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March 22, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the Kentucky student‑athletes. If you have a question, raise your hand. We'll start here on the right.
Q. Guys, what have you learned from your two losses this year?
DARIUS MILLER: I think one thing that we took from it is that we got to play the whole 40 minutes. In both of those games, we had stretches where we kind of wasn't playing with high intensity or wasn't ready to go.
So I feel like the thing that we took the most from is we've got to play the whole 40 minutes.
Q. For Marquis Teague, if you could assess the type of point guard you were the last time you played Indiana and the type of point guard you are now. For a follow‑up, Terrence, if you could assess Teague then and Teague now.
MARQUIS TEAGUE: Just being more of a leader on the floor, trying to find my teammates and get them good shots off. Just basically being the coach on the floor. Back then I was just attacking the rim more and making plays for myself and not as much for my teammates.
TERRENCE JONES: Mainly, it was just the first real away game. As a freshman point guard, that atmosphere is just real tough. Now I feel he's just a lot more experienced, a lot more calm, and just a lot more under control and just a better overall decision‑maker when it's his turn and when it's time for him to distribute for all of us. I mean, he just does a good job choosing when it's time for him at what games.
When they're not playing him as much or when they're playing him and it's time for him to look for us.
Q. Anthony, can you describe a little bit about your‑‑ obviously, you come from a rather unique background in your college in Chicago‑‑ I mean high school, I'm sorry, in Chicago, what that experience was like and how it kind of helped you develop into the player you are today. It's a little different than a lot of players go through.
ANTHONY DAVIS: My high school wasn't that good. We didn't win a lot of games. So it kind of made me become a leader, like how to play different aspects of the game. It just made me become a better player.
When I came here, I knew how to do some things that most guys wouldn't know how to do. So, overall, it just made me become a better player. And if nothing more, then a leader.
Q. Terrence, can you talk about Michael Gilchrist's role on this team and what makes him such a great teammate?
TERRENCE JONES: He's an energy guy. He does all the little things for us to make us win. He tries to just go every play 100 percent‑‑ rebounding, defending the best player, running the court for breaks, just bringing our energy, diving on loose balls. He just gives a lot of extra stuff to us that just makes us just that much better.
Q. Terrence, when you look back at the first Indiana game, was that just one of those games for you where not much went well? Second part of the question, can you talk about your run so far in the tournament. Why do you think you've really raised your level of play? What's been the key to that?
TERRENCE JONES: Just really having a more aggressive mindset, mentality to each game and just try to have more fun and not think too much really. It's just been fun playing together.
I think that's what's making it much easier on each individual player. That's not been a lot of pressure on just one player because any guys stepping up different games, when they try to have a game plan to stop two guys, the other three guys just step up.
Q. What about the first time against Indiana? Was it just one of those games?
TERRENCE JONES: I just didn't play well. They came out doubling me. I just wasn't making good decisions from there.
Q. Anthony, you were just asked about your high school. I'm wondering, you see a lot of guys as they get better through their high school years, transfer. Were you considering that at some point? Why did you decide to stay at a school where the team wasn't really known for its basketball?
ANTHONY DAVIS: One reason was because I wanted to sit out. In Chicago you have to sit out one year to be able to play the next year, just like in college. I was loyal to my team. I never thought about really transferring.
I love my teammates. I know we just had to fight through it. But transferring to another high school, that wasn't even in mind and wasn't even a question for me and my family.
Q. If you can go back to the days when you were a guard, what were your expectations then? And just how quickly did that all change for you, figuring what you could do with the basketball?
ANTHONY DAVIS: As a guard, I mainly shot the ball. That's about it. As I grew, I had to learn to play in the post more. So when I came to Kentucky, there was a lot of coaches that worked on me in the post and post moves and post defense to get used to a 6'10" body frame.
Q. Can I ask the freshman, I know that you knew this was going to be big. Kentucky basketball is big. Was there a moment when you guys realized, oh, it really is big? Terrence, as a follow‑up, did you try to explain to these guys what it was that was about to happen to them when they finally took the floor as Kentucky Wildcats?
ANTHONY DAVIS: I think the first game was against North Carolina. The game was really hyped. Every game after that, guys were just trying to come out and play their best against us. It just made it fun for us and made it a challenge for us as well, knowing that every game we come out and play, every team is going to try to come out and play their best and try to beat us.
MARQUIS TEAGUE: Yeah, like he said, around the North Carolina game, we figured out then that was a big game for us. We had a lot of fan support, and we found out then how big basketball was around Kentucky.
Every team we play, we get their best shot. People were making shots they don't normally make, coming at us real aggressive. That's when we figured it out.
TERRENCE JONES: Our coach pretty much does a good job of explaining how it's going to be, just each practice telling us before whoever we're playing they're going to try to come out and play their best because not only are they playing against the name on the front, but they're playing against the name on the back.
We've got targets on our backs because of what school we go to and how good individually we are. So every team comes and just pretty much gives us their best shot.
Q. Darius and Terrence, the next Sweet 16 game a lot of these guys play is going to be their first. As the leaders on this team and the oldest guys out here, how do you explain to them how big this is going to be and how much pressure is going to be added from this point forward?
DARIUS MILLER: We don't put a lot of pressure on the game. We take it as just another game. We take every game one game at a time. That won't be any different.
I think they know by now every single game, the level of intensity is going to be up. They know we have to come out and, like I said earlier, play hard the whole 40 minutes.
I think they know what to expect. They're not playing like freshmen. They're playing like veterans in the game. We really don't have to explain too much to them. You see how they're playing. They're doing a great job of producing and making the team better.
TERRENCE JONES: Yeah, we try not to add pressure. We try to take it away just by making it just one game at a time and knowing how good the other team is, just try to worry about that team and just try to do it as a team and together.
Q. With the year that you've had, have you thought about going into the NBA, or are you going to stay at Kentucky?
ANTHONY DAVIS: I really haven't decided yet. I'm just still worried about the season right now. The season's not over. You can't really worry about the future right now. So I'm just trying to win a National Championship for my team, and then when the time comes, whether it be this year or next year or whatever year, that's when I'm going to have to sit down with my family and my coaches and decide what I'm going to do.
Q. Darius, you played on a lot of good teams. You were here the last two years. How does this team not necessarily rank, but how does it compare to the John Wall team, last year's team, how do you see the similarities and differences between the groups?
DARIUS MILLER: I think all those teams were different teams. This year we have a different team. We have a lot of weapons. We play extremely well together. Everybody gets along. We really care for each other.
We have a really good team this year. It's one of the best teams we've been on. I think the main point is we have a lot of fun with everything we do. You see us laughing and smiling on the court, clapping, and you see all the emotion we leave on the court.
I think that's one of the main differences. Not ‑‑ I don't want to say differences, but I think it's kind of emphasized this year on how much we do those things.
Q. One of the story lines from the first Indiana game was that you got into foul trouble. You literally haven't been in foul trouble since. When you're playing, do you play with the idea that I'm not going to get in foul trouble, or have you just figured out how you're going to play naturally without fouling?
ANTHONY DAVIS: I think I played saying I'm not going to foul. Coach Cal always tells me, if I get in foul trouble, it hurts my team, and my teammates are hurt as well.
So when I'm not on the floor, the teams try to attack the basket knowing I'm not going to block shots. So it makes it a lot harder for my teammates. So I just try to play without fouling.
Q. Marquis, how many times have you had to watch that Watford shot on ESPN? Can you go more than about ten minutes without seeing it on TV?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: No, they got a lot of commercials and things like that. We see it a lot on ESPN commercials, phone commercials, a lot of things. So we see it a lot.
Q. Question for Marquis and then Anthony. Marquis, just from growing up in Indiana and probably facing Cody Zeller a lot of times and seeing him play, what are your thoughts on kind of matching up with Anthony tomorrow? And, Anthony, what are your thoughts on matching up with Cody tomorrow?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: Cody is a great player. He's dominant down there in the post. He had a great season. It should be a great matchup, him and Anthony. They're both great freshmen and great big men. They both have a lot of impact this year on this season. So I think it's going to be a good battle.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Like Marquis said, he's a great player, dominating the post, shoots from mid‑range. Just can't wait to go out there and see what happens in the game.
We're both great players, and we both work hard. Let's just go out there and have you fun.
Q. Does that give you like a little extra motivational juice to know that you're facing another high‑level guy like that?
ANTHONY DAVIS: I just go out there and play. It doesn't matter who I'm facing. I just go out there and do what I have to do to make my team win. I'm pretty sure he's going to do the same. So we just have to go out there and play.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your time. Best of luck tomorrow.
Coach, we'll start with an opening statement and then open up for questions.
COACH CALIPARI: Happy we're still playing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. John, can you talk about your relationship with Tommy. How did that get started exactly, and was there a point where you guys grew‑‑ I guess what I'm saying, when did you start to grow close?
COACH CALIPARI: As you know, I'm really close with former assistants and former players who now are assistant coaches or head coaches, Tony and all the guys, Derek and Bru. But there are also guys you look at and you watch them and you're impressed with how they work, their knowledge of the game, how they help young people.
Tommy worked at Pitt, and obviously I grew up in Pittsburgh and was an assistant there. When he went there, that's when I really got to know him and when I truly started to spend some time on the phone with him. And out recruiting we'd get together.
He's a basketball Benny. He's into basketball. He's not into a whole lot of other stuff. He just loves it. He's into his kids. And I've always had great respect for him because of that.
Q. Tom said that when it was at its worst that he would frequently get phone calls from you, and that they weren't just hang in there, they were substantial sort of things. What sort of things did you talk to him about? And being in this business, can you put into context how far that program has come under him since those dark days.
COACH CALIPARI: Let me start by telling you that it's easy in this sport that we coach, and really coaching in general, when it's going good. When it's not, to keep things moving forward, which is what he's done, is incredible because it's hard to recruit when you're not winning enough.
He's been able to latch onto a couple guys and do it. It's hard to get people to buy into the winning and what we have to do to get to the next level. He's done all that. And you have to have a will that's stronger than everybody around you, and he does, to get Indiana back to where now you're looking at a top five program that kids from across the country would watch them play and say, I'd like to play for them. To do that in the time frame is amazing.
As far as the comments, again, Tommy being somebody that I care for, but I've done it with other coaches when I look at it, and I just want them to know you've got a hard deal going on. What you're doing to keep in games and doing it, those are all small victories. You've got to look at that and just keep building. You've got these guys on the edge of what you're doing. You shouldn't be in this game and you shouldn't have been in this game. You've got a chance to win. Those are all W's. It was stuff like that.
Again, I don't‑‑ it's not what I've done for Tommy, it's what he's done for those kids in that program. It's not easy when you're walking in‑‑ and, truly, everybody wants to beat an Indiana. In that league? They don't care who you have in the uniform. They see that name on there, and they want to win that game.
So to do what he's done under the circumstances, Indiana is a big game for everyone when they play.
Q. Can you just describe what it's been like to coach Michael Gilchrist this year.
COACH CALIPARI: I was sitting on my easy chair two nights ago, and I was thinking‑‑ I was watching TV, and I was just thinking. My wife and I were sitting there. I picked up my phone and I texted him. And I said, Michael, I'm just sitting here watching TV, and it popped in my mind. I want to let you know how much I love coaching you.
He hit back something, but you have he and Anthony Davis, one shoots the fifth‑most shots on our team, never says a word, and the other shoots the fourth‑most shots on our team, never says a word. What do you need me to do? There's not a coach in this country at any level that wouldn't want to coach Michael Gilchrist, and it's showing.
You can say, whether it's Anthony, it's a little this, little that, still want to coach him. Whether it's Michael Gilchrist, but he doesn't do this, yeah, but they still want to coach him. I'm just proud of how he's grown not only as a basketball player but socially, how he's been, and all these guys. In front of you guys, it's hard.
Michael is maybe the youngest freshman in the country by the way. Now, I have a writer in our town that will look that up. He'll look up every freshman in the country to find out if he is the youngest freshman in the country. I will tell you, I would say right there that he's one of the youngest in the country.
Q. John, Anthony said that you've talked to him extensively about playing without fouling. How has he been able to master that? He hasn't been in foul trouble since the last time you played these guys.
COACH CALIPARI: It's simple what I tell these guys. We're one of the least fouling teams in the country. And I tell them, it's not football. It is not a touchdown. We'll score seven seconds later. If you broke down, let him score. Don't foul. And I just say it over and over.
It's not football. You think it's a touchdown and we've got to drive 100 yards? We'll score in five seconds. So what? Give it to him. You broke down. Don't foul.
Now, that's one way of playing. There's another way of playing. Let's foul on every possession. Let's get up and body and grab and hold. Let's dislodge in the post. Let's push in the back. And then you got to fight that off.
We just do it the other way. We don't want to foul. We want to play a game with no fouls. So it's not just him; I'm telling all our guys the same thing.
Q. John, I've heard you say a few times that in the tournament you sort of judge are we playing our best rather than do you win. The UK fans, though, at least to me, seems to have worked themselves into a tizzy, they think this is the year, this is the championship. Gilchrist a little while ago said, I think that's fair because I think we're the best team. Do you think it's fair that fans are this worked up thinking this is the year?
COACH CALIPARI: It's Kentucky. Do you expect anything else? We have one job: To play our best. They want to get out ahead of this. We have to play Indiana. I'm telling our team, forget about this tournament, just play basketball. And the basketball you're going to play is against a team that's already beaten you.
Forget about this tournament. Now, what I would tell our fans, don't put that in these kids' minds. Let them play basketball. They're going to take us where we like to go, but they're going to take us. It's not going to be anxiety, thinking what if or who is. Let us just worry about being our best. Let these players stay in the moment, and we're going to do the best we can.
The only promise we can make to any of our fans, we're going to do our best. And Kentucky is one of those places. You're supposed to win every game by 25. If you're winning by 15, what's the issue? What's going on with our program? If you, God forbid, lose one, how can we lose this game?
And I love our fans. They're crazy. They watch the game tapes three times. I don't watch the game tapes three times. But that's coaching and playing in Kentucky.
It's a little different. Let me say that.
Q. John, what were your thoughts on the kind of impact Cody Zeller can have on a game and then just the matchup of him and Anthony tomorrow night?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, it's not‑‑ it will be our team against Cody, and we'll have different guys guarding him. It's not always going to be Anthony on him. He has had an impact on the game because he's so skilled offensively. And what Indiana does is they do great stuff in pick and rolls and cross‑screens and different things to flip him into the post and give him easy baskets, but he also flies up and down the court.
So if you're not flying up and down the court, he's going to beat you to a position and then play that mush basketball, get you under the basket, and he's too long and active.
So he has an impact on the game both on offensive end and he has an impact on the game on the defensive end. He is a terrific player.
Q. John, you just told that story about texting. I'm assuming‑‑ or make an assumption that the difference in college and the NBA, I'm sure you probably liked a couple of guys that played for you in the NBA, but is this the allure of college basketball that you can actually have maybe an emotional attachment to players that might not exist at the other level?
COACH CALIPARI: It's different. You don't have players at your house like I do now. Our players are at my house every ten days or so. Every time we have recruiting, they're in that weekend. My wife, if they haven't been over in two weeks: Why aren't the guys over there? She feels like she's their mother.
But I had great relationships with guys in the NBA and I still do today. Those guys will call me and talk to me, but it's just not‑‑ that is a professional basketball. These are young people. And, like I said, we've got all freshmen and sophomores. We've got Darius Miller, is the one guy that's not, and the rest of these guys are really young.
And when you have them this young, they want you to be a part of their life. They want that. And they also want you to lead them. They want to you create habits for them, help them. They want discipline. They want you to set parameters. These are young people.
They want you to coach them and not be afraid to coach them. Yet they want you to love them. They need you to‑‑ I have a couple guys on this team that really want to please me, so much that I've got to say, stop. I'm good. They want to please me so much.
But it's a different makeup. Like I said, I've got‑‑ I've been blessed. My best players have all been good guys over the years. The best players I've coached have been good guys. They've been great teammates. And I've been blessed in that way, because that's not always the case.
Q. John, obviously the first game with Indiana, three‑pointers, they made a lot of three‑pointers. It was a big part of the game.
COACH CALIPARI: How many did they make?
Q. 9, I believe. 9 of 15.
COACH CALIPARI: They make about six now.
Q. Do you expect that to be a big part of the game tomorrow night, or did they just make good shots, or could you have done a better job defending them?
COACH CALIPARI: I know they made one really good shot at the end of the game because I've seen it on commercial about every 15 minutes.
But they took good shots, and they made‑‑ when you make 9 out of 15 from the three, you're not‑‑ look, if they take 20 3s tomorrow and they make 11 or 12, it's going to be a hard game for us. That's just how it is.
They're like us. They don't play to shoot 3s, but they're a great three‑point‑shooting team. But we're a pretty good three‑point‑shooting team too, we just don't play that way. It's not like we're coming down saying how many threes can we jack up? And neither are they.
We're playing basketball, and if that's what you give us, we'll take it.
Q. John, Indiana against you guys, the expectations for their overall season wasn't as high as yours coming in. You guys had a similar, I'm assuming, game against North Carolina, where you get a chance to test yourself, find out, and we'll go from here. We can play with anybody. Let's go ahead and work hard and find out if that can be a fact. How important has it been over the years to find one of those games early and say this is a really good launch point for us?
COACH CALIPARI: That's a good point. I think every year you have that game that sends you one way or another. The North Carolina game was a good game. The Kansas game was a good game. We've had some teams that are those high‑level teams that we had to go and beat.
For them, I think it did‑‑ I'm not sure in their mind, but in everybody else's mind it put Indiana on another level. I don't think‑‑ I think those guys had confidence in their coach and in their team.
And that game wasn't a buzzer‑beater game. We were down 12 late, and we were lucky to even be in the game. We probably could have easily gotten beat by 20. At the end, it became down to we missed some free throws, they make a shot, but the reality of it is they beat us worse than that.
Again, when you talk 9 for 15 from three and outrebounding us and everything else and more physical and played harder and beat us to every 50‑50 ball. The score was not indicative of how bad they beat us.
Q. Fred Hoiberg said at the last game that you had told him that was the best game you guys have played. You took a lot of threes that game.
COACH CALIPARI: Because that's what they gave us.
Q. That's what I was going to ask. You said you don't normally a three‑point‑shooting team. In the best game you played, you shoot a lot of 3s. How do you decide when that's going to be the game plan?
COACH CALIPARI: It's how the game unfolds. We don't know‑‑ I would imagine Indiana has a zone prepared. They may have some junk defenses prepared. They may say we're leaving off of Marquis Teague or we're leaving off of Michael Gilchrist. We're not going to play these two guys.
Just how is it unfolding? You watch the game, and, guys, they're giving us this shot. I told Doron‑‑ like today we did the five‑minute shooting. Kyle Wiltjer made 80. That means he missed three shots in five minutes. That's the most anybody's made in this drill since I've been running it.
I told him, you get in the game, you've got the green light. Shoot the ball. And there are guys on our team, Doron and Darius, they have the green light to shoot it, but I'd rather us drive and dunk and get layups and draw fouls. We shoot or make as many fouls as the other team shoot all year. We make as many as they shoot because we drive the ball, we get it to the rim, and that's how we want to play.
You make us shoot 3s, we'll shoot them. We're a good three‑point‑shooting team. That's just not how we play.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for your time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports