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March 14, 2012

John Calipari

Anthony Davis

Terrence Jones

Darius Miller


THE MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen of the media, hello.  We'd like to welcome the student‑athletes from the University of Kentucky, Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones in the middle, and Darius Miller on the end there.  We'd like to open it up now to questions from the media.

Q.  Terrence, you had a decision to make a year ago, whether you'd come back or not.  What were the reasons for it, and are you glad you made it now?
TERRENCE JONES:  Yeah, it was just to come back and hopefully try to be more successful in this tournament right here.  As of right now, I'm really happy I came back just to be on a special team like I'm on right now with the family and brothers I got on my team and the chemistry we created on the court.  It's just fun to play with.
I've just been having fun playing with these dudes all year.

Q.  Guys, I think you're the first ones we've seen with hats on.  Can you explain your decision to come out with those things on?
DARIUS MILLER:  I can't really explain it.  We just decided we were going to wear the hats today, switch it up a little bit.  We like having fun with everything so we just wanted to wear hats.

Q.  Have you guys looked ahead possibly, licking your chops for a possible rematch with UConn?
THE MODERATOR:  Anthony, you want to start with that one, please?
ANTHONY DAVIS:  I haven't played UConn.
TERRENCE JONES:  Being in this tournament, you've got to take it one game at a time.  We're just worried about tomorrow's game and getting ready for that.  We don't know what will happen in the game they've got, so you can't try to get ready for games down the road.  You've just got to get ready for the game you got first.

Q.  Has Michael talked to any of you guys about Derrick Gordon, his friend he went to high school with?  Have you all met him, you're going to play against him tomorrow?
ANTHONY DAVIS:  He said he wants to guard him.  He knows that guy.  He wants to stick him.  High school teammates, it's always good to go against one of your high school teammates, especially around tournament time.
So he definitely told us that he wanted to guard him.

Q.  Darius, how long ago did you realize that you all would probably begin the tournament here in Louisville?  As a native Kentuckian, what does it mean to you to finally be able to play a tournament in your own state?
DARIUS MILLER:  I haven't known for a long time.  I just found out the other day.  It means a lot to me knowing the support that we all have in Kentucky.  I feel like we should have a lot of fan support here.  I'm curious to see how many people will be at the open practice today.  I feel like it will be a good game for us.

Q.  Darius and Terrence, talk about‑‑ I guess Darius more‑‑ about Michael and his decision to give up his starting spot.  How unselfish he's been and Anthony's been as well for freshmen coming in with all the accolades and all the hype.
DARIUS MILLER:  I mean, that meant a lot to me to see how much he supported‑‑ how much he cared about me.  He talked to me about it before the game.  Like you said, that's just amazing for him to do, especially with the amount of talent and how good he is.  It's amazing to see how such a good person he is.
Same way goes for Ant.  I'm really close to them.  They're both like my brothers.  They're really good people.  Ant doesn't get the ball much, and he's arguably the best player on the team.  He never complains or anything like that.  So that just goes along with showing how good of a person he is.

Q.  Over the last couple of days, there's been a lot said and written about what it's going to take to bring down Kentucky, the top seed.  Do you guys see or hear or read any of that?  What do you think about that when you do?
ANTHONY DAVIS:  We don't hear or read it.  Media does a good job of keeping us away from it.  So we don't worry about the game or the tournament.  Just go out there and have fun and take it one game at a time.

Q.  You guys, it has been a long time since you'd experienced a loss.  I wonder what that first practice after the Vanderbilt game was like.  What was the mood, and what was the intensity of it?
DARIUS MILLER:  It was a very intense practice.  We don't like losing.  Coach Cal doesn't like losing, so we try to pick it up a little bit.  We try to get focused on what we need to do going into the tournament.  This has been our main goal all year, so we need to get dedicated to what we need to do to win this tournament.
That game really motivated us.  We had a good two days of practice.  So we'll see how it goes.
THE MODERATOR:  Any more questions for the UK student‑athletes?  All right, guys.  Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome University of Kentucky coach John Calipari to the podium here.  We're going to go ahead and throw it out to you guys for questions to get us started.

Q.  Coach, how about all these Kentucky teams in the tournament this year?  Three of the four playing right here.  Talk about what that means to the state of Kentucky.
COACH CALIPARI:  I think it says a lot about basketball in this state.  I mean, you're talking about two of the teams, really three of the teams won their conference tournament.  We did not.  You're talking three of the teams at the end of the year, they're all on win streaks right now.  Obviously, we are not.
But Murray was the story all year, and then at the end of the year, Ray gets Western playing, and out of nowhere they become the story.  And then Louisville goes to New York and does what they do.  It's neat stuff for our state.

Q.  John, you talked a little bit about needing the loss, talked about it on the tournament show.  Can you elaborate on why you think it's a good thing?
COACH CALIPARI:  I didn't say needing the loss.  I said it would have been nice to have played well.  At the end of that game, at the last part of that game, we didn't play poorly.  We just missed a lot of shots down the stretch.  They wanted it a little bit more, Vanderbilt.  They were a little more physical.
But I think in this tournament, you're going to see what a good team Vanderbilt really is.  Veteran team, seniors.  For us, I wasn't crazy after the game.  I just said, you know, this takes one thing off our plate.  Let's just go play now.  Let's play basketball.

Q.  John, could you talk a little bit about this starting five.  A lot of people in the field think this is maybe your best starting five.  As a second question, what the possibility of winning a National Championship would be to you as you try to fill that void.
COACH CALIPARI:  My job is just to get my team to play as well as they can play.  They'll take us where we're going.  It's not going to be me.  It's going to be them.
As far as this being the best unit, I'm going to tell you, in '96 I had a heck of a team.  2008, a heck of a team.  Last year's team, heck of a team.  And even two years ago, where we had five first round draft picks, it was pretty good.  And we go 0 for 20 in the Elite Eight game from the three‑point line and get beat.
So this thing, all I'm trying to tell my team right now is let's be our best.  Let's play our best and see where it goes.  You guys, let's stay in the moment.  Let's have a ball playing.  And let's just worry about us doing what we do best.  If that's not good enough, it's not good enough.

Q.  You discussed the one and done issue repeatedly, but I was curious, if you could put NBA executives, player agents, players' union and yourself in a room and come up with a policy that worked, how would you like to see it changed?
COACH CALIPARI:  How long can I‑‑ can I expound on this a little bit?  Am I allowed to?
Here's what I would say.  It starts with you get the NCAA in the room, and you say you give these kids the stipend they deserve.  That's one.
Two, the insurance that they have to pay for themselves, which can be upwards of $15,000 per year, $20,000 per year that they have to pay for themselves.  They're loaned the money, and then they have to repay it when they come out.  The NCAA should pay that to encourage them to stay.
The third thing is families, the NBA, and the NCAA should get together and have a loan program for those families‑‑ we're only talking 30 kids.  We're not talking 500 players.  We're talking 30 kids that would be eligible for that insurance.  They should be able to have a loan.  To what level, I don't know.
The last two things are the NBA.  And Billy Hunter and I have talked about these.  One, if a young man stays more than two years, his contract, his rookie contract should be shorter.  And if a young man graduates, his pay scale should be higher when he comes in.  Now we encourage these young people.  It's about them.  You should stay because of the integrity of our school.  Unless you're Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you guys leave and go change the world.  But you guys, you stay in school because it's the integrity.  It doesn't make sense to me.
My thing is these kids are chasing their dreams just like tennis players and golfers and geniuses and computer geeks and all the others.  They're chasing their dreams the same way.  And what we've got to do is come together and say, how do we do right by these young people?  How do we make sure?
If the NBA says, no, we don't want to shorten their contract, well, then, it's on them.  It's not on Billy Hunter, and it's not on the NCAA.  If the NCAA says, no, we're not going to pay for this insurance.  Those kids should pay for it themselves, disability insurance.  Then that's on the NCAA.
But I think there's some things we can do, and hopefully people will come together and say these are simple things that would encourage young people to stay in school.
Let me say this.  It's like last year.  Brandon Knight.  Brandon Knight was a 4.0 student and had 60 college credits after one year.  He transferred in 23 honors courses, and he graduated with 60 college credits.  That's two years of work in one year.  But he was the seventh pick of the draft.  How could you tell him to stay?
And Detroit, the Pistons, they love him.  They want him to be what their whole organization is about.  So it's not academic, and it isn't.  It's what is right for these young people.
Anybody want to talk about this tournament we're about to play?

Q.  I do.  John, you said the first couple of years, telling the fans primarily relax and enjoy the ride.  I'm not sure I've heard you say it as much this year.  Is enjoying the ride going to be enough with this team?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, it's going to be enough for them and for me.  Let's go for it.  Let's play and let's do our best.  Let's play, play great.  If we play great and that's not good enough, what?  And I like my team.  I like our individual players, and I like how we're playing.
But the greatest thing about this tournament is the one and doneness of it.  You've got to play game to game, and anybody can do anything.  That's what makes it exciting.  That's why people watch it on TV.  That's why it rates the way it does.

Q.  This is similar.  There's obviously pressure for every team coming into the tournament, especially the number one seeded team.  Given your near‑misses in the past, given the expectations of the Big Blue Nation, are you feeling any greater pressure this season than you have in the past?
COACH CALIPARI:  I'm feeling like I always feel.  Let's go do this.  Let's go game at a time.  Let's go possession at a time.  And let me try to get my team playing as well as they can play.  That's the pressure I'm feeling, but I feel it every time I bring a team in this tournament.
It's the same way.  How can I get my guys focused on possessions, on the game at hand.  How can I get them playing their best?
If that's not good enough, then we've got to live with it, and I'll live with it.  And I have lived with it.  Again, this is a fun team.
I want for them the best, and that's what we're going to strive for.

Q.  You sent out a pretty strongly worded Tweet a few minutes after it became news that the New York Knicks job was open.  Do you worry about those kinds of rumors and things being a distraction in the tournament for your team at all?
COACH CALIPARI:  Every job that's open, including high school jobs and AAU jobs, my name is mentioned.  So no.  But I just wanted to say, I have a great job.  The best in this profession.  That's what I said.

Q.  The game tomorrow.
COACH CALIPARI:  What game?  Is there a game tomorrow?

Q.  You're playing Western, obviously.  What do you know about the team?  Derrick Gordon and Michael Kidd‑Gilchrist went to high school with each other.  What effect do you think that has on the game?
COACH CALIPARI:  I saw him play ma0ny games.  I saw Michael‑‑ as a matter of fact, I saw him hit a game winner down in Florida when their team was floundering, and he made two baskets and then a game winner to win the game, which shows me how much courage he has.
What a great story.  The job Ray has done to have a young team‑‑ and they are young too‑‑ come together, coaching change, and figure it out.  Then if you watch them play, you've got to understand now, folks, they've been down 13, 16, 13, 11, and I'm talking their last six games, and come back and win.
They're a great rebounding team.  They fly it up and down the court.  It's going to be a hard game for us.  First game is always hard.  They've already played one.  They're confident.  We're a bunch of freshmen and sophomores trying to figure this out.  It will be a hard game.

Q.  I wonder from your perspective, has this team been as consistent in every it does as it appears to us?  If so, is that a surprise to you, given all the young guys you have?
COACH CALIPARI:  You know what it is?  They have been, which is surprising.  I looked at my assistant, John Robic, and I said, how many bad practices have we had this year?  He said, maybe one or two, and I said, I can't even remember those.
So this team has been consistent in practice, which carries over to the consistency in games.
Now, we haven't shot it great every night, but we've played hard.  My question to my team two weeks ago is what are you going to do to help us win when you're not making shots?  Just do other things.
This team has defended all year.  They have played hard all year.  They haven't played great all year, but they've played hard, and they've competed.  We've been in tons of close games.  I mean, tons.  We've probably been in 10 or 11 games with five minutes to go, four minutes to go, three minutes to go, it's anybody's ball game.  And most of them we've pulled out.
The last one, we did not.  We missed every single shot down the stretch.  And some of them‑‑ all of them were great shots for us.  We just didn't make them.
So they have been consistent.  Whatever this efficiency, they say we're the most efficient team on offense and defense in the country.  To have three freshmen start and be that way means you're consistent.  That's the only way you're going to be that efficient.

Q.  Back to Western for a bit.  What does it tell you about a team that continues to come back from double digit deficits and also a team that's almost playing with house money because they could just as easily be sitting at home.  How dangerous are they?
COACH CALIPARI:  That's what makes them dangerous.  I told my team today, if you think they're going to stop playing with 4:39 down 16, you're out of your mind.  I just watched it.  They're not stopping.
Literally, the other games I watched, they had people‑‑ or the people had them beat.  It was over.  And all of a sudden, you have to go back.  How did they do this?  They made plays.
They just play a vicious game.  Ray should be proud of them.  Their community should be proud of them.

Q.  Sort of along that line, you said to your team today, especially with a team maybe so many freshmen that haven't been through the tournament experience before, how do you make sure that message sinks in, and do you feel like it will manifest itself tomorrow?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I'm telling them, this is just the next game for us.  Forget about all the trappings and all the other stuff.  Just play basketball.
I like our team, I like our personnel.  Let's just play basketball and don't worry about all the other stuff.  Just play basketball.
I think they're going to have some butterflies.  The guy sitting with him over there, me, will probably have some butterflies like I do every game I coach.  So we'll just encourage them and get them to play through the ups and downs of the game and see how we do.

Q.  You talked about college kids and how their games will translate in the NBA.  When you recruited Anthony, did you have any idea his high school game would translate to the college game this well and this fast?
COACH CALIPARI:  What I did know, he was a great, great kid with a great demeanor.  You have to understand, his high school team his sophomore year won six games.  His high school team his junior year may have won 11 games.  So there were some things I did not want to transfer to us.
But he was just like Marcus Camby, he grew from 6'2" to 6'10", 6'9" all in a year.  So you've got a guard skills big man, long.  But I didn't‑‑ I knew that he would be good on the defensive end.  I knew that.  I didn't know that he'd be this good on the offensive end.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you very much.  Good luck.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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