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April 2, 2015

Willie Cauley-Stein

Quinn Cook

Frank Kaminsky

Travis Trice


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the players. We'll start with questions.

Q. Travis and for Quinn, you guys played in your second and third game. What do you remember about that game and does it have any relevance?
TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, we watched a lot of film last week on that first game, just looking at all the turnovers, a lot of mistakes we have. Duke is a great team. They were great then. We feel they're a better team now than what they were earlier in November.

QUINN COOK: Agreeing with what Travis says, they're a great team, we're a great team. All four teams here are great. We played them our third game of the year, still trying to figure ourselves out. I guess it was their second game. We're two different teams now. They're way better. I feel like we've gotten better. Everyone is playing at championship level. Watching film of that game, more recently from how they've been playing, they're playing as well as anybody. We got our hands full tomorrow or Saturday.

Q. Willie, if you could just sort of reflect on the journey from the last three years here at Kentucky, also playing here, getting a chance to play in this Final Four after last year having to watch it.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: One, he lied. I didn't only score two points. I mean, it's just crazy to think about the last three years of losing first round in the NIT against Robert Morris. Coming back and finding a way to get back to a title game, coming up short, having a chance to come back and do it again. With the guys that we got, it's a special group. I mean, everybody on the team has a purpose. That's how we play.

Q. Frank, could you talk a little bit about what you've seen of Willie Cauley-Stein by watching him on film, if you know anything about him personality-wise?
FRANK KAMINSKY: He's a great player. He changes the game in so many different ways, offensively, defensively. You got to know where he is on the court at all times, he's that good. Personality-wise, we're talking about Super Smash Bros. on the way up here, so I feel like we would get along (laughter).

Q. Travis, you've talked often about the journey, how far you've come personally. Are you able to look where you are today, have you taken time to appreciate how far you've come?
TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, definitely. Not only this week, but just driving in here, even today, all the media, all the things we've had to do. I'm appreciative of it. After everything I've been through for the past four years, makes it that much more memorable.

Q. Frank, you now face the third team you played in the tournament last year. When you saw the bracket come out, did you allow yourself to think at all about maybe having almost the same path you had last year? Then, has that impacted the way your team has played, to face Arizona and Oregon and Kentucky again?
FRANK KAMINSKY: It does make it a little bit easier. It's definitely not easy, but it makes it a little bit easier having seen opponents because you get to see their sets. You have a scouting report that's just a year old. It's not going to be easy. But Kentucky's a really good team and we're going to have to prepare as well as possible from them. We know they're different from last year, so are we. So it's going to be a good game.

Q. Quinn, you've been a team leader all year long, kind of ushered the freshmen through the ups and downs of ACC basketball. This is all new for you, too. Is your role the same? How are you handling this Final Four opportunity?
QUINN COOK: My role is the same. Just continue to lead these guys. No player from our team has been here to the Final Four. New experience, we want to take it in, have fun. At the end of the day, we're here to win games. Not change, just continue doing the great habits we've done all year, just have fun.

Q. Frank, how did the personality and chemistry of this team develop over the last two years? Is it safe to say you and Nigel set the tone for that in the locker room?
FRANK KAMINSKY: Yeah, Nigel's a funny guy. It's great being around so many characters on our team. It just makes this experience that much more memorable being around so many fun guys. It's just been a great ride so far. Hopefully we get to stay here as long as possible.

Q. Frank, have you watched how Travis has caught fire? Travis, Coach K called you last night the best player in this tournament. If you start, Travis, how do you react to that?
TRAVIS TRICE: I'm just thankful. That's the ultimate compliment, especially from a coach like Coach K, one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game. But I just try and focus and do what my teammates need, what our team needs to win. That's all that's going through my mind when I'm out there playing, what do I need to do to help us win.

FRANK KAMINSKY: We've seen Travis twice this year. We know how good he is. We know how he can inspire his team. He's the leader of his team. He knows how to get his guys going. In that Big Ten title game, it was tough chasing him around for so long. You saw against Virginia in the tournament how he got hot to start the game, set the tone for his team. He's a great player and he's doing a great job leading his time.

Q. Frank and Willie, who do you each to prefer to play in Super Smash Bros and why?
FRANK KAMINSKY: I've been trying Captain Falcon. He's really slow, so I think I'm going to go back to Kirby.

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I play with Kirby just because he can change. He can change into anybody he's playing against. And he flies around, so when you get knocked off the little stage, you can just fly back and you don't have to worry about jumping.

Q. Frank, your team is a fun bunch. Do you feel like the guys are tightening up at all here at the Final Four?
FRANK KAMINSKY: Yes and no. I mean, we played Super Smash Bros in our hospitality room for a while last night while the barber was in there, hanging out, chilling out, having fun. When we got on the court today for practice, all seriousness. We know how to flip it when we need to.

Q. Willie, might be strange for some folks to see a UK guy right next to a Duke guy. You've played each other. Not exactly the hatred the fan bases may have. What is the mentality for your peers up here, respect?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Definitely respect. Just the road that everybody's gone through to get here. Especially at the beginning of the season when they said this is going to be the people in the Final Four, it's just crazy that those are the people in the Final Four now. But, I mean, just a great respect for each one of these players up here, and their teams. You know, each one of us is a big part of their team, the way they run things. It's really just a good respect.

Q. Willie, you played Notre Dame. Tremendous offensive team. Wisconsin ranks as the best team on offense in basketball. What do they do better than Notre Dame? Do you anticipate you're going to guard and get primary duty on Frank come Saturday?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Us watching film, they run angles a lot. One of our biggest things in the Notre Dame game was giving up backdoors, easy baskets. They utilized that. They kind of pride themselves on, you know, exploiting people's weakness and taking over from it. So that's our biggest thing is not giving up easy baskets, not letting them play angles against us.

Q. Willie and Frank, you showed your versatility in the Notre Dame game. Is it possible you could play out on the perimeter against Dekker? Frank, if Willie is out on the perimeter, they still have a lot of other big guys on the inside. What is the difficulty of playing that many big guys?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I think with the guys that we have, we're going to do a lot of switching anyway. Not one person is going to be on that set player during the whole game. You know, everybody in practice has been guarding guards and bigs. We're just kind of ready for everything.

FRANK KAMINSKY: Having so many tall, athletic players on our team, it definitely doesn't make it easy. At the same time we know that we're going to be able to get some stuff just like they're going to be able to get some stuff going on on offense. It's going to be a battle, we know that. They have like seven guys over 6'10", so... It's going to be fun. I can't wait. It's not going to be easy to prepare because obviously there's no scout team in the country that can replicate what they have on their team. We'll just be prepared for whatever.

Q. Frank, a lot of the coaches' talk was about your development. Bo said he never has had a player that's taken it to the level you have. What factor do you have in your mind in your development to take you where you're at?
FRANK KAMINSKY: A lot of it has to do with, if you look at these guys, the success they had in their college careers, I wanted that for myself. I wanted to work as hard as I could to get to this stage, be a good player. It definitely wasn't easy, but I was willing to put in the time, effort and work to do so. It's gone better, better than I planned. At the end of the day there's still a lot of work left. I think I can still improve on my game and improve on the season.

Q. Willie, you had so many freshmen last year. Has it been easier pulling together as a special team this year with some sophomores and even an elderly junior such as yourself?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Definitely. Especially the way Coach Cal coaches, it's really high, it's really quick. As freshmen coming in, you have to learn stuff at a way faster rate than other teams do because they have so many guys that have stayed. This year it was like that. We had the majority of our team that had played under him before. We already knew what the expectations was, everything like that. So it made it a lot easier.

Q. Willie, you didn't get a chance to play here last year. Do you think you would have made a difference against UConn and how excited are you to play in the Final Four?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I'm super excited to play. It's a dream. When you're young and you're playing in your driveway, you're playing one-on-one against yourself, this is the moment that you're playing against. So it is definitely a dream and a blessing to be here. But I can't say that I would have made a difference in the game. I'm not a fortune teller. I can't really tell you that. I mean, I would like to think so, but I can't really say on that.

Q. Travis, what do you love the most about this team and what makes it so special both on and off the court? If you can follow that up by answering, how you think you guys have changed the most since the first time around since Duke?
TRAVIS TRICE: I think our camaraderie is what's really gotten us to this point. We've kind of had an up-and-down year if you look at some of our losses. I think just staying the course really and never losing faith in our team or our abilities. But I think that speaks to your second question. We're constantly together. Like Frank said, the hospitality room, we were there till 12:00, 1:00 last night. You really got to fight us to get away from each other. I think that's a good thing and helps us in close games.

Q. Travis, you played obviously earlier in the year. What was your memories of Justise Winslow?
TRAVIS TRICE: He's a matchup problem. He played well early on. He kind of hurt us when we played him. He's gotten better since then, too. I think it's their entire team. They're a totally different team in a better sense than they were when we played them the first time. That's why we've been studying film so much.

Q. Quinn, how do you suppose this experience is different for you as a senior than what it might have been as a freshman? How do you think the prism you're taking all this in is what the freshmen on this team are enjoying right now?
QUINN COOK: I'm like a kid in a candy store here. Obviously it being my first time, you know, I've had two early exits in the first rounds, losing to Louisville in the Elite 8, seeing those guys cut the nets down, celebrate, remembering that. It's a blessing to be here, especially with these three guys. These four historic programs here, it's a dream come true for myself. I'm blessed to be where I am on this team because we've been through a lot this year, a lot on the court, off the court. We always have trust in each other. Coach never gave up hope and always encouraged us. I'm just blessed to be up here.

Q. (No microphone.)
QUINN COOK: It's the Final Four. Everybody doesn't get here. It's a blessing to be one of the four teams remaining. I think those guys are having fun as much as I am. It was one of our goals to get here. We got a tough game on Saturday.

Q. Frank, you had a great run through the tournament last year, had a tough game against Kentucky. What did you learn about yourself from that Kentucky game that maybe you took with you into the off-season?
FRANK KAMINSKY: I learned that maybe I wasn't as good as I thought I was at that point in time. Just going against a team like theirs, they have so many elite players on the court at all times, I just struggled and didn't play as well as I wanted to. I think that was a big driving factor, motivating factor to try to get back here, try to play better than we did last year, hopefully come out on top. It going to be definitely tougher than last year, we know that. We're going to do whatever we can to do so.

Q. Travis, when you look at the other teams, the star power they have, is that something that motivates you a little bit more, see kind of star power on the other teams?
TRAVIS TRICE: Definitely. I mean, like Quinn said, these are four elite programs. The other three teams here are number one seeds. They definitely have more McDonalds All-Americans, more star power than we do. At the same time I feel that's kind of what drove us to get here. Us against the world mentality, that's helped us get through the season.

Q. How do you feel about the growth of your team in the NCAA tournament? What does the slope of that line look like?
FRANK KAMINSKY: I feel like we've grown a lot in the NCAA tournament. We've gone through a lot of adverse situations so far and we've responded and played well enough to get here. It's been a great ride. Hopefully we can continue with the success we've had so far.

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Like what Frank said, we've been through a lot of adversity, kind of up and down. Playing the first round against Cincinnati, Notre Dame having a nail-biter. It's been kind of up and down for us. As a group, you know, guys just stick together and stay the course, we were able to come up on top. To be in the situation we're in right now is unbelievable. It's crazy to think that last year after we lost, guys went back to the hotel and said, We're coming back, we got to make it back to the tournament. It's just crazy that it really came true like that.

QUINN COOK: Agreeing with Willie and Frank, it's been a tough road. We had to grind out some games. Against Utah, we couldn't hit a shot. Against Gonzaga, we had to get some stops. We couldn't miss a shot at the end of the game. We've all had different paths. For us to be here is a blessing, like we all say. I think we've grown on the defensive end, taking pride at getting stops, stringing stops together, staying poised, staying together. Just agreeing with these two, it's just unbelievable to be here. I'm thankful for it.

TRAVIS TRICE: I think adversity is what has gotten our team to this point. Midway through the year, we were on the bubble. People questioned whether we were going to get into the tournament. Because of that, we've banded together. I think we're just peaking at the right time.

Q. Travis, earlier in the week Coach Izzo talked about the bus ride, what it would be like to be on it coming down here. How was it different maybe than any other rides you've had before?
TRAVIS TRICE: Well, I slept most of the way down here (smiling). But it was kind of cool. We actually stopped on Dave and Buster's on the way outside the city. Guys were excited. We're going to take it all in. We're blessed to be here. We're just appreciative of it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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