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March 11, 2012
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Vanderbilt – 71
Kentucky – 64
CLAUDE FELTON: We're joined by Kentucky head coach John Calipari and student‑athletes Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, and Anthony Davis. We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH CALIPARI: It was a hard fought game. And I thought Vanderbilt played very well down the stretch. We had our chances, we had our shots, we didn't make them.
You got to give them credit. That game was over and then all of a sudden it's like basket, basket, basket. It's anybody's ball game. And they played down the stretch well. Hats off to them, congratulations.
CLAUDE FELTON: Take your questions for the student‑athletes.
Q. Comment on the physical play in the post on both ends of the floor?
ANTHONY DAVIS: First off, congrats to Vanderbilt. They got anything they wanted in the post. Got good position and it was hard for us to fight around it. Came to the point where we just started trying to front, and we got ourselves deep in the post, and when you get it that deep, it's very easy for them to score and hard for us to defend.
TERRENCE JONES: They got real deep and good position. And they got us in foul trouble and got just good position.
Q. Can you talk about your confidence seemed to be back today, how that might kind of help you get going here in the NCAA tournament.
DARIUS MILLER: A big part of that was Mike went up to coach and talked to him about me starting today. And that really meant a lot to me, showing that he was with me, showing the support that he gave me. And coach allowing me to start the day also showed me support. That kind of gave me more confidence.
But I still missed a lot of shots. I didn't shoot as well as I thought I should, so it didn't work out in the end.
Q. You've done really good job in general staying out of foul trouble. The fouls you got into early, how much did that limit what you would typically do to cover the basket?
ANTHONY DAVIS: It limits you a lot. I didn't want to pick up any stupid fouls, especially when I was already in foul trouble. That kind of hurt my team, me having to sit on the bench with a couple minutes left. And guys know that now they can drive the lane and it was just kind of hard for me to sit on the bench and watch my team struggle like we did.
Q. Can you just talk about how this affects your confidence going into the NCAA tournament, a loss like this.
DARIUS MILLER: I think we're still confident in our ability. Vandy's a good team. It would have been real tough to beat them three times in one season. They played extremely well and took advantage of every opportunity. I don't think this affects our confidence at all. We're going to get back in the gym and we're going to go to work.
TERRENCE JONES: I think it makes us more hungry and we want to go harder just taking an L like this, and our win streak being done. I think it's going to make us go back to just playing hungrier.
ANTHONY DAVIS: I think our confidence is still here. We never lost any confidence. We just got to go back in the gym and play hard in practice and get ready for the tournament.
Q. You guys have probably heard plenty of talking saying maybe these guys need a loss, maybe these guys need a loss. Is there any way you think that in a couple days you'll feel like this will help you?
DARIUS MILLER: Hopefully it does. I think we'll be ready to go. We don't like the feeling of a loss. We wanted to win this championship, so we'll be back in the gym tomorrow and getting ready to go for the tournament.
TERRENCE JONES: I would rather lose this week than next week end or any weekend after this. So it's just a learning experience for us to execute later down the stretch.
ANTHONY DAVIS: When you take a loss like this it just makes us hungrier to get ready. But we just got to get back in the gym and get ready. There's nothing more to it.
Q. You guys have talked to us all I guess the last month about how much you hate the ESPN video of your one loss to Indiana. You said it angers you and motivates you. Talk about how you're processing this loss.
DARIUS MILLER: I think it will be the same way. We wanted to win this game just like we want to win every game. I don't think any of us likes to lose. I feel like we all competitive people, so it's going to motivate us to get ready for the tournament.
TERRENCE JONES: We'll just use it as motivation for the tournament. That loss was a long time ago, it feels like to me anyway. And this one just brings us back to reality. Coach feels we were getting ignorant?
COACH CALIPARI: Arrogant.
TERRENCE JONES: Arrogant. And just not representing teams like we were in the beginning. And now that we took a loss, we could probably feel that way again.
ANTHONY DAVIS: For me, I definitely hate the feeling of losing. To lose here, especially in a championship when we were this close to winning it all, it just hurts. So I hope we can take this loss, learn from it, and have this as motivation going into the tournament.
CLAUDE FELTON: We'll excuse the student‑athletes and take questions for coach.
Q. What does it say about Michael and Darius in the way that Michael gave up his starting spot today and how Darius responded with that.
COACH CALIPARI: That's Michael Gilchrist. That's what he is. He started the season and he told me, Coach, I know we got six starters so let me come off the bench. And I said, Michael I'll make that decision.
So today right before the game he just came in when I was sitting in the office in there and he just said, Why don't you start Darius today, and I'll come off the bench.
And he said, But obviously coach, you're the coach, you do what you want. But I think it would be good for our team and good for Darius.
So I said, You know what, appreciate that and I'll think about it.
And then right before I just said, I'm going to do it, D.
But that's the kind of young man he is. He's special. I would imagine he's one of the youngest freshmen in the country, too. He's really young. He's a young freshman. And he's got a good heart. He's just got that caring kind of heart, the kind of guy that makes a great teammate.
Q. Your team's been resilient all year in these types of games. Didn't happen today. But how do you expect them to bounce back in the tournament?
COACH CALIPARI: Let me first of all say this, we were resilient. The only thing that I was disappointed at halftime, I thought we should have been up about 10. And what I told them, There you go again, and give a team a chance to think that they got hope. And then we get up again late in the game.
Now what happened was we missed every single shot down the stretch. That's what we hadn't done all year. When I say we missed every shot, we missed every shot. Now, they went zone, and I was really comfortable if I had to do it over again, we would have gone inside more. But I'm confident in Darius and Doron shooting balls. If you give them open look, they're going to make them. They missed every one. Unusual for us. Unusual for them.
So again, that was me saying, play that way. It wasn't them just shooting balls. I was saying, We're going to go this way and this is what we'll do. If I did it over again, I would say, Let's go inside.
And we did late. We kind of through it into Terrence late, but I would tell you I would have done that. But this team has been resilient. My comment to them after is maybe I'll have your attention now and you're really going to focus in and listen to what I'm saying, how we're going to have to play these next few weekends.
And I said, You take each weekend by itself. You don't look ahead, you don't. You look at this coming weekend. And that's the kind of stuff that I told them after the game. One way I said, I'm fine now. We get this off our plate. We don't have to worry about a win streak, none of that. Let's just go play this tournament.
I wish this would have happened yesterday so we got a home a day earlier, but...
Q. Since you mentioned that, I was curious if you thought that your team was affected at all by fatigue.
COACH CALIPARI: I don't believe so. I don't think that was it. We just missed. I'm thinking of five point‑blank two balls right in the middle of the lane, three open threes that were wide open.
And again, you give Vanderbilt credit. What they did was on those misses, they rebounded everyone of them. They didn't give us another shot to get the ball. The second thing is they went down the other end and they scored. And they made it a physical game. They were. What they did inside and the pushing and shoving going in there, they let it go. So they let it go. You got to play.
Q. I know that Michael had foul trouble, but he ended up I think with zero rebounds?
COACH CALIPARI: I know.
Q. What was effecting his play today?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't have any idea. And I told him that after the game. I've never been in a game that I've coached him that he played ‑‑ he only played 16 minutes, but he had no rebounds in 16 minutes. And I can probably look at the tape and say there were four or five, at least six opportunities, at least four, that he could have rebounded balls that he just didn't come up with. And that's unusual for him. So he'll be fine, though.
Look, I've got a good team. Bottom line, I got a good team. I don't like tournaments like this, three games in three day. I've said it before. We have a ton of fans here. I feel bad ‑‑ well, they saw all three games, so they should be happy. I know they wanted us to win. We did what we were supposed to do. We just missed shots and, folks, these kids are not machines. They're not computers. It's not automatic.
And how about this: maybe now everybody realizes we're not invincible. We're like everybody else out there. We're going to have to execute. We're going to have to play hard. We're going to have to play with some aggressiveness and intensity or we will get beat. That's just how it is.
And that's for any team out there. If you think you're walking into the tournament and there's a path, there is none. You got to grind it out each game and you're going to have to play well or you go home.
Q. Forgive me for asking this I'm from New Orleans. I got to ask, would you assess your chances of being back here in two and a half weeks? How do you feel about it?
COACH CALIPARI: I hope we are. I love New Orleans. I hope we are. I don't know. I don't know. Where they're going to seed us, we don't know the path. Probably not going to be an easy path. I don't think they can make us play Tuesday. But other than that, we're going to get a lot thrown at us.
So I would tell you that it's going to be hard. But for anybody to reach here, and I've had three teams do it, it's hard. You're going to have ups and downs and bad games. You're trying to win anyway. And you play a hot team, or you get cold, you got to figure out how you play through it anyway. And then on top of it, we got a young team.
So I still like my team. Like my team last year, I said it from the entire time, we were 10‑6 in this league. And I told everybody, I like my team. I'll coach my team. And then we went to a Final Four.
I will tell you again, I really like this team. I like the makeup of the team. I like our skill set. I like our defense. And again if you look at today, we shoot 35 percent and 21 from the three. Now a lot of it was their defense. A lot of it was us. When it got rough, we couldn't play through the bumps.
Now free throws, I don't think they guarded us. I don't think they were up on that line putting a hand in our face. So we shot 10 percent less than we normally do at the free throw line. But again, this is one of those ones that at the end of the day, I told the team, I said, Hey, I'm happy. Let's go. We're a good team. We'll be fine. You guys now will listen to what I'm going to tell you and how we're going to present the rest of this season for us.
Q. You guys, Syracuse, North Carolina, all lose your conference tournaments. What does that say about what the NCAA field will be like this year?
COACH CALIPARI: It's going to be strong. The thing at these conference tournaments, we're not going to be playing each other in the NCAA tournament. These teams, we all know each other. And that's why they become wars and that's why they're low scoring games. We just played Florida three times and Vanderbilt three times. That's six of our games against teams that in my opinion have a chance to go Sweet 16 or beyond. Both of those guys.
So we played six games against those guys. Fortunate that we won five of them. This one we weren't so fortunate and we had a lead with a couple minutes to go. So now we get in, no one knows. We won't know the team we're playing. So it's a little different atmosphere and a little bit different way the game will play out.
CLAUDE FELTON: Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports