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March 29, 2008
COACH CALIPARI: I'm really proud of this team, and not just these starters, the entire team. They have been friends first and teammates second all year. They have covered for each other all year. They have been there for each other all year. It's been somebody different just about every game that's stepped up to carry us through tough times. We've faced all junk defenses, zone defenses, triangle defenses, one-man zone, we've faced everything, and these guys have figured it out. And I'll say what I've said to them; I believe in them, I trust them.
This is a team that had five turnovers against Mississippi State and nine turnovers against Michigan State. They are efficient offensively and share the ball, but more importantly, they understand that if they guard, they have a chance to win, and if they guard and rebound, they really have a chance to win. I'm just proud of them.
Someone talked to me about, you know, what this next step -- nothing will take away from this season. Now, we want to win this, in the worst way, don't we? We want to win. But we don't have to win. It's not going to change what we've done this year.
But do we really want to win this thing? Oh, yeah. But we don't have to. And I hope they play loose and they have fun because that's exactly what I want them to do.
Q. Derrick, wanted to see how your head was doing and if you had any headaches last night, how you're feeling today.
DERRICK ROSE: I was fine. This morning I had a headache but it went away quickly.
Q. Chris, you talked last night about how your experience from the last two regional finals make you all a better team. Can you talk more about that? Why is it, what have you all learned and gained from being this far the last two years?
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: I feel the previous two years, we weren't ready. We didn't know what NCAA game was like, the intensity level, everything. But now we're more experienced and we've been here, and we know how you have to start a game and we know how you need to start a half.
Always said it, all of our starters have been in a lot of NCAA Tournament games, and Derrick doesn't play like a freshman. He plays like he's been here before and that helps a lot. Any team with experience is always a better team.
Q. I wonder if you could just talk about what you've seen in film and watching on TV, of DJ about the matchup you'll have tomorrow?
DERRICK ROSE: I played against him over the summer in
Adidas Camp in New Orleans. He's a great player, smart, IQ is very high, great shooter and a good teammate. He's going to be tough defending.
Q. Seems like most teams who have played Memphis have tried to slow you guys and turn it into a halfcourt game and Texas likes to run, too, do you expect this to be a really up-tempo game?
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: Yeah, I expect them to run with us because that's how they play, too.
We've played against slow teams and we've played against everything, like Coach said. Either way, we're prepared. We're prepared for a halfcourt game. We're prepared for an up-tempo game, but I'm sure they will get out and run with us because that's their style of play, too.
Q. For Joey and Antonio, talking about the experience of the last two trips to this stage, is it motivation, do you block out how those games turned out or is coming close and not getting there, does that spill-over into this game?
JOEY DORSEY: Yeah, last year we didn't get over the hump and that bothered me the whole summer, so I had to get better the whole summer. Worked out with the USA team in the Panama and I just got better over the summer so I could be ready for this tournament right here.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We put those last few games behind us. Like Chris said, we weren't ready at all those first years. We were young and inexperienced. We were just happy to be there at that time.
Now we're happy to be here as well but we're here with a focus and our focus is to get to the Final Four, and hopefully tomorrow we can get that done.
Q. How can you judge the value of Justin Mason to the Texas team? He's not one of their big stars, but kind of a glue guy.
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: We know he's a glue guy. He does all of the little things. He keeps a lot of balls alive, offensive rebounding and he checks the best player or the best offensive player on the team. So we know how valuable a guy like that is, because we have one. So we know that he means a lot to that Texas team. But we do a lot of personnel and we're going to do a lot of that today and kind of try to figure the team out.
Q. Could you talk about, do teams underestimate your quickness because of your length?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Not really. Because if a team was to scout us and watch film, they would see how we get up-and-down the floor and how we're pressing, they would know how fast we are and we have Joey who can run faster than some guards and me and Chris who run fast and the guys off the bench, they all have speed, as well, so when they watch film and study us, they will see how athletic and fast we really are.
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: I don't feel they underestimate us. It's just you can't prepare for it. You can't practice against it.
Some teams come out and they are shocked of how athletic and fast we are, because there's no way you can prepare for it.
Q. It was unfortunately one year ago at this event that you in that break out room did your famous David and Goliath room thing, and do you have anything planned today? And how big was that in terms of your summer, thinking about a chance to come back and have a shot, a do-over?
JOEY DORSEY: Yeah, I put that behind me. This summer I just tried to get better and show my teammates that they can rely on me and be there when they need me to and be a great defensive player.
So all that is behind me and I'm just ready to play this tournament.
Q. Talk about mind-set when you're defending the other team's best perimeter player, how you expect tomorrow to go with either Augustin or A.J., and what that means to you defensively?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It's not just me out there defending. I have all four of these guys out there helping me. Coming out of screens, if a guy is ahead of me coming off of screens, it's not just me. My whole mind-set is if a guy can score 27 points, I'm going to try to limit him to as low as I can and honestly just try to make every shot difficult for him and let him know I'm there every time he touches the ball.
COACH CALIPARI: One of the proudest moments I've had as a coach was in our Conference tournament when Antonio Anderson was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament because people don't give him the respect he deserves as an offensive player. His assisted turnover ratio is outrageous. There was a time he was like 40-2, assisted turnover ratio, and then he guards and he rebounds. And he talks on the court, and he guards who we want. His matchup with Augustin is going to be a tough one, playing pick-and-rolls and doing it with Augustin is going to be tough, but you know what, I think he's up for it.
Q. Imagine you are strong in just about everybody you go against individually, have you seen anybody or faced anybody like Pittman? What's your impresses of him?
JOEY DORSEY: I really didn't watch him that much but today we'll prepare for him and watch a lot of him on tape and try to figure it out.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your match-ups with Augustin at the Adidas Camp and how those went?
DERRICK ROSE: They were tough and I was just coming in and he got the best of me while I was at the camp.
But playing with my teammates, they just made me make my game better and they improved my skills just by playing with them because they are veterans and they have been guiding me along all this year. So it should be interesting.
Q. You said a lot of teams have tried to do zones and different things to slow you down. How much fun from a basketball team would it be to just go out and get after it, and if that happens, what might we see?
COACH CALIPARI: 106-102. They would have fun. They would have fun.
Sorry if I screwed that up. (Laughter).
Q. If you would, talk about Derrick as a teammate and as a young man, and what a pleasure it's been to watch the season that he's had.
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: It's been a pleasure. Sometimes I get caught up in some of the plays he makes on the court and in practice, and I'm knowing that I shouldn't do it, but some of the things he does is amazing. For somebody to be that young and to play in this tournament like he's playing, I mean, you really don't have any words to explain it.
But as a person, you know, he fits in perfect with us because he laughs with us. You know, he's real personable. He may be quiet up here, but he's not quiet with us.
COACH CALIPARI: The one thing I can say; that kills him to hear that question, to have somebody have to talk about him, to let you know how he is. He's one of the great teammates that I've coached. He and Marcus, the same kind of teammate, where they want to defer it all to their team and just go do what they do. But he doesn't like it.
He also doesn't like to watch himself making errors. If you take him into tape and show him tape of turning the ball over; he loves playing, and he loves playing well.
Q. You faced a lot of criticism and things said about your program over the last few years. Can you just talk about what it would mean to you and to the team to make it to a Final Four, to have the ultimate proof?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It would mean a lot but people say a lot about the program, and we don't pay it any mind.
If you look at it the past three years, we have over a hundred wins, which is unreal. If you just look at things like that, then you'll see what type of guys we are and the type of -- we're all great people and we don't let what people say bother us at all. We just create happiness with one another and take it from there.
COACH CALIPARI: Graduated 15 of our last 17; trying to do stuff in our community; having these guys grow as people. I always say it's not what they come in with; it's what they leave us with. And I think every one of these young men up here have grown enormously over their time here and I'm proud of them.
I'm just so happy to be coaching. I know I'm walking in and I hate to say this with a whip and, and I'm like, let's go. I believe in them and I trust them. Doesn't mean we win tomorrow but I believe them and I trust them and we're walking in and saying, let's play ball and have some fun.
Q. After the Mississippi State game when you had that double-double and you're kind of everywhere, Coach said, that's your game when you're right. What does that mean to you, and how do you go about making yourself right?
JOEY DORSEY: Just got to come out with the mind-set, you know, when the game starts, not having bad thoughts in my head; coming out with positive thoughts. That game, Rhodes had me up for it, I was focused because he called me out.
I was just positive and playing well, and just helping my team out and everything like that.
Q. Can you talk about how much coaches talk about the validation of getting to the Final Four, winning a championship, do you ever talk about that or not?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, I can't control anybody else's opinion or what people think or say about what we do, what I do as a coach or what anybody else does as a coach.
But at the end of the day, history will tell the tale of what we've done at the schools where we're at. We've graduated 80 percent of our players at UMASS and we have done about the same at Memphis. So we are recruiting players who can graduate and players who are good enough to win at the programs we are at, and Rick has done the same.
Would I love to be coaching a team that makes it to the Final Four or wins a national title? Sure, absolutely would. Would it crush me if I wasn't? No. This isn't life or death for me. It's never been that for me. I want to win in the worst way but I don't consider it life-and-death.
I think if you consider it life-and-death, you die a lot. So I want to enjoy what I'm doing. I'm riding a wave. My grandparents came through Ellis Island. Are you kidding me? My parents are high school educated, are you kidding me? I'm sitting up here with young men going to war? Yeah, I'm excited and I want to win. But there's nothing that would lead me to tell them I'm disappointed, not even a bad game. They deserve to have one every once in awhile, just let's not have one for a while.
Rick and I talk all the time and Rick is one of those 12 to 15 guys I talk to each week, and Rick, you know, it will be a call every two weeks, every three weeks. I see something that happened for him; he sees something that happened for me. If we're recruiting we'll go have lunch together and talk. He's the first guy that talked to me when I was coaching UMASS, and I said, "Rick, we stink on defense."
He said, "Well, what do you emphasize?" So I had to show him everything I knew and I emphasized like 47 things on paper."
He said, "That's all great, for a clinic. Now what are the four or five things you are going to emphasize defensively because that's how your going to get good?"
So from that point on, we emphasized four or five things defensively that we are going to be good at. And that started with Rick Barnes, and I hope that defense beats him tomorrow.
Q. Talk about the evolution of the program, where you were two years ago against UCLA, last year against Ohio State and now, how far you've grown from that point to where you are right now.
COACH CALIPARI: First of all, we changed our offense totally during that time period. We also changed a little bit of our defensive philosophy from being last in the league to being first in the league in steals. We really emphasize steals, where I had never done that before in my coaching career.
We emphasize driving, three and four drives, versus five or six passes. If you drive three, four, five times, you're going to have five, six, seven passes. Getting the ball side to side on a dribble versus on a pass.
So we changed a lot of stuff and it took us time and then you're starting to build a team and you're teaming these guys figuring out how good they are and coming into their own and understanding two years ago, Chris Douglas could not play in that UCLA game. I didn't want to embarrass him but he had four turnovers in seven minutes and I could not keep him in the game. He is now finalist for Player of the Year and not getting the consideration he deserves. But he is a finalist for Player of the Year two years later.
But it shows what's happened for Joey, Antonio, what's happened for Robert, and then we had this little guy to my right here to the team, and you know, he helps elevate us, but it's also our bench. Our bench has been a big part of it and we did not have this kind of bench the other years.
Q. Just wondering to what degree has Derrick elevated you? To what degree does he separate this team from the past two teams?
COACH CALIPARI: He's mumbling over here, you know he hates this, he doesn't even want us to talk about him.
So I'll just tell you, he's been a great teammate. Now the starting point guard last year, Kemp had as much to do with recruiting Derrick Rose, am I right? He would not have come here if Kemp did not want him here. He got Kemp's phone number, really did not get another player on our team's phone number, when he came on to campus, he stayed with him. If Kemp did not want him here, he would not have come. So how he's been playing, that says a lot about him, but Kemp helped us get a player who helped elevate our team to that next notch. We didn't need four notches; we needed one notch, and he's helped us do that.
And I don't think he's feeling anything on his shoulders. It's the greatest thing for a freshman. It's what I told him when we recruited him. I said you can be Derrick Rose. You don't need to be Jason Kidd. You don't have to be Shaq. Just be who you are and do the things you do.
Q. Were any of you guys out there last night during the Texas game?
COACH CALIPARI: No.
Q. Generally what do you think of playing here, does it compare at all, the situation to last year at A&M and just your thoughts of having to overcome what you'll face tomorrow.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It's very similar. We've been put in this situation the last few years. We played UCLA in Oakland and A&M in San Antonio.
Like we always say amongst each other, the fans cannot be on the court. We can hear them but they are not up there bouncing the ball or shooting the ball. It's just going to be ten guys on the court going to war, and that's how it's going to play out.
Q. You compared Derrick a lot to Marcus, was it when Marcus was a freshman or by the time he was a little further along, and what are some of those comparisons? And have you ever met Marcus and what do you think about being compared to him?
COACH CALIPARI: Marcus really tried to promote his teammates. Marcus had a way of saying stuff to me to tell me, back off, cool down, stop, we got this. He'll do the same thing.
He just wants his players to be happy on the court. So does Marcus. Marcus was the most unselfish player on the court, which meant you could not be selfish. How could you be selfish if Marcus is not selfish? This kid would rather pass than score. Now he scores because of this offense, and that's what he's supposed to do, but the reality of it is he would rather have 22 assists than 22 points, so they are similar in that regard.
DERRICK ROSE: No, I never met him before, but from what Coach told me about him, it's huge to be mentioned in the same category as him, because he's been playing in the league for so long and he's a great teammate for what I see while he's on the court with the rest of his teammates.
I'm just happy that I'm in the category with him.
Q. Can you reflect, people are talking about the next step, and can you take the next step. How hard has it been and unlikely is it that you're back here again to be in a position to take that next step?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. The vision you have for your program is you're competing every year for national titles, which means you have to be in this game to even be considered for that.
Is it unlikely? You know, I think it's a lot easier from a BCS league, but it's not unusual, you know, to have a blueprint that we have, which puts us -- basically we force our way into that talk, and it makes people mad. And they write and say things, oh, my gosh, vicious. I don't know why, but part of it is, we've got to force our way into that mix of teams.
And you know, the only way you do it, I always say, you'd better take on the champ if you want to be champion. You can't be playing in the under card. You can't play Popcorn State. You have to take on the champ, which means you're going to get knocked out some. I have about 14 for sale signs in my garage that I started collecting my first four years at Memphis. We took them on, lost, you can't beam a ranked team, boom, boom, for sale sign in my front yard and take it down and I put it in my garage.
We lose to somebody else, a new for sale sign, take it down and put it in my garage. I keep them there to reminds me that it's not easy what we do.
Q. Can you tell us what Willy did tell you, and for Coach, you said you told him you didn't have to come in and be a star, be a Jason Kidd. What was it about Derrick that convinced you that he was not going to be like a lot of freshman?
DERRICK ROSE: Willy, like when you're in the recruiting process, you don't really want to hear about all that. Like I already know that Coach and these guys up here wanted me to come, but we were just talking regular on the phone, asking what was going on, how was the weather, stuff like that. So it was just a regular conversation.
COACH CALIPARI: What convinced me with Derrick Rose, when he first got to campus in the summer, he would be in the gym four hours. Four hours, like this kid, it's ridiculous. He was in the weight room. He was on a mission.
And I'm like saying, if this is what he is, he started having some tendonitis in his knee; yeah, you're jumping for four straight hours, you're going to have it in your ankles and knees and whatever. We had to tell him, look, you have to go out and get a workout you want to have done and get it in an hour and a half, two hours and then beat it and get out of there. Yet he is so driven and has a will to win that as we play games this year, you started figuring out, this kid's will to win is unbelievable.
We played USC and Tim Floyd threw a triangle and two at us and we died and we didn't know what to do it was the first time. He just willed us to win. He had a steal, a block, an assist and did whatever. It wasn't like he said, I'm going to score 30 points. He said, I'm going to do all of the other things to help us win the game, and that's what he did.
Q. Regardless of Marcus's transgressions and what the record book says about UMASS being vacated, you were in the Final Four; how often do you think about that experience, what do you think of that experience, how different a person are you and how can you apply the lessons you learned to get there last time and what the situation is this time?
COACH CALIPARI: It's funny, Edgar Padilla said hope you live that experience all over again. I hope these young men up here get to experience, because one of the things I've told them, I had a thing sent to me about what a Dream Team is and there were 15 things on it about what a Dream Team is and I read to my players, and they meet every one of those statements.
And I said, basically, you're a Dream Team. You may never play on a team that gets along this way ever again in your life. You're a Dream Team. And what I'm saying to them now is, let's keep playing just so we can stay around each other for another two weeks, and let's just do it. The experience of going one more step, they will talk about it the rest of their lives.
But what they have accomplished the last three years, and what they have accomplished this year, nothing we do Sunday takes away from that, not one thing, and in the worst way we want to advance and not only do we want to get there, we want to win the thing, but we don't have to. And I want them to win, but we don't have to.
Here we are in Texas in front of 30,000 Longhorn fans and we're not supposed to win. Let's just go and have fun and have at it and see what happens.
Q. Speaking of Longhorn fans, can you tell us about the conversation joking with Barnes a couple weeks ago where you said, "I can just see it now, we are going to be the 1-seed in the south, you're going to be the 2-seed and we're going to put up with all those fans." And secondly, why is everyone on TV picking your team to be the first 1-seed to lose?
COACH CALIPARI: You have to tell me. Sometimes I wonder if it's their opinion or if it's their hope; I don't know.
But you know, there are a lot picking us that way. But Rick and I, we laughed, and he called me -- it's funny. A year ago, two years ago, when we were going to have to play Arkansas in Dallas and said, you have no idea if they win that game, that's Barn Hill South. I said what is Barn Hill South?
He said, there are more Arkansas alumns in Dallas than anywhere in the world. I said, what?
So I guess he's more in tune to those kind of things, and thank goodness Bucknell beat them and we didn't have to play them but it would have been an interesting experience.
Rick and I, we go way back, I was a camper and he was a counselor. He had long hair, folks being really long hair, like ponytail-long hair. He was in a Volkswagen Beetle with a tossback in the back seat driving around. He was crazy then, love him now, hate that we're playing for only one of us can advance. I wish there could be a tie and they take a fifth team. But he's as competitive as I am, and he's going to do whatever he can to win the game, and so are we.
Q. You go head-to-head on a lot of players in recruiting and --
COACH CALIPARI: Not really.
Q. You're recruiting a couple of the same guys now. Does it speak to trying to do the same stuff as them?
COACH CALIPARI: No, they can't beat us in recruiting. (Laughter).
Q. Can you talk about the past few years, you've added more long, athletic players, length and athletes; and how has this played into your philosophy of going for more steals and defense, because your length and quickness is hard to match?
COACH CALIPARI: The only thing is Vance Wahlberg keeps telling me we need more shooters, and if we had a couple more shooters we would be scoring 95 points a game. He thinks we have enough drivers and long players, you need a couple guys to just make open shots. And if you had that -- and that's what Willie Kemp does that and Doneal Mack does for us. I want Willie Kemp to be a player and not a scorer. Just play, and that's why we brought him to be that guy, play maker, point one, two, combo guard, make basketball plays and don't think you just have to jack up 3s. But he's been outstanding in this tournament and does that for us.
Yes, for us, you have to guard to play. If you can't guard, you are not going to get on the floor that much.
Q. Isn't it time to fess up, isn't having a team that more people are picking to go out as the first No. 1 a coach's motivational dream?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, it's funny, Billy Packer, I said, Billy what is going on?
He says, you love it. I said, yes, I do love it. I'm fine. The one thing I keep telling them is, you know, don't let them pierce your armor. And I try that as a coach.
You know, you get arrows thrown at you and Bazooka shots and guys going to try to mess with you. Just don't let it pierce your armor. Let them say and write, that's what they do for a living, don't let it pierce your armor, use what you have to motivate you and throw the other stuff out.
We are going to create our own happiness and we do it in the locker room, and we have done it all year.
Q. Augustin gets a lot of the publicity for Texas, but can you talk about Justin Mason, what does he do that concerns you and who do you expect him to be guarding tomorrow?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, he and James are the two guys that are just, you know, you understand all of the other guys. Those two guys, if they get their hands on a lot of balls, and they tip balls, and they get them that second and third opportunity offensively, they are almost impossible. And it's a challenge, because they do it against everybody. I saw it against Kansas. I saw it against everybody.
They are also capable scorers. People don't realize, one, they will make 3s, but two, they have size and strength to them enough that if they don't score, they will go and make the second one. They make Augustin even better and A.J. even better, because the minute you are away from them, they are getting baskets.
They are a very talented, talented team. We know that. They are well coached. They play guys 37, 38 minutes. Not easy to do. Keeping guys out of foul trouble, that means you have to play some zone and you have to do some things to rest them. Rick has done a great job. They are playing six guys 37, 38 minutes.
Q. Was there a certain incident in your life or time in your life where you decide, I want to be a coach for a living? What motivated you to do what you're doing?
COACH CALIPARI: The people that I -- my house butted up against a high school. The high school was from me to the wall away.
I grew up being a gym rat and being around coaches, and all I ever wanted to be was a high school coach. I never thought about college until I went to college and I thought, wow, that wouldn't be bad. Then I was in college and I looked and said, wow, I'd like to try that other thing, too, that wouldn't be bad. That was bad.
But the people that I always looked up to and still come to my games and still call me, were my high school coach, Bill Sacko (ph), Joe DiGagorio (ph) my college coach, Skip Tatalla (ph) who was the first high school coach that I was the ball boy for, Ray Badetty (ph) was the baseball coach, I was the bat boy, as a 7, 8-year-old kid, they would take me to games, I had my little clip on tie. I looked up to coaches and teachers and that's what I wanted to do.
I respected what they did for other people. I respected how they did their jobs. That motivated me. And again, I grew up in a household you didn't think about being a lawyer and a doctor. You're thinking about payday was Friday. It's hard for families to see yourself as something special when the environment you're in doesn't breed that. You're not from a private school, you're not from a prep school and you're not from an Ivy League, it's hard. It's what I wanted to do but you learn to dream.
One of the things my mother always said, dream big dreams. She still thinks I'm going to be President some day. I want these guys to dream.
My thing right now, is expect something good to happen, because the other option is wait for something bad. So you might as well expect something good to happen. This team deserves it, and that's what I'm trying to tell them.
Q. Can you talk a little about what makes Augustin special, and what is going to be the key between the matchup between him and Derrick?
COACH CALIPARI: One, the ball is part of him and his hand. You're not taking the ball from him. He has a way of drawing fouls and pick-and-rolls. He will run into your big man. And he fouls, but it's a foul, and they usually call it on your big man.
So you go pick-and-roll, he'll get your big man in foul trouble by running him over or by running into him and creating fouls.
He also has a way of creating fouls on drives on your little people. But the biggest thing is, and Derrick said it, his IQ, he knows who is on his team and what they can do, and he puts them in position that they can have success. And Rick has said, he loves coaching this way. Sometimes Rick said, "I don't even know what he's going to do."
And what I tell this kid sitting next to me, "The more you do, the less I can do. Run the team. The more you can do, the less I do." And that's what I want. This kid is 18, though. A little bit younger.
Q. How long has it been since you had one of those for sale signs on your lawn at Memphis?
COACH CALIPARI: Four years. It's been a while. It's been a nice time. (Laughter).
Q. About the Dream Team thing, have you ever told that to one of your groups before, and when did you tell these guys that?
COACH CALIPARI: I told them as we were going into the tournament, and I had a sheet that I gave each one that gave the 17 points of a Dream Team, and we read it, we read it out loud, and they know, it's how you interact, how you help each other, how you learn together, how you grow together, how you enjoy success together, how you complement each other, how you promote each other. Dreams teams do that.
The other teams worry about each guy, worrying about himself, and this team is unique.
Q. Have you spoken to Rick about the possibility of providing a little diversionary entertainment by putting Niles and Pittman out there at the same time?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, I was so proud of him yesterday, he hugged me in the meal room after. I said, "Pierre, I was proud of you."
And then about a minute and a half he can't go any more and he stopped, and I'm, Pierre." And he knew it. He couldn't pick up his foot and he leaned on the guy and apologized to his teammates on the court.
After the game, I said, "You were so good, for about 1:20."
And he hugged me and said, "Coach, I was trying."
We just have to get the kid in shape, and lose weight and he knows it. He's got to die and he's committed to it, because he's got the best hands and feet of any player I've coached. He's 40 pounds overweight. We played Ohio State last year, and their ad came up to me and said, who is that in he's got great hands and great feet, could he play football? He could be an offensive or defensive tackle and he probably could be, and if he doesn't lose his weight, he's going to be.
Q. Who do you think is the best college coach that's never won a National Championship?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, you've got so many guys. This thing is so -- let me just name three names off the top and they all should be in the Hall of Fame.
All right, John Cheney is already in there. He called me last week, and I'm not going to tell you some of the things he said because I can't say it publically, but he is the greatest, giving me different advice on different things.
Gene Katie is another one, how about Norm Stewart that people forget about. These are Hall of Fame coaches because of a break away layup by Tias Edney (ph), and he didn't get to a Final Four, and you say that takes away from his career? Nothing takes away from their career, nothing. They didn't get to a Final Four, let alone win a national title.
Some guys are not in situations, let's talk about what Bob McKillop is doing at Davidson. What if he doesn't get to the Final Four or win a national title? So? He's still one of the great coaches in our country. It depends on where you are. There are schools where you are where it's expected and demanded that you win national titles. There are other places that it's not what it is.
What we are always trying to do is have our players in position to play their best basketball in March, that's what we are trying to do. Second thing is, graduation rates. Make sure that these young men know that basketball is not the end-all. Prepare yourself and that's why I say, we took over, it was zero percent, and it's 15 out of our last 17 seniors.
When we were at UMASS, it was 15 percent, when we left UMASS, it was 80 percent. So, yeah, we are winning but off the court, kids are graduating and preparing for life after basketball.
Q. Would you be comfortable at a place that wasn't scrappy --
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know what I would do if I was in a place where you had all the stuff and the league and the team and probably get bored, I don't know. I mean, it's funny, people tell me I'm better when things are swirling around me. It makes me more focused and makes me concentrate more and I get bored and I start getting involved in other things, books and everything else and stupid stuff that doesn't pertain to what I do.
You know, you always -- it's funny. People that are not at Memphis, they wish they were coping at Memphis; I wish I was at Memphis. And people at Memphis wish they were at Duke and North Carolina. And those people, say, you don't understand Kentucky, are you crazy. They say I'd rather be at Memphis or Massachusetts and they go to Memphis or Massachusetts and say what in the world is there. And then the guy goes to Kentucky and says, what in the world is this.
Every college job is hard. There is not -- every coach out there has a hard job. And that's why I'm four coaches. That's why I promote coaches and that's why if a coach has lost five games, I may pick up the phone and call the guy and do what you do, and that's why I do it.
I've been fired and I know how hard this is. This is ridiculously hard. You can never please everybody. If you listen to people in the seats, you're going to be sitting with them. That's where you're going to be, right up there next to them. And you've got to block it out and be strong willed, and yet you're doing it for one reason, to help the team around you grow.
Q. What did you not like about the coaching in the NBA?
COACH CALIPARI: Boy, you never had a chance to enjoy a win or even mourn a loss. You just had to March on. I wish I worked for Larry Brown like I did the year after I had a chance to coach in the NBA. The grinding schedule, I give those guys credit. Those coaches that are getting in at three in the morning and having another game; the grind of it is a bare. It's 82; 82, man, and they don't stop. And if you're losing, how many more do they have? 36, oh my gosh. You have 36 more games? Yes, do you.
Can they throw me out of some of them? (Smiling).
Q. Has Derrick met your expectations, considering what a top recruit he was, or has he surpassed?
COACH CALIPARI: He's been better because I just didn't know how great of a kid he really was because I had not been around him. Asked his mother. Never seen a player with this kind of talent have this kind of attitude that your son has. Why; what have you done?
She said, "I told him, you're no different than anybody else, you remember that, and treat people the way you want to be treated."
And I said, "You know what, he took it on."
How he is with me, I worked on his free throw shooting and what I worked on him with, he owns now. It's not mine. He owns it. So when he learns it, it's his. It's no longer yours. See, other guys, you team them, and the minute they miss, whose is it? It's back to mine. This kid, whatever you teach him, whatever his mother taught him, he owns. And it's what sets him apart. I mean, the article on Tiger Woods that was in the USA Today not long ago, I gave to him. I said, this is who I want you to be in the world of basketball, this guy right here. Read it. And he was amazed that Tiger was speaking to psychologists at age 14 and having Jack Nicklaus's picture and 18 -- he was just amazed.
I said mentally and physically, you have that; now, will you run with it and go with it and make it special? He's a wonderful, wonderful kid, he really is.
Q. You touched on it briefly talking about the Hall of Fame, which is kind of a hot button here in town since Lewis is not in the Hall of Fame. From a coach's perspective, what is the criteria involved, or is it just completely arbitrary?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I mean, he's another great coach. I mean, there's just -- you know, you hope he gets in there. You just want it, but who knows. I don't know.
I bet you he was this way, too. I don't want to coach because I don't see my tombstone saying what my record was. I just have a feeling that won't be on there.
And so you want to coach -- your legacy is left by these guys, what you've done in the community that you've coached, what you've done on the campuses you've been in. Not the people around that are throwing darts and arrows. Your legacy is left with those kids, your staff, and those communities. And think what he's done for this city and for that community and those players. His legacy is there.
I still feel at some time it's going to happen, but I would have no idea what, why, or why not.
Q. How different of an experience do you think this week would have been had you beaten Tennessee and how would America have embraced a 37-0 Memphis team?
COACH CALIPARI: Oh, it got mean. I don't know if it would have been meaner. Could it have been meaner? Nastier? Couldn't have been meaner than it's been. But I would say to you that Tennessee probably did us a favor. You know, Robert missed a two-foot shot, or we win that game, and then Tyler Smith came down and made an unbelievable fadeaway, over the top of out stretched hands, and made a shot that was ridiculous that beat us.
We may owe Tennessee a lot for what's happening to us. Kind of turned us around.
One of the things I talked to my team about was, give me the five areas that we need to improve in. They told me what they were. We went through them. I said, okay, we are going to work on those. If we had won this game, would you have listened to me? You know what they said? Nope.
Two weeks ago, I put those five things up on the board and I said, have we improved in here? Have we improved in those five areas? We have. We have improved in all five. So they helped us expose.
One of the things, we were not getting to the second, third, fourth, fifth drive, and we never passed a ball three times against them. Why? Because we only drove it once or twice and then shot it. And now you're seeing us get into the motion and rhythm of how we want to play offensively.
At the end of the day, I think it would have been very hard for us. Would we have gotten better like we needed to? Probably not. Would it really have been on us? Oh, yeah.
Bob Kraft called me a week ago and we talked for about 20 minutes, because he followed my teams at Massachusetts and he follows them now, but he was a close friend when we were at Massachusetts, he and his wife. I said, "We were chasing that same thing."
He said, "You're better off. Go do it now." It was interesting, though.
Q. When you told Larry Brown you were implementing this new offense, what was his reaction?
COACH CALIPARI: You would listen to a junior college coach and you've won a ton of games the other way, are you crazy. He would not implement the whole thing, but there's concepts to it he loves. But he's still, you know, in his mind, how he's always been taught, and how can you argue? Hall of Fame, World Champion, college champion, Olympic coach; he's done it all, and he learned from Dean Smith, Henry Yager, Frank McGuire, and I got to learn from him. I'm lucky enough to say, I'm tied to all those people through Larry Brown.
But this offense is unique and different. I love it and I'm sold on it. My team is sold on it. Recruits are calling us because they wants to play this way. I know this. I love him to death, he's my mentor and one of my closest friends, but I'm not changing, I know that.
Q. You how important is it that the players made room for Derrick Rose to come and be the star that he has?
COACH CALIPARI: You know what, depended on him, how he was as a kid. If he came in and dominated -- Dell Harris texted me and I don't mean to be dropping names but he said, that kid, he didn't speak the first week but now at the end of the year he's taking the reins. And now all you can do is walk in, listen to them, defer to them, try to do your thing under the radar and each week do your thing and earn their respect to where they would want him to lead them now.
He could not do that the first week. If he had came in the other way the first week, they would have looked at him and said, you have not been there, kid, you're 18 years old. So it was his personality and temperament.
Q. How surprised are you to go 50 minutes without one question regarding the 15-foot unguarded shot?
COACH CALIPARI: I'll say it again, and you've watched my Massachusetts teams, we never shot the ball well from the line except when it counted, four minutes to go. That means mentally tough kids will figure out ways of winning and the ones they really have to make, they will. As this tournament winds down, free throw shooting may play a role in somebody's win or loss including ours, but it will not have any bearing on percentages now. Those percentages mean nothing when you're playing for all the marbles, and the mentally tough guys will make them, the guys that are panicked will not make them. I just hope my guys were mentally tough enough to do it, or I hope we are up enough so that it doesn't matter, either way. Either one will be fine with me.
Q. Robert mentioned in the break out rooms your pink house. What's the story behind the house being pink? Anything there?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, when we bought it, we were going to change the paint. We live -- I can throw a baseball and hit the building that my players live in.
So I live right across the street from them, so they walk across the street, come over to the house and hang out. They make sure I'm out of town and they will come over and spend some time with my wife and my children and play videos and do that.
But it grew on us, the color grew. It's more peach than pink. It's a peach-colored. The first thing we did, when we bought it because it was right next to the campus, and then I said, we didn't live in a pink-looking house. And the more we're in it, we feel like, wow. But it's right across the street from where they live. So it's been great.
I had a car for five years, had 21,000 miles, had the car five years. Where do I have to go? I drive to the office, a mile back, I put two miles on the car.
End of FastScripts