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NCAA MEN'S FINAL FOUR


March 30, 2015


John Calipari


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

DAVE WORLOCK:  We're joined by Coach Calipari.  Congratulations on returning to the Final Four.  We'll be respectful of your time and get going right away with questions.
Let's get going.
COACH CALIPARI:  Thank you.

Q.  John, I'm wondering, with Andrew and Aaron in particular, what qualities do players have to have to be very good in the clutch?
COACH CALIPARI:¬† The biggest thing is you cannot be afraid to miss the game‑winning shot.¬† It's not that you want to make it; it's that you're not afraid to miss it.¬† You're not afraid to make a play and it go wrong.
You have to have amnesia.  You have to be willing to risk.  Those two have it.  They both have it.

Q.  How much can a coach develop that in a player and how much of it is just an innate thing?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, the biggest thing is they've got to be put in that position and they've got to know it's okay to miss.  I'll give you an example.  Brandin Knight missed five game winners throughout the year.  Then as we wound down the year, he made the baskets against Princeton, he made the game winner against Ohio State.  They've got to be put in that position and they've got to be told that it's okay that you miss the game winner because that's not the play that won or lost the game anyway.
John Wall made his first game winner against Miami of Ohio his first game.  Had never made one.  Tyreke Evans, same thing, made game winners where he hadn't done it before.
But they've got to be put in those positions and they've got to be told it's okay to miss.

Q.  Have you had a chance to look at Wisconsin a little bit more, just some of your early impressions of them.
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, they're outstanding.  We just played a great offensive team in Notre Dame.  This team rivals and maybe surpasses because they can iso you in the post.  They shoot the three the same as Notre Dame does.  They have that one guy that's a big guy, not a guard, and their guards are good, too, in Frank who can go get his own.  But Dekker has proved he can do the same.  They're really good there.
They don't foul.¬† Bo and I have talked about it.¬† You could play tough, hard‑nosed, even physical defense without fouling like on every play, every player.¬† That's what he teaches.¬† That's what we try to teach.¬† We want you to be aggressive.¬† We want you to be physical.¬† Just don't foul.¬† Physical doesn't mean don't let them cut, don't grab.
I mean, they do what they're supposed to do.  They give you a tough look.  They rebound the ball.  They're outstanding.
This will be a really hard game for our team.  We know that.  Bo has done what he's done with every team:  he's just made them a cohesive offensive and defensive unit.

Q.  With Karl, he has a propensity to get in foul trouble.  What do you do there?
COACH CALIPARI:  Most cases you're fouling when you're out of position.  Instead of playing the guy before he catches it, you're trying to play him after he catches it or after he cuts.  Karl has a tendency, as all freshmen, to stop playing during the game, get screened.
He did it against Notre Dame late in the game, a simple screen, shuffle screen, and he died in the screen, it was an and‑one late.¬† But that's freshmen.
So hopefully the excitement, the focus is going to be to where we're playing people, Karl and everyone else, before they catch the ball.

Q.  John, you talked before Notre Dame about how little actual time you spent looking at what they do, showing your players, not yourself and your staff, but the players.  It was about 10 minutes during a team dinner on game day.  What about when you have a whole week and it's Wisconsin, how much more will your players watch of the Badgers?
COACH CALIPARI:  The same.  I mean, however we prepare teams at the beginning of the year, whether it's North Carolina or North Carolina A& T, everything is the same kind of preparation.  Our focus this week will be on our team.
I'm not going to be able to control, nor will our team, how Wisconsin plays.  You're not going to force them out of what they want to do.
The things that we'll work on will pertain to Wisconsin, but our players won't know it.  They won't know why we're doing this drill.  The breakdowns will all be based on what we coaches have seen.
Now, they may have watched Wisconsin play.  They may have watched an NCAA tournament game.  I tell them don't watch the games.  They don't listen to me ever, so I imagine they've seen them.
Our team played them a year ago, so they have an idea how good they were and are now.  But we won't watch Wisconsin tape as a team.
Our staff, I'm starting to get overloaded with it to be honest with you, then I stop.  I don't need to watch 10 game tapes.  We all start losing our minds.  I got to prepare, I got to work harder than the other guy.  Stop it, just stop it.  You can watch the tapes you need to do, then get your team ready.  That's what I do.  I don't know if it's right or wrong, but that's what we do.

Q.  Kaminsky, are you seeing a change in his physical presence?  Does he look stronger to you than he did last year?
COACH CALIPARI:¬† He looks stronger.¬† He's working angles better.¬† He's a really confident perimeter shooter.¬† He's passing because he gets double‑teamed so much.¬† He's passing better.
Look, I love when I see players from year to year get better, whether it's my players or another player.  That gets me.  That means they're committed.  They understand the grind.  Frank is about his team now.  He'll go get 29 or he'll get 8, he'll have 7 assists.
I imagine Bo has had a ball watching him go from three minutes a game to last season to where he is now.  I bet you Bo would say, if you asked him, he'll smile, because that's how we coaches are.
Even for me, having a player come in and have all this reputation, whether it's Anthony Davis, John, DeMarcus, it's where are they at the end of the year?  What kind of improvement have they made?  What have we taught them?
Our three pillars, the industriousness, the grind, do you understand it?  You when you leave here, you will.  The second part of it is the servant leadership.  Do you understand if you're going to lead, you're going to serve?  Do you understand how to be a great leader?  The third thing is having a kind heart, you care about everybody else.  You don't eat everything.  We're all trying to eat.  Don't be a big.  People in the community, be nice.
As coaches, we want to see guys develop those kind of things, take those things with them when they leave our programs.

Q.  Coach, you often lovingly refer to Big Blue Nation as crazy.  Certainly we are going to see that on display in Indianapolis like you've seen it at the last couple of sites.  Why do you think Kentucky basketball has always had arguably as strong of a following as anything has in American sports?  What do you think triggered that?
COACH CALIPARI:  Coach Rupp.  Again, I've talked to his son, I've talked to his grandson.  As a matter of fact, his great grandson and my son were friends before he went to prep school, Fredrick.  What a great kid he is.
He came in and established a program out of nothing.  Back in the day, he wrote a book in 1941 that I've read, it's pertinent today.  There are things that he was doing back in the '40s that were so advanced.
He started teaching trapping, but they didn't have a term for it.  They called it two timing.  What?  Two timing.  They didn't have trapping.  There were things that he did back then that brought so much pride to this state.  He wasn't afraid to play anybody.  They got on trains and went and played in New York and Chicago.  He played anyone, anywhere, anytime back then.
He was a student of the game.  It started right there.  Then Coach Hall, then Coach Pitino, then Tubby.  They take so much pride.  Everybody says, Well, you got to win a national title.  No, you got to be significant.  They want you in the conversation.
I've been here now six years.  You got to win it or...  No.  They'd like you to win it now, they'll be depressed if you don't for maybe a month.  But they want in the conversation.  They want in the conversation in recruiting.  They want in the conversation when you're talking one of the best teams.
If they thought you should win it every year, we'd have 125 national titles.  Doesn't happen.  And they know that.

Q.  Was there a moment where their support kind of took you back, where you thought, What are you doing here?
COACH CALIPARI:  I'll give you two examples.  You walk into our arena at home, the upper deck in the corners are filled 40 minutes before the game.  What, are you crazy?  Why are you here right now?
The radio show has 8,000 or 9,000 people that stay after.  Our radio show would rank in the top 30 in attendance of games.
The other thing is you go on the road, they're chanting.  You're like, Oh, my gosh, they've taken over the arena.  Like they do that.  I don't know how they get tickets.  They know not to wear blue when they're trying to get tickets.  They have to wear red, orange, another color.  People don't want to sell them their tickets.  They figure out ways of getting in.  They don't tell, because it's a secret.  They don't tell anybody.  No one knows.  How in the world are they getting these tickets?

Q.  Could you comment on Trey Lyles' play this year, his development.
COACH CALIPARI:  Two things happened.  He didn't play in the summer because he had an injury, and then he got sick in the middle of the season, was out I believe three weeks.
But his progress as a player has been phenomenal.  I've said all along, he's the X factor for us.  At the next level, he's going to be a four.  He's going to be a four that spreads the court.
We're training him as a three, which means he's guarding guards at 6'10", that he's being guarded by smaller players, which means we're throwing him in the post some.
He is a finisher.¬† He likes to think he's a play‑maker.¬† Drives me absolutely crazy.¬† His play making is turnover making.¬† When you talk about finishing around the basket, when you talk about one‑dribble pull‑ups on the run, you talk about being able to avoid and finish near the rim, making free throws, making pressure free throws, he is our X factor.¬† He's the one guy that can separate our team.

Q.¬† You touched upon Kentucky's tradition.¬† Bringing that forward to this weekend, how much of a home‑court advantage do you think you'll have at Lucas Oil Stadium?¬† It's pretty apparent you will have more fans than the other three schools combined.
COACH CALIPARI:  One, we don't know that.  I do know Michigan State travels, Duke travels, Wisconsin travels.  They all can get there easily.
I also know that what an area to have the game.  Indianapolis is like San Antonio.  I mean, it's the place to go.  So I would imagine that the town's going to be overrun by fans for all of us.
My hope is our guys figured out how to get the tickets more than the other people, but you just don't know.
At this point in the year, it's not going to be 'a home court.'  You're not going to have that kind of advantage.  The other team is going to have 10,000 fans, too.  Okay, you have 20, they have 10.  It's not going to have an advantage.
Now, my hope is our fans enjoy themselves.  Most of the fans that go cannot get in Rupp Arena.  That's why they go on the road, go to the conference tournament.  They can't get tickets in our building.

Q.  You sort of caused a little bit of a social media uproar when you dismissed Notre Dame as your toughest opponent.  Do you think your comments were misconstrued?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, we played Texas A&M and they took us to double overtime and we were lucky to get to overtime.  We played Mississippi in overtime and we were lucky to do that.  Florida played us in a tough game on the road.  I can go on and on.  LSU had us beat down there.
I mean, to say that that was by far the toughest game, I could have lied and said, Oh, yeah, absolutely.  But what I did say after the game was, Notre Dame played great.  Then when I got up on the stage, I said, Let's give them a hand for the great game that they played.
Now, it really doesn't matter what I say, it could be construed however.  But Mike and I are friends.  He did a fabulous job.  They could have easily won the game and been going to Indianapolis as us.  We kind of made the play down the stretch.  We made a couple plays and won the game.
I respect Mike.  He knows that.  He and I are in touch throughout the year.  I'm a Notre Dame fan.  I'm Catholic.  I grew up watching Lindsey Nelson in the Sundays.  Notre Dame highlights, the fight song, Ara Parseghian.
They can take it how they want, but it's just not accurate.

Q.  It sort of said that no matter what you said, there are some people out there that are going to believe what they believe.  Do you think that's a function of being undefeated, having this team, just Kentucky?
COACH CALIPARI:  I think the emotion after the game, people were mad that they lost.  Then, you know, whatever I said, they were going to look at it and be mad.  That's okay.  I understand this.
But I speak the truth.  I'm not going to sit there and lie and say we played one of the best games of the year.  They asked me a question, I told the truth, at least how I saw it.
I know how good Notre Dame is.  I watched the tape.  I watched them beat Duke.  I watched them beat North Carolina.  I watched them in their tournament, at home.
As a matter of fact, we played them a couple years ago.  They beat us by 25 there.  I mean, it wasn't even a game.  I know how good they are.

Q.  You'll find out this weekend if you made the Hall of Fame, a pretty remarkable honor.  What would that mean to you if you were able to do that on the same weekend that you could cut down the nets?  Also just your thoughts on the pantheon of coaches that is in this Final Four.  Quite a distinguished group.
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, when you talk about the coaches here, when you talk about Bo Ryan, you're talking about one of those guys that walked through the ranks and has done it anywhere he's been, was a great assistant before he was a great head coach.  He's just a good guy.
Tommy Izzo and I go so far back.  We're in touch throughout this tournament.  He knows what I feel about him.  You talk about one of the top two or three coaches, he's it.  He's done it every year with every kind of different team.  He's done it when he's lost guys, when he's had great players, when he's had great teams.
Then you talk about Mike Krzyzewski, c'mon.  Wooden, Krzyzewski, and that's about it.
My respect for Mike Krzyzewski goes beyond just watching him and what he's done in thousands of games, all that.  My respect for him goes to this level.  What he did for Anthony Davis, what he did for Derrick Rose, what he just did for DeMarcus Cousins on USA Basketball.  All of them spent that time with him and their careers changed, the whole direction.
My hope is that half the team becomes my guys because I see what he's done for my guys.  If you know me well enough, you know that's moving me.  The other stuff is great, and I respect him.  That right there, that moves me.
DAVE WORLOCK:  Coach Calipari, thank you so much for your time.  Safe travels to Indianapolis.  We'll see you in a few days.
COACH CALIPARI:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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