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November 26, 2011

John Calipari

Kentucky – 87
Portland – 63

JOHN CALIPARI:  Let me do this first:  I've got to tell you, I've been doing this a long time.  Coaching is coaching, whether it's baseball, basketball, fast break, whatever it is, volleyball.  For our football team to do what they did today, for Matt Roark to do what he did today, for Joker and his staff to keep that team together and doing what they did with a wide receiver at quarterback, that may go down as one of the greatest wins in the history of our athletic department.
Now, you never have coached, so you'd do it that way.  But if you have coached, you would say that is unbelievable.  My hat's off to that team and their staff and Joker.  Matt Roark, I've got to go hug this guy, rub up against him.  That's unbelievable.  That would have been like sticking me at quarterback.  Here, Cal, you're going to play quarterback.  What?  What did he run for, 100‑some yards?  124?  Put his head down and ran people over trying to get first downs.  He did fumble that ball, by the way.  (Laughter.)
But I'm just so‑‑ I can't be happier.  I can't be happier for our program and the athletic department, all of it.  It was the first time in 26 years, whatever, how many years?  26?  I mean, come on.  I'm just happy.

Q.  Cal, you guys had 20 assists, just four turns.  Talk about the way they took care of the basketball, and were they as aggressive as you wanted to see them?
JOHN CALIPARI:  You know what, we started the game again sloppy.  The other thing is we need to be a little more physical and not settle for some of the jumpers we settled for, especially if you're running something to post the ball.  It's not that I don't want guys to shoot balls, but I'm saying if we're going to run something to post it, post it first and then shoot a jumper.  We came down and shot jumpers right away.
But we're still learning.  The biggest thing we've got to learn and spend time on is guarding three‑point shooters.  If a team has players‑‑ because we're going to play Florida.  They're going to take 35 threes against us.  Florida will take 35 threes against us.  That means they'll win by 108 points right now if we don't learn to guard a three‑point shooter.  You cannot get hung up on screens.  You have to chase.  If your man is setting the screens you've got to help a little bit, just a stunt and get back.
We were just‑‑ it was pitiful but we hadn't worked on it that much so I'm not going to say much.
I was disappointed in how we defended down the stretch, but really happy for Darius and how he played.  I was happy, I thought Marquis Teague played a terrific floor game.  The best play he made, and I told him after the game, breakaway lay‑up, he slowed down and gave it to Terrence Jones, best play he's made all year.  It just shows that he's playing for his team.

Q.  Back to the football for a bit, with what Matt Roark did and the entire team did, are there lessons there that you can tell to your players?
JOHN CALIPARI:  The biggest lesson is always hope, and if you believe in your mind you're going to do something, that's the first step to doing it.  There's always hope.  And what you also learn is some of the great games and great contests were played with somebody hurt.  Maybe someone on your team gets hurt and he goes for the biggest game of his life because he's more focused and more attentive.  I think our football team knowing with Matt they were going to protect Matt Roark, they just told him, do your thing, we're going to protect you, and they all stepped up and played better.
But I think, again, we're going to be going on the road like we did a year ago where we could not win and we're going to be up against it and we're going to have to really focus in and grind games out and things that we're not capable of doing yet.

Q.  Do those sloppy starts concern you and anything consistently you're seeing that this is happening at the start?
JOHN CALIPARI:  I'm going to watch the tape.  I thought the first play we had a couple guys, their motor wasn't running.  We had a play, a guy had a shot, all he had to do was one dribble into the lane and shoot it and he ends up catching it half speed so he could try to throw it to somebody else.  Well, we can't start games like that.  You've got to come out of the gate with some aggression and you've got to go at that rim and get fouled.
I thought Terrence, the first play was great.  Then we had about five plays after that that were just sloppy.
We've got a ways to go.  There's no question we've got a ways to go.

Q.  You said after the Old Dominion game that you were thinking about starting Darius.  Obviously you're getting a lot ‑‑
JOHN CALIPARI:  When you watch this right now, yeah‑‑

Q.  What's your thinking?
JOHN CALIPARI:  What you see right now, you'd say why isn't he starting.  I mean, and maybe he should be, and that's why we've got three days to keep looking at it and see.  The greatest thing with him, and I said this to him today in front of his teammates.  There's three things that has happened for our team:  One, Darius Miller accepting that he has to come off the bench for the time being.  That is huge for us.  And I told him in front of his team, just understand when this thing is all said and done, there's no one that's going to fight for you more than me and our staff.  I will fight when this thing is all said and done to make sure you're in good shape because of what you're doing.
The second thing was Terrence Jones, I said, Terrence, are you averaging as many as a year ago?  No.  Guys, he was a lottery pick that chose to come back, and he's just playing.  He's not worried about scoring points.  He's a way better player, way stronger, way more skilled, not scoring as many because he doesn't have to on this team.
And then the third one was Michael Gilchrist came to me and said if I need to come off the bench for Darius, I will, I have no problem.  That's the kind of team we have right now.  The question is when the lights go on in these big games do we continue to feel that way, and that's something we're going to have to see.

Q.  Could you talk about going to the press right there with a six‑point game, I believe, and you were able to turn them over a couple times and kind of sparked a run and got it going?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Yeah, and again, you have to understand, we have not‑‑ that's not something we spend 20 minutes a day on.  It's just not.  I believe a press‑‑ you're not going to press great teams that are well coached into submission.  You're not.  I don't care what anybody says.  You're not winning a championship if that's the thing that you're relying on.
But I also think a press can change the complexion of a game and can give you a gap.  You have to be able to guard in the half court, you have to be able to shut people down.  Today we looked very good, but you have to be able to guard three‑point shooters, you have to get out and understand you don't leave corners, you don't get hung up on screens when you're guarding a three, you're in absolute chase mode.
I would just tell you that, yeah, we are going to press some, but there's some games that I'm not going to press at all.  We don't need to.  The other team is going to play fast.  We pressed because this team was going to hold the ball.  They hold the ball, you've got to go out and play people and try to win them out.

Q.  How big of a concern is rebounding at this point?
JOHN CALIPARI:  We've got‑‑ they were physical again.  They pushed us in the back.  They wedged us, and we weren't down and ready to go.  We're playing ‑‑ the next two games are going to be really hard games.  If we don't physically battle before the ball hits the rim, before it hits the rim, you battle.  If we don't, it'll be hard for us to win either of the next two games.  I don't think we can win either because both of them are pretty good rebounding teams.

Q.  It looked like you tried to post some with Anthony a little bit more than you had.  How did you think he did?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, we've been working with him, but again, he missed free throws again today.  It's hard to post a guy if he's not going to make free throws.  You've got to be able to stand up at that line and make them.  Again, I think this is part of Anthony's growth.  It's called a mental toughness.  I missed one, I'm not missing the next one.  You move on.  You have a toughness to you.
Right now he's just growing into that.  He doesn't‑‑ he misses one, it leads to another, another.  He misses four in a row.  Wait a minute, you're one of our best shooters, how's that happen?  It's all mental.  And that's the toughness he has to grow into.

Q.  Eloy played significantly less.  What was the reasoning behind that?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Just trying to get Kyle and get this rotation and try to figure out these guys first.  You know, I even went with Darius at four, and I hate to tell you, I really liked it.  We beat Florida a year ago when I put him at four, and he did basically what he did today, the exact same thing.  So I like him at four.  So again, we don't have that toughness we need, I can put him at four and we can play.  That's the greatest thing about him, he can play all those different positions he's capable of playing.  But again, we've got to be better than we were tonight offensively, and I know‑‑ I looked at the numbers.  The numbers looked pretty good.  I mean, the numbers looked like, wow, they were there.  But we have to be better than we're playing right now.
We're going to give them off tomorrow, we've got a couple days of practice before St.John's, a day in, and then we've got a noon game, so we've got a tough road this week and that's why I said take Sunday off, relax and let's come back and get ready to go.

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