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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: TAMPA


March 17, 2011


John Calipari

Josh Harrellson

Darius Miller


TAMPA, FLORIDA

Kentucky 59
Princeton - 57


COACH CALIPARI: I'm happy we won the game. There's my opening statement.

Q. Josh or Darius, Brandon did not have a very good shooting night to say the least, had not made a shot until the final one. Describe the final play and your confidence in him to make a play there.
JOSH HARRELLSON: He didn't make as many shots as he normally did, but we always have confidence in Brandon. He's matured so much. You know, he's a different level of point guard than he was earlier in the season. So we always have confidence in him no matter how bad a game he's playing. We always have confidence that he'll make a big play when we need one. Coach ran a play and it didn't work out like it was supposed to, and he took his man off the dribble and he made a big time lay-up that we needed in traffic, and it was a big play for him.
DARIUS MILLER: Like Josh said, we have a lot of confidence in him. He's one of the best shooters I've seen, so he's not going to continue to miss. We're not worried about that at all. He made a big play, especially for a freshman he made a big play in his first NCAA and finished. So it was a very aggressive play, a very tough play, so we're just happy to have him.

Q. Darius, again, Josh just seemed to be in the right place at the right time all night, kept making plays, seemed to come up with every big play. How big has his presence been the last couple weeks?
DARIUS MILLER: Very big. He provided us with a lot of extra opportunities and finished them off sometimes himself. Like you said, he always knows where to be, and I think he just outworks most of the people we play against. He does a great job of working hard to get in great position, and like I said, he was finishing them today and did a really good job for us.

Q. This is for Josh. How did you feel actually getting to play in an NCAA game for the first time?
JOSH HARRELLSON: Yeah, you know, I had a lot of jitters before the game, I'm sure just like all the freshmen did. I came out and I was nervous at first, but the jitters went away pretty quick. I've been around it enough being with the team last year participating in the NCAA, not playing significant minutes but getting a few minutes here and there. So you know, I've dealt with it so I've had a little more experience than them. But you know, come out with our first victory for me being a starter and a significant player, I'm happy and for all my teammates, we got our first win together in the NCAA Tournament, so hopefully we can keep it going.

Q. Darius, second year in a row you're going to see West Virginia in the tournament. Just your thoughts on playing them again.
DARIUS MILLER: We know they're going to be a very tough team, very physical team, and we're going to have to be ready to go. We haven't -- well, we personally I haven't seen a lot of them this year, haven't seen a lot of video on them, so I don't know what all to expect. I know they're going to have talented players, and like I said, they're going to be tough.

Q. Darius, at one point you guys trailed maybe by five, second half. Just what were the conversations in the huddles, and how was the team able to really rebound in that second half and make that run?
DARIUS MILLER: We all stayed focused. We talked to each other, made sure everybody was still confident. And I mean, just in most of the huddles, we were just trying to stay focused on what we needed to do. We needed to pick up our intensity and stay focused, and hopefully it played out the best for us, and it did.

Q. Coach, yesterday you said you can't count on freshmen and then you put the ball in his hands there and he delivered.
COACH CALIPARI: If you watched the game today, my freshmen didn't play very well. None of the three. They played okay. I mean, you know, and I'm saying Brandon didn't play well, he had five assists and one turnover. I mean, I was subbing him late, not anything to do with offense, I just wanted a longer team out there. And that's why I had Doron playing the point on defense. But I have all the faith and confidence in the world in him. I knew -- I'll be honest, I thought he had made one shot. I didn't think he was like an 0-for. But that being said, he's a winner. He's not afraid to make a play. Guys like him aren't afraid to miss. It's not that you're afraid whether you're going to make it, you're just not afraid if I miss it, I miss it.
So you know, Terrence didn't have one of his better efforts and neither did Doron. He did okay, but I just think those guys are better, and I think they had the jitters at their first NCAA Tournament game ever that they have been watching since they're 12, and all of a sudden they're starting in the NCAA Tournament that's on national television. How about we're down five and they're still in there having to play?
But our veterans, I thought DeAndre Liggins in the second half and Darius Miller in the first half and Josh throughout kept us where we had a chance to win. How we escaped I still have to go watch the tape and figure it out.

Q. One of the players said you had a different play drawn up at the end. Can you tell us what that play was?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we were going on a side pick-and-roll, and I was going to let those two figure it out. And they switched, so they hadn't been switching the whole game. What they usually do in that situation, they go man to man, and with about ten seconds they pull into a zone, so that's what we talked about. And because they were going to do that, we were going to ball screen either way, whether they were zone or man, to make it simple for our guys. And they switched, and he took his man one-on-one, and I had a time-out that I could have burned at that time, but I'm like looking at it like this kid wants to make this. You could just see that he wanted to make that play, and that's why I just let it happen, let it unfold.

Q. When you play against a team that actually shoots so well like they do every time down the court, how mentally draining is that because you know you've got to get stops?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, the hard thing is when you're playing six guys, you want to press that team and you want to really get aggressive pressuring the ball in the half court. But you're playing six, seven guys, so you can't really do it even with all the timeouts. So we did the same thing.
Penn did the same exact thing to us. We beat them a little better in the second half, but Penn had us down 16, and they did their stuff. And then we came out in the second half and said, forget about it, just go play the ball hard, get off on the weak side, play between your man and the basket and let's see what happens.
When we went to that bigger team, it gave them problems offensively, but they didn't get a whole lot of back doors against us. They didn't. They got some middle drives, which is what we wanted them to do. But they made shots. You know, they're a well-coached team, and put themselves with a chance to beat us on a national stage, and that's a credit to Princeton.

Q. You talked about Brandon wanting to make that play. He's missed some game-winning opportunities this year, he's missed some shots and he hadn't hit a shot all day today. What's that tell you about him that he wants the ball in that situation?
COACH CALIPARI: I'm with him every day. There's no one that works harder, spends more time or believes in himself based on his work ethic. He's the first one in the gym and the last one to leave and he goes at night. I have no problem putting that ball in his hand because he's made that shot in that gym by himself many times, counting it off.
Today at the shoot-around, this morning, he waited for the clock to run down, and with two seconds to go, he let it go, and as it went through, the horn sounded. That's how he is. There's no one else -- the other guy that's been playing pretty well was Darius and that's why I put him in a ball screen so either one of them could make that last shot, take that last play.

Q. Would you discuss Harrellson's overall play today and kind of his emergence this season as a contributor for you?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we're still playing, and we won the SEC title because of him. And really, when you look at today's game Darius and DeAndre, DeAndre in the second half, Darius in the first, but Josh has been steady rebounding presence. Now he's got confidence around the basket to make baskets that he hadn't had. He's another guy like Darius that comes to practice 40 minutes early and does conditioning and individual work and then practices. And what he's done is he's changed all his habits, he's changed his body, he's changed his mentality, so the result has changed.
And I tell those guys, my team, all the time, if you're going to do the same things over and over and over and think you're going to get a different result on that basketball court, you're insane. That's the definition of insanity.
So you've got to change what you do, how you think, how you approach it, and he has. So has Darius.

Q. You said yesterday that Kentucky fans inhale when you miss and exhale when you make shots. That's the nature of the nation. How do you think they're breathing after today's game?
COACH CALIPARI: They just want to win. They want to win. And when you're coaching here, whatever you do when you win was right, and if you lose, it was wrong. Even if it was calculated, it doesn't matter. That's how they are, and you know what, they're the greatest fans. You have a small minority that are absolutely off the cliff, but the rest of our fans, and I'm talking a small minority, our fans are the greatest. They're into it.
These players are their children and their grandchildren. If you're a grandmother, that's your grandchild. If you're a mother, that's your son or that's my brother. This is their family, and it's a neat thing. That's the other thing of being in this program as freshmen; I mean, to deal with knowing every basket is -- it's a little added for these guys. But the way we finished the game, Terrence came up with a big rebound, Doron helped us defensively, and then the last shot by Brandon. So those three played a part, yet this team was carried by the veterans today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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