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March 4, 2014

John Calipari

Kentucky – 55
Alabama – 48

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  In the second half, you didn't exactly shoot lights out, but you made a few shots.
COACH CALIPARI:  We shot 32% for the game and won.  I'm happy.  We're still not all the way back.  Guys were really tentative.  James Young, 1 for 11.  Aaron was 1 for 6 from the three.  We had open looks and passed on open looks.
Look, this is a young team.  They got a little rattled.  An overtime loss, go to South Carolina, had what happened there.  They're a little rattled, but they're fine.  They're fine.  They're having a ball.

Q.  With James Young's poor shooting night, do you want him to keep shooting?
COACH CALIPARI:  I just said, You're not going to shoot open shots, you got to come out.  Now you're playing four against five.
He and Aaron both had open shots.  You got to shoot it.  You got to be confident.  You don't have to shoot a three, step in.  You don't even have to bounce it, just don't stand out wide.
We did some things in the second half to get the ball to the baseline.  I thought we did a better job of that.  But we still missed every open play.
I thought Dakari was outstanding.  Willie did a pretty good job defensively.  But Dakari did some great stuff to get baskets for us when we needed it.
Then as bad as James shot it, he makes a three that matters and three free throws that matter.  That was big.  That was big.  We could have lost the game.
Like I said, Alex didn't play as well as he's been playing.  I'm so happy for Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson.  Both of them scored.  Jon scored two threes.  One they waved off.

Q.  Cal, there was a play where Dakari hit a shot, you gave Jon Hood a high five.
COACH CALIPARI:  Jon Hood said, Coach, I'm telling you, the lob is there.  We were in the huddle.  Hoody is telling us that lob is there.  That's why I walked down.  He said it in the huddle.

Q.  You talked a little bit about it on the radio last night.  How much is your hip bothering you this season?
COACH CALIPARI:  It's been bothering me.  But I got no excuse.  I'm just a negative guy (laughter).

Q.  Are you on pain medication right now (laughter)?
COACH CALIPARI:  Oh, my goodness (laughter).
I'm going to say this:  If Allen chased me, he could catch me.

Q.  Has that been a rough thing, though, to deal with in season?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, but c'mon.  I mean, I got a massage today.  We're winding it down.  I'm fine.  I did take some painkillers.  I don't take aspirin, drugs, nothing.  Never smoked.  I'm like ridiculous.  But I took four straight days of pain pills so I could sleep.  I said, I'm not doing it.  I stopped.
I'm fine.  Look, I'm old.  I used to be young.  I'm old.  I'm going to have to have my hip replaced.  I don't know.

Q.  When you said the players are fine, they're having fun.  Watching them, it doesn't always look that way.
COACH CALIPARI:  Let me say this.  I said this the other day.  You remember when John Wall came in and said, I'm not having any fun.  It really got rough.  He wasn't playing as well.  They were playing a way to make the game tougher for him.
That's part of being here.  Then it's highlighted here because of all the glow, the other stuff, a hundred cameras, all that.
But there's no better place to coach or play than here.  I just keep telling them, You have to have more fun than the other team.  You have to.  If we lose, I've said this for five years, who is taking responsibility?  I will take responsibility.  If we win, they get all the glory.  So play.  If we lost today, I was going to say it was me again.
I'm so mean, I didn't kiss them enough.  I tried to kiss the kid on the mouth.  He wouldn't take it.  I would have taken responsibility.  Just play.
You know, the other thing is to tell them that we're here and we're all in this together for them.  But they're young.  I mean, I don't read it and hear it, but I imagine they may.  I have five filters before it gets to me.  Any tweets, Facebook, articles written, it will go through five people before I read it, which means I don't read it.
You know what, I read stuff about me sometimes.  I imagine they're reading stuff about them.  Got to deal with it.
The biggest thing, today was a little bit better.  When adversity hits, we have not responded here with this group.  Instead of coming together when it hits, they go apart.
Now, the other side of it is when we get down 12 or 15, what happens?  They fight and claw and get back in the game.  So my thing is, Play that way the whole time.  Play like you're down 15.
That was a tough zone for us to go against, too, by the way.  It's a different kind of zone.  It's a 1‑1‑3 zone.  That middleman clogs.  You don't get as much drive.  You have to throw it to the baseline, which we started doing.  It's a different kind of zone.
Again, we got a bunch of young guys out there, talking them through stuff.
Let me just say, you shoot 32% and win, you're really happy as a coach.  You're happy.

Q.  There was a stretch in the second half you were getting after it.  Andrew dove on the floor.
COACH CALIPARI:  We're getting there.

Q.  How much of that happens only when shots fall?
COACH CALIPARI:  That's the young guys.  That's what we're trying to battle a little bit.  Like I said, at the end of the day, you and I know we just had to win this game.  Didn't matter the score.  Could have been a halfcourt bank shot.  We have to keep building.
We have a day off tomorrow, two days, a noon game down in Florida.  Absolute war.  It will be a hard game for us.  But it's a great game for us.  It's exactly what this team needs.

Q.  Talking about that Florida game, there's so many storylines you can look with them trying to go 18‑0.  What are you going to zone in on for that game?
COACH CALIPARI:  Haven't even thought about it.

Q.  Like you are playing with house money?
COACH CALIPARI:  Haven't thought about it.  I'm trying to figure out if I'm coming back next year or not (laughter).
I didn't do a press conference.  I didn't have anything to say.  Couldn't talk about the officials, and I couldn't talk about the last 10 minutes, I wasn't there.  I didn't do it.  All of a sudden it's like people are going nuts, losing their minds.

Q.  What is the mark that Jarrod and Jon left on this program?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, they're two of the most loved players, maybe other than Darius, that I've coached here.  But they're right there with him.
They're both going to have great careers because of what they've done here.  Both of them already have companies that have called them about, Hey, what are you doing after you're done playing?  They both have grown as young men.  Jon Hood especially.
I mean, this kid, I'd like to be around him all day.  Those first two years were so hard and so tough on him.  It's like he said at the end of last year, I hated everybody.  I hated you, coach.  Now I have fun every day.  I want to be coached.  I'm better.  I'm the best I've ever been as a player.
He's played with more NBA players than any other player in history.  He played with more in his time here.
Both of them have benefited.  We both benefited by having them here.

Q.  You said you have five filters before anything gets to you.  How did it get to you about there was some talk about you not coming in back?
COACH CALIPARI:  When I went in the office, my secretary asked me, Are you not coming back next year?  She said it was on Around the Horn, it was on First Take and they're doing a 30 for 30 movie on it.  Really?  Then Dan Patrick talked about it, Andy Katz already has my replacement.
Because I didn't do a post‑game interview?  Wow!  We're not the most overanalyzed program in the country.  I was wrong when I said that.

Q.  You are coming back?
COACH CALIPARI:  I hope.  If I get through the hip surgery.
Again, guys, understand, tough for these kids what we've been through.  But they hung tough and did it.  Even now you got a couple guys that you could see were still not through the dregs of what we went through.  But we win, we move on, we see what happens from here.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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