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November 23, 2005

John Calipari


Q. Williams, I know this is only his third game with you guys, but did you envision him as potentially a primary weapon? He had 26, and first half he was 7 for 7 from the floor, 5 for 5 on 3, and 20 points.

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: He was pretty good. (Laughter).

Q. Hence the question.

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: What I told him in the second half when he made all those threes and he came out trying to keep shooting them go, to the post. You see how good he is in the post? You've made your threes and the first time this season he's made the threes and the great thing is he will shoot them. He has the green light to shoot them but this is the first game he's made them. But he's able to do so much more. I don't have the stats here but I can't imagine he didn't have seven or eight rebounds, he didn't have some assists. He played an awful pretty darned good game. What happened to us, we came out in the first half and did some stuff and were aggressive and created a great lead. The second half, it's like we let it kind of -- so I had to back off the press because we were just giving baskets or fouls and I told them that's just not our game. We just want to keep pressing and running the entire game. We were not able to do that today. The second half I thought they did some great things, as soon as he saw we were struggling the pick-and-rolls, he ran the 6,000 pick-and-rolls and that's what we did. Can he kept telling our guy to go over and we were getting under and obviously Farmar is a good player and their other guys are good and they got right back in the game.

Q. Did you envision Williams would fulfill the role of the primary threat on this club?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: If you asked me, we've probably got two or three players that are a little bit better than the others and he's one of those three. He's an unbelievable listener, coachable. Like anything we did today when we left the time-out, he did what he was supposed to and we had some other guys that did not. He does everything he's supposed to. He listens. He's as responsive as Marcus Camby was with me. And I said I've only coached a couple players that are as good of listeners as he is. He just does what you ask him to do. You want me to go on the post, I will; you're telling me, look, if they go under the screen, shoot the 3, which is what we told him, he'll do it. He's not afraid, he has no fear. He made the tip in, somebody shot the air ball, Rodney, he tips it in, that was the biggest play of the game, they were ready to bury us. He comes up with the basket, the tip in, he did a lot. Darius is hurt and he played about 80 percent and some of his decision-making was based on that. That leg is really bothering him. But, you know, that's why I tried to get him out. I was trying to win that game, but I didn't feel we could do it without him on the floor.

Q. Considering how much experience and some older guys that you had last year, are you surprised or impressed or what have you with how poised your guys seem this year, despite all of the freshmen you've got playing?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: One of the things I want to tell and you may think I'm crazy, I told the guys today, I want this game to be close. I want us to be in a little bit of a battle so we can figure out what we are. Because really, Alabama got to 8 or 9, but we were up 18, 20, most of that game. What you need to do is I'm watching Gonzaga and Michigan State and Texas and Iowa, and I'm watching guys have to come down and make plays after a time-out, and we're not ready for that. We left two time-outs and did exactly the opposite of what we were talking about. And why? Because we've got freshman. I played six freshman out of my top nine and the tenth was Williams and he's a senior but he's only a second year guy, so he's like a sophomore. And again, we've got guys in the 30-minute range and that's not what we wanted. We wanted everybody around 25, 24 or 25 and that didn't happen. And that's one of the reasons why we could not keep up the pressure. You noticed when we kept up the pressure we were really, really good. When we backed up and played halfcourt, they were just as good as us, if not better, and we know that. We just have to keep everybody understanding what they have got to do and getting after it.

Q. Do you have a sense of what this game Friday night will mean to the City of Memphis?


Q. People have been talking about it all week, although it's never wise to look past UCLA but people have been talking about Memphis/Duke and it seems like the city back home is pretty exceeded.

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I'm proud of how our city responds to this team and that's great. But for us playing a team like Duke, we know we have great respect for their program and what they have done historically. And they are coming into this game thinking they are going to win the game and bury us and that's fine. We're hoping to get out there and do the best job we can and taking it to them a little bit and trying to exploit some of their things as they do the same things to us. This team, they are so young, I don't think they even understand. I asked them before this game, do you know who Bill Walton was? They said, yeah, he does TNT on NBC and John Wooden? No. They are so young, they know now, two or three years ago. We know how good that team is and we know how good of a game it will be.

Q. In '93, if I read the history right, you had the up-and-coming UMass team and on this course you took out number one UNC and an up-and-coming Memphis team; does anything feel the same to you?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: You know what, the one thing I'll tell you, we were down 11-0 to start that North Carolina game. When I listened to the tape, Dicky was doing the game. He started on the all-airport team at the break, the 16-minute mark, we were down 11-0. He already had started, "All airport, all name, all sides, the biggest team." He wasn't even doing the game because he thought it was going to be a 60-point game. All of a sudden he says, oh, my goodness -- and that game, I didn't even know I was coaching. And that other guy coaching that other team, and Coach Smith, and we were just fighting for survival. But this will be good, this is good for our team. Let's find out where we are. They are No. 1 in the country. We are a good team, very, very young. You saw the second half, we were fighting to be in the game. How could you be up 18 and how could you take that many bad shots? Well, I'll tell you, how can you make that many bad decisions. Figure it out. We've got everybody who is first or second year. It's hard, it's really hard, especially when you're trying to play fast.

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