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March 12, 2011

John Calipari

Josh Harrellson

DeAndre Liggins



THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Kentucky. We'll go ahead and get an opening statement from Coach Calipari.
COACH CALIPARI: That's what I'm looking for from my team. Josh played really well. This kid played out of his mind. Brandon Knight played like he's the best point guard out there. We didn't turn it over, he ran the club. I played him a lot of minutes, but that's how we have been playing all year. I even asked him, Do you want to come out?
And he said, I'm fine.
I thought Darius was good, Doron started the game good and cooled off a little bit. But second half, Terrence was very good, he wasn't very good in the first half, but he played good in the second half. Eloy went in and did fine. And we had a lot of guys performing so it was a good game.
We really guarded. Offensively were really good. We didn't shoot fouls like we're capable of, but other than that, it was a good win for us.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. DeAndre, and what happened on your injury and what's your health status right now?
DEANDRE LIGGINS: I feel fine, just a minor tweak. But I came down on my ankle a little bit, but I'll be fine.

Q. For Josh, talk about how you've played this tournament and how much it's meant for you this year to play and contribute after having to sit back and watch.
JOSH HARRELLSON: It's been real fun. Last year was definitely fun going to the Elite 8, playing with those guys we played with last year. But this year's been just as fun. I came out, didn't know what was going to happen and then Enes was ruled ineligible, and from there, I worked hard, and it's paying off.
Coming to the tournament, I turned myself around to leave it all. This is my last go-around and I want to leave it all in Atlanta, but I'm trying to save some for the next tournament we come in. But right now, we're just focused on this one.

Q. Josh, in a game at Tuscaloosa, obviously they hurt you on the boards and inside. How did you guys turn that around today?
JOSH HARRELLSON: Down there, I definitely didn't play at all. I didn't show up for my teammates. And either did I against Ole Miss, and that was something I was looking at. I owe them, I owe them to come out and compete again.
We came out and the three veterans stepped up last game and played really well. And again today, the three veterans stepped up, and that's something we didn't have when we were on the road down there, those two games. We relied all on freshmen to come out and compete and carry us older guys. But this time we're stepping up and carrying our younger guys through it.

Q. DeAndre, you guys worked on building that lead at halftime and then they came out and I think got two quick scores in the second half and coach called timeout. What was the discussion there? And you guys from that point kind of extended it and kept it from getting close?
DEANDRE LIGGINS: I think we were kind of lackadaisical coming out, and we just tried to step on them and put the game away. We didn't want to let up. So coach called timeout and got everybody rejuvenated and we started back going.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, we'll take questions for coach.

Q. Another injury question, how bad is Lamb?
COACH CALIPARI: Could be doubtful. I don't know. He was pretty bad in there, but we'll see. See how bad he wants to play. And I don't know. One thing I've learned with some of these young kids, they have the pain threshold of a fourth grader. So you thought he was shot in the second half. He comes out and he's bouncing around. It's kind of like Terrence yesterday, he was hurting and limping while that kid was scoring on him, but when he had that dunk, he jumped real high. But we'll see. If he doesn't play, we'll play without him, if he can't go.

Q. The game was well in hand when both DeAndre --
COACH CALIPARI: They didn't stop pressing. You don't know my bench. I play six guys. If they had stopped pressing, I would have subbed with three minutes to go. But they didn't stop pressing and they kept grabbing and strapping. And the minute he backed up, I would have subpoenaed. But if you don't stop...
All right. So I sub, and they make a couple threes, we miss it, my bench is saying we're fine. It goes to 11. I sub my guys back in now, we miss foul shots, and it's three, and you say, You never played those guys all year. Why would you do that? Why wouldn't you finish the game off?
You don't win.
Obviously, I would have rather have had all of them out. We play tomorrow. But I'm trying to win that game. So good question, though.

Q. Can you talk about Josh this year, and he wasn't the guy you were going to rely on. Has he kind of endeared himself to you?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. I mean, the thing for me, it's one thing in getting kids that are born on third base and helping them get home. And it's another thing when kids are outside the stadium trying to get in. Some of it is the environment they were brought up in and some of it is they just are fighting to be a significant player. And a guy like Josh who learned how to work, he did it. It wasn't what I did, he did it. He changed.
If you're doing the same things over and over and thinking you're going to get a different result, that's insanity. That's the definition of insanity. You have to change. He changed. Did you see he caught it at the top of the key and shot a layup? Are you kidding me? I mean, I'm proud of him.
You want guys like that to understand. We get good players and we make them better and we prepare them and we get them. But we also get guys like Josh, and all of a sudden now, here's a kid that's going to be a professional basketball player. Are you kidding me? I played him 35 minutes last year for the season. He's playing 35 minutes a game. So I'm proud of him.
Proud of DeAndre. Look at him. I mean, everybody on this team has gotten better. Darius Miller's not even the same guy. Right now, if we have had big shots in the last seven games, 12 of them, finished games, Darius has made six of them. I'm happy with Brandon, where he was at the beginning of the year. And it's just like Derrick Rose and Tyreke, and John Wall, they all over the year got better. Well so has Brandon.
I'm looking a the Terrence and I'm looking at Doron, they've gotten better. They're better players. But guys like Josh and DeAndre have a special place in my heart because of where they have come from, and born outside the stadium, having to fight to get in the stadium, to get in the dugout, to get up to bat, and now all of a sudden he's got a chance to get home.

Q. You talked yesterday about staying on the gas and it looked like when you got ahead there were no wasted possessions today?
COACH CALIPARI: Start of the half. Start of the half. And I had to sub a guy who was running with his thumbs up, I mean this stuff. There's no coolness this time of the year. Cool stays home. You can do nothing of significance acting cool. And so what we ended up doing was we just said, Look, we came out of timeout -- the best thing that happened today is we came out of timeouts and these kids really executed.
I mean, in plays where they thought they had a chance, we would come back and run something, or side-out, and they execute. This is one of those teams. A really skilled team. We only had seven turnovers, guys, seven. Now I'm starting to think are we not playing fast enough. You need to have 10, 11 turnovers, and that's the lowest in the country. If you average 10 turnovers, you're lowest in the country. We just had seven. We're averaging 10 or 11. So I'm not sure we're being aggressive enough or are we that skilled, I don't know.

Q. Your lack of depth, does that affect the way you call the game defensively, and has it all year?
COACH CALIPARI: Probably be pressing more and doing some different things, so, yeah, it has.
We have this zone ready, but if we're really guarding today like we did today, why play zone? Well, you need a brick. Well, we're trying to win and I want to get those guys in that frame of mind. But we have a zone ready if we need it. I think Eloy and Jon Hood and the other guys on the bench, if I call on them, they will be fine.
But we're guarding like my old teams, which we're back up, we're not stretched out. We're just guarding you in that NBA three-point line, making that hard. We guarded today. We did a good job.

Q. John back to the end of the game for a second you've had games where you were up 14, 16. Next thing you know, it's down to four or six towards the end. How much of that does that play in your mind at the end of the game?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I even had an assistant, Do you want to get these guys out?
I said, They're still pressing. Who do you want me to put in?
And so believe me, we talked about it. It wasn't that it didn't enter my mind. But I coached -- what was it 18? It got four? We have had about three of those. Wait a minute. That was with my starters. Not my backups, my starters.
And so it's no disrespect for the backups, but why would I want to put those kids in that position? Haven't done it all year.
But again, maybe I should have and we would have won by four, and we would have been fine, you know, we'll see tomorrow. I mean it's just.
Doesn't matter. Whatever I do, if we win, I was right. If we don't win, I was wrong. I lived with that how many years have I coached? 20? I've had that for 20 years.

Q. But when you see a guy go down at the end, do you get an in your stomach a little pit?
COACH CALIPARI: No. I walked over and said, Get up, you're fine.
But we got Brandon out. You know, wanted to make sure he was out. But there's still two minutes and they were pressing. So it went from 23 to 17 real fast, too. And they were trapping, but...

Q. You did touch on this yesterday, but as of right now, how do you see Alabama post-season resume?
COACH CALIPARI: I think they should be in. I think Georgia should be in. I mean it. What happens is, you know, they talk the strength of a league and all this, wait a minute, these teams have beaten good people, they have played well all year, and they deserve to be in the tournament.
I'm looking at it saying we should get six teams in. I don't understand, well why would they get six? The league is good. Look at us. Look at Florida. Vandy and even Tennessee, Tennessee's going to be a dangerous game for anybody. And Georgia, I mean they beat us and so did Alabama.
Today, see the issue with this, and I've been in leagues where this has happened, I had my team play really well and play a team that should be getting in the NCAA tournament. And we smack them pretty good and everybody says, See, they're not that good.
We would have smacked anybody that we played today. The way we shot the ball. One, it wasn't just Alabama. We would have beaten just about anybody. So I don't think that should affect what they do with Alabama.
But none of us know how much they have done already. How much of the board is already filled. How much of what we did today affect our seed? We don't know. It may be done. I mean, maybe just plugging in stuff now. But I trust that they're going to give Alabama the look they deserve.

Q. You talked about Darius and it seems like he's developed that maybe backing a guy down a little bit, which was something you used to not see. But when did that come about and how has that developed?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, Terrence was a little shaky, and I said we're not going at him, we're going at Darius. So we ran off his side and posted Darius, and Darius has made that shot. Darius is a kid -- you know the thing that I want to see him do is go tip dunk some balls. The guy jumps, puts his head on the rim. Go tip dunk a ball, just fly in there and smash one.
So we're trying to get him to just break out and go ball. You're as good as anybody in our league, now go show it. Just go do it. What's holding you back? Why not be aggressive? There's no reason not to. Just go play.
How about this one: can he say he takes me out every time I make a mistake? I don't sub anybody. You can't say that. That excuse is off the table. Takes me out every time I miss a shot? No. Who can you say that to? So just go play. Go ball. Go do your thing.
And he's playing that way now. The last six games the reason we played like we have is because he and Josh and DeAndre have stepped it up and are playing better.

Q. Funny that you mentioned that you don't sub anybody, how terrified were you when both those guys go down on successive place?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I wish they would have backed off and weren't pressing us and trapping us, then I would have felt more comfortable with probably about three minutes to go. But it's like the kid at Duke, Mike wish he didn't have him in the game? You know. I just went over and said, You're fine, let's go, get up. Come on. So we'll see.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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