Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The UK Teamcast Broadcast Team

The UK Teamcast broadcast team for the 2015 Final Four will be Rex Chapman, Dave Baker and Michael Eaves. The UK-specific broadcast will air on TNT Saturday, April 4, 2015.

2015 NCAA Final Four Official Program

Click image to enlarge

UK Men's Basketball Team Bus Gets A MakeOver

UK's got a makeover for their trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis, In. The new black UK "Champions Play Here" wrap replaced the blue look that UK used all season owed by the Blue Grass Tours. 

NCAA Final Four and Championship Game Time/TV Schedule

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

2015 National Semifinals and Championship (Final Four and Championship)

2015 National Semifinals

Saturday, April 4, 2015

6:09, TBS: No. 1 Duke(South Region) vs. No. 7 Michigan State(East Region) (Jim Nantz/Grant Hill/Bill Raftery/Tracy Wolfson)

Approx. 8:49 TBS: No. 1 Wisconsin
(West Region) vs. No. 1 Kentucky(Midwest Region) (Jim Nantz/Grant Hill/Bill Raftery/Tracy Wolfson)

2015 National Championship Game

Monday, April 6, 2015

9:18, TBD: No. 1 Duke(South Region)/No. 7 Michigan State(East Region) Winner vs No. 1 Wisconsin(West Region)/ No. 1 Kentucky(Midwest Region) Winner

Monday, March 30, 2015

Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari's Pre-2015 Final Four Teleconferences Comments

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari Pre-2015 Final Four Teleconferences Comments

Q. John, I’m wondering, with Andrew and Aaron in particular, what qualities do players have to have to be very good in the clutch?

COACH CALIPARI: The biggest thing is you cannot be afraid to miss the game-winning shot. It’s not that you want to make it; it’s that you’re not afraid to miss it. You’re not afraid to make a play and it go wrong. You have to have amnesia. You have to be willing to risk. Those two have it. They both have it.

Q. How much can a coach develop that in a player and how much of it is just an innate thing?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, the biggest thing is they’ve got to be put in that position and they’ve got to know it’s okay to miss. I’ll give you an example. Brandin Knight missed five game winners throughout the year. Then as we wound down the year, he made the baskets against Princeton, he made the game winner against Ohio State. They’ve got to be put in that position and they’ve got to be told that it’s okay that you miss the game winner because that’s not the play that won or lost the game anyway. John Wall made his first game winner against Miami of Ohio his first game. Had never made one. Tyreke Evans, same thing, made game winners where he hadn’t done it before. But they’ve got to be put in those positions and they’ve got to be told it’s okay to miss.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at Wisconsin a little bit more, just some of your early impressions of them.

COACH CALIPARI: Well, they’re outstanding. We just played a great offensive team in Notre Dame. This team rivals and maybe surpasses because they can iso you in the post. They shoot the three the same as Notre Dame does. They have that one guy that’s a big guy, not a guard, and their guards are good, too, in Frank who can go get his own. But Dekker has proved he can do the same. They’re really good there. They don’t foul. Bo and I have talked about it. You could play tough, hard-nosed, even physical defense without fouling like on every play, every player. That’s what he teaches. That’s what we try to teach. We want you to be aggressive. We want you to be physical. Just don’t foul. Physical doesn’t mean don’t let them cut, don’t grab. I mean, they do what they’re supposed to do. They give you a tough look. They rebound the ball. They’re outstanding. This will be a really hard game for our team. We know that. Bo has done what he’s done with every team: he’s just made them a cohesive offensive and defensive unit.

Q. With Karl(-Anthony Towns), he has a propensity to get in foul trouble. What do you do there?

COACH CALIPARI: Most cases you’re fouling when you’re out of position. Instead of playing the guy before he catches it, you’re trying to play him after he catches it or after he cuts. Karl has a tendency, as all freshmen, to stop playing during the game, get screened. He did it against Notre Dame late in the game, a simple screen, shuffle screen, and he died in the screen, it was an and-one late. But that’s freshmen. So hopefully the excitement, the focus is going to be to where we’re playing people, Karl and everyone else, before they catch the ball.

Q. John, you talked before Notre Dame about how little actual time you spent looking at what they do, showing your players, not yourself and your staff, but the players. It was about 10 minutes during a team dinner on game day. What about when you have a whole week and it’s Wisconsin, how much more will your players watch of the Badgers?

COACH CALIPARI: The same. I mean, however we prepare teams at the beginning of the year, whether it’s North Carolina or North Carolina A & T, everything is the same kind of preparation. Our focus this week will be on our team. I’m not going to be able to control, nor will our team, how Wisconsin plays. You’re not going to force them out of what they want to do. The things that we’ll work on will pertain to Wisconsin, but our players won’t know it. They won’t know why we’re doing this drill. The breakdowns will all be based on what we coaches have seen. Now, they may have watched Wisconsin play. They may have watched an NCAA tournament game. I tell them don’t watch the games. They don’t listen to me ever, so I imagine they’ve seen them. Our team played them a year ago, so they have an idea how good they were and are now. But we won’t watch Wisconsin tape as a team. Our staff, I’m starting to get overloaded with it to be honest with you, then I stop. I don’t need to watch 10 game tapes. We all start losing our minds. I got to prepare, I got to work harder than the other guy. Stop it, just stop it. You can watch the tapes you need to do, then get your team ready. That’s what I do. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but that’s what we do.

Q. (Frank) Kaminsky, are you seeing a change in his physical presence? Does he look stronger to you than he did last year?

COACH CALIPARI: He looks stronger. He’s working angles better. He’s a really confident perimeter shooter. He’s passing because he gets double-teamed so much. He’s passing better. Look, I love when I see players from year to year get better, whether it’s my players or another player. That gets me. That means they’re committed. They understand the grind. Frank is about his team now. He’ll go get 29 or he’ll get 8, he’ll have 7 assists. I imagine Bo has had a ball watching him go from three minutes a game to last season to where he is now. I bet you Bo would say, if you asked him, he’ll smile, because that’s how we coaches are. Even for me, having a player come in and have all this reputation, whether it’s Anthony Davis, John, DeMarcus, it’s where are they at the end of the year? What kind of improvement have they made? What have we taught them? Our three pillars, the industriousness, the grind, do you understand it? You when you leave here, you will. The second part of it is the servant leadership. Do you understand if you’re going to lead, you’re going to serve? Do you understand how to be a great leader? The third thing is having a kind heart, you care about everybody else. You don’t eat everything. We’re all trying to eat. Don’t be a big. People in the community, be nice. As coaches, we want to see guys develop those kind of things, take those things with them when they leave our programs.

Q. Coach, you often lovingly refer to Big Blue Nation as crazy. Certainly we are going to see that on display in Indianapolis like you’ve seen it at the last couple of sites. Why do you think Kentucky basketball has always had arguably as strong of a following as anything has in American sports? What do you think triggered that?

COACH CALIPARI: Coach Rupp. Again, I’ve talked to his son, I’ve talked to his grandson. As a matter of fact, his great grandson and my son were friends before he went to prep school, Fredrick. What a great kid he is. He came in and established a program out of nothing. Back in the day, he wrote a book in 1941 that I’ve read, it’s pertinent today. There are things that he was doing back in the ’40s that were so advanced. He started teaching trapping, but they didn’t have a term for it. They called it two timing. What? Two timing. They didn’t have trapping. There were things that he did back then that brought so much pride to this state. He wasn’t afraid to play anybody. They got on trains and went and played in New York and Chicago. He played anyone, anywhere, anytime back then. He was a student of the game. It started right there. Then Coach Hall, then Coach Pitino, then Tubby. They take so much pride. Everybody says, Well, you got to win a national title. No, you got to be significant. They want you in the conversation. I’ve been here now six years. You got to win it or… No. They’d like you to win it now, they’ll be depressed if you don’t for maybe a month. But they want in the conversation. They want in the conversation in recruiting. They want in the conversation when you’re talking one of the best teams. If they thought you should win it every year, we’d have 125 national titles. Doesn’t happen. And they know that.

Q. Was there a moment where their support kind of took you back, where you thought, What are you doing here?

COACH CALIPARI: I’ll give you two examples. You walk into our arena at home, the upper deck in the corners are filled 40 minutes before the game. What, are you crazy? Why are you here right now? The radio show has 8,000 or 9,000 people that stay after. Our radio show would rank in the top 30 in attendance of games. The other thing is you go on the road, they’re chanting. You’re like, Oh, my gosh, they’ve taken over the arena. Like they do that. I don’t know how they get tickets. They know not to wear blue when they’re trying to get tickets. They have to wear red, orange, another color. People don’t want to sell them their tickets. They figure out ways of getting in. They don’t tell, because it’s a secret. They don’t tell anybody. No one knows. How in the world are they getting these tickets?

Q. Could you comment on Trey Lyles’ play this year, his development.

COACH CALIPARI: Two things happened. He didn’t play in the summer because he had an injury, and then he got sick in the middle of the season, was out I believe three weeks. But his progress as a player has been phenomenal. I’ve said all along, he’s the X factor for us. At the next level, he’s going to be a four. He’s going to be a four that spreads the court. We’re training him as a three, which means he’s guarding guards at 6’10”, that he’s being guarded by smaller players, which means we’re throwing him in the post some. He is a finisher. He likes to think he’s a play-maker. Drives me absolutely crazy. His play making is turnover making. When you talk about finishing around the basket, when you talk about one-dribble pull-ups on the run, you talk about being able to avoid and finish near the rim, making free throws, making pressure free throws, he is our X factor. He’s the one guy that can separate our team.

Q. You touched upon Kentucky’s tradition. Bringing that forward to this weekend, how much of a home-court advantage do you think you’ll have at Lucas Oil Stadium? It’s pretty apparent you will have more fans than the other three schools combined.

COACH CALIPARI: One, we don’t know that. I do know Michigan State travels, Duke travels, Wisconsin travels. They all can get there easily. I also know that what an area to have the game. Indianapolis is like San Antonio. I mean, it’s the place to go. So I would imagine that the town’s going to be overrun by fans for all of us. My hope is our guys figured out how to get the tickets more than the other people, but you just don’t know. At this point in the year, it’s not going to be ‘a home court.’ You’re not going to have that kind of advantage. The other team is going to have 10,000 fans, too. Okay, you have 20, they have 10. It’s not going to have an advantage. Now, my hope is our fans enjoy themselves. Most of the fans that go cannot get in Rupp Arena. That’s why they go on the road, go to the conference tournament. They can’t get tickets in our building.

Q. You sort of caused a little bit of a social media uproar when you dismissed Notre Dame as your toughest opponent. Do you think your comments were misconstrued?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, we played Texas A&M and they took us to double overtime and we were lucky to get to overtime. We played Mississippi in overtime and we were lucky to do that. Florida played us in a tough game on the road. I can go on and on. LSU had us beat down there. I mean, to say that that was by far the toughest game, I could have lied and said, Oh, yeah, absolutely. But what I did say after the game was, Notre Dame played great. Then when I got up on the stage, I said, Let’s give them a hand for the great game that they played. Now, it really doesn’t matter what I say, it could be construed however. But Mike and I are friends. He did a fabulous job. They could have easily won the game and been going to Indianapolis as us. We kind of made the play down the stretch. We made a couple plays and won the game. I respect Mike. He knows that. He and I are in touch throughout the year. I’m a Notre Dame fan. I’m Catholic. I grew up watching Lindsey Nelson in the Sundays. Notre Dame highlights, the fight song, Ara Parseghian. They can take it how they want, but it’s just not accurate.

Q. It sort of said that no matter what you said, there are some people out there that are going to believe what they believe. Do you think that’s a function of being undefeated, having this team, just Kentucky?

COACH CALIPARI: I think the emotion after the game, people were mad that they lost. Then, you know, whatever I said, they were going to look at it and be mad. That’s okay. I understand this. But I speak the truth. I’m not going to sit there and lie and say we played one of the best games of the year. They asked me a question, I told the truth, at least how I saw it. I know how good Notre Dame is. I watched the tape. I watched them beat Duke. I watched them beat North Carolina. I watched them in their tournament, at home. As a matter of fact, we played them a couple years ago. They beat us by 25 there. I mean, it wasn’t even a game. I know how good they are.

Q. You’ll find out this weekend if you made the Hall of Fame, a pretty remarkable honor. What would that mean to you if you were able to do that on the same weekend that you could cut down the nets? Also just your thoughts on the pantheon of coaches that is in this Final Four. Quite a distinguished group.

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, when you talk about the coaches here, when you talk about Bo Ryan, you’re talking about one of those guys that walked through the ranks and has done it anywhere he’s been, was a great assistant before he was a great head coach. He’s just a good guy. Tommy Izzo and I go so far back. We’re in touch throughout this tournament. He knows what I feel about him. You talk about one of the top two or three coaches, he’s it. He’s done it every year with every kind of different team. He’s done it when he’s lost guys, when he’s had great players, when he’s had great teams. Then you talk about Mike Krzyzewski, c’mon. Wooden, Krzyzewski, and that’s about it. My respect for Mike Krzyzewski goes beyond just watching him and what he’s done in thousands of games, all that. My respect for him goes to this level. What he did for Anthony Davis, what he did for Derrick Rose, what he just did for DeMarcus Cousins on USA Basketball. All of them spent that time with him and their careers changed, the whole direction. My hope is that half the team becomes my guys because I see what he’s done for my guys. If you know me well enough, you know that’s moving me. The other stuff is great, and I respect him. That right there, that moves me.

Transcript: Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan Pre-2015 Final Four Interview

Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan Pre-2015 Final Four Teleconferences comments 

Q. Obviously it’s a rematch between last year’s Kentucky team and Wisconsin, a game which was obviously very close, came down to the final shot. Tell me what you see different in this team other than they’re undefeated. They have veteran players. What makes them different, that much better, going up against them the second time?

COACH RYAN: Well, I think they’ve been through so many pressure situations when you’re undefeated. Not to promote my University of Wisconsin Platteville team necessarily. I had a chance to coach two college teams that went undefeated in a season, and I know what it’s like to be 10-0, 15-0, 25-0, what that does to a team. It actually made our practices better. Our practices were very competitive, knowing that all eyes are on you. Needless to say in Division I there’s more eyes, all on Kentucky’s team. But going through that, I just thought it made us better while we were undefeated because of how you learned to deal with the outside pressures. Then it builds inside. Okay, in practices you got enough good players going against each other, so you’re actually developing the skills of your players while the season’s going on because you have that depth. So I think Kentucky is in a pretty good position from that standpoint of being able, even though they don’t have the same players as last year, what they’ve developed in the last four and a half months is some pretty competitive drills, some pretty competitive practices and work, to where not only were they good in November, but they’re even better now.

Q. Cal always says that they may be undefeated but they’re not perfect. I don’t know how much film you had to look at since two days ago, but is there really any weakness, big or small, that you tried to show the team so far?

COACH RYAN: I thought you were talking about John said he wasn’t perfect, because I was agreeing with that (laughter).

Q. I’m sure he says that, too.

COACH RYAN: We had a nice talk this morning, by the way. Even if there’s a guy that shoots a bad percentage or has a rough day, look how many other guys can pick them up. There are some teams who have two, three, maybe four scorers. If they all have a bad day the same day, they’re definitely losing. Kentucky can have guys have bad days but still have enough guys to make up for that. So, no, I don’t think as far as comparing the last year or anything else… Again, we played Oregon again, then Arizona, now Kentucky. That’s three of our five games playing against the same people we played against the year before. The only thing we’re hoping is that it’s not the same outcome. But, no, they’re strong from point to post. You don’t go undefeated in college now without something pretty special.

Q. I’ve heard plenty of coaches talk about gut-wrenching Final Four losses, how hard they are to overcome. How did you handle last year? How hard was that to forget about once you went into summer, the fall, et cetera?

COACH RYAN: You know, you get up the next day and you just start saying, Okay, we got this coming up, camp, recruiting, practice, workouts with the players a couple hours a week. It was just ‘next’. That’s all I ever lived by. We’ve also been the ones that have given people gut-wrenching defeats and stuff like that. You expect people to handle that because they’re going to have to handle things like that in life a lot more than just after a basketball game, where things are a lot more important than a basketball game. The example we try to set is, Okay, next, here we go. Let’s get the guys that are back, wish the seniors good luck, try to help them out with where they’re going. I’ve been doing it so many years, it’s not all the same, but you can’t change what just happened, that score was that score. Like I said, we’ve done it to other people where they’ve got to deal with the score, then get ready for the next season. So, no, there wasn’t anything different.

Q. What do you think is relevant about the game last year given that clearly their team is different, as is yours. What do you think is relevant about that game last year?

COACH RYAN: Simply that was a great game for fans and for the experience of the players involved in it. But so much has happened since then. It’s like our game with Arizona last year. I guess the only way to answer it is we’ve already had two reoccurrences of games last year with Oregon and Arizona. Like I said, the difference is in the Kentucky game we were on the short end. It’s not like if you’re on the positive end you’re going to practice or do anything different going into the next season, so… For our guys, hey, we get another 40 minutes. That’s all they know.

Transcript: Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski Pre-2015 Final Four Interview

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski Pre-2015 Final Four Teleconferences comments 

Q. Obviously John Calipari is going to figure out whether he got in the Hall of Fame this week. Seeing what he’s done over the last several years and his career as a guy who has been there, does he belong?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, that’s why he’s up for it. People aren’t up for it unless people believe that he belongs. I think whether it happens this year, it will happen. Just like with Bo Ryan, they belong. Tom (Izzo). Look, they’re all really the best of the best. It’s really an honor for me to be in a Final Four with those three programs and those three coaches because they’re all really good guys and they’ve all understood the commitment to excellence that a program needs to make.

Q. Mike, Karl-Anthony Towns seems to be captivating a lot of imaginations. Some suggest he’s the best freshman big man in your sport. I’m not asking you to compare him and (Jahlil) Okafor.


Q. You’ve seen enough to be pretty sure it’s your guy.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you are asking me that then (laughter)? What you just said you asked, though.

Q. You’re right.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What I would tell you is, I don’t watch Kentucky very much because we haven’t played them. You all watch these other teams more than we do, or more than I do. I try to watch the teams that we’re going to play against. I know our league. I really try to know the teams we just played, Utah and Gonzaga. But I’m not watching Kentucky like I would if we were going to play them. I know Towns. We recruited him. He played for the Dominican team. He’s a great player, great young man, beautiful family. He’s going to be a terrific pro. Where he stands in comparison to anybody, who knows. The people who do that are the people who are called professionals who are going to draft. But he’s going to be a terrific player. Based on what I’ve seen of him as a youngster, what I know of his character, then the little bit that I’ve watched Kentucky play, he’s terrific.

Transcript: Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo Pre-2015 Final Four Interview

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo Pre-2015 Final Four Teleconferences comments 

Q. Tom, John Calipari, your opinions of him. He’s up for the Hall of Fame. He’ll find out this weekend if he got in. What do you think about his candidacy? Is he a viable guy? What do you make of what he’s done over the span of his career?

COACH IZZO: Well, if you look at it, when you can win at Massachusetts, then go and win at Memphis, then the job he’s done at Kentucky is unbelievable. He doesn’t get enough credit for his coaching. Having great players, I mean, there’s days that it’s easier. I think what people don’t realize is there’s days when it’s more difficult juggling egos, juggling the NBA stuff, juggling the expectations at a school like Kentucky. So for all the pluses of knowing that maybe you got better talent than most teams, you also got other issues. I don’t know many guys that could have juggled that at Kentucky like he has. But it’s not just when he was there, because he did it at Memphis, he did it at Massachusetts, he’s done it at different levels. I do think he’s very deserving of being in there.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Video: Kentucky Wildcats Final Four Hype

Kentucky has reached the Final Four in four of the last five seasons and in each of its last four NCAA Tournament appearances, all under John Calipari. Kentucky advanced to its 17th Final Four, tied for the second most among all Division I teams. Kentucky makes consecutive Final Four appearances for the fourth time in program history. UK advanced to the national semifinals in 1948 and '49, '96-'98 and 2011 and '12. UK won the national title in each of the previous three times it made consecutive Final Four trips (1948, '49, '96, '98 and 2012). Video courtesy of CampusInsiders

NCAA South Regional Finals Time/TV Schedule

NCAA South Regional Finals NRG Stadium (at Houston, Texas)

Elite 8 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

CBS 5:05 p.m.: No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Gonzaga
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson

NCAA East Regional Finals Time/TV Schedule

NCAA East Regional Finals Carrier Dome (at Syracuse, New York

Elite 8 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Syracuse, New York (East Region), CBS

2:20 p.m.: No. No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 7 Michigan State
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel and Allie LaForce

Video: Kentucky coach John Calipari Post 'Elite Eight" win over Notre Dame Interview

Kentucky coach John Calipari talks about UK's 68-66 win over Notre Dame
Video courtesy of Kentucky.com

Video: UK Players on 68-66 'Elite Eight" win over Norte Dame

Kentucky players talks about the Elite 8 win over Notre Dame Cauley-Stein: "I can't believe it ended like that" Andrew Harrison on Towns: "the best big man in the country"

Video: Kentucky Basketball Arrives Home After Winning The Midwest Regional

Kentucky Basketball Arrives Home After Winning The Midwest Regional The Kentucky basketball team arrives home after advancing to the Final Four. Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Video: Kentucky celebrates winning the Midwest Regional

Video courtesy of Tyler Thompson

Transcript: Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari and Players Post 'Elite Eight' Midwest Regional Interview

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari and Players Post 'Elite Eight' Midwest Regional Comments

CLEVELAND — Transcript from Kentucky’s press conference after win over Notre Dame.

MODERATOR: We’ll let Coach Calipari open with a statement.

COACH CALIPARI: I’m really proud of the guys. All we did, we were just scratching to stay in the game. I don’t know if our breakdowns, until I watch the tape, were us or Notre Dame being that good offensively. And I’ll tell you the thing on the side pick and roll and the empty side pick and roll, that’s on me as a coach. We never figured it out, we tried doing some different things and they just kept scoring on that, and Mike did what he should have, just kept going back at it. It was nice to see Aaron do what Aaron does, just a huge 3. It was great to see Andrew play an okay game, but make the plays down the stretch. It was great to see in the second half, us able to throw at Karl Towns, and they either were scoring or you got to leave somebody. And then Tyler makes that 3 in the corner. But we were just fighting to stay in the game, to be honest with you, and it was nice to see how it finished for these kids.

Q. Karl, could you just talk a little bit about what changed in the second half? You were 2 for 5 in the field the first half, I don’t think you missed a shot the second half. What changed offensively there?

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: I just did a better job of getting better position. Also I jumped a lot more, used my legs. I was liking that in the first half. And in the second half, I just trusted what the coaching staff told me, and I guess the results speak for themselves.

Q. For Andrew and Aaron, how does this win compare to last year’s win?

ANDREW HARRISON: It’s pretty similar. Michigan last year had a great offense as well. Two great teams, came out a winner. We didn’t play our best game but Notre Dame is a great team.

AARON HARRISON: Yeah, I think we played a lot better last year actually. We didn’t play that well, but we just figured out ways to win last year and this year, and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.

Q. Andrew, if you could just talk about the last play offensively and also the defense on the last play on their shot, too? Just kind of walk us through both of those things.

ANDREW HARRISON: I mean, I think, Coach told me to go at 9 and I think I went a little bit before that. It was so wide open that I just tried to take it, and I got fouled and got to make two free throws. Second, that was all Willie, I was yelling his name, you know how great Willie is on defense, he was running right with him.

Q. For any of the players, in the second half you didn’t have three consecutive stops the whole half until the end when you needed to have those three consecutive stops. What was the difference in those three possessions?

ANDREW HARRISON: I don’t know. Desperation, probably. We had no choice or we were going to lose.

AARON HARRISON: Exactly what he said. Just I mean, I think we just focused, when our back’s against the wall, do what we have to do to win the game.

DEVIN BOOKER: Basically just what they said. We’ve been in that position a few times this year. Each time we try to start with stops, and we know that will lead to offense and that’s what we’ve been doing.


Q. Aaron, is it almost good to have a game like this, that you guys know that you can dig deep and come back and pull it out like this?

AARON HARRISON: I don’t know about that. I mean, I would rather play well and win by a lot than play a close game like that. But yeah, I mean, we know our will to win. And it just showed us we never give up, and we fight to the end just like any other team.

Q. Karl, did it get to the point in the second half you just felt like if you got the ball you were going to score, they just couldn’t stop you? Did you have that feeling?

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: It did. I mean, I felt very confident in myself and just made confident moves. Like I said, I listened to the coaching staff and I was just making shots.

Q. For Aaron and Andrew, just a quick thought, you’re going back to the Final Four. What does that mean to you to get back there again? I know that’s one of the reasons you said you came back.

ANDREW HARRISON: It means it’s a blessing. Go down there and try to focus and try to win two games.

AARON HARRISON: Exactly what he said. We’re definitely not finished. We still can get better with two more games left in the season. We have places to improve, and we will improve this weekend and go down there a different team.

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. We’ll continue with questions for Coach Calipari.

Q. Could you talk about that last sequence with Andrew, because it didn’t seem like one of his better games and he made the two free throws for you. He was running down there with Willie, too, on that defense. Is that kind of what you expect from him?

COACH CALIPARI: They didn’t have a timeout, and I wasn’t going to call one. You guys know how I am. I wasn’t to call one and let Mike design something crazy, so we weren’t going to call a timeout. What we did on the last play was, with eight to nine seconds to go, he was to take it and we had some stuff working on the back side. I said, if you don’t have it, you’ve got stuff behind. We had something for Willie over the top. But he drove in and he got it, he got fouled. And it was a foul, I looked at it, he moved. It was close, but he moved. Andrew tried to avoid him, which made him move instead of just jumping, which is something we do work on a lot but he’s been great at.

Q. Obviously they’re a really good offensive team, but what was it about them defensively that gave you problems early on?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, we knew we were going to throw to the post every chance we could, and we just missed — they were physical enough to cause us to miss 10 one footers in the first half. You know, that was an issue for us because now they didn’t have to leave off the wings. They had to leave Tyler Ulis and give him that three to guard Karl. That’s how you’re trying to play but if you can’t make the one footer, they don’t have to do anything. The other thing is they’re physical. Shots went up, they fought. We out-rebounded them by one, but that was lucky, we only get 10 offensive rebounds. So they’re a better defensive team than you give them credit for and they’re also a tougher team, physically a tougher team. Their guards bothered us, especially early in the game, they got up in us.

Q. Coach, Aaron or Andrew said that they’re going to get better this week, because of this close game. And Willie in the dressing room said he’s glad that you have the week to prepare for Wisconsin. Because of this close win, assuming that you always have their attention, do you think you’ll have their attention even a little bit more?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. Trey didn’t play particularly well. I thought Dakari did some good stuff. I didn’t give Marcus enough time, but the game didn’t dictate that I should because of how it played. I’m glad that Devin Booker’s making shots, but we’ve got to get a little bit better in this pick and roll defense. I think, again, I don’t remember a whole lot about Wisconsin. I mean, I’ll watch this game tape tonight and then probably start on Wisconsin tomorrow at some point in the day. I know Bo Ryan, and he’s a great friend, and how good he coaches. And I’ve said all along I thought the three best teams were us, Wisconsin and Arizona — and Duke. And other teams are right there, but those four seem to be a little bit better than the others. And those two, I feel bad for Arizona because they had to play in that regional final because they are a Final Four team but that’s how this stuff goes sometimes.

Q. You won a lot of close games last year in the tournament but you were a No. 8 seed last year. This year you’re an undefeated favorite and you were behind most of the second half, behind by six, six minutes to go. Pressure’s all on you. Did you feel that then, do you think your team felt that or do you think your team just played the way it would play if this were January in Rupp Arena?

COACH CALIPARI: My mind is never on we may lose. My whole mindset all the time is how are we going to win, how do we win this game. That’s all I keep saying to myself, how do we win the game. I want them to know we’re not playing not to lose; we play to win. That means be aggressive offensively. And so I’m telling you, I was trying every combination I could just to keep us in the game. And then we had to have the 3 by Aaron. We had to have the 3 by Tyler. We had to have and-1 by Karl, think about this, to stay in the game. So they had to make the plays, but we were breaking down defensively. I couldn’t keep Trey in the game. Tyler jumped on the guy’s side. It was an and-1. We were breaking down defensively ourselves. And again, that side pick and roll stuff is not my team, that’s on me. But they did enough, and they wanted to win, they do have a will to win, and I know that. I know that, I’ve coached them, I know they’ll make plays. It’s just a matter of you have to keep the game close enough so they can.

Q. You guys, I think, made your last nine baskets and you got three stops at the end of the game. A lot has been made about how young your team is, and maybe they wouldn’t be able to execute like that down the stretch. What does that tell you about your guys?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, when you have Willie, Aaron and Andrew in there most of that time, but I had Tyler in there a lot of the time, and Karl. And then we had to switch Karl in and out because of the foul trouble, I wanted him off the floor. Not only foul trouble, he was defensively hurting us. But I’ve just seen these kids make plays. I trust them. I trust to put them in, instead of running a play, put them in a position to make a play, which is what I try to do.

Q. Because of the number of wins that you’ve had and some of the easier games or not close games in the tournament, do you think your guys get enough credit for their determination and will?

COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. They do from me. I think that’s all they care about right now. I mean, again, we’re — we know we’re not perfect. We’re undefeated, but we’re not perfect. I mean, we showed that tonight. We’re really young and showed it tonight a ton. We had some turnovers that were like, “What did you just do? You just threw them the ball.” We did some things that we work on every day not to drive baseline. We drove baseline, stepped out of bounds. There were things that we did that showed our youth. But that being said, you still have a will to win. I’ll tell you, if people don’t realize it, Andrew and Aaron still drive this team. Willie does his thing, Karl was tremendous today, but those other two kids drive this team. Tyler comes in, Devin comes in. Those other two, they drove us last year to the final game, and they’re doing the same thing this year.

Q. Coach, they said the word desperation a couple times. Is that a word that floats around the program? Has it floated around this year, and how do you handle it. You reacted a bit when they said it?

COACH CALIPARI: I don’t think we ever talk about it. They must have felt like it’s time. Now, they were in every huddle saying, “let’s go, it’s time.” They were saying it to each other in every huddle. My thing is in these games, we can’t help the other team. We can’t. We helped Notre Dame a lot today. But until I watch the tape, I think they’re a great offensive team and they did some stuff and got us in some different positions and situations that were not good. But again, I don’t ever use it. My thing is just keep playing, man, keep playing. We’ll figure it out.

Q. How good did you think Karl was the second half?

COACH CALIPARI: He was unbelievable, and my staff was telling me, take him out, he’s not guarding him. I was like he’s the only guy scoring, I’ve got to leave him in. So I was trying to leave him — then he started taking himself out on defense, he was like, “take me out.” But, again, offensively, by the time this season winds down, I want people to look and say, wow, a big man, can make free throws, can score around the basket, can play pick and roll defense, not today but he can. Blocked shots, makes his free throws. That’s what you want, and I’ll tell you, he’s the greatest kid, he’s a great kid, really is.

Q. John, Willie at times it seemed like he struggled a little bit defensively or whatever but he made the plays at the end, he got his finger on Grant’s 3 and then chased Grant on that final play?

COACH CALIPARI: Let me just say at halftime, I’m walking in and they’re looking, we’re not playing loose enough, we’re not playing loose enough. I said you’re playing too cool. It’s hard to be loose when the other team is playing harder than you. And I felt their guards were playing more aggressive on our guards on both offense and defense. I thought our bigs were standing straight up and down, and acting like, wow, we can get these guys. I said, you can’t play loose unless you’re competing at a high level, then you can let it go offensively. Be loose and aggressive. We weren’t because it’s hard to be loose when a guy’s up in you and you’re just trying to make a pass. And I think Willie and Andrew, they all fell into that in the first half. And give Notre Dame credit, they came right after us, they were not afraid, they were confident. We made some plays down the stretch. We don’t make them, they’re going to Indy, and we’re going home.

Q. One of your former players will be playing tomorrow, in Wilshire. What have you thought of what he’s accomplished this year?

COACH CALIPARI: I’m so proud of Kyle, I can’t begin to tell you. My wife and I watch his games and I text him, we text back and forth. What he’s done, I knew he could do. You know, when kids make decisions to stay or leave, I don’t always agree. And I’m talking NBA or choose to go to another program, but at the end of the day, I am for Kyle Wilshire, that’s who I’m for. Unless we’re playing him, then I hope he misses every shot. Other than that, I can’t begin to tell you — and Mark is such a great coach, getting him to defend, elevating his game, not letting him settle for just being an offensive player, but being a guy that can score next to the basket, can pass, can shoot. Mark is making him a well-rounded player, something obviously I didn’t do as good a job of. But I’m proud of him and really happy for him.

MODERATOR: We want to thank Coach Calipari for his time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports