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March 19, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor up to questions.
Q. This is for Joe. You know, it is seems like this March so much attention is going to some of the freshmen out there who are making a big splash. Can you talk about being an upper-classmen and maybe what you've learned over the time of being in the game that can help you at this time of year?
JOE CRAWFORD: You know, just experience. You know, I think a lot of freshmen don't realize, you know, how important it is at this time to just play your hardest. A lot of things ain't going to go your way. You know in March, you just have to play your toughest.
Q. Do you ever feel like the old guys get overlooked sometimes because everyone's wondering about the one-and-done types?
JOE CRAWFORD: I mean, well, they're great players, you know, and they're having tremendous years. So I think, you know, they deserve some of the recognition they're getting.
Q. Ramel, could you just talk a little bit about the whole atmosphere. You guys are down here in California. Just talk about how special this tournament is to you.
RAMEL BRADLEY: Well, it's very special to us, and I think this time making the tournament is even more special because of, you know, where we came from in the beginning of the year. We weren't playing really good and everybody had us, you know -- just counted us out. To see us go through so much improvement to make the tournament is just really special.
Q. For both you guys. Could both of you all talk a little bit about how coach influenced you all's turnaround, and what was it like with him here in this first season and just talk about the big picture of working with Billy.
RAMEL BRADLEY: Well, I think, you know, in the beginning, it was pretty tough because there was a lot of things that we weren't use to it, was just so tough for us, you know, as far as just conditioning and just, you know, preparation for practice and those things, just things we weren't use to. It took sometime for us to, you know, kind of understand and just learn the things that coach really wanted from us.
You know, it's been if not probably the funnest year, you know, of my college career, and, you know, just to see us improve each and every day.
JOE CRAWFORD: I think the biggest difference for me was a change, as well. You know, just going through a certain thing for three years and to have a new philosophy, you know, to totally adapt to, was the biggest challenge for me.
Q. It seems strange to think of Kentucky as an underdog. Given your history. Do you guys think of yourselves as underdogs in this tournament?
RAMEL BRADLEY: Well, I think we do, just from the perspective of, you know, just the media and, you know, how people just count us out and don't think we can win and things like that. But I think that's the best place to be in, you know, when no one believes in you and you just have to in yourself and just come once together as a team. Think those are the best positions to be in.
JOE CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think, you know, we're looked at as the underdog this year. But I think, you know, it's working to our advantage. I think it allows for some of the Younger players to have some pressure, you know, off of them and be able to perform.
Q. Guys, for both of you, do you all remember watching the '03 game with Marquette for a chance to go to the final four? Do you remember that game at all?
RAMEL BRADLEY: I don't remember it.
JOE CRAWFORD: I kind of remember it. Dwyane Wade kind of put on a show. That was just kind of the story.
Q. Question for Ramel, who I believe is also from that city. Earlier in this season, Patrick Patterson said that you're calm and cool and not screaming and yelling as much any more. Is that true and what brought about the change?
RAMEL BRADLEY: I don't know if that's totally true. I just think, you know, just having a coach like Coach G, and a very great coaching staff, they just kind of help me and Joe both learn how to lead and just learn the right way and the things to say at the right times and those kind of things that we didn't understand in the past.
Q. Ramel, this is for you. Joe, kind of talked about it earlier, can you just talk about how much you think your experience especially in the tournament can help you guys and what lessons you learned from your guys previous experiences in the tournament?
RAMEL BRADLEY: Well, I think the main thing that you learn is, you know, when it's -- because the game is about runs. In the NCAA tournament, everybody can be a little tense because if you lose, it's all over. So I think you just have to learn and be poised.
Teams are going have runs, you just have to learn how to pick and choose and to make your moves.
Q. Ramel, forgive me if this has already been asked because I kind of just walked in here but earlier in the season you guys lost some games that probably you guys didn't think you should have. Did you envision at that time or did you doubt that you might actually make it to this?
RAMEL BRADLEY: Well, I think for, you know, representing the University of Kentucky, you never doubt that you are going to be in the tournament. But I think I just think knowing that our coach, he just has so much belief in us, you know, it was hard for us to doubt ourselves.
So, you know, he just continued to tell us, hey, around SEC time, we're going to pick things up and be right where we want to be. Surely enough, he was right. We just kept improving each and every day.
And here we are.
Q. For both guys, what would you say the lowest point was this year?
JOE CRAWFORD: I mean, I can't pick a specific time. I think probably the beginning of the year when, you know, we weren't winning the games that we thought we should have won, it was probably the lowest point, I think.
RAMEL BRADLEY: I think, I mean, we lost to Gardner-Webb, you're like, this is ridiculous, things can't get any worse at Kentucky. But then when you lose --
JOE CRAWFORD: To San Diego.
RAMEL BRADLEY: -- to San Diego, it can get worse. You're just like, oh, God, like, just when you think it can't get any worse, it can. I think those are probably the low points.
Q. For Ramel again. Speaking of things getting worse, what was it like last weekend in all that mess?
RAMEL BRADLEY: It was chaotic. I mean, first we were reading, you know, just ready and focus to come out and play against Georgia that Friday night. And then as the tornado and the game gets cancelled and then, you know, just -- we just kind of lost the opportunity for having a bye, because it gives Georgia another day. Then we play the next day early in the morning. It's small gym. And I don't know it was just -- it was really just chaotic.
THE MODERATOR: Joe, you have any thoughts on that?
JOE CRAWFORD: Like Ramel said, we lost our opportunity, the advantage of having a bye. Then all of the mental preparation it takes to get prepared for a game, you got to do the same thing over again for the same team. It's kind of draining, I think. That was tough.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, student athletes. Good luck tomorrow.
We'll start this off with a statement from Coach Gillespie, then we'll open it up to questions.
COACH GILLISPIE: Really excited to be out here in California, and I look forward to playing against a very, very worthy and deserving opponent in Marquette. A very, very difficult match-up for us. But we're excited about what we've been able to accomplish over the last couple of months. And we're looking forward to continuing to play and continuing our season.
THE MODERATOR: Open it up to questions.
Q. Simple question for you. Has your dream job been all you thought it would be?
COACH GILLISPIE: It's been fantastic. Every job I've ever had was my dream job. And when I was coaching at Ellisson High School in Texas that was my dream job at the time. People say things about dream jobs or whatever, some aren't true, some are. The dream job I have right now is at Kentucky, and I've -- it's been -- I knew it would be great and it's been better than I thought it could ever be.
Q. Is that because of just the challenges that come with it, the challenges of the season, the expectations of the fans, just all of it?
BILLY GILLISPIE: Everything. There's so much passion there it's unbelievable.
The passion of fans, and it's from seven-year-old youngsters to 89-year-old people that are getting up in years or whatever, and no matter what age, no matter what gender or whatever, everyone has a sincere passion for it. It's not three or four months out of the season. It's 365 days a year for some that would be too much. For me, it's a perfect situation because that's the way I am as well. And the resources, the support that you get, I mean, there's a reason that they've won more games in college basketball than anyone else and won more tournament titles than anyone else other than UCLA. So they have unbelievable support. They do whatever it takes for you to have the best chance to win.
That's why they've been able to attract the absolute best players year after year after year for so many years. And hopefully we'll continue to do that. And you get the as good or better exposure as anyone in the country and that where recruits want to come and play. So there's just so many things that are going into your favor.
Q. The win over Tennessee seemed to launch this run to the end of the season. At the time, did you sense that that could happen, or did you -- I mean, because you guys had come out of a bad patch at that point. Was that kind of a turning point for your team?
COACH GILLISPIE: Really we hadn't been in a bad patch. The game before that, we lost at Florida in overtime. The game before that, we played without Jodie Meeks and Derrick Jasper and lost by five at a very, very underrated Mississippi State team. The game before that, we beat previously undefeated Number 13 or 14 Vanderbilt team on our home court. So I don't know what kind of bad patch that is.
But we had been playing very well going into that. We didn't play very well in November and December, if that's what you were referring to. But once we got in the conference, we played very well with the exception of one game.
We had -- counting the conference tournament, we had 17 games, and 16 of them were decided in the last minute. I think that's something that really bodes well for you for your post-season opportunities and post-season chances. We've had so many great players. I mean, great plays made by Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford, clutch seniors. And that's what we've tried to do. We try to really get good at defense and rebounding. Try to limit our turnovers and those kind of things, and let those guys impose their will the last five minutes of the game and they've been solid as a rock every single time.
So as far as launching anything, I think that if you have the correct philosophy, you don't look for something to happen, I think that you have to have great consistency with your workouts, with your attitudes, with your resiliency, and all those kind of things. And I think that if you continue those things over time, then you're going to be happy with the results over time.
I don't think that you hope, hey, we're going have a big day today, but next time, it's not going to be very good. I think when you have great practices, when you have great attitudes, when you have great intangibles that this team obviously has possessed, then you have a chance to get on a roll and win 12 out of 14 games in the Southeastern Conference, one of the best conferences in the country.
Q. Coach Gillispie, you guys are coming from Kentucky all the way to California. Cornell is coming from New York all the way to California. How is your team dealing with the travels and what type of schedule are you guys operating on and what are you doing to reduce the affects of such travel?
COACH GILLISPIE: I didn't hear one of those.
THE MODERATOR: What are you doing to the affects of jet lag, travel lag coming from the east.
COACH GILLISPIE: I'm not in all that kind of stuff. I'm old school on a lot of things. And Marquette's coming from a long way. Cornell's coming from a long way. Stanford's coming from a short distance. But we're -- we came out here to play basketball. They'll tip it up tomorrow and we'll play the best that we possibly can. None of those kind of things -- I probably should be more in tune with them.
Other than drinking a lot of water, and I think water is a miracle drug. And we make them drink a lot of water. But there's -- so different than when we would if we were travelling a short distance. We'll be ready to play. It won't have anything to do with whether it's good result or bad result tomorrow, it won't have anything to do with where we were sent to. We're very, very grateful to have the opportunity to be in the NCAA tournament, as all 65 teams should be.
Q. After watching those 29 tapes or those 29 videos on Marquette, anything surprise you, anything stick out besides what you already knew before you watched the tapes?
MODERATOR: I tell you what, what I just mentioned a little bit, but not about them. But what really -- as a coach, what I really respect is how they played good. I haven't watched all 29 games, but I've watched most of them. But what really amazes me is their consistency with their effort, and they really played well together. They pass the basketball really well. But their effort is consistent. And, I mean, I really do appreciate that kind of thing. They've won most of their games this year. The ones they haven't won, they've been right there and had a chance to win them.
But it's all about they play hard every single time, and as a coach that's what I appreciate the most.
Q. Can you talk about how different things are for you right now than a year ago when you took Texas A & M to the tournament?
COACH GILLISPIE: As far as different, I don't think there's any difference. I think a coach comes here and you perform your responsibility. You have your team with you and you're ready to play basketball, and, hopefully, if you get a chance to advance, that's what every coach's dream is right now, to continue to advance, then you'll try to get ready to play the next game.
But as far as -- I don't see any different as far as from one school to another.
Q. Coach, you nearly hired Dave Rose as one of your assistants at A&M a few years ago. Now you have been at the same site as head coach. Curious if you've followed his path at all?
COACH GILLISPIE: Dave Rose was on my staff?
Q. You were looking at hiring him.
COACH GILLISPIE: I didn't think he was on my staff, but I have some memory lapses every once in a while. Tell me your question again.
Q. I was curious if you just followed his path at BYU. You have been at the same site two years in a row. I was curious if you followed that at all?
COACH GILLISPIE: Ive' always had a great respect for David. He is a fantastic human being number one. And he is a great basketball coach. He's done a great job over there. I haven't had the opportunity to study their team much. I did see them playing against Louisville earlier in the season when we were preparing to play against Louisville. I haven't studied him lately. There's no question he is one of the better coaches in the country.
It's always good to see Dave because he always has a smile on his face and has a great attitude and you are happy about the success he continues to have. But it doesn't surprise you. And I wish he would have come on our staff. I couldn't talk him into it.
Q. For those of us who don't keep up with your team day-to-day, what's the status of Meeks?
COACH GILLISPIE: You are the only one that doesn't keep up with our team on a daily basis. But that was suppose to be funny. Obviously it wasn't. (Laughing).
Q. I got it.
COACH GILLISPIE: I know you did. Some of the others I was worried about. I don't know. I mean, he told me last week he wanted to try to play and he's been trying to play. I would say he is very, very doubtful. But we haven't done anything today. He's moving around better than he has been in a long time. Does that mean he's going to be able to play? He's been a long ways away from being able to play. So I would doubt he's going to be able to do anything.
Q. The second question is, earlier in the season Patrick Patterson said that Ramel Bradley had changed, he wasn't yelling and screaming as much as he used to. What changed with him and were you responsible for bringing something else out of him that he had not shown before?
COACH GILLISPIE: As far as changing Ramel, I don't know. I like it when Ramel yells and screams. Maybe Patrick did or didn't. I've not been around a more -- I like to recruit spirit. And, you know, that's one of the things think that we mess up on too many times is not recruiting spirit. Because basketball seasons are long. They're basically 365 days a year these days, and I like guys that have spirit.
Ramel Bradley has more spirit than anyone I've ever been around.
I can't remember one day when he came to workout or a game or any time that he ever came by the office or -- no matter what his task was at hand in that particular day, him not having a smile on his face or him not coming to workout and going twice as hard as you would think he possibly could because we had a late night last night or whatever.
And he's been amazing in that respect. That's no disrespect to any others. We've coached a lot of guys with great spirit. But his spirit is something that's going to carry him so far in life, it's crazy. And as far as us changing, I think maybe the change that we've had to make with Ramel is, he's always been a really good player. I think we probably put more responsibility on him than he ever has had placed upon him. And that's because he was a senior and that's because of the injury situation that we had. He's had to do more. He was one of the top five or six defensive players in our league. He was all-defensive team in the Southeastern Conference. He's been as clutch a player as I've been around and just has great spirit. Offensively he has to do everything for us. Defensively he's done everything for us. So it was him continuing to evolve as a player and having a fantastic senior season. But he's got spirit, and I don't think he should ever try to change that.
Q. I was wondering if you talked to Buzz Williams at all since Sunday, and what your relationship is with him?
COACH GILLISPIE: Buzz is a great person. And we talk quite a -- we talk quite often. Buzz probably knew that I didn't have time to talk to him these days, and I knew that Buzz probably didn't have time to talk to me because I would assume he's doing the scouting report on our team. And he knows -- I know that he's going to help their team prepare as much as possible. However many hours there were since the selection was announced, he's going to be working. He probably feels the same way about me.
So Buzz is a great person. And he's a great coach. And I know that they must be happy to have him on the staff.
Q. What made him such a good recruiter for you when you were at A & M? He's brought in a number of guys at Marquette the short time he's been there.
COACH GILLISPIE: He is a tenacious guy. He obviously enjoys it. He is very, very well organized. He's -- his tenacity is probably unmatched. He just goes after it. Everyone likes him. If they don't start out liking him, he forces them to like him. And that's a great quality to be able to have. And he just goes after it hard. And he's not only a good recruiter he is a very, very good basketball coach. And he's a -- he does whatever it takes to help your team win, whether it's academics or whether it's taking care of stuff in the office or whatever. He is not just a recruiter he is a total basketball coach and a guy that gives you the best chance to win over a long haul. I know that. So it's -- he's something else.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about, I guess, the irony of being in the same location as your former club. Have you kept in contact with them at all, and I guess your assessment of their season as they prepare for BYU and Texas A & M of course?
COACH GILLISPIE: I am totally immersed in our team. And I know that they're probably excited to be in the tournament. I can't speak for them. There's a lot of friends that I have back in those places. I think if you are a relationship person like I am, I think that's why you coach. I think that, you know, I'm happy for them to be in the tournament. As far as the details and specifics, I don't know much about their team. I've watched them play just a couple times on TV. TV. I know both those teams BYU and Texas A&M will be a very fun match-up I would think.
I hope nothing but the best for them and have great relationships with a lot of folks there including a lot of players. But you can't speak with the players because you would be breaking NCAA rules. So unfortunately that's a rule I wish we could get changed.
THE MODERATOR: We're going to wrap it up there. Thank you very much, coach. Good luck.
COACH GILLISPIE: Thank you.
End of FastScripts