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March 31, 2012
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Kentucky – 69
Louisville – 61
THE MODERATOR: Coach, maybe a couple opening thoughts and then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH CALIPARI: A hard‑fought win. They rebounded the ball, created turnovers on us in the first half, stayed in the game, never gave up.
I have a team that's had teams come at them all year and they've responded like they did today, so...
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You didn't have Kidd‑Gilchrist in the first half. How important was that? And then you get him back the second half at 49‑49, and he kind of went to work.
COACH CALIPARI: Let me just say this: what happened at the end, Terrence Jones, I looked at him at the 10‑minute mark and said, Kid, this is your game. You go rebound and go make plays, and he did.
Obviously Anthony Davis came over to me and said, Cal, tell 'em to throw me the ball, get me the ball on the block.
The other thing is Michael Gilchrist made those dunks. But Darius played well, Marquis Teague. But Michael Gilchrist made those two or three plays that were dunks that kind of changed the outcome.
DARIUS MILLER: Mike is a huge part of the team. Us missing him the first half really hurt us. You seen he dominated the game. He plays with high intensity. We feed off of that. We always need him in the game. Just his presence helps us out.
Q. John, when the game got tied, then Darius and Michael made the plays down the stretch, can you talk about the three.
COACH CALIPARI: He ran out of two shots or three, shot it and ran the other way. I'm like, What are you doing? On that one I think I said something to you about it in a very firm way. I said, Let it go, stay in there. He shot it. I said, That's what I'm talking about, you're as good a shooter as there is in the country. Let it go.
That's what I grabbed him and told him.
Q. Anthony, you dribbled out the final seconds of the clock and then threw the ball up towards the ceiling. What were your thoughts at that time?
ANTHONY DAVIS: It was just a close game, very emotional. We fought all game, with the goal to a national championship with the team that we have, starting three freshmen and two sophomores. It's just great. We had a great team.
We're just one game closer to our dream and our goals. So there's a lot of emotion there.
Q. John, when you were up five, Michael threw the alley‑oop to Anthony. Were you nervous because it was a risky play?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, the thing I kept saying, We're not changing how we're playing, we're playing to win. I kept telling them to keep attacking. Later, there was another lob that he did throw and it got tipped. Anthony somehow grabbed it one‑hand and dunked it, basically ended the game.
They're going to turn it over. In the first half, nine turnovers. Five of them were unforced. Left our feet. Second half we had five. You're going to have five turnovers in a half. That's about what you should have, five or six.
But I want them to be aggressive. We're an attacking team. That's what we are. I don't want them to change. We haven't changed all year.
Q. Why was it so hard to rebound against them?
COACH CALIPARI: I guess they'll talk about it as a team. One, our guards are not rebounding like they need to. Second thing, I was on Darius, Come on, get in there and rebound. Without Michael in there, other guys have to step up. The other side of it was Terrence wasn't rebounding.
In the second half he got four rebounds the last 10 minutes which basically finished off the game. I kept telling him, This is your game, you've been in this game before.
So he had that dunk and the rebound. I thought he played terrific down the stretch. He was not what we needed him to be in the first half.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Yeah, they're a great offensive rebounds team. They out‑rebounded us tonight. We had to keep fighting. Some plays you had to go after the ball with one hand.
They was tipping it away and grabbing the ball. We needed to come down with more rebounds.
Q. Anthony, can you just clarify, at the end of the game after you threw the ball in the air, did you holler over and over again, This is my state, or, This is my stage?
ANTHONY DAVIS: I said, This is my stage. We're from Kentucky. We built for this. We come out, go hard in practice.
COACH CALIPARI: Did you say that?
ANTHONY DAVIS: Yeah. We go hard in practice. We go out there to have fun. The emotions, I'm just glad to be here, national championship as a freshman.
COACH CALIPARI: Don't ask him a follow‑up. He doesn't know why he was saying that (laughter).
Q. My follow‑up question is this: Did you believe that going into this game, to beat Louisville on this stage, you would need to play one of your very best?
ANTHONY DAVIS: I mean, yeah. I got to do it for my team. That's all the effort, the ball in the post. I knew I could make plays down there. I was asking for the ball. My team needs me to play well just like I need my team to play well. I think that's what we did tonight.
Q. Rick was in here and used the name Bill Russell discussing Anthony Davis. Can you put in perspective the impact he had on that game defensively.
COACH CALIPARI: He did what he's done all year. Blocked four or five balls. He scored around the basket. Had a couple offensive tip‑ins.
But the greatest thing about him is his teammates make him better and he makes his teammates better. You know, they were trying to play him. Marquis Teague was shooting layups to start the game. If you're not going to play him, Marquis will shoot layups. Darius was going in because they wouldn't leave Anthony, which gave us baskets around the rim.
The reason we shot such a high percentage is Dieng was back and wouldn't leave him. And then it came to a point where he said, Look, I can score, throw me the ball in the post. And we went to that offense where we kept going to the left side letting him get fouled and doing it.
He's played like this all year. You think it was better than the other games you played? It was kind of like how he's played all here, it's how he's been. He defers to his team. He's a great teammate.
You have to understand, maybe it's me, but he shoots the fourth or fifth most shots on the team. That's what he was telling me, Cal, tell them to throw it to me.
Q. For the freshmen, what's it like to have the old guy, Darius, when a game gets tough, the kind of go to guy more than anybody?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: He's our senior leader. He's been there since day one for us. Whenever we get a little hectic on the floor, he huddles us together, tells us to stay poised. We always look to him for leadership.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Yeah, Darius is a great player. Comes out with a lot of intensity. Can shoot the ball, rebound. Does it all on the floor. When we get in tough situations, he calms us down and tells us what to do. He's a great leader, leads the team. That's what he does at crunch time, tells you what to do. The game is not over, they're a great ballclub, so we have to keep fighting.
Q. All week long you've told us this is just another game. But having seen the crowd around your hotel, seeing a huge crowd in this building, knowing what's at stake, when the ball went up, was it just another game?
DARIUS MILLER: Uhm, yeah. I'm sure the fans will be the same way the next game. No matter who we play, we always have great fan support. I'm sure they wanted it really bad, with it being Louisville.
To us, it was the next game. Whether we was playing Louisville, Texas, Georgetown, whoever, we was going to try to come out and play with the same intensity, prepared the same all week. It's just the next game. Our main goal is to win a championship, not beat a certain team.
MARQUIS TEAGUE: Doesn't matter who we playing, we going to come out the same way. We just looking forward to the next game.
Q. Anthony, it's been well‑chronicled about your growth spurt. Do you still go out there with the mentality of a guard because your game is silky smooth?
ANTHONY DAVIS: Coach.
COACH CALIPARI: I told him he could play point guard for us if he'd like to, just come back next year and work that out.
ANTHONY DAVIS: Not really. When I get my opportunity to shoot the ball, dribble the ball up the floor, I do it. I did it a couple times today. The game is over now.
I know I'm a big man, playing the post. I've been working on my post moves a lot. They've gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year. I feel very confident in the post.
Q. A lot has been made about this team, three freshmen starting getting this far. Some people have said it's not great for the game, one‑and‑done's getting this far. Others have talked about how you're so talented and able to do so much in your freshmen year. What do you feel it says about a team with three freshmen to get this far in the NCAAs?
COACH CALIPARI: Let me start by telling you it's not their rule and it's not my rule that they can leave after one year, okay? There's got to be things done so that that can be worked on. I've said it from day one. I don't like the rule, but it's a rule.
The choice is you recruit players that aren't as good as these players, or you try to convince him to stay and to come back and be my point guard next year.
That's my options.
To say they're young, they're the most efficient team in the country. So we're not just rolling balls out. I don't know what's bad for college basketball about it.
North Carolina just had three guys leave early, maybe more. I don't know if that's bad for college basketball. Duke had one. That is bad for college basketball? Is it these guys that are bad for college basketball? I don't know.
All I'm doing is I'm doing what's right for these people, helping them reach their dreams. During the season, I tell them it's about our team. You can see that it is. When this season ends, we'll all sit down and they have a decision on the 28th or 29th of April, and they'll make a decision. It will be about them at that point.
Right now we're not worried about that. We have one more basketball game to play, and that's Monday. We have one more. We're playing one more basketball game.
Q. On the positive side, you have young teams excelling far beyond what teams are expected to do when you have three freshmen.
COACH CALIPARI: Because they listen and they trust. The reason they trust, they know it's about a player's first in our program. It's about them. They're going to listen to what we ask them to do.
If they thought it was about me, they're not going to listen to so much. This is about them and they know it. They'll play how we're asking them to play.
Today no one took more than 11 shots or 9 shots. You kidding me? If Marquis Teague who shot 25 times ‑
How many did you shoot in high school?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: 20.
COACH CALIPARI: More than 20, I watched.
They're good kids. They do what they're supposed to. We had a 3.0 grade point average this year, we had a 2.8 this year, highest APR in the SEC. That's good.
Now, we're trying to make these guys the best they can be. Hopefully people are seeing it and are proud of them like they're proud of a golfer who leaves after a year, so...
Q. Marquis, did coach put anything specific against the press against Louisville, and if so what? Did you just do the regular things you did all year long?
MARQUIS TEAGUE: We ran the same things we've been running all year. He wants everybody to get in position and be strong with the ball because we know they're aggressive on the defensive end. So we were able to do that.
Q. Coach Pitino said he came up to you after the game and said he hopes you win, bring the trophy back to the state of Kentucky. Talk about what that means.
COACH CALIPARI: I think that's neat. When I was at UMass, I can remember hugging him and telling him, I'm happy for you and I really want you to win the national title. He did the same to me tonight, so I think it's kind of neat.
Q. Anthony, do you believe that any loose ball in your vicinity belongs to you? Can you talk about your attitude?
ANTHONY DAVIS: Definitely. We got to get all 50/50 balls. That's what determines the game. There's a lot of loose balls out there. I want to get every rebound, play as hard as I can. I don't want to take no possessions off. When we take possessions off, they usually score. We have to go after all loose balls after every rebound.
Q. John, in the past you said you don't want to overdose your guys with video. I'm assuming your tape tonight is actually more important than the game that's going on now and do you think you're going to be in a good mood?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. Because you guys make me stay here through halftime, I've already watched the first eight minutes of it and charted it. I got to watch the rest of it. I will show them about 15 clips of it, of stuff that I like. I'm not going to show them much that I didn't like because I want them in the right frame of mind.
I'll tell them to go to bed. We'll worry about whoever we're playing later. I'll know by that time what game I've got to watch. The tape of tonight's game I'll watch, but I won't watch it live.
We're worried about us playing at our best. We did not play at our best tonight. We played good, but that wasn't our best. You know what, so maybe Monday is our best. We're just worried about us. We don't know who we're going to play.
I will say this. We must play tougher than we played this game. If we don't, it's going to be a hard game for us to win because I think toughness is going to be the factor in the game. Talent, all that other stuff, whoever we play is going to be an outstanding team. So we're going to have to play tougher than we did this game.
Q. Darius, talk about that stretch where you hit the three after they tied it up, Louisville called time. Coach came out to tell you something and you gave him a hug. Did you feel like as a senior that was the time you needed to step up?
DARIUS MILLER: Well, Marquis did a great job of finding me. He pushed it, put pressure on the defense. I was trailing. He gave me a good pass. I just tried to knock it down.
Like coach said earlier, he was talking about me falling away from my shot, not staying into it. I just did that. I hit it. I happened to hit the shot.
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know if he hugged me. I hugged him, though.
DARIUS MILLER: At the timeout, he came out and said, That's what I was telling you, just stay on the shot. It was an emotional game for us.
Q. When the game is tied, are you in any way concerned about the fact that you're playing with a bunch of very, very young guys and how they're going to respond to the pressure of that situation?
DARIUS MILLER: Not at all. These guys don't play like freshmen. Y'all been watching them play all year. They play like seniors in college. We've been successful in those situations throughout the whole year. So I don't have any doubt, no. Not at all.
I have all the confidence in the world in them. Like I said, they don't play like young players. You see how talented they are, how good of teammates they are. They've came through all year.
COACH CALIPARI: Let me say this. I have to do it with Darius up here. Darius basically has started for me for two years. Darius was the Player of the Year, the MVP of the conference tournament last year, led us to a Final Four, and accepted coming off the bench.
Now, he's had his best year by far. His numbers, he's a top‑50 player to ever put on a uniform at Kentucky. But he's accepted coming off the bench. There are times I started him this year, times he started in the second half because he was playing so well. But what he did today shows what he's done all year.
People love him. All the calls I'm getting about him, people want him on their team for the simple fact he's got to be a great kid. We have six starters. Someone had to come off the bench. He said, I'm good with it.
The other side of it was, when we played in the tournament in Vandy, Michael Gilchrist said, We need him to play better, so start him, I'll come off the bench. He went in and did fine.
From there, he's gone like that back to where he was at the end of last year and played. My hat is off to him. He's the most unselfish player I've ever coached. Sometimes it drives me crazy because I don't think he understands how good he really is, but he's done great things for us.
Q. Darius, what were the emotions like at the end of that game? Have you given thought to how far you've come?
DARIUS MILLER: It's very emotional. We've worked extremely hard to get to this point. I feel like we've all did a great job throughout the whole year. This is what we've been reaching for. At the end of this game we have a chance to win a national championship. It's an opportunity that not most people get. Can't really explain it in words. You have to experience it.
For me to be able to experience it with these guys who I've grown to be brothers with, it means a lot to me. Especially, in my freshman year, I was in the NIT. I was terrible.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports