home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 25, 2011

John Calipari

Josh Harrellson

Brandon Knight

DeAndre Liggins


Kentucky - 62
Ohio State - 60

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kentucky Head Coach Jon Calipari, students Brandon Knight, Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I'm really proud of the guys. And Josh and DeAndre were so good today, wow, and Darius. And Terrence, who didn't play well in the first half, did things lights in the game. Brandon, who didn't make shots, made the two biggest shots of the game. Deron, who wasn't making shots in the first half, came out and made a couple shots. Jon Hood helped us and Eloy helped us. It was a good win. They stuck to what we were trying to do and didn't get away from it and eked one out.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.

Q. Brandon, can you take us through that game-winning shot and you know you guys weren't given, I guess, much of a chance per se. Ohio State was much more veteran and you guys were more freshmen and how that played out.
BRANDON KNIGHT: With the last shot Coach put me in a pick-and-roll a couple of seconds left. Instead of going off, I felt he gave me a lane to go right, so I just went right. And he jumped in front of me, so I pulled up, and thank God it went in.
And as far as with not people expecting us to win because we are a freshman team, I just saw today our older guys, veterans stepped up and did a great job.

Q. Josh, going into this game you said you were confident. But really, did you think you could get 17 and have the game that you had tonight?
JOSH HARRELLSON: I have to be thankful for my teammates for doing that. They got me open. Easy drop-offs to me and I was finishing and they came back on pick-and-rolls. I have been guarding the best guys in the country for the last two years with DeMarcus (Cousins) with Daniel (Orton), Pat (Patterson), and this year guarding Enes (Kanter) and it gives me an edge guarding Jared Sullinger, one of the best in the nation. Going against Enes, it gives me more confidence coming into this game.

Q. Brandon, did you it in Tampa, you have done it again here in New Jersey, is there something to be said for having the ball in your hands late in the game?
BRANDON KNIGHT: I am not sure. Like I said, I just thank God for being able to make shots like that. And just when it comes to crunch time, a couple of seconds left and the game on the line, I focus in and make sure I am making the right decisions.

Q. Brandon, this is twice now that have you had game-winners where there is no time-out, they just give you the ball and I assume they want you to just make a play. What is that, what kind of confidence do you get out of basically being given the ball and just said, go and win it?
BRANDON KNIGHT: I get a lot of confidence from that just knowing that Coach Cal has a lot of faith in me to put me in a position like that to make the right play. Not only can it be shooting but he tells me somebody else is open, to get it to them to knock the game-winning shot down.

Q. Brandon, on the shot where you got the ball, were you intending to drive to the basket? And his defense made you improvise? Josh, can you talk about your defense on Sullinger when he put it off the side of the backboard?
BRANDON KNIGHT: Like I said before, I was going to come off the screen originally, but I kind of felt he gave me a lane to go to the basket. And his lateral quickness is pretty good, so he got a good pop. And he cut me off a little bit, so I just stopped and rose and shot the mid-range.
JOSH HARRELLSON: You know, I gave up an offensive rebound right before that and gave up an easy lay-up. I didn't really contest it, so I was going to try to make it up for my teammates. I was trying to be big. I had a couple of inches on them. We were the same weight, so I was trying to be bigger than him, and I had hot hands and he threw it off the side of the backboard and I went for the rebound, and that was a key play right there.

Q. I was curious when you hear Kentucky-Carolina, what springs to your mind?
JOSH HARRELLSON: North Carolina really progressed since the first time we played them. They are a totally different team. They beat us once, it will be a tough game to come out here and, you know, match up with them. The bigs did a great job the first time, and all they are doing is getting better. It will be a tough match-up for me. But hopefully we can come out and keep playing the same ball we have been playing the last couple of weeks.
DeANDRE LIGGINS: North Carolina is a good team. They progressed this year as the season went on. And since they got the point guard, they have been great. That's my job to guard him in the next game and I will try to do my best.

Q. DeAndre, after the game you got up on the table and tried to get a message, I guess, to the fans. What motivated you to do that? What were you trying to say to them?
DeANDRE LIGGINS: It is part of my game, to bring a passion to the game every time I step on the floor. Trying to lift my teammates. I am just happy we won the game.

Q. DeAndre, on that shot that went from, I guess, to go from one to three up, that's some of the most aggressive I have seen you a lot of the year. Did you want to take that shot?
DeANDRE LIGGINS: I heard Coach Cal say yesterday when he was up here, he said, DeAndre, is going to make shots, and I listened to that and I thought I am going to make shots today and that's what I did.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, guys. Questions for Coach Calipari.

Q. John, the balance you got out of the six players that played so much, offensively and defensively, how does it feel as a coach to get that kind of just straight team effort, it wasn't one guy, it was all six? And how have you built maybe over the course of this year to get to this point when it hasn't always gone perfect?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, the one thing about playing less players, they seem to become a better team. Jack Leaman when I was at UMass told me I was playing too many guys. He said, You have to play less people. Play six or seven guys. You will get a good team and my '95 team with Marcus (Camby), Carmelo (Travieso), Edgar (Padilla), Donta (Bright) and Dana (Dingle), we only played six guys that year and we were a pretty good team. What happened is like Terrence, I wanted Terrence early in the game to get Sullinger to go off screens and do stuff and drive Sullinger and that was a mistake. And he is not ready for that and that kind of screwed him up the whole first half. The second half he came back and played. That's growth. Earlier in the year when he played that way to start he could not finish the game. Brandon doesn't make a shot and then he makes that three, and then he makes the last shot of the game after missing all of those shots. That's growth. You're just not afraid to miss.
But this team is those veterans. Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller. Our freshmen were okay today. Our veteran players who were not significant a year ago, who have now taken on this team, that's why we're still playing. It's because of those guys.

Q. John, why did you go with DeAndre guarding the point guard rather than one of the other guys?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Because I felt that if we could make the game hard for Craft, it was going to be in our benefit. The issue was, who are we going to put on Diebler? And, you know, we tried some different things and I thought we did a pretty good job. But, you know, there are certain players on teams that you got to go at them to change the direction of the game, and that's why we did it. The start of the half, I took him off Craft and you saw Craft go nutty. And I called a time-out and I put him right back on Craft. He's not only a great defender, he had two assists, four blocks -- I'm sorry, three assists, three blocks, six rebounds, 15 points and big hoops and big free throws. He was huge today, huge.

Q. A year ago I imagine you wouldn't believe Harrellson could play this big in a game of magnitude. What was the key of his transition to get to the point where he can play like that against Sullinger?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I think it was November he twittered some stuff about me, and I about threw him off the team. And I went to mass and I thought better of it and thought and said, "You are going to condition for 30 minutes before every practice and then you are going to practice or you can quit." He worked so hard and all of a sudden his body changed. It's not what I did, it's what he did. His body changed. The extra work got his skills better. And it also got him to think differently. I tell players all the time, if you're going to do the same thing over and over and then expect a different result, that's the definition of insanity. You have to change, your habits, your work habits, your mentality. You can't listen to everybody telling you how to play, you have to shut it all out and have a different mentality and that's what he has done.
If you asked me at the beginning of the year, I would say no. No. But you know what? I have done this a long time. I'm not sure if I have ever been this proud of a young man who, you know, he's going to do what he wants to do now. But he changed. He did it himself. It's not what I did. We put him on stage, but they have to perform.

Q. John, how much did you honestly worry about the youth factor in this game?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: The what factor?

Q. Youth. And does a win like this in this situation kind of put this argument to rest finally?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: It will never go to rest. And I mean, we all have young players, it just seems that I am the only one with the young players, but we all have young players. And I would tell you, it never enters my mind. But that being said, the veterans won this game. Now Brandon made that shot. Terrence came up with a big rebound late. Deron made two nice threes. But those veterans did they what they had to do to win this game, defensively, on Craft, on Sullinger. We held a heck of a team to 32% from the floor and they make six threes. I told them if we get them to five or six threes, I don't think they can beat us.
But I don't mind coaching young guys. The way we played -- we had young guys in the past, and I don't look at their age. You are going to help us win, or you are going to do what you are supposed to do, you are going to make your teammates better, or you are going to be the kind of teammate that you want to play with. Well, if you are going to do that, what do I care if you are 18, 19, 21, I don't care. We are trying to win, and we are trying to build a team.
Now, I don't agree with one-and-done, never have, but it is the rule. And I am not holding kids back. If they have a chance to go, I will tell them to go. It has never hurt our program. I don't try to convince kids to come back. If they choose to do that -- even like Jodie Meeks, I would like to coach Jodie. I want to coach this team for three more years, are you kidding me? But we are in a situation we are in.

Q. You all had a bunch of games where they came down to the end on the road and you lost four or five of them in a row. And now the last three or four you have won. Do you think going through those losses had any effect?
No question. One, if it didn't hurt, we would have never changed. And I used to go in after those games and I walked in and I said, this has to hurt bad. And you have to take responsibility. It was a month ago that Derrick Rose had a bad game and he stood up and said, "This is on me. It won't ever happen again." And I told my team, that's what being a professional is about. That's what's being a good teammate. Don't look to blame. If you didn't do your job, just accept it and change.
So those close games were good -- now, they were painful going through them now, and plus I am coaching in Kentucky; you are supposed to win every game by 25. And if not, they want to know what is wrong with me or this team and everything else, just what we live with. It is tough going through it, but it benefitted us.

Q. John, Brandon talked before about the confidence you have in him for making a play. Is that why after 21 seconds after Diebler play you don't call a time-out, you let it flow kind of?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I don't ever call a time-out, that's why we practice. And you notice the time before we ran something and I didn't like it and I called a time-out. But I very rarely do that and I will tell you why: One, you have to get it inbounds. Two, what if they change defense or change personnel and put different people on them? When you don't call a time-out, if you worked on it in practice, you know who's guarding who. I have all the faith in the world in Brandon. Against Princeton he couldn't make a shot, but he made the lay-up. Today he struggled shooting, but he made that last one. If we are in another game and it is late, that coach will know we're playing through Brandon.
Now, the play before I wanted DeAndre and I wanted DeAndre because he was the one that was hurting them the most. And so we called a time-out, went on the side out of bounds and ran it for him and kind of used Brandon as a little decoy. But whatever, he made the tough shot.

Q. Coach, what does it mean to you to be playing Carolina for a place in the Final Four?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: It means we're still playing. I mean, I didn't care whoever it was. I really like Roy, unbelievable coach. What he has done this year with that team. I mean, we played early and they beat us. They are so much better than they were then. Their big guys, their guards, they pass, you know, they are unbelievable. And Roy, you know, early on they struggled. But that's what coaching is in my opinion. A guy like him, he is a Hall of Famer and I am a big fan of his and he knows that.

Q. Coach, all the lead changes, all of the ties. You have been in a lot of games. Kentucky has been in a lot of games to be considered the best of all time. In your opinion where does this game ranks right now, is pretty much --
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: At this moment, the best of all time, at this moment. I just have to go back. I told the players I am going to watch this tape to get me a little bit excited, and then I will start on the Carolina tape tonight to get ready for tomorrow.

Q. John, I wondered what happened on the technical. And was it reminiscent at all of the '92 Sweet 16 technical with the ref far away from you?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I probably did something, I don't know. It was a great crew in the game, so if I did something, they called a technical, I don't care, we won the game. Terrence looked over at me and said, "I got your back."
I was happy he missed the first one, as you can tell, just to let them know, how about that. But obviously I must have done something. But it wasn't intentional, so, but it was a good crew in the game. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297