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March 30, 2008
COACH CALIPARI: What I would like to do first is I would like to thank our president, Dr. Raines, who is here, not only for the commitment to basketball, but the commitment to these student athletes and academic support and what she's done to change what we have at the university. And I also want to thank our athletic director, R.C. Johnson, who has made a commitment, how we treat these kids, how we travel, how we charter, how we do things to save them so that academically they can do their thing and that they can compete on this stage with schools that have more of a wherewithal to do that.
We are committed to doing things as well as anybody in the country, and that doesn't happen without a president that's committed to and an athletic director that's committed to it, so we thank you.
Terrific basketball game. But we are a pretty good team. I just keep saying it. I believe in these guys, I trust them. We played a great defensive team. We had seven turnovers, folks. We had five against Mississippi State. We had nine against Michigan State. And we're playing fast. It's Princeton on steroids. There's reads. You have to be able to think and do the things that we do.
And I'm just proud of these players. They are just performing and they want this, but they don't feel like they have to have it. We want it in the worst way but it's not going to stamp anything about this season. This has been a wonderful year and we want to win a couple more if we can.
Q. Could you see D.J. getting a little frustrated out there? You were doing a great job on him defensively and everyone had a hand in stopping him but could you see him getting frustrated?
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: No, he's a great player. He kept his calm the whole game. He's really poised and knows how to play the point guard and didn't get rattled the entire game and he tried to make plays when he could. We just tried to disrupt what he likes to do but I didn't see him get aggravated or anything.
Q. You seem to be the Rocket when the guys started this afternoon, getting rebounds and blocking out. They weren't able to beat a bullet today, what's the starting plan going against those guys?
JOEY DORSEY: That's my job for this team, being the best defensive player out there, trying to dominate the glass, if Chris gets beat on the dribble I'm there on the weak side to help.
Q. Having the privilege of watching you guys during Conference USA, do you feel your athleticism, you continue to do the same things over and over and over again; do you feel like after today's performance that you guys were finally starting to get the respect that you deserve?
DERRICK ROSE: I guess from the Michigan State game people have been noticing. But all season we've been athletic. You should see us in practice.
It's hard when you've got a person that's guarding you just all-out and then you go past them and you've got a Robert Dozier or Joey back there just wiping off glass and it's a fast break. So it's real tough playing against us.
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: I'm not sure if we'll get the respect we deserve, but if we don't, it doesn't matter. It's four teams left now. I don't see a reason why people could still doubt us but I'm pretty sure that it is. (Laughter).
Q. You talked a little bit the other day about watching this tournament when you were younger, and now to not only play in it, but to be going to the Final Four, can you just talk about the feelings that are going through you?
DERRICK ROSE: I'm just living the dream right now. I talked to my mother on the phone, she started tearing up, I almost started tearing up; I had to get off the phone because I didn't want to cry in the locker room. I'm just living the dream, everybody back home happy for me and our fans back in Memphis are happy, so we're just living it up.
Q. They came back and got it within five, and the building was mostly Texas fans, obviously, and was pretty loud. How did you guys keep your poise and respond, because I think it was an 18-4 run after that.
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: Texas is a great team, so we knew they were going to make a run. Great teams make runs.
But our job was to sustain the run, and that's what we did. Me and Derrick talk amongst each other, even when teams make 5-0 runs, we talk amongst each other like now it's time for our run. But we'll never get rattled because a team makes a run. This is a tournament, so they are supposed to.
DERRICK ROSE: Every building we played in, they always pack the stands and everything -- the stands were always packed. We didn't really get the pressure that we were supposed to get but when stuff like that happens, we just come together and talk amongst each other and say that it's time to play.
Q. You have been receiving a lot of flak all season about your free throws but hit 30 of 36, talk about how good that felt to step to the line?
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: Yeah, we always say, they don't think we can make them. Every time we huddle up at the line, we say, they don't think we can make them. But we're making them. We're making them now. So now we'll see what the next knock is. But we're making them now. We shot 80-something percent today, so I don't know what else there is to say. (Laughter).
Q. Early in the game, it was about 9-8 and you grabbed a rebound and just went down the floor and put it in the basket. Talk about what was going through your mind there, was it always the plan to just take it right to the hoop, is that what you saw, and did you want to kind of make a statement there?
DERRICK ROSE: No, Coach was yelling at me telling me to pull it out, so I was just waiting for somebody to come towards me so I could dish it out but nobody didn't come so I just made the layup.
Q. Can you talk about this win for Coach Calipari and maybe what this does for him on a national basis for both you guys.
JOEY DORSEY: Made him so happy. We made him happy today, that's it. That's all I can say. (Laughter).
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: He's more happy for us than he is for himself. He always says it, you know, he's so happy for us. He says we deserve it. Because he's been here before. We never have.
So what makes him most happy is seeing us happy and seeing us make it to the Final Four.
Q. There's been a lot of discussion about the team defense this weekend. Do you think it was as good as you have played collectively all year considering the quality of the opposition?
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS: Yes, because these last two games, these teams run a lot of sets and they set a lot of screens.
So you have to be active and you have to be aware. So our defensive effort these last two games are great, and it's probably the best we've played on the defensive end this season, and it's a great time to pick up our intensity, and especially now where it isn't that many games left. So we're definitely playing great defense and the best we've played all year.
Q. Were you tired of hearing about the conference you're from and do you think this made a statement?
JOEY DORSEY: No, it just adds fuel to the fire. It's just another thing we put on our back with the free throws and hearing all this that we can't do it because we're in a small Conference. So we just try to go out there and prove everyone wrong.
COACH CALIPARI: I want to say one thing before I get started. The reason I turned around Chris Douglas's hat, I get disappointed when I looked at what it looked like in that TV over there, and I get disappointed when these young people are judged by how they wear a hat. They are judged by a tattoo. If you ask me about my team and said who has a tattoo or who doesn't. You won't believe this, but I look at their eyes. I don't look at their body that way. Somebody said to me, he has a tattoo on his neck that said Judy, why would he do it. I never knew he had Judy. I said, what was the name you said? Judy. That's his mother. That's his mother.
These young men that I'm coaching, have unbelievable hearts, they are so unselfish. They are intelligent. They are from the south. Some of it you may not understand how they speak. They are from Memphis, Tennessee. They are intelligent and they are great kids. Because of our style, it's like, well, they don't have any organization. They just jump, run around, and shoot balls.
The people that write and have done this for a long time, look at how we play and the organization we are playing with. I'm proud of these guys, and I'll be honest, I get offended, I had to turn the hat around because I saw what it looked line on the TV. These are good kids. Questions?
Q. Texas has been very good defensively particularly down the stretch. Did you do anything different on your offense to attack them? You shot 50 percent and got good shots all game.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we needed to get to the third and fourth drive, and we also needed to get close to the basket with their small guards and we wanted to post them and kind of shoot over them. We didn't want to settle for three-pointers. We wanted to really get to the third, fourth and fifth drive, because if you had never played against this offense, you think you can switch and sag, but when you get to the third drive, someone is breaking down.
The other thing, you know, that we looked at is they would go zone, and again, we did not want to settle for 3s. We went zone and would go for three reasons; one, they were tired because they would play three or four guys the majority of the minutes, either they were in foul trouble, which meant the guys we wanted to get in foul trouble were near the basket so we had to keep driving it or to just change the complexion of the game. When they went zone, we wanted to get in the middle of the zone and play from there.
Q. Earlier you described your offense as Princeton on steroids. Do you feel like the way you have played the last two games offensively, this is a vindication to the country that there might be a thought that might answer a lot of things checks check?
COACH CALIPARI: First of all, I can't control what people say, write or think. All we can do is the best we can do and I'm more concerned with my players than any of that.
This is how we play. We've played this way that you've seen all year. People just haven't seen us.
They want to say, the league. Our league is way better than it was three years ago with the break up, way better. Next year, my prediction is we'll get three teams in the NCAA Tournament, three.
So our league is not the issue. The issue is we are really good. We are really good. And for someone that doesn't study the game, to watch us play, you're not going to -- it's hard to figure out it. Looks like there's no rhyme or reason to what we do, and that's okay. That's okay.
All I'm trying to do is put these young men in the best position to have success to do the things that they do well, and get them to compete and feel unleashed. I don't want them to feel restricted at all. I want them to be unleashed; go for it, go.
They love playing this way and I love coaching this way and I said to Derrick before the game: "The more you do to run this, the less I have to do," and I'd like to do very little.
Q. Talking to Taggart after the game, he mentioned the growing pains he had to do adjusting to your coaching style. Can you speak how happy you are to the adjustment he made and how happy you are with the way he performed today?
COACH CALIPARI: A lot of these kids had never been challenged before they went to college. Maybe they had played in a situation that they controlled, and now all of a sudden you're coming to a team where a coach is going to tell you, one, no, and he's going to hold you accountable, every time. We're trying to have every player play every possession.
Well, there's a hard adjustment for a guy that's never been held to that standard. Taggart is one of the bigger reasons we are where we are today, because when we go to the bench or have foul trouble, I have a player that good coming off the bench.
And the other thing is, he's one of those kids you want to hug. My daughter hugged him after the game. My daughter Megan said, "I want to give you a hug."
And he said, "I'm all sweaty."
And she said, "That's okay, we like sweat," and she hugged him.
He's one of those kids you're rooting for.
Q. There's a chance that all four No. 1s could advance to the Final Four. What do you think the significance is of that if it occurs?
COACH CALIPARI: The committee was good. I've got to give it to them. They have put us in positions that, you know, the last three years, that you look at, you question this, that; but the reality of it is, they are pretty good. They are pretty good. To do that and have it play out the way it did, they didn't make many mistakes, if they made any.
Q. To follow on that, what do you make of that as far as the trend in the game; there's so much talk about Cinderellas this time of year and everything, and now here you are where you're on a chance for four No. 1s.
COACH CALIPARI: Every year will be different. This is one of those years where it appears from the day one, people said there are four teams that are a little bit better than everybody else. That's what they said. We happen to be one of those teams.
Next year, it may not be that way. You may have 12 teams, and someone may crack through. But that's why this tournament is so popular; no one knows. It's one-and-done. You can miss free throws; we won't, but you can miss free throws and lose a game. (Laughter).
There's just crazy stuff that can go on. The guy from Davidson, Dell's son, he could go and make 50 and they win. That's the greatest thing. It's not best of seven where you can make adjustments. It's, there it is, deal with it.
Q. Going into the first media time-out, when those guys come off the floor, what are you saying as far as your team being able to adjust to the length and guys defending on the wing and all of the contested shots?
COACH CALIPARI: They were telling me, look, I can get this guy close to the rim and score. That's what our guys said and I was more concerned about defense and how we were playing pick-and-rolls, because D.J. is one of the best players in pick-and-rolls that you'll ever see. What he does is he creates havoc for your team and he makes everyone on the floor better if you're not good in that pick-and-roll. Now either he'll get a layup or get somebody to dunk. And what we were trying to do was not help on him early.
So play the pick-and-roll, but if he got in the lane, we wanted to wait, wait, wait and make him either shoot it over a hand, or make a late pass, versus an early pass as a dunk, and he had a couple of those today.
Q. Chris said the other day sometimes in practice he gets amazed watching Derrick. You see him every day. Does Derrick still amaze you with some of the things he does out there?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. I had a kid -- you have a couple players in your career that basically get you to sit down. They make a play and you just sit down. There's nothing you can say. You just sit down.
I had a kid, Will Herndon (ph) in Massachusetts, 6-3, power forward, would do something, and I would, sit down, couldn't believe it. That's what Derrick Rose does. Just does stuff like that; how did he do that? Sit down. Just watch it and enjoy it.
Q. Following up on Derrick, what is it that makes him perform at such a high level offensively and defensively?
COACH CALIPARI: He's got a will to win. I read the article a few days ago when we were in Little Rock that they wrote on Tiger Woods in USA Today and I told him to look at this article because this is who I believe you can be, physically, skill-wise -- he's got to improve, got to get on the range a little bit and get that stroke right, but he also has the mental capacity and the mental toughness and the intelligence to be unique and special. And it sets him apart.
He's been that way since we got him, so it's nothing I've done with him. He just has a will to win. It may be with a defensive stop. It may be with a rebound that he nicked his head on the rim as he went to get it. It may be out-running the entire field when he started behind everybody. It may be a steal, a dive, a tip out of nowhere, and then again it may be a drive, baseline and dunk on their team.
But he's got that will to win, and he's got an innate intelligence that when you give him something, when you teach him something, it's his, he owns it. You no longer own it. When you give it to him, it's his. And that's, you know, it's just unique. He's a unique player.
Q. So is it too simplistic to say that he's the difference why this team has gotten past this round when your last two teams haven't?
COACH CALIPARI: We're more experienced than we were. Little Lee and Andrei were terrific today and we're also better in backup big guy in Taggart, so we're better, we're deeper, we're more experienced. It's our third time in the Elite 8. I was starting to figure out, how did we do this, how did we get so much better; well, we've added better players to our team and we've gained experience.
Q. How much of an impact does the NBA Draft rule have potentially on college basketball with guys like Derrick being able to play their freshman year and UCLA's Kevin Love?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, obviously it's helped our program because there are players that have an interest in our program because they want to come and be trained and have a style. Do I wish they had to stay two years? For me and my family, I wish they had to stay two years. But for a guy that should have that opportunity, I would never begrudge them to go do what's great, the best thing for them and their families.
So you wish it was longer, but then again, probably not fair for the players if it was.
Q. Is Joey playing well enough now you would almost refer to him as reliable?
COACH CALIPARI: Almost. Almost. (Laughing).
What I told him after the game, I want him to write a story and be vivid of what he wants this next game to be like, what he wants it to be for him. Make the game winning free throws and be carried off the court, you be carried off. Make the game-winning block; the celebration. Write the story and then read it every day for the next three or four days, just to feel good.
A lot of these kids, it's hard for them to accept, good things are supposed to happen for you. It's supposed to happen. Expect good things to happen. It's hard for these kids to see that sometimes.
And for Joey, he's come so far. I am so proud of him. He's the first high school-educated in his family. He's on the verge of being the first college-educated. He's going to have five classes at the end of this year that he'll have to finish up. And I keep telling him, you'll have children and you are going to want them to go to college and they are going to say, you only have a high school education, and when they say that to you, you say, wait a minute, I was the first high school-educated in my family, I did it. You're living in a home of an educated man, go do it and go get on education.
He's just come so far. And this is hard for these kids, all of them, that are still playing. The spotlight that they are under, the criticism they will get, we don't deserve. We deserve it as coaches, throw whatever you want, that's what we do for a living. But those kids, they have kind of fed on the they won't do it, they won't advance, they fed on it. And I stayed away from it because I haven't had to say much about it because I know they are talking about it.
End of FastScripts