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February 18, 2012

John Calipari


Q.  Coach Kennedy said this Kentucky team is the best team he's seen as a head coach here in the league; what do you think?
COACH CALIPARI:  I've got a pretty good team.  You know, I haven't been here that long, so I don't know.  I've been here three years and I've had three pretty good teams, and they are all different.
Let me say this:  They played well.  I mean, I've watched a lot of tape.  They played well.  They had guys make shots that had not made shots and they made them.  They were physical going to the rim.  They made baskets.  They shot 47 percent against us, including 60 from the 3.  People have not done that to us.
You know, I'm happy we out‑rebounded them because that's a terrific rebounding team but they didn't have many offensive rebounds because they didn't miss many shots; didn't have many opportunities to rebound.
So I would say this to you:  If they play like that to finish out, they are going to be fine.

Q.  The stretch in the first half when you had Anthony on the bench and you also had Michael get in foul trouble, you've been talking about that's a situation you thought your team could grow and respond and show you some things; is that a good learning experience for this team?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, we are going to watch tape and figure out what happened, because again, if Anthony is out, then who is going to block shots?  Somebody in there better.  Or Kyle better take charges.
Now I will say this:  Kyle played great today.  He was outstanding.  And the reason we had a lead at halftime was because of Kyle Wiltjer, in the middle of the zone, he made shots, he defended well.  He took a charge.  I mean, he played well today.  And it just shows you what I keep saying.  We really probably have seven starters.  He plays different.  He definitely stretches the defense.  He's pretty good.
So you know, it gave Kyle a chance to step up and play and he played well.

Q.  When you look at the stat sheet and you see ten 3‑pointers, do you say 3‑pointers bailed us out today or 3‑pointers is just as much a part of our offense?
COACH CALIPARI:  You have got to understand, they were giving us that shot, versus letting us get near the rim.  In the middle of the zone, they were not giving us the lob to Anthony Davis; they were back.
So you know, you talk about Jeremy Lin, he scored, scored, scored, because the other teams were saying, make him score and beat us, and he did.  So then they came back and said, no, we are not letting him score, and he had 13 assists.  That's basically this.  You just‑‑ whatever they are giving you, you've got to take.
I've got a terrific three‑point shooting team, I really do.  But we just don't take a whole lot of 3s because we don't have to.  I like 3s; I love dunks.

Q.  You mentioned the physical play of Ole Miss, how do you think your kids responded to that?  Because they kind of took it to you.
COACH CALIPARI:  I thought we all did pretty well.  I thought Terrence played pretty well, a double‑double.  I think we had a couple break downs, but I think Michael did fine, physically he got pushed once or twice.  I thought Anthony did fine.  I love the fact that Kyle was in that kind of game and held his own.  Knowing that he's got two to stay on the court.  But it was‑‑ you know, it was a good game for us that way.

Q.  Coach, kind of mentioned it, but how much do you see foul trouble specifically with Anthony as a possible Achilles heel for you guys?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I think he ended up with two fouls and I think he's probably in minutes played, if you look through the country, I bet you he's up in the high, least amount of fouls in minutes played.
So you know, it could happen.  And it's like any other team; if that Fab Melo goes down and has foul trouble, Syracuse isn't as good.  You can go just right down the line.  If Thomas Robinson is foul trouble, guess what, Kansas is not as good.  The same with Ohio State; big man is out, they are not the same team.  Obviously with Anthony not in, we are not the same, but we do have a talented team, even when he's not on the floor.

Q.  You were talking about teams don't do this to you shooting the ball as well as they did.  Did you have any lag on defense that allowed that?
COACH CALIPARI:  I'll watch the tape and I'll figure out, you know, we are handed down.  That means if they shot this high percentage, they got layups.  Whether it be breakaways‑‑ if you look at it, they must have been, you know, eight or nine layups, which is eight for eight.  That doesn't happen to us very often.

Q.  Can you talk about Darius's play today?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I think‑‑ I thought he played well.  I think the dunk is one of the biggest plays I've seen him make.  My point is, if you can do that, why don't you do that all the time.  Why isn't that you.
You know, I look to Doron Lamb.  You are playing well but when you go to the rim you and get bumped, you don't ever make that basket.  That's the difference between you being special, being that lottery pick that you should be, and not.
And you know, it's the same thing with Terrence.  Terrence, this is what you should be every game we play.  It should be a double‑double.  Without an excuse, I don't want to hear it, you should be a double‑double, you're a top‑five player.
And as we get closer to guys playing near their potential, that's when this team will take off again.

Q.  With today's win, you guys are now 12‑0 in the SEC.  Have you talked at all about running the table and‑‑

Q.  ‑‑ finishing the year?
COACH CALIPARI:  No, we are just trying to get better.  Here is what happens.  There's two things I try to do.  One, we are staying in the moment, like right now.  I wanted them to enjoy this game, because Mississippi played a great basketball game.
Then, the second part of it is, we'll watch tape, we'll learn from this game and when this game is done, move on.
We are allowed to lose.  This isn't football.  You don't lose the national title in February.  So you can lose.  My point is, are we getting better.  If we are getting better and we take an L, it's okay.
The second thing is, you know, as a coach, when things are not going well, you try to take responsibility so they know, just go play.  Even if you're not great, play, I'll take the hit.
And so those are some things we are just trying to do.  This is a young team.  We start three freshmen, Kyle Wilshire is a fourth freshman, think about that.  So four freshmen, two sophomores and Darius Miller who basically played today.

Q.  What sort of lift did Kyle give you in the first half when Anthony did have the two fouls?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, what he did was he came in and he's not afraid.  He played aggressive.  He made shots.  He got in the middle of the zone.  He kicked it out from there.  He made a shot in there.  He was terrific.

Q.  Can you talk about Marquis's play over the last seven‑game stretch?  I know he's averaging about six in the last six and had another 8‑ to night.
COACH CALIPARI:  He's playing‑‑ I told him, you missed a bunch of shots today.  I don't really care.  That's not why you're here.  You're here to run this team, and as long as you run this team well, we're happy.
You know, we have been really on him hard not to get layups blocked, so he went in there today and he's shot it.  The guy tipped it, but it was not blocked and it went to the rim and we tip/dunk it.  You know, he's getting us involved in offense.
The only thing he did in this game‑‑ and he's a freshman, he doesn't know.  They switched the big man on him.  Well, the big man knows he can't guard you.  The only thing he can do is take a stab at the ball, so you don't mess with the ball.  You get it by him and clip him so he fouls you.  He messed with it off the knee behind the back twice and he kick‑tipped it away from him.  Those are all those teaching points that we need to stay on to just keep him moving at that next level.

Q.  Andy Kennedy, saying he was a basketball Jones, compares your teams to UNLV teams that almost went back‑to‑back in the '90s, and he says the only thing that could stop you quite possibly is your own execution or foul trouble.  What's your take on that?
COACH CALIPARI:  Or somebody making 15 3s against you, something like that could happen and you don't get another chance to get them, it's one‑and‑done.
I think we have got a good team.  I'm not satisfied.  I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied at all.  I just want us to keep climbing, and then we'll see how good we can be.  If at the end of the day, we'll see if we have the best team.  If we don't, someone else is better than us.

Q.  The home winning streak reached 50 games today; what is your reaction to that and how does it make you feel that you've been able to sustain that?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, it's the first I've thought of it.  It is 50?  That's a lot of games.
I made an executive decision with the radio group outside, the 9,000 people that stay after, if we lose, I do not sign one ball.  So you guys better cheer your guts out for us to win.
If I walk in thereafter an L, no balls get signed.  So now I'll be out there signing 200 basketballs before I leave the building.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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