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March 18, 2016

John Calipari

Des Moines, Iowa

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Coach John Calipari. Congratulations on the win last night.

Q. Would you describe your relationship with Coach Crean? He had a lot of nice things to say about you and how much he's learned from you over the years.
JOHN CALIPARI: We go way back, ties too Pittsburgh. We both were assistant coaches there. I've always respected his work habits, his basketball knowledge. I loved being around guys that like to talk basketball and X and O and do goofy stuff like that and salt shakers and moving stuff around and he's one of those kind of guys. He's into basketball.

Then we played against each other when he was at Marquette and when he went to Indiana, which I told him, you know, he's got one of the great jobs in the country. We played against each other. We knew your team better be ready or you're going to get beat. We stay in touch. We talk once every couple of weeks or so.

Q. John, Tom said when he was in here that there is no door that's been closed that couldn't be reopened with the rivalry and playing on a regular basis. What's your view on that and what chance do you see --
JOHN CALIPARI: At this point it would -- for the next few years, because we're in all these kind of events it's probably not an option, but what I said before, and Coach Hall said to me, this used to always be neutral, when Coach Knight was there, it was always a neutral game and that's all I proposed.

I even said, let's play it in Indianapolis every year, play it in the football stadium. We will get 75 or 80,000 people there and it will be a crazy game. I understand they need home games and that's what they want. There is no issue with me. We've got our schedule. They've got theirs. It hasn't hurt, us and it hasn't hurt them.

Q. Coach, you're scheduled the first game of the double header tomorrow, and normally Kentucky is the main event. So I didn't know if you had a preference in playing the first game or the second and if there is any difference in the preparation of how you approach the two?
JOHN CALIPARI: I'm just happy it's not at midnight! They kinda try to slide us in that slot or that 10:30 slot in the morning. So it's in the middle of the day, we're fine. Doesn't matter to me, and if -- what I do know is that our tournament, SEC Tournament games were the highest rated for that weekend of all the conferences.

So we are a team that rates high if they put us on TBS or wherever they put us, it will be a highly-rated game and if CBS thinks there's another game that will rate higher than our game with Indiana that's their choice. I'm not worried about it. We're going to be playing a tough opponent.

Q. Coach, do you see comparisons between Yogi Ferrell and Ulis? What are your impressions of Yogi?
JOHN CALIPARI: Both of them are -- they both lead their teams. Yogi is probably more of a perimeter shooter than Tyler, and I think Tyler is probably more of a mid-range game than Yogi. But I think they both play extremely hard, extremely smart, know how to create fouls, know how to turn down pick and rolls, know when to speed up their team and when to say, hold up, guys, let's play basketball here. They're both very, very good players.

Q. Along those lines, is Tyler one of those guys that when he sees that guy across from him that he knows is supposed to be a great player that it lights that fire a little extra for him?
JOHN CALIPARI: You would have to ask him. I don't believe so, but you would have to ask him. I think he is one even this year that if we lose a game, there will be one guy crying and that's him. We've lost some games this year and he's tearing up now. So as much as you think it's the mono-mono with him, he wants to win. Last year in this tournament we lost, he was bawling! He was one of the few, but and he one or two of the other guys were crying. But he was -- you know, he wants to win!

Q. When you guys have been at your best these last 11, 12, 13 games what is going so well for you now that makes you so difficult to beat. Along those lines Indiana talked about them expecting this to be an up-tempo, high-paced kind of game. If so, do you see it that way?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we're healthy. The injuries that we had this year kinda helped our depth. In other words, when Alex went down we found out we have Derek Willis. When Derek Willis went down we found out that Isaac is a pretty good player, too. When Dom went down we were able to play Charles. All of the sudden they're all back. They're all healthy. We got a full team. That has helped us.

Also the efficiency we're playing with offensively really comes back to Tyler and Jamal. Jamal has become a volume scorer, yet not a volume shooter. That helps our team, because it gives us balance. We're expecting this game to be fast. I can remember when we played these guys and they had us play them in 2012, I believe, that game was in the 90s, and it was a high-flyin', fast, you know, played fast kinda game. So I would expect this to be the same.

Q. Does that play to your strengths?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, we could play either way if you've watched us. I like to teach a grind-it-out game so if the game is close and you need to use the last three or four possessions to win the game you know how to play that way. They've run -- it's funny, when you prepare for them they're going to run 102 things on the right side and 113 on the left and flip guys -- so you've gotta coach principles versus what they're using, the plays they're using.

Tommy does a great job of putting his guys in great positions, using the talents that he has, you know. The guys that should be diving are diving. The guys that should be shooting are shooting. The guys that should be driving are driving.

So it will be -- it's a hard game to prepare for, but to be honest, again, I come back to, I'm really concerned about my team and what we have to do to be able to play in a game like this.

Q. Coach, couple days ago you said nobody has more fun on the court than Jamal Murray. Is that part of the reason he has an ability to work through touch stretches when they happen like they did in the first half?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think so. But let me just say as a coach, it's a ball coaching him because if I walk in the gym and I'm not smiling, he will say, Coach, Coach, and he'll go (smiling) like, get me to smile. Like smile, man, we're in practice! This is good stuff!

I always tease him, how old are you? I said, how old is Lamar, his brother, 8. I said, how old are you? Coach, you know how old I am. But if you ask him who has more fun, he's going to look around the room and say, no one. And if you've had a child you ask that of your child, bouncing around, doing things, laughing. Who has more fun than you? My own son, Brad, no one! That's how he is!

But if you can play to your strengths for your team and stay focused on what you do well, you can have a ball playing this game. It's when you are listening to people tell you how to play to help you and do this and you need to do that and if you do this -- you can't have fun with all the cluttered thoughts.

These kids now, we've gone five months. They know exactly how they should play to be their best version, they know, and to help their team the most. They know. Now, they may choose not to do it all the time because they got other things in their game they need to show people which doesn't help their team.

But this team right now has settled in on how they have to play, and so as Indiana, how they have to play to win, what I look like when I'm at my best, what we look like when we're at our best. And let's play with great energy and go have a ball.

Q. Can you talk about the rivalry between these two programs?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, obviously we haven't played for a few years, but I think, you know, both Indiana, Kentucky, you could say Kansas, you could say North Carolina, they're a bunch of programs that they would call the "blue bloods" and I think, you know, you all -- all of us, the fans, they all watch those others, UCLA, more than likely do not root for those others. It's just how it is.

So with us and Indiana being fairly close, you know, it's that kind of game. It will be -- the fans on both sides will be into it and it should be good.

Q. Cal, did the court rush in that 2011-12 game have any impact --

Q. Court rush where it was hard for your guys to get off in Indiana. Did that have an impact in you not wanting the game to be played there?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, it's just that you have to figure out how many home and homes you really want to play and when you come down to it you just -- look, we should be playing -- if you hear Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA, Duke, well, you can't play everybody. Well you should you're at Kentucky, really?

We should play everybody? Why don't we all play everybody and we'll just do a Round Robin between those nine programs and that will be our nonconference schedule? We'll play each other. I'll go for it if everybody else does. Well I'll have my hand up by myself. We play who we play and they play who they play and it's done.

I mean, I've said I would have done it neutral, but we've added the CBS Classic with North Carolina and the guys, we've added the ESPN Classic with Duke and the guys. We've got a game in the Bahamas and we play a couple other games that are home and homes and we got that Challenge, which I can't stand. January, had to go to Kansas. Come on!

Q. Specifically, what did you want your team or need your team to do to beat Indiana tomorrow night?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, look, I just want them to play their best, be their best version, play with confidence, just go play, have fun playing and if it's not good enough, it's been a heck of a season. This is not life or death, really want to win the game, want to win it for those kids and the state and all that stuff, but the reality of it is let's just do our best.

We'll figure out what that means. I imagine Tom is saying the same thing to his team. It should be a great game that should be played next weekend.

Q. How impressed have you been with Skal and the way he's handled everything this year and come through it to this point?
JOHN CALIPARI: I'm really proud of him. He's -- if you know, he's a wonderful young man. If you hear about his story you would be amazed that he's even standing, let alone playing college basketball. He's a great student, he's a great teammate, he just was behind. He was behind physically he was behind mentally he was behind exerting himself, knowing how hard you have to do this, physically -- he was just behind. But you see spots of him and you say, oh, my gosh, look at his jump hook. He looks like Kareem! Then you see him shooting 15-footers and you say he may be their best shooter and then he gets pushed around. He gets tired and humps over. He's just coming into his own right now.

My thing to him is when he plays worried we all see it. When he plays excited about playing, just be excited about being on the court, you see it. Last game he played excited. There are games that he's played worried, anxious. Well, you can't play that way. The way to build confidence is do what you do best and don't do that other stuff. That takes your confidence away.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Best of luck tomorrow.

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