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March 9, 2013

John Calipari

Kentucky – 61
Florida – 57

THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  How well do you think your guys responded like a drowning man?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, they swam like heck.  In the last seven minutes, when it was in doubt, they swam like heck.  When you're going to drown, you want to die, don't swim.  If you want to live, the life raft is over there, you got to swim to it.  As a matter of fact, it's kind of breezing away from you, so you're going to have to swim real hard, and they did.
A lot of good efforts.  I got to tell you, Julius came up with 10 seconds to go and said, Get me the ball.  So I thought they may trap first.  So we were going to curl him, pop Kyle, then get the ball to Julius.
He walked out, I ain't curling anything, just get me the ball.  He went and got fouled, made both.  He knew he was going to make them.

Q.  Can you talk about the decision to put Willie back in?
COACH CALIPARI:  I said I'm forgetting he has four.  A basket doesn't kill us.  You fouling out can kill us.  He can play with four fouls.  That team we had out that last seven minutes, every one of them guarded.  They just locked down, rebounded, went and got balls, made a couple shots to get it close, came out of timeouts did some stuff, listened.
One timeout we didn't.  The good news is they got on each other about it.  They broke it down.  We threw the ball to Archie and he drove.  That's what we were running.  He ran a guy over.  We were still down seven at the time.  It was a big play.  Obviously didn't come back to hurt us.

Q.  Can you talk about the way that Alex rebounded today.
COACH CALIPARI:  I heard he spoke to the media yesterday and basically said, I haven't played hard enough all year.  I'm going to give everything I can.
There was one spell that he gave up.  He's done that throughout the year.  This is the first game he did that.  Took him out.  His teammates got all over him.  And he said, Put me back in.  He grew up today because he went back in and finished those last seven minutes and was a beast.
First time he's been able to do that, get by, slumping shoulders, head goes down.  Now I got to put him back, he's got to play again, and he did it today.

Q.  Do you feel like you were coaching an NCAA tournament team today?
COACH CALIPARI:  At our best, we are an NCAA tournament team.  When we're not at our best, we're not very good.  But that takes everybody playing.  That takes everybody being responsible.
Here is what I did yesterday.  I gave each guy two things that I needed them to do in the game, that the team needed them to do.  They were different for each guy.  I had them come up and read what we were asking them to do.  Can you do this?  Will you do this the entire game?  Each guy said yes.  One of the things I did was I said, Is everybody all in?  Yeah.  Raise your hand if you think everybody's all in.  No hands were raised.
So then I gave them these two commitments.  Can you do these two things all game?  If you do, tell me what's going to happen to our game.  Next guy, next guy.
Well, what happens after that, I said, Now how many of you think everybody is all in if they take care of what they're supposed to do?  They all raised their hand.
This team is young.  Nobody is winning on the road right now, unless you're top five or top eight teams.  Teams on the road are losing.  The loss at Arkansas, no one has won there.  The loss at Georgia was tough to take because of how we played.  But guess what?  They just played Tennessee and somebody else in that building.  So they're on a good roll right now.
This win today shows that we're one of those teams.  Got to go to the tournament, one‑game season again.  I guess we're 2 or 3 up there, seeded 2 or 3.  With what this team has gone through to finish second in the league is a pretty good deal.  Proud of 'em.  We'll see what we can do in the tournament.

Q.  Florida struggled a little bit, if you call it struggling, in close games.
COACH CALIPARI:  We were trying to make it a 20‑point bulge.  One thing about close games, they can make threes at any time.  They're a talented team.
The last time Billy won a national title was in Atlanta.  His father and I went to coffee at Dunkin Donuts every morning.  When I grabbed his father, I said, You make sure your son gets his team to Atlanta so you and I can have coffee in the morning.
They have a terrific team.  They've lost some road games, just like everybody else.  But they're still one of those teams that in my mind is odds on to have a chance to get to a Final Four.

Q.  You talked about how many guys answered the bell today.  Kyle continues to struggle.
COACH CALIPARI:  He's struggling.  He's struggling defensively.  We just got to figure out what we do because it's hard to leave him in the game if they're scoring on him every time.
But we'll figure it out.  He did enough.  He made a couple plays.  Everybody wants him to make every shot, but I don't care.  He can miss every shot if he defends.
One of the goals we had for Julius is we need you to get 12 to 14 points.  You can't come up short.  I don't care how you get 'em.  He got 13.
Alex rebounding the ball.
Willie Cauley, the way he played, he played well.  We get five blocks, and we're supposed to be the team that lost the biggest shot block guy in the country.
Ryan Harrow, if Ryan plays the way he's capable of playing, he had one turnover, we're pretty good.  A lot of it is he has to play.

Q.  The crowd, Cal.
COACH CALIPARI:  Unbelievable.  What I did last night, I was home, driving in, thinking, What else can we do?  What edge can we get?  We're doing two things to the players.  Here is how we're going to do it.  We have a game plan.  What else?
I told Dewayne, We need the fans to take us over the hump.  The last eight minutes, we need you standing to carry us over the finish line.  And they did.  That building was unbelievable.  That was as loud as we've been in four years.  The great thing is the crowd knows this team is so young that they really need them.

Q.  When teams are in this situation, do or die, sink or swim, they do win, in your experience what can it do for this team?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, we beat Missouri in the same thing and it didn't do a whole lot.  We reverted back.  I know we can do it, but wait till you see my way of doing it.  Everybody reverted back, from Alex to Ryan.  We all did.  Archie was fouling.  It was just ridiculous.  So let's hope that doesn't happen.
The good news is we have no more road games.  We don't have to go on the road.  Nashville has been a good home for us.  So it's not like we're not going to have some people up there.

Q.  As you mentioned Nashville, you coached an SEC tournament in Nashville.  How much of a difference can the fans make for you?
COACH CALIPARI:  We just got to play basketball.  If we play and we play like we defended today, because we weren't great offensively, we shot 39% and 23% from the three and won.  Those are my old‑school teams.  That's my UMass teams.  That's how we played.  You're laughing, but it is.
We gutted it out and we defend you.  Then we figure out a way of trying to win it at the end.  We held them to 40% and 35.  10 turnovers.  Well, that's a low number against them.

Q.  Timeout early in the first and second half.  Talk about the energy coming out.
COACH CALIPARI:  Like I told them, when you're out there ready to drown, you better start swimming and make something happen.  I think they did.  At halftime I told them that we had a couple breakdowns.  The reality of it is that we fought like heck.
I think all our fans, all they've wanted to see from this team is this kind of effort.  We can all live with this.  Doesn't mean you're going to win every game, but you're going to fight like heck and give yourselves a chance.  Maybe the other team starts making threes, a bank three, does something crazy.
This kind of fight and effort where we look like a team, where guys weren't breaking off and doing their own thing, it's what everybody wants to see.  It's what I want to see as a coach, too.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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