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February 25, 2012

John Calipari


Q.  We are used to what Anthony does defensively; what about the way he played offensively today?
COACH CALIPARI:  I've been holding him back.  I'm trying to get him to stay in school another year.
After the game, I just told everybody, they did what they did, and how good, and I said, "You were pretty good, too."  And the whole team started laughing.  They thought it was hysterical.
He's a good kid.  He's just unselfish.  He only took 11 shots; he made 10.  You tell me, if you're that kid, blocking shots, rebounding balls, you're not trying to take 20 shots?
And then I couldn't get mad at Marquis Teague for holding the ball to get two more points.  You understand, he held that ball to get fouled.  He could have thrown it to Darius, and he's like, no, I'm getting two more myself.
And when I called him over, I said, "I know what you just did, you'd better make these two free throws:  That's why he started laughing, and he made them.  And after the game I said, you played so well, I'm good with that.  Let the kids score a couple baskets.  Let them score a couple points.  But you know, it was a good effort.
And let me say this:  You see how good Vanderbilt is?  Can you see how good they are?  I mean, in the NCAA Tournament, they are going to advance.  I mean, that is a ball team, and they shoot it; they make their free throws.  They had seven turnovers, and we are a pretty good defensive team.  They had seven turnovers.  Are you kidding me?  They are turning people over 15 times.  We didn't press a whole lot but that's not how we play.  They are good.

Q.  Can you talk about the way Marquis came back and played after three turnovers in the first three minutes and you sat him down?
COACH CALIPARI:  I said it, one turnover the rest of the game.  I just felt our shoot around was just so‑so, and I felt at the pregame, when I talked to them before they went on the court, I didn't like the stare I got from two or three of the guys.
So at the beginning of the game, I knew what was happening.  And I just told them, I said, hey, I took guys out, I sat Terrence out, and you know, you've got to be ready to play every game.  You've got to figure it out.
Here is what the deal is.  Noon games, hard to play.  So?  Guess what.  In New Orleans, when will we be playing?  Noon.  Okay.  Then, in the NCAA Tournament, probably noon.  We play early games.  So, be ready for it.  You can't use an excuse, it's an afternoon game.

Q.  Veteran teams often make plays at the end of shot clock, come up with big plays.  Your team has done it consistently despite being relatively young.  How rare is that and how often do you see young guys continue to make those plays over and over again?
COACH CALIPARI:  This team is the most efficient team in the country on offense and defense and it's really only because they are talented.
They play together, they play off of one another, they make easy plays defensively.  They are talking more.  But we just have to have everybody ready to go to war, every game.  We don't have many left.  Two more league games, hopefully some in the tournament, and then we play on the real stage.  We don't have many left.

Q.  You talk about guys maybe not being ready to play at the beginning of the game.  You've always talked about how they have a will to win.  Can sometimes you rely too much on will to win?
COACH CALIPARI:  That was my fear to start this game.  But the way we finished, and we played so well down the stretch, I wasn't going to get upset with them.
The other side of it, I looked at my staff and I said, you know, I'd like to let this one go, the way they started, to prove a point.  I'm about to let this one go, and then I said, I can't.  I just don't have that in me.
But, believe me.  I said to my staff, because you've got to learn a lesson from it.  But their will to win; their ability to execute down the stretch and defend and take everything up a notch, you know, is pretty amazing.

Q.  Yet again Darius, zero points, ten minutes ago and then he turns it on.  What is it about him that he does that?
COACH CALIPARI:  I don't know.  I mean, I was upset with him in the first half because I thought he had passed up two shots, and he did, because he was 0 for 5.  I said, that's the old you.  You've got to keep shooting.  You can't keep doing that to your team.
Doron, I thought he played a poor first half, too.  Couldn't make a shot but then again defensively in a three‑minute span, gave up three baskets.  And I didn't think Darius played well in the first half‑‑ or Terrence.  I thought Michael Gilchrist fought like crazy.
You know what's good about this one?  Just like down at Mississippi State where Marquis Teague sat and watched the end of the game, Michael Gilchrist probably played a minute the last seven, eight minutes of the game and we won without him on the court.  And he cheered just like Marquis Teague.  He cheered harder than anybody on that bench.  And I also thought, which was good, Eloy did a good job, went in there and banged and did some good stuff.

Q.  What did Mike do on the play where‑‑ did he bang knees, or did he do something else what was that injury?
COACH CALIPARI:  He just hit knees.  But I said ‑‑ I'm in the time‑out, I said, "Is Michael okay?"
"Yeah, he's ready to go."
I went, "What?"  He acted like he got shot.  "Ready to go?"  I said, "Run up and down the court."  I wanted him to run to see that he wasn't fooling me.  I'm like, I shook my head, I said, Oh, my gosh, okay, go back in.

Q.  I know you don't put too much significance on conference achievements, but how do you look at this in terms of the way it sets you up for March?
COACH CALIPARI:  Every game we play, it's all about seeding.  And that's‑‑ we are just playing for that.  I mean, we have won over the years a lot of conference championships and tournament championships, but I'm telling you, my teams have never‑‑ that isn't what we are playing for.  It's all about that seed.
So hopefully we are doing what we need to.  Getting better.  It's nice, I told him, congratulations, but you all know, this is not why we are playing, and they know that.

Q.  (Inaudible).
COACH CALIPARI:  Somebody told me out West, they said we are the favorite.  Somebody said that to me.  And I obviously don't follow that stuff.  But the crazy thing is, they don't have any emotion out that way.  It's all based on green dollars.  They have no emotion.  There's no, I don't like this guy, and I like that guy, and I don't like this program and I like that program.  It has nothing to do with that.
So, I don't know.  Let me just tell you, Syracuse is outstanding; Missouri is outstanding; Kansas is outstanding, Ohio State is outstanding; Duke and North Carolina, outstanding, Michigan State is playing their butts off.  Everybody could be a 1‑1 seed.  We are just trying to do what we do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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