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March 19, 2015

John Calipari

Andrew Harrison

Karl-Anthony Towns

Tyler Ulis



COACH CALIPARI: It was a good win. I didn't like how we started the game. I didn't quite like how we finished the game. But it is 1:00 at night, and we had an overtime game where the guys were hanging out in the locker room for an hour and a half. So I'm going to chalk it up to that and move on.

Q. Karl-Anthony, how much has -- why do you think you've been able to become so much more consistent over the past month or so?
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: Just listening to my coaches, just using my size, and just playing much better in the post.

Q. Nice to at least get this game over, finishing up the first day of the tournament with such a late finish to the day?
ANDREW HARRISON: Yeah, like Coach said, it was an overtime game before ours. I mean, we didn't start well, so that's no excuse. For me, I started off sluggish. It won't happen again.

TYLER ULIS: Like he said, there was an overtime game, and it's really late. We've got to play a lot better than that. Next game we're going to play harder.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: Like they both said, we've got to play better, and we've got to start off better.

Q. What do you guys do when you're just sitting there? I saw you guys in the tunnel standing there a good 10 minutes, 15 minutes, just waiting to take the court at the very end of the overtime game. In the meantime, what do you do in the locker room, and how does that affect you as you're trying to prepare for the game?
ANDREW HARRISON: To be honest, we're just all in the locker room stretching, talking, trying to keep each other loose. That's pretty much it.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: Just like he said, we just stay loose, walking around, just keep moving and just keep talking to each other.

TYLER ULIS: Like they both said, just in there stretching, talking, making jokes, just waiting for us to play.

Q. John, are you surprised at all with the way your team started, 1 for 16?
COACH CALIPARI: No, you sit in the locker room that long, you kind of know that can happen. One of the things I talked to them after, you're not going to do this on their terms. You can't start games like this. You can't do things that we talk about every day and you choose to do something else. You can't do things on your terms in this tournament because what happens is you'll have a 12-point lead, and then you'll turn around, and it will be a 2-point game. What just happened? You broke down on two pick-and-rolls defensively, and then someone fouled, didn't need to, and then all of a sudden, they make a play, and it's a 2-point game. You can't do stuff on your terms. You've got to follow the script. Here's how we play. This is what we do. Here's the energy we play with. And we're able to play enough people that, okay, we start the game slow. I may sub earlier. I see it Saturday, I may sub one minute in. Let's go, need more energy. I think these guys will be fine. They're a great group. What is circling them, the clutter, is ridiculous, and they've handled it all year.

Q. John, what would be the schedule for tomorrow, not getting back to the hotel likely until 2:00 a.m. and having to prepare for Cincinnati?
COACH CALIPARI: We'll go to a 10:30 breakfast for the team. During that breakfast, we'll probably show some stuff of tonight's game. I don't know exactly the practice time tomorrow, but I think it's -- what time do we practice?
THE MODERATOR: 4:45. Coach Calipari: So we have a 4:45 practice. Did they already announce the game time?

Q. 2:45.
COACH CALIPARI: It's 2:45 is what they said. I don't know if they've announced it or not. That means we probably won't go real hard. I've watched Cincinnati maybe a half a game. I didn't watch today's game. We've got a lot of tape to watch. I know they play zone. They play hard. They play physical. Larry's (Davis) done a great job with that team, and it's going to be a really hard game for us.

Q. What do you appreciate most about Tyler Ulis' game?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I called him in the other day, and I said, "I want you to know you're even better than I thought you'd be." I knew he'd be good. I didn't realize he'd be this good. Now, today, I kind of tried to do stuff he doesn't do well. He passed up on some 3s that he has to shoot for us to be good. But what you do appreciate is every day his energy is at a point where he brings it every day. I love the fact that, when he and Andrew (Harrison) play together, he's fine playing the point guard or two guard. He doesn't care, and he wants to win. He's a competitor.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about the defense stepping up, especially in that first half? What is it like probably for other teams when they're facing the size that you guys are?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, what they ended up doing was trying to hold the ball a little while and then tried to drive it, whether it was off a pick-and-roll, an isolation on the wing, or straight at the top. The issue becomes, if we can guard that drive and occupy your eyes, the guys around you are all 7 foot tall. So you're driving in to two 7-footers with a guy guarding you. That's what makes the defense good. But teams do a lot with Karl-Anthony. They just move the ball, move the ball, move the ball, okay, now we're going to try to drive it. If we stop play, we're spread out, that's when they usually get it. We'll pressure the ball, but we don't want to spread out all over the court. But we're a good defensive team. We held them to 30 percent and 25 from the three. We fouled way too much today, but like I told the staff, you get up 35, it's hard. It's hard.

Q. Cal, Karl has had a couple rough games foul-wise. Today did he seem to come out with more energy to you, play a little bit smarter, not commit the fouls that drive you crazy?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he was good. I think, again, he played 25 minutes today. We didn't play anyone more than 25 -- well, somebody played 28. Tyler Ulis played 28. But in that time, he has 21 points and 11 rebounds. Now, the one thing I did tell them in the huddles, you have to respect the fact that we're throwing you the ball every time down, and if you get double-teamed, you must pass it because you've got to respect the guys that are passing you the ball. So if we do -- and Hampton didn't trap, which is why he had all those baskets. Well, he had the same baskets and missed them. Dakari (Johnson) had the same baskets and missed them. Karl made all his. But if they do trap, which they started to on Karl later, you've got to throw the ball out. You've got to respect this team. Everyone can play, and they're always giving you the ball, which he will. He's a good kid. Like I said, there were some good things today, but my message to him was real simple, you're not doing this on your terms, the way you want to do this. You've got to come together. I've coached in this tournament, I don't know how many times, but I do know this, you have to play without giving up easy baskets, with creating good shots. Trying to get easy baskets in transition offensive rebounds. Putting the pressure back on the other team because seasons are over. Shots become a little harder unless you give them layups, unless you break down and do what you choose to do. And those are the messages I'm trying to give this very young team. There were four freshmen that played in their first NCAA Tournament game today, four. You know what, they all performed pretty good.

Q. John, do you mention some of the games, three one-point games here earlier today. First time it's ever happened in one arena in the tournament. Do you maybe mention that as you move forward as to just how tight these games can be moving forward?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know if they watched anything. I watched the last 30 seconds. I happened to click it on, of SMU and UCLA. I watched the last 30. So you know I'm like what just happened? I watched three minutes of Villanova. I watched -- I barely watch. I'm not watching any because it has no bearing on us. Now, whether they're watching them or not, I don't know. The thing I keep telling them, you could have a 12-point lead, and they can evaporate quick, and then the stuff comes back on you. Most of the time, it's not so much what the other team does -- maybe a tough play or two -- it's that you choose to breakdown, whether it's pick-and-roll, whether it's how you're playing the post, whether you give up on a plan. You stop playing. You don't block out, and the guy gets a tip in. Those are the plays in this tournament that wipe you out. And this team hadn't done that all year. We didn't start the game the way we wanted to, but we're sitting here, what did we win by? We win by 23. We were up 30, whatever we were up, and I'm trying to get more out of these guys. But that's how I've coached them all year. They know that. If I don't think they play well, I'm not going to cheer them on. I did tell them -- I woke up this morning early, and the thought was in my mind, love your team. This is the time of year you just love your team. I told them, I don't know where it came from, but just love your team. I told them, I love you guys, and it's unconditional, but I'm still going to coach you. But it's time that I shouldn't have to do as much, really shouldn't. They know what to do. It should be way less of me and way more of them. Go do it. I said, I'm loving you. You've got to love each other. Let's go have fun and do this.

Q. I know over the next day you're thinking more in depth of Cincinnati, but just going into this, is there anything you know about the Bearcats off the top?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I know they played a lot of zone, and I know they're very physical and they play tough. They've got guys that aren't going to be afraid of us. If there are points in this game they watch tonight, they probably have in their mind, we can beat these guys. The we know every team we play comes in with the idea, I'm telling you we can beat them, and we deal with that every time we play, and I imagine Cincy will come in with the same thing. Like I said, Larry's done a great job with this team. It was awe tough thing when the head coach, and all of a sudden, Larry steps in. I think he's done a good job. Mick (Cronin) -- I don't know if Mick's down here. Somebody told me he may be down here. He is? That's great. Mick's a good guy. It was a great win today. That game they won was a great win. Just fighting and getting yourself back. It's a great win for them. Great win for their program.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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