. I don't know how they passed it around when we went to that zone.

Q. Why do you hate the idea of being a good zone team?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you can't be good at everything. You're either going to be a really good man team or a really good zone team. The teams that were really were good at zone and still are, Syracuse, that's what they play. That's their defense. They work every day. They don't spend time on man-to-man. Temple back in the day. Arizona State, Herb Sendek is playing zone. If they have to go man-to-man or press or anything else, they're not as good.
I don't believe you can be good at everything. But as a change-up defense, this could be something we look to. I doubt it. But we might.

Q. You talked after that last game about why Kidd-Gilchrist would start.
COACH CALIPARI: It wasn't only me. Everybody that watched the game and saw it said, This kids needs to be starting. It's crazy. Leave him in the game.

Q. I assume he gave you what you wanted.
COACH CALIPARI: Did you see him run the court? Do you know now why I tell my team, If he's ahead of you and you don't give him the ball, you're coming out. He makes plays in transition. He'll pass it. He's a willing passer. He wants us to win so he'll make that extra thing. He's good. But.
Terrence played today. Terrence now, you know, you look at him and you see an athlete now, a guy that can fly up and down the court and put his head on the rim. Well, I didn't see that last game.
Then the other guy that played today was Anthony. He played with some aggressiveness. He still had some balls knocked from him and didn't come up with a few rebounds. But did you like our zone offense with him in there? Just throw it at the rim, make them play the basket, which means the middle's open, the wings are open, so...

Q. Probably a lot of people assumed if Kidd-Gilchrist was starting, that would mean Darius wasn't.
COACH CALIPARI: We really got six starters and maybe seven when Kyle is playing really good. Because those other two are older, I would say we have six starters. Any NBA team that's come in, and just about every one has, says the same thing: You have six starters. One of them has to come off the bench. Whether it's going to be Darius or Doron, I don't know right now. It was either going to be Michael, Darius or Doron. After this, you understand it's not going to be Michael, he's going to be starting. Now, who is that other starter?
It's good. You have two other guys that have to fight. The thing that will take their games to another level, Darius and Doron, is that competitive spirit. That battle for a spot I think takes them to another level. And it really doesn't matter who's in the end. One of them was the MVP of the SEC tournament and the other was the best player for us in the Final Four, Doron. They're both really good.
I may do what I did a year ago, game to game, where it was DeAndre or Doron, depending on whether I needed a defender or a scorer.
It's a good problem to have. Let me put it that way.

Q. How do you judge what you saw tonight and transfer it to when competition gets better and better as you move forward?
COACH CALIPARI: I'm going to watch the tape. I told them I'm not even looking at the score. I want to see them staying in the stance, I want to see them physical, going after rebounds, I want to see the rebound percentages offensively and defensively making sure we were attacking. I thought we made easy plays, which is what is hard to do in a game like this.
Again, look, Morehouse, we played really well, and that's why the score was what it was. Morehouse lost to Georgia by 24. They came in. I'm telling you, they were excited. They were screaming in this hallway. They were jacked up on the court. We hit them in the mouth to start the game.
But they're a good team. They're not a bad team. It's just that we were really good tonight.
Now, will we be playing better teams? Obviously. We got the No. 1 ranked team in the country. We've got a team that's been a top-five team the last couple years. We have other teams on our schedule who are really good. Talented players. We're going to have to sustain effort and do all those things.
I will watch the tape and take what I can from it, then probably going to watch some highlight tape tomorrow of this to show them when they were terrific defensively, all those things, how we ran wide. The last game we ran right up the middle of the court, didn't get anything.
So there were some good things. But there will be some things that I don't like, but...

Q. What did you think about Wiltjer's play with 26 points?
COACH CALIPARI: I was happy. The only thing I told him at halftime is, Okay, you're starting to define your game. So your game is if you're open for threes, take them. If they're tight, you want a one-dribble pull-up, take them. If not, hit the wing, go in the post and shoot a hook. Make it real simple. Don't invent stuff. Shoot the three, shoot the one-dribble pull-up, throw it to the wing, go in the post, shoot the runner.
Did you see the hook he shot? Shoot hooks. I mean, he tried to throw that one pass to show us. He didn't need to. The other thing is, he's got to get tougher. He can do that in practice. We spent the last few days after Transy, all toughness. That's all we worked on. Tough rebounds, blocking each other, diving on the floor, taking charges, gang rebounding together, the gauntlet which we prepare for a team we play that fouls on every possession. We just put them through a gauntlet where you get fouled on the baseline, you get fouled on the wing, you drive to pass it, you get fouled again. We call it the gauntlet. You remember that, Mark?

Q. Coach, talking about going off of practice, with Mike Gilchrist going out there, he really seems to bring an edge that T and Davis feed off of. It's almost nastiness.
COACH CALIPARI: It's not nasty. He plays that hard. When you watch him, it forces you as a player to raise your level of intensity because if you don't you stand out like, Why isn't he playing? Why is he playing cool? He acts like it doesn't matter. And the other dude is diving on the floor, talking, jumping, stabbing, blocking, sprinting, driving. It makes you either mad or you say, I got to step this up, I got to step on the gas.
I think what's happened is Marquis Teague plays that way, too, now. It's nice to have two out there that way.

Q. Could you talk about Teague, the way he ran the team. Went a long time before he took a shot.
COACH CALIPARI: He goes five for six, he goes seven assists, two turns. Again, we're flying up and down the court. So we're not walking, throwing 12 passes, making a slice cut, back screen. We're flying, driving and moving. He has a lot of decisions to make when he has the ball. He has the ball 75% of the time. The last two games, 16 assist, four turns. He's going to turn it over some, have less assists, he's going to screw up some. But he's playing well.
Again, he gets 12 points on five of six free-throw shooting. Stops defensively when he's not on the ball. Does that a lot. But he's playing well.

Q. How encouraging is it or how important is the team chemistry this early? When Polson was in, Gilchrist was going crazy.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, first of all, Jarrod Polson can play because he doesn't hurt you. He doesn't go in the game like, Watch this, then does something crazy. He just goes in and runs the team, plays the shooting guard. What position do you want me to play? I'm not going to play the hardest play. Played for Kyle Wiltjer. He missed another wide-open shot. Defensively he does it. He's longer than you think. He's 6'3" and he dunks. So he doesn't hurt you.
It's nice when we put in Sam and Brian, who we don't use that much in practice. They're in that game and they're playing pretty well, which is kind of neat, and the team cheering those guys on, too.

Q. In a game like this when you're turning them over on defense, your kids are playing hard, they're scoring out of their defense, how much does that help you with your message that we got to get it done on defense first?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I think they know. They understand. They've got guys on this team, three of them, really four of them, that were in the Final Four and know that you got to have a certain toughness, you have to have a grittiness to you, you got to defend and rebound.
What this team has, the added thing, is we can block shots. Last year we blocked shots, which is amazing. Terrence, Darius and Josh blocked shots last year, but now they're coming at you different ways.
We have the let's be tough defensively, let's scramble it up a little bit. I can remember the one time, the kid driving down, he saw Anthony just dribbled right out through to a guy 25 feet. You just say, Come on, go in there. That kid's long. I don't know how many blocks he had today. Terrence had six blocks. Anthony had four.

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