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December 3, 2011

John Calipari

Kentucky – 73
North Carolina – 72

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Cal.

Q.  Anybody else in America could have blocked that shot but Davis?
COACH CALIPARI:  No.  There may be somebody out there.  What I told the team, I made Marquis Teague stand up and hug my man in there.  You hug Anthony because he saved you.
Again, in this game, there were so many terrific performances.  How about Kyle Wiltjer?  He made big plays.  The basket, the trap, forced the ball loose.  Darius made some big baskets.  We got hung up again on screens on three‑point shooters.  Driving me nuts.  We worked on it.  Obviously not enough.  That was a great team we played.
Again, if he didn't block the shot, we lose the game.  And both teams gutted it out, just gutted it out.  This is supposed to be in March, not now.  I'm exhausted.

Q.  You've been saying for a couple of days, Play this game and we'll learn where we are.  What did you learn?
COACH CALIPARI:  We only had 36 hours but we talked about sprint it up, speed it up, then grind it out.  For a freshman team to do this, have nine turnovers, it's incredible.  I don't know whether they knew they had to play a certain way and they didn't deviate.
I got on Doron on that turnover late.  I'm not going to you if that's what's going to happen.  You have to be tough, strong, make a play, get it off the backboard.  Marquis has a way to go.  It's his eighth game.  It's his eighth game.  But I'm confident he'll be fine.
Michael Gilchrist just did stuff.  Terrence Jones, that was his best game of the year, and he was challenged by it.
Again, North Carolina is one of those teams.  They're one of the best teams in the country.  They're well‑coached.  They never gave up.  We got down.  They called a timeout and bang a three.  C'mon.
Roy did a great job.  We were very, very fortunate to walk out with a W.

Q.  After the game you seemed like you were kind of at a loss for words.  When you were approaching Roy, what was going through your mind at that time?
COACH CALIPARI:  I have all kind of respect for Roy.  He has been one of the nicest people to me throughout my career ‑ when I was at UMass and Memphis.  Not only is he a great coach, he and his wife Wanda are just terrific people.  I don't like playing people that I like.  Now I got to go down there, he has to go and get on a bus, he lost.  I know what that feels like, especially a game as hard‑fought as this.
That's why I kind of go down, and Roy, I feel for him because I'm in this profession.  It's tough.

Q.  (Question regarding the defense in the second half.)
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, again, we got on them at halftime.  They got six threes.  Make them shoot twos.  They did at the very end, but they got threes which closed the gap.  I thought Anthony Davis did a great job.  I thought Terrence Jones did a great job defensively.
It's amazing, they have seven blocks, we have six blocks.  You're talking two heavyweight big, long, tough teams.  We just happened to be that team that's a little bit younger.  We're just an inexperienced team, so...

Q.  Can you take us through what you saw on that last play, what was kind of going through your mind.  Came out of nowhere to block it.
COACH CALIPARI:  The play before, if you remember, they made the three in the corner.  Anthony ran up and the guy took a dribble through deep and he made a three.  I looked at him, Run back.  He was like, (talking gibberish).  The next play was exactly the same and he sprinted back like he was supposed to.
You don't go up when they rebound, you go back.  He's a young kid, 17, 18 years old.  He's playing by instinct right now.  So is Marquis Teague, so is Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer.  They're all playing on instinct right now.

Q.  Can you talk about the offense Doron provided the last 10 minutes of the game.
COACH CALIPARI:  He struggled.  The play that made me angry was in that first half when that ball squirted out and he didn't have a basket so he was rushing in to score on 6'9" guys, got blocked.  Why are you doing that?  Pull it down, let's run offense.
I thought in the second half, I put the balls in his hands saying, Let's go down.  He did a couple layups.  He had a couple threes.  They were big shots.  That one in the corner was a huge shot.  He knocked it down.
Look, I've got good players.  We're young and we're inexperienced, but I've got really good players.  I like my team.  But more importantly, they love each other.  You notice, Eloy helped us today, Kyle helped us today, and the other six played the majority of the minutes.  That's a happy locker room in there today.
All I said prior to the game, I didn't realize, because I hadn't been watching much TV, that this game was being played up like the end alls of end alls.  I turn on ESPN and it's on the ticker.  Every announcer is talking about this game.
I came back to the gym last night about 11 and grabbed the guys.  Look, I didn't realize everybody is making this big deal out of this.  It's just another game.  Let's learn from it.  I've been in a ton of these.
You freshmen, just be there for your team.  Be good teammates.  Leaders, you three seniors, this is your game.  You got to run this.
They were ready to play.  Both teams were ready to play.  They came out of the gate.  No one stopped.  That was 40 minutes.  Whoever had the ball last was winning.  We got the ball last and we won.  That's what happens when two good teams do not quit.

Q.  What is your impression of your team's toughness now after this game?
COACH CALIPARI:  They had 15 offensive rebounds and they were huge.  We missed a bunch of baskets right next to the rim.  Again, I didn't realize we were 4 for 17 from the three.  How in the world did we win?  They were 11 out of 18.  So it just shows you.  These are two really good teams.  We happened to get this one.
If we had to go to North Carolina, probably dropping one.  Let's hope if we have to play them again, when is it, the very last game of the season, for both teams, in one place, and that's when we play them again.

Q.  John, you complained yesterday about your team not executing, being impatient.  First half it looked like that.  What turned it around?  Was it Doron going to the point?
COACH CALIPARI:  I think they want to win.  See, they're going to question, because they're so young, they're going to try to show me they can do it their way and win.  When they realize they cannot play that way and win against these kind of opponents, they'll usually come back.
The only thing that brings about change, folks, is a crisis.  Meetings don't, talking doesn't.  They'll look at me, Okay.  But when it's crisis time, we're down five at half, now do you understand how we have to play?
We had a play where we had the ball, came down bounced it off our knee, crossed it over twice, pitched it back to a guy, he misses the shot, they make a three, it's a five‑point swing.  I go bonkers.  I just gave it to him.  You can't play that way in this kind of game.
Listen, this is a learning experience.  I'm going to watch the tape.  Proud of our guys.  I would have been proud if that last shot would have gone in.  I would have said, We're learning.  We made mistakes, gave up a three.  We did it to ourselves.  We're going to be fine.  That's what I would have said if that kid makes that shot.

Q.  What did you think about Michael and the way he competed?
COACH CALIPARI:  Michael was unbelievable.  He is unbelievable.  He's the greatest kid.  I used him on defense and let him alone on offense.  I'm going to tell you this.  If we need a free throw late in the game, I'm giving him the ball and letting him shoot it.  He will not miss it late in the game.  He will make a free throw late because he's got that kind of courage.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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