TRANSCRIPT | Calipari, UK players talk about win over Wisconsin
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A transcript of John Calipari's news conference following Kentucky's 74-73 win over Wisconsin. To read the full transcript from ASAP Sport, including comments from players, click here.
For video of Calipari and the players, click here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement
from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes, Julius
Randle, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Alex Poythress, and Dakari Johnson.
CALIPARI: Another good game.
Q. Cal, you have a super power, you called him out as the guy to
watch in the last game and now Alex has done that. Is that as much as
anything planting a positive seed in these guys' minds, I believe in you
and you can go be the guy?
CALIPARI: They know I believe in them. Aaron knows. You said
about you're normally not the star, but if you watched us, we got a
bunch of stars on this team. James Young has had 25‑point games, which
I'll make a prediction he'll have in this Monday night game.
You listening to me? (Talking to Young.) I'm putting a positive seed in your mind right now.
But these kids have been resilient. I didn't think Julius and Drew
played to the level they have been playing. But these other guys
stepped up and they played. Marcus Lee played, and in the first half
Jarrod Polson and Dominique saved us.
We played seven freshmen, folks. We played seven freshmen. They're all
performing in that stage, under those lights, which is an amazing
Q. You told me before the SEC championship you didn't care what
Willie said about wanting to face the Gators, that was the last team you
wanted to face. How happy are you that you don't have to face them for
the fourth time this season.
CALIPARI: Well, I would have liked them and us to have been in the
finals for the SEC, like the league that had a down year. But to play
them a fourth time? I'm not sure if that team has ever lost.
But I wasn't thinking about Florida or Connecticut. I didn't watch any
of the game. I was in there in the back getting myself ready to coach
against an unbelievable Wisconsin team.
So when you're playing this late in the year, you truly now don't care
who you play. It's just let's keep playing. We got 40 more minutes to
There's two teams standing and we're one of them. What? That's crazy.
Q. You did not call timeout as you were down two, so why not? When
did you tell Aaron that you wanted him to take the shot, and I know this
is a long question, but did you, when he‑‑
CALIPARI: I can't remember more than one, so which one do you want me to answer?
Q. All right. Why did you not call timeout?
CALIPARI: You watched me coach for how long? You know I never
call a timeout there. I want the kids to win the game. I don't need to
be a hero.
I don't want to get Bo involved in this. I know how good a coach he
is. We had called what we were going to do in the huddle when they were
going to shoot the three free throws. So we knew what we were going to
Then I called Andrew over when he missed the shot and I said, Andrew, if
you can get a layup or get it to Dakari, do that; if not, you got your
When we huddled, I said, We're going at Aaron, boys, anybody got a problem with that?
Now, he wasn't open. It went to Dakari. Dakari threw it to his
brother, his brother was smart enough to say, I'm going to give it to
you. It was NBA three. I saw it on the TV after. It was a NBA three
contested and he made it. It's crazy that he does it.
So what was the other one then?
Q. The other question was when he was backed up at that spot at 23,
24 feet, were you thinking, do it? Were you thinking go ahead shoot it?
CALIPARI: I trust those kids. Now, there's a point that they
weren't listening because we were taking jump shots we didn't want to
take. We wanted to drive the ball. We were settling for shots we
didn't need to.
But I trust them. See, guys that make game winners are not afraid to
miss them, and he's not afraid to miss. If he misses, give me another
one. I'll make another one. The best players I've had that played that
way and can make those kind of plays, they have amnesia from play to
Q. Alex Poythress gave you some big minutes tonight and he's 13 or
17 in the tournament. What's been the biggest difference for him down
the stretch here?
CALIPARI: I think one, Marcus Lee kind of woke him up. Like if
Marcus Lee can do that, I can do that. Everyone on this team is waiting
for him to break out like he did and like he is now.
He's in the best shape of his life. Mentally, he's in a great place
mentally. He's playing fearless and he's just almost reckless, which is
great for him because of his athleticism.
I texted him before because I had a bunch of my friends say he's going
to have a big game. I texted him, This is what they're saying, man, I
He said, I love you, coach, let's go have some fun.
And he went out there and played great.
Q. We've seen you do it a bunch of times, but Wisconsin hits a three
on the first possession of the second half and you immediately take a
timeout. You go on a 15‑0 run. What did you tell them in that timeout?
CALIPARI: I can't tell you. Basically they didn't listen to me at
halftime. The first play the guy takes a bad shot, and then we leave
and give up a three. I just said, Was anybody even paying attention to
anything I said at halftime?
And that's like, Come on, now, we're going to have to fight and play and
be concentrating and focused. This team, we started the game and I
think a couple of the guys started anxious. Alex lost himself in the
game. Aaron lost himself in the game. Dakari and Marcus Lee lost
themselves in the game. Dominic lost himself in the game. I didn't
think Andrew and Julius did.
You can't make this game bigger than it is. It's a basketball game.
Keep your eyes on the lines and just play and do what you do. You have
to lose yourself in the team and you have to lose yourself in the game.
Again, we have gotten better every game we played. If you look at our
offensive numbers, Coach Thompson the Hall‑of‑Famer, guy that I respect
immensely said to me, How did your young players play that offense that
well, like play them defensively that well?
We broke down about four times, but the rest of the time we guarded them pretty good. That's a tough, tough offense to guard.
Q. You talk about how the guys don't listen sometimes. They don't
do what the game plan is, you got to remind them. This tournament run,
you've got five close victories, the last four or five points or less.
Why are they able to listen and do exactly what they need to do in the
last two, five minutes of a game?
CALIPARI: Well, there's two parts of this. One, when we get down
10, it's amazing how we play. We're not real good up 10. But for some
reason, down 10, they grow hair on their neck. And all of a sudden
they're like, Who are these guys?
Late in the game, they have an unbelievable will to win, and part of
that has come from how they have been treated all season. They have
been ridiculed, criticized.
And, again, there's constructive criticism and then there's destructive
criticism. They got that kind, again, questioning their attitudes. Are
they good people? Are they selfish? I mean, they were absolutely
mauled. I think it made them stronger and it made them come together.
But I'll tell you, late in the game they want to win. Different guys
are making plays. Then you got Aaron, the assassin, making the shot
that is the dagger shot.
But they're all making plays.
Q. Along those same lines, you talked about the hip replacement
surgery and all that. How much has this team aged you with these last
CALIPARI: The hip's getting me more than the team. You don't get a
lot of sleep. If anybody's had a hip stuff going on, you know that
sleep is the tough thing.
No, I'm fine.
Let me just explain: I can get through Monday, to Tuesday. I know I can do that. So I'm fine.
Q. I think a lot people felt that Frank Kaminsky was the toughest
matchup left in the tournament, especially with not having
Cauley‑Stein. Can you talk about your strategy, what worked and really
what limited him? He only took seven shots.
CALIPARI: Well, one, I thought Dakari could play him some. Dakari
could put that big body on him a little bit. Then we wanted to play
all kinds of different people on him. We wanted Alex to guard him some,
we wanted Julius to guard him some. I was going to put in Derek Willis
because I woke up in the morning and dreamt that I put him in the game,
and he played well. When that happens to me, I always play that guy.
I didn't do it, but I was going to. The whole idea was, Let's play a lot of people.
We also were going to switch in pick‑and‑rolls and see how they could
take advantage of our guard sitting on them a little bit. Let's just
say this now, they did everything they were supposed to do to win the
game and we make a ridiculous shot. The last shot they have, just
happens to miss. If it banks in, they win.
No genius on this side of the table. I mean, we hung on. So did
Wisconsin. It was a heck of a game. It was a heck of a game.
He's a terrific player. The guy that killed us, and we were getting on
our guys, where is my man? Was it Dekker? Yeah, Dekker was the one
that was killing us, rebounding and making free throws. We were fouling
him. He was the one that I thought hurt us.
That's why we were getting on Julius, You got to defend and rebound, man. That's the guy you're guarding.
And, again, I expect this next game to be the same kind of war we have
just been through. We have been through, from LSU, unbelievable team,
to Georgia, unbelievable team, to Florida. You know how good they are.
Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin, and now
we got Connecticut. It's nuts.