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March 25, 2012
Kentucky – 82
Baylor – 70
THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you have any opening remarks. Then we'll take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH CALIPARI: Really proud of these guys. I will tell you, the first half was a great defensive performance, and I told them after the game, as much them, I pulled back the reins a little bit trying to just get out of the gym, and probably a mistake.
They gutted it out and did what they had to do and make plays they had to make so they couldn't get close enough to catch us.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student‑athletes.
Q. Terrence, could you just talk about your first half. You only scored one point, and everything else on the stat line was so good. Your assist career high just in the first half. Could you just talk about what was going through your mind in that first half.
TERRENCE JONES: I was just trying to be aggressive. Once I got to the hole, Anthony was just so wide open out of the basket, I was just throwing lobs at him.
Q. For Anthony Davis. First off, how is your knee feeling? If you could also follow that up by taking us through the process of why you decided to go in and out of the game.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Knee is doing fine. I just bumped knees with Perry Jones, and it started hurting real bad. But I knew my team needed me to play. I wasn't going to sit out, especially with a trip to the Final Four, and all of us want to go to the Final Four.
So I knew I needed to come in the game and help my team out, so I decided to come in.
Q. Darius, this is the first time in history that Kentucky and Louisville have been in the Final Four together. Can you speak to that a little bit? Is it the kind of rivalry that everyone outside the court expects?
DARIUS MILLER: We know it's going to be a good game. We played them once before. It was a really close game. They did a great job with us. Everyone expects it to be a great game. Right now just trying to enjoy the win, happy to go to the Final Four.
Q. For Marquis and Anthony, you guys, of course, were a part of the team last year. You came here, I heard you both say, to make a Final Four. What was the game like when you knew the game was over and you were going to get to make it to the Final Four?
ANTHONY DAVIS: It's a great feeling to be part of something special and go to the Final Four. It's everyone's college dream. Just for us to make it, it was great.
MARQUIS TEAGUE: Like he said, it was just great to make it. We had fun this entire game. We enjoyed ourselves, and we came out victorious. It's a great experience and a great chance to play in the Final Four.
Q. Terrence, can you just talk about battling Quincy Acy and what that was like to do down low.
TERRENCE JONES: It was a real physical battle. I just wanted to be aggressive earlier, try to get him as least touches as possible. It just led to me getting great position for rebounds to push the fastbreaks.
Q. This is for Anthony. You're not from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that a few people will be interested in the Louisville‑Kentucky game coming up. Do you see it as Louisville versus Kentucky or as Kentucky versus just the next team in your way?
ANTHONY DAVIS: We think of it as Kentucky against the next team. Louisville is a great team. Like Darius said, we played them before. It was a close game.
So we've got to come out and play hard. We're just worried about the next win, and hopefully celebrating when it's time for the next game.
Q. For Terrence Jones, what words would you use to describe the way you guys turned a 10‑5 deficit into a 20‑point lead?
TERRENCE JONES: I'd say just aggressive. I just think we got real aggressive on offense and defense and just mentally locked down on defense and just led to fast breaks on offense.
Q. This question is for Anthony and Doron. When other teams face you, do you believe that they are, in a way, surprised and shocked at your athleticism as a team? They think they're prepared for you, but when it comes right down to it, how fast you are in transition, looks like a whole different ball game.
ANTHONY DAVIS: I think teams are very prepared. They do‑‑ I guess they do a great job of just scouting us, but when we get on the court, it's very different. When we scout as a team, we're out there playing, you can see what they do, but when you execute on the court, it's a whole different ball game and experience.
So it's kind of hard because we're very long and very athletic. Everybody on the team. So it makes it challenging for the teams that face us.
DORON LAMB: Just like Anthony said. We go out and play harder than the other team. We want to make sure they know they can't beat us. We go out at the beginning of the game and be aggressive on defense and offense, and that's what we did today.
Q. This is for Darius. I just want to ask about Gilchrist. I know he's a great player and has had a great season. Is there any chance he took it up a little bit more the last two games?
DARIUS MILLER: Yeah, especially when we needed him. He's been a huge part of the team throughout the whole season. It's obvious, and everybody knows that. We really feed off his energy, offensive and defensive, and he does a great job of getting us going. He's veryverbal. He talks to us all the time. He just gets everybody where they need to be.
He stepped it up. Really start to play like a leader. He's not playing like a freshman anymore. That goes for everybody.
Q. This is for Darius. Doron mentioned coming out of the gate aggressive, stepping on the team. It did seem like you guys were more aggressive than Baylor in that first half, and that's where you got your‑‑ where you built a lead. Do you think that was the difference in the game, the difference in aggression and intensity that first half?
DARIUS MILLER: Definitely. I feel like, after I started, we really picked it up. I think a huge part of that was our execution. After we got going a little bit, they threw a zone out there. We knew exactly what we wanted to do, and we executed and got easy buckets.
And we were getting out in transition. I think it's kind of a mixture of us executing the way that we wanted to and the way our game plan was set up and just how hard we were playing. Especially on defense. I think we did a great job defensively in the first half.
Q. This question is for Anthony and for Coach, if you could answer as well. It's a follow-up to your knee question, Anthony. You said that you could play through it today. Is there any fear about what your knee will feel like tomorrow morning with the adrenaline gone?
ANTHONY DAVIS: Not at all. Just go back and get treatment, make sure I take care of it, ice it, get in the cold tub and stay with the trainer, because you get a lot of treatment, do a few sprints just to get it going. But I'm not going to sit out.
Q. Terrence, could you just talk about what it means to you to get back to a Final Four.
TERRENCE JONES: Well, it feels great. Just working so hard all year with this group and us just coming together to become a family and just celebrating getting this far is just real good. We just know we've got a lot more to do.
Q. This is for the returning players. I won't forget the emotion you all expressed last year in Houston after the Connecticut game. How do you take that experience of what it felt like on the dais last year in that game, that disappointment, and put it into your preparation for New Orleans this week?
DARIUS MILLER: We were really upset after that game. We felt like we played a really good game, fought pretty hard. All that amount of work that we put in that whole year and we lost like that, didn't end the season on a win, it really hurt us. I think that was kind of motivation for us this year too.
We know how it feels to lose, and we don't want to feel that way again. So we're going to get prepared going into the Final Four. Like I said earlier, right now we're just trying to enjoy it.
DORON LAMB: Last year we know we lost to UConn, and it hurt us very bad. We didn't win the whole thing last year. So not winning the whole game, we came back next year, and now that we're back in the Final Four, we just want to win it all this year.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. Congratulations. We'll take questions for Coach Calipari.
Coach, if you'd like to address the question posed to you earlier about Anthony and his knee.
COACH CALIPARI: I don't remember it. What was it?
Q. It was just a question about whether you're worried about tomorrow when the adrenaline is gone, if you're worried about swelling of the knee.
COACH CALIPARI: I'll have no control over that. He popped up pretty good. It may be dinged up a little bit, but he was‑‑ he'll get treatment, believe me. He'll be having treatment on the plane.
Q. John, why don't you cut down the nets after a regional championship?
COACH CALIPARI: Me personally?
Q. And what sort of energy strain does this whole process take on you?
COACH CALIPARI: Do I look tired?
Q. A little bit.
COACH CALIPARI: I got three hours' sleep after the last game, and I had to watch like five or six tapes, including our tape, had to get a practice together, had to get a shootaround together, and had to keep these guys up and keep them in a great frame of mind.
It gets‑‑ you know, it wears you out a little bit. And I'm not 35 anymore. I used to be 35, and I was really good at this. Now I'm getting older, and it's a little harder.
I'll tell you, the net thing, I want them to enjoy themselves. I don't go to the team meal because I want my coaches to talk to them about the tape, the scouting report, and I want the guys to feel together. This is their team. I'm here just helping them. It's not about me.
What I want to do is stay, challenge them in the background to do the best they can, and whether it's right or wrong, I just felt they need to be out there together, and I don't need to be in the middle of it.
Q. If you won a National Championship, would you climb the ladder?
COACH CALIPARI: Haven't thought about it. Depends on how I feel.
Q. John, this is your second consecutive Final Four, third Elite Eight since you got to Kentucky. This success, does it sort of validate the approach with the freshmen that people have criticized you for?
COACH CALIPARI: No. The people that‑‑ there's some opinions that will never change, and I'm not trying to change them. All I'm trying to do is coach these young people. I'm trying to do the best job I can for each of these kids and their families to make sure that we're being fair and that we're challenging them and that they're getting all the help they need in the academic areas and the training areas.
And then at the end of the year, right now, you could tell it's all about our team. At the end of the year, it's going to be about each individual player and their family and what's best for them.
There's some people that think I should convince these guys to stay in school when the numbers say they should leave. I just won't do it. I won't do it. I want to help these kids reach their dreams. I don't like the rule. I don't like one and done. I don't think it's good for college players, high school players, pro players. It's not a good rule.
How about this? It's not my rule. But the only thing I can do is recruit the best players, the best students who go to class. We had a 3.0 grade point average this term. We have the highest APR in the SEC. But at the end of the year, Brandon Knight, a 4.0 student with 60 college credits, I had to tell him, you're the seventh pick in the draft. He was a great student. He didn't come to play basketball. He was a student, but he was reaching his dreams.
I don't know if people will be happy or sad. I'll be honest with you: I really don't care.
Q. Sorry, John. We're not going to let you celebrate or sleep. Can you spin this ahead a little bit to Louisville now and talk about is this rivalry as big as everybody wants to try to make it?
COACH CALIPARI: It is in our state. They're a great program. We're in two different leagues.
The city of Louisville drives our state. The University of Louisville drives that city. So it's a very important thing for our state, and it's important that that school does well. It's important for our state. Literally, they drive our state.
We're so close. But they have a great program. They're well coached. They're talented. I've always loved Peyton Siva. I loved him when I saw him play against Eric Bledsoe. I watched those two go against each other. I said that kid can really play. Behanan, I recruited him. I wanted him in the worst way.
So they are a very talented team, and they play, and they compete. Like my kids say, I'm going to enjoy this. I'm not worried about who we're playing. I'm just happy we're still playing.
I told my wife before I left the hotel: Honey, this is either the last day or next weekend will be the last days. One or the other. We'll see. She said: Oh, I hope it's the weekend.
So, fortunately, we did win the game.
Q. John, you've been saying all week that you and your players are just focusing on playing basketball games. Not worried about a tournament, not worried about anything else. How impossible is that, though, going forward? Given that in six days you're playing Louisville.
COACH CALIPARI: We're playing a basketball game. Believe me, we will not change. The drama of the game will be on the staff, but I don't have many Kentucky players on my team. They don't know all that stuff. I'll tell them, get off the message boards, don't worry about the Twitter and the Facebook. Don't buy into it.
We're going to New Orleans. We just left New Orleans. Now we're going back to New Orleans to play a basketball game. Forget about this tournament. Let's just go be as good as we can be as a team. If that's not good enough, then the season ends there. But let's just worry about us, and that's what we're going to do. We won't change.
Q. Coach, at the end of your 16‑0 run, they actually had a fairly easy layup. It might have been the most aggravated you looked. Is that what a coach's life is? 16‑0 runs, don't count the coaches, it's about that play right there?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't remember the play you're talking about, but there were some things that aggravated me today. But let me tell you why.
When you look at my point guard, Marquis Teague, I want everybody in the country to say I cannot believe how far he's come. That kid is a true point guard that runs the team, makes easy plays. He is outstanding.
When you look at Michael Gilchrist, when you look at Darius Miller, I want you to say certain things. When I don't see them out there, it aggravates me.
Doron Lamb, more motor kid. More motor. Like he started like no motor, like these guys aren't playing, and then he came back and played better. When he has a motor‑‑ I'm saying it again: When he has a motor, he's as good as any guard in the country.
So I do get aggravated, but it's more that I want players to play really well and play together. This team has not had trouble playing together.
Again, that game got rough. We had 13 turnovers. They're unselfish. They pass the ball. Now it's make easy plays. Don't try to make hero plays. Let's finish this off. Let's play aggressively.
I sometimes forget. My coaches tell me: We're not shutting them out, Cal. You act like we're going to shut them out.
I'll be honest with you. We'll go 16‑0 run defensively, and we give up one basket, and I'll go bonkers. It's like you're nuts. They're going to score, you won't believe this. But I've always been that way. I can't help it. I don't know what to say.
Q. Yesterday after Louisville won, a lot of UK fans were, of course, looking at that. I know your players said they didn't, but is there anything you all have to do to make sure the fans they know don't come and start talking about Louisville when you still have to play Baylor?
COACH CALIPARI: We didn't worry about all that. You do that. We don't worry about all that.
I had last night‑‑ DeWayne Peevy sent out a tweet. I'm going to bed. Now everybody go to bed and relax.
So he tells me this morning a bunch of people called, or tweeted back, that: I couldn't sleep all night, Coach. I tossed and turned all night. These people are crazy.
But it's what you want in our profession, but when you're in it, you're like, these people are crazy. But they were here. They're into this, and it's fine.
What I'm saying is just worry about us, our fans. Don't worry about Louisville. Louisville is an outstanding team. They play hard. They're well coached. It's going to be a hard game for us. Don't worry about them. Let's just worry about us. That's what I'm trying to get across to our fans.
I'm just worried about us playing at our best. If that's not good enough, it's been a heck of a season.
Q. John, if you had five guys from Maysville, Kentucky, as opposed to five guys from all over the country, would you be more concerned about their ability to put the Kentucky‑Louisville thing aside?
COACH CALIPARI: Probably. Probably. And me personally, I've been at Kentucky three years. I've said it all along. We play them one time a year when we're not in the same league. Why do you guys get all worked up?
And then they go crazy. Are you out of your mind? I'm not‑‑ it's‑‑ I don't know. It's a ball game we've got to play. When do we play? Friday, Saturday? When's the game?
COACH CALIPARI: Saturday.
Q. Speaking of that 16‑0 run, which we weren't, but speaking of that run, what did you tell them? You took a time‑out before that all happened? What did you tell them to get it going?
COACH CALIPARI: I believe I subbed one guy, and I just told them: We got to step on the gas here, guys. I didn't want them to build too much confidence.
I told them we'll do it with defense. Just get out there and guard people and make easy plays.
I told them we're fine. I told them at halftime they're going to make a run. You know they're going to make a run, and then we'll make a run, they'll make a run, we'll make a run, and the game will be over. Just don't panic. Just play.
This team hasn't been rattled all year. We've had teams come at us and play absolutely out of their minds, but to do it for 40 minutes is a little tougher. Teams can do that.
Q. Cal, I'm curious, what is your relationship like with Coach Pitino?
COACH CALIPARI: It's fine. We don't send each other Christmas cards, but if I see him in public and I'm recruiting, we'll spend some time. But it's fine.
Q. Friends? Acquaintances?
COACH CALIPARI: Friendly acquaintances. I don't know.
Q. Do you think playing in Rupp gives you guys an advantage in domes or at least not the disadvantage‑‑
COACH CALIPARI: Is the floor going to be raised? Does anybody know?
COACH CALIPARI: That makes it harder. So a team that doesn't shoot a whole lot of 3s has an advantage. The raised floor is‑‑ this was not an issue. You're just playing basketball on the courts, and it's fine.
When they raise that floor, now it becomes a little harder.
Q. So you're going to want to set expectations down?
COACH CALIPARI: I'm just happy we won a ball game. We're playing one more.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much. Good luck next week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports