Everything Is Awesome: Catspy Open Catspys 2015: Lip Sync Battle Catspys 2015: Shelby Hilton FaceTime Shoutout Videos courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Kentucky freshmen Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker, sophomores Dakari Johnson and Andrew and Aaron Harrison and junior Willie Cauley-Stein announced their decisions to eter the NBA Draft in a press conference with coach John Calipari. Video courtesy of Kentucky.com
Monday, April 06, 2015
Coach Calipari and former Wildcat great, Louie Dampier, will join an elite group of basketball players and coaches in the Naismith Hall of Fame, considered to be one of the ultimate honors in the sport. Calipari and the Class of 2015, which will also include Dick Bevetta, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn, John Isaacs, Spencer Haywood, Lisa Leslie, Dikembe Mutombo, George Raveling and JoJo White, will be enshrined.
Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV
Congratulations UK Coach Calipari, UK Louie Dampier on being elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame
UK Coach John Calipari is one of six active coaches in the game to receive the honor, along with Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim and Larry Brown. UK great Louie Dampier who is a member of Rupp's Runts was also elected into the Hall of Fame. Calipari and Dampier will be inducted on Friday, September 11, 2015.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
"Chance of a Lifetime" - Final Four Pump-Up Video Inspired by the poem "Chance of a Lifetime" by former Wildcat, Junior Braddy. Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV
Friday, April 03, 2015
- John Calipari Wins Associated Press Coach of the Year Sixth-year UK head coach has already won the same honor from the NABC and Sporting News
- Calipari named AP National Coach of the Year
Thursday, April 02, 2015
COACH CALIPARI: I worry about that. As a matter of fact, I even forgot it until I got on the bus last night. I went, Oh, my gosh, we’re coming back to Indiana, back to Indianapolis. I said, Oh, my gosh. He laughs about it. But it’s a hard deal. The whole environment is hard for everybody. So he’ll be fine.
COACH RYAN: John knows more about this than I do. I wouldn’t know how to answer it. About one-year guys and how they can leave a legacy?
COACH RYAN: By doing what they’re doing: winning, garnering national attention, playing in Final Fours, at least to the semis.
COACH CALIPARI: (Laughter).
COACH RYAN: John and I were having a blast back here talking about Pennsylvania high school basketball. Maybe he would know more about what he’s seen over his tenure, so…
COACH CALIPARI: It’s changed. It’s changed for all of us. It’s changed from Internet to draft lists to the gazillions in the NBA. It’s all that stuff that’s made this different, our jobs different. I will tell you, we have universities here around this country, some of the top, that encourage genius, kids to move on and do their things if they stayed one or two years. As a matter of fact, they’ll invest in them financially and tell them, If it doesn’t go, you can come back and your position will always be there. I don’t understand why it’s a problem if it’s the same with basketball players. These kids have a genius. Our jobs are to help them grow on and off the court, to help them become better men, to be prepared for society, yet they’re chasing a dream and they have a genius. Their genius isn’t just athleticism or size. There’s no way you can be special at this sport unless you have the right kind of mind. Our kids, some have stayed one year, some have stayed two, three, some have stayed four. We’ve graduated kids in three years. We’ve had 10 kids graduate. We’ll have four on this year’s team. That’s in six years. We’ve had two of those kids graduate in three years. We’ve had a 3.0 grade point average for five straight years. Last semester was a 3.1. 13 out of 16 kids had a 3.0 or better. That may aggravate you to hear that, but that’s the truth. We both have jobs, help our kids reach their dreams. Some of them can leave after a year, others can’t, so they stay.
COACH RYAN: Going back. What I agree totally with is the entertainers, the people who are talented in other areas that end up going and doing something, going out of school thinking later to come back, that maybe they’ll get their degree, maybe they won’t. You never hear about those people. It only comes up, and John has to face those type of questions a heck of a lot more than I do. In college, if people are stepping away, I don’t call it dropping out, they’re stepping away to pursue their passion. So if it happens, I’m sure there’s still a connection there later. Guys can take care of business. I have I can’t tell you how many players on a different scale, that played four years, were pretty good, but not good enough for the NBA. A lot of them have like eight credits, 15 credits, 20 some credits left to go. At Wisconsin, you cannot take classes, paper classes, and these other type of classes. You have to be in the classroom for the majority of your major. So it’s two semester sports, so when they play professionally overseas, I have a ton of guys who cannot get their degrees until they are finished with their professional contracts. They’re hanging out there with maybe a semester to go. People would say, Oh, they didn’t finish college. Some of them have played for 10 years, eight years, five years professionally. As soon as they’re done with a professional contract, ’cause you have to show that for your APR, then they start to count again. But the federal graduation rate is six years from the time you start. The really neat part for someone like me is to see these guys chasing their dream, getting a paycheck, getting paid pretty well overseas, and then come back and then finish their degrees. So I didn’t know if you were referring to why people come in and leave or whatever. My guys are leaving in a different sense more so than John’s guys.
COACH RYAN: Believe it or not, I know how I’m perceived by some people. I’m actually a pretty funny guy.
COACH CALIPARI: No, you’re not, you’re mean (smiling).
COACH RYAN: You know, I’m a serious guy. I know what the other side is like. As far as understanding that this is a lifetime experience, a small timeframe of four years, three, whatever the years are, you may as well enjoy it with the personalities that are there. You can either try to stifle certain things or you can feed the certain things, you can enjoy certain things. But the fun that our guys have is all about their relationships and the things that they’re interested in, the things they’re competitive about. They have more fun with the bragging rights of video games, which is why I did the thing I did the other day. I made a statement that I was the pinball wizard of the state of Pennsylvania in the ’60s, to elicit one thing. Do you know how many guys have said, Wait a minute, you weren’t that good. I was better than you. When do you want to play again? So it did exactly what I wanted it to do. Just what these guys are doing when they get into their needling about who is the best video games guy. So they have their fun. Believe me, when they get on the practice court, they’re looking at film, they’re playing in the games, they understand what competition is about.
COACH CALIPARI: It’s just a different era. We’re deal ing with things in a different way. You just have to, we all are. Whether me or Bo, if Bo has a guy after a year, Bo is going to tell him to go for it if he’s a lottery pick. We’re all in the same thing. You don’t know when you recruit a kid if he’s going to leave after a year. You don’t know. You just coach them, then they make a decision what they want to do. We just try to make sure we make this about the kids. The reason things are different, 20 years ago NBA contracts were 125,000. Now if you’re a top-10 pick, it’s $25 million. Your next contract may be $8o million. That’s $100 million. You have to respect that. You have to respect these kids’ genius. You have to develop young people. People are looking at it and saying, one, we have great kids. Whether they chase their dream or not doesn’t make them good or bad, we have great kids. The second thing is our kids are connected. Anyone that knows any of our players that are in the NBA, not in the NBA, they are connected whether they stayed one year, two years, three. We are family, and they know that. They stay in touch. They text. We talk to them. I’ll go to games. They’ll come in for watching games. It’s just different. I think everybody’s now looking at this saying, It’s not my rule. As a matter of fact it’s not the NCAA’s rule. This is a rule between the NBA and the Players’ Association. It’s something that we can deal with in a way, let’s just worry about me as a coach and my program, I’m not worried about them. Get them to stay, force them to stay, don’t play them as much at the end of their year so they got to stay. Or you let them run and make a decision on what they want to do. They don’t always make the right decision now. Like sometimes they should stay, and they choose to live. Well, you got to live with that, too, because it’s their life, not my life.
COACH RYAN: Can I add? Nigel Hayes, after he said he was coming to Wisconsin, you can ask him this, said, Coach, now if I’m the Player of the Year my freshman year and I decide to go pro, is that okay with you?
COACH CALIPARI: No, you’re staying (laughter).
COACH RYAN: I had a young man, Are you serious, Nigel? I just said, Hey, sure, I have no problem with that. Did I know how good he was going to become? No. But he wasn’t MVP his first year. But, you know, by the time he’s finished, he might be pretty good. But that’s his sense of humor. When I was asked about our guys, the camaraderie, the fun they have, Nigel is one of the leaders in there.
COACH CALIPARI: I have the veterans come to my office before we left, tell them how proud we are of them. I looked at Willie, I said, Can you imagine, Willie? Tell these guys where I saw you play. In an AAU game. He said, I don’t want to remember. How many points did you get in that AAU game? He got two. The guy he who was guarding him was like 6’4″. He has come so far as a player, but more importantly as a person. He came in saying, you know what, I don’t like academics, I’m going to do what you’re making me do. He and I became book club members together. I would make him read books. He and I would discuss books. One of the things he said last year is, I’m enjoying school. That’s what we’re supposed to be about. This is supposed to be about the love of reading, the love of learning, understand an educated man doesn’t get robbed or fooled. If you think you’re coming here, getting all kinds of money, you’ll be broke. You educate yourself. You understand how to read contracts. Those are things that for these kids I’m most proud of. Now he’s going into his junior year, here is a kid that averages under double figures and is one of the top players in the country ’cause he’s that selfless about his team. It’s a good part about what we do, to see that kind of growth.
COACH RYAN: Well, we played Michigan State and we played Duke. We played Kentucky our last game last year. What I can say about the talent is there’s shooters, there’s ball handlers, there’s bigs. I mean, you can go from every aspect of the game of basketball and look at these four teams, there are guys that are just blue-collar guys that are there to rebound and play defense, there are guys that are there to score, there are guys that are there to kill you in the post, there’s guys defensively that can lock you down. I would say in this Final Four, having played all the teams within the past year, there’s a little bit of everything. It’s at a very high level.
COACH CALIPARI: I think, you know, that because the talent level is what it is, I think we’re all just worried about our own teams playing well. I just want my team — we’re not going to control what Wisconsin does. They’re going to play the way they play. I just hope my team plays well. I think if you talk to all four coaches, when you say, We’re stopping Wisconsin. We’re not stopping Wisconsin. I just hope my team plays well and then we’ll see how it plays out.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we didn’t have Willie. Marcus Lee played him some. We really played him with a bunch of different guys. I don’t think there’s one thing that we did. He missed some shots that he normally makes. Just looking at it, because I glanced at it again to make sure, What did we do? You know, played like we always play. Dakari Johnson played him a lot in that game and Marcus Lee was the other. I even think we put — I don’t know if we put any smaller guys on him, I can’t remember. We know how good he is. I just saw him out in the hallway. I said, Look, I’m so tired of looking at your tape right now. I said to Bo, we were laughing, how much better he’s gotten in a two-year period is almost scary. He and Dekker both. They both have a swagger about them, they both have a high belief in their teams. They know how they’re going to play. This is who we are. They do it.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I think it’s taken the NCAA 30 to 40 years, but they’re beginning to change now. I mean, right now we brought parents to the Final Four for the first time. My opinion, which I don’t give very often, I keep my opinions to myself, but in this case I’ll tell you. My opinion is the parents should come to every round. Why should the parents only come to the final round? What about the other 64 teams that played in this, why wouldn’t their parents enjoy being with them? We changed the food policy. We now can feed our kids. We’re not going to try to make them fat. You won’t believe this, we’re not going to try to feed them too much, but we’re going to feed them and we’ll make it as healthy as we can because that’s what we’re doing. I think what we’re doing with the stipends, I think we have to move to paying for their insurance. These kids have to pay their own disability insurance. It encourages them to leave early. Would you want a $100,000 debt to pay back. We should pay that. If a kid stays more than one year, maybe the NBA or someone else should pay for the loss of value. If you decide to stay longer, we’ll insure you if you choose to stay in school if that’s what they want to do so they’re not forced. I think the NCAA is moving in the right direction they need to move. It’s a slow-moving boat. But for 40 years, This is the way it is, we’re not changing. Now they’ve been forced to move in the direction of these young people. I think they’ve done a pretty good job here over the last year.
COACH RYAN: Well, I know there has been changes. I’ve been on the board of the NABC, I’ve lost track of the number, but I’m now on the Executive Committee, which means I’m getting close to being President of the Coaches Association. Cal is on the board now. We’ve been discussing this for a long time, about even in the Big Ten tournament, parking in Chicago for the parents, driving to games. For the NCAA tournament, you gave the figures. I don’t know the figures. You gave the figures. We’ve been asking for help for the parents to get to the games in the NCAA tournament at least for the finals is where we started for the Final Four. But then the more we talked about it, it’s like, for the whole NCAA tournament that parents should have some stipend. Isn’t it amazing that the basketball, men’s basketball tournament, men’s basketball, period, pays 90-some percent of the NCAA’s budget, expenses. Football had a championship game, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t the parents get taken care of to go see their kids play in the football championship game? Somebody told me that, but I never had it verified. John, if you’re shaking your head, and Hoops is agreeing with you, I’m not sure if I’m right. What I’m getting at is, all of a sudden football goes to a championship game. Oh, and then, for the men’s Final Four we’re going to take care of the parents for that, too. Well, thank you, that was awfully nice. But we think it should be for more. We’ve even in our own conference been trying to lobby for expenses for parents coming to the Big Ten tournament. It’s not going to be just in the Midwest, it’s going to be on the East Coast now. From our own conference which makes money from the Big Ten tournament, parents should get some help, some type of stipend.
COACH RYAN: No, not someone who — and it’s not the finish because Frank is still getting better. As soon as he gets some good coaching when he’s out of college, he’ll be really good (smiling). He’s worked at every drill. He’s worked at everything we’ve given him. He’s looked at the films. He’s very astute when it comes to picking up nuances of moves, using his body, positioning. So, you know, his family background, there’s athletes. His parents are very athletic, very smart. So we were getting a player who we knew was hungry and wanted to prove that he could get to be pretty good. We tend to enjoy having those kind of guys around. But for somebody to go to the level he has, from start to finish, no, I’ve never had a player like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coaches.
Video courtesy of NCAA March Madness
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the players. We’ll start with questions.
TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, we watched a lot of film last week on that first game, just looking at all the turnovers, a lot of mistakes we have. Duke is a great team. They were great then. We feel they’re a better team now than what they were earlier in November.
QUINN COOK: Agreeing with what Travis says, they’re a great team, we’re a great team. All four teams here are great. We played them our third game of the year, still trying to figure ourselves out. I guess it was their second game. We’re two different teams now. They’re way better. I feel like we’ve gotten better. Everyone is playing at championship level. Watching film of that game, more recently from how they’ve been playing, they’re playing as well as anybody. We got our hands full tomorrow or Saturday.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: One, he lied. I didn’t only score two points. I mean, it’s just crazy to think about the last three years of losing first round in the NIT against Robert Morris. Coming back and finding a way to get back to a title game, coming up short, having a chance to come back and do it again. With the guys that we got, it’s a special group. I mean, everybody on the team has a purpose. That’s how we play.
FRANK KAMINSKY: He’s a great player. He changes the game in so many different ways, offensively, defensively. You got to know where he is on the court at all times, he’s that good. Personality-wise, we’re talking about Super Smash Bros. on the way up here, so I feel like we would get along (laughter).
TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, definitely. Not only this week, but just driving in here, even today, all the media, all the things we’ve had to do. I’m appreciative of it. After everything I’ve been through for the past four years, makes it that much more memorable.
FRANK KAMINSKY: It does make it a little bit easier. It’s definitely not easy, but it makes it a little bit easier having seen opponents because you get to see their sets. You have a scouting report that’s just a year old. It’s not going to be easy. But Kentucky’s a really good team and we’re going to have to prepare as well as possible from them. We know they’re different from last year, so are we. So it’s going to be a good game.
QUINN COOK: My role is the same. Just continue to lead these guys. No player from our team has been here to the Final Four. New experience, we want to take it in, have fun. At the end of the day, we’re here to win games. Not change, just continue doing the great habits we’ve done all year, just have fun.
FRANK KAMINSKY: Yeah, Nigel’s a funny guy. It’s great being around so many characters on our team. It just makes this experience that much more memorable being around so many fun guys. It’s just been a great ride so far. Hopefully we get to stay here as long as possible.
TRAVIS TRICE: I’m just thankful. That’s the ultimate compliment, especially from a coach like Coach K, one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game. But I just try and focus and do what my teammates need, what our team needs to win. That’s all that’s going through my mind when I’m out there playing, what do I need to do to help us win.
FRANK KAMINSKY: We’ve seen Travis twice this year. We know how good he is. We know how he can inspire his team. He’s the leader of his team. He knows how to get his guys going. In that Big Ten title game, it was tough chasing him around for so long. You saw against Virginia in the tournament how he got hot to start the game, set the tone for his team. He’s a great player and he’s doing a great job leading his time.
FRANK KAMINSKY: I’ve been trying Captain Falcon. He’s really slow, so I think I’m going to go back to Kirby.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I play with Kirby just because he can change. He can change into anybody he’s playing against. And he flies around, so when you get knocked off the little stage, you can just fly back and you don’t have to worry about jumping.
FRANK KAMINSKY: Yes and no. I mean, we played Super Smash Bros in our hospitality room for a while last night while the barber was in there, hanging out, chilling out, having fun. When we got on the court today for practice, all seriousness. We know how to flip it when we need to.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Definitely respect. Just the road that everybody’s gone through to get here. Especially at the beginning of the season when they said this is going to be the people in the Final Four, it’s just crazy that those are the people in the Final Four now. But, I mean, just a great respect for each one of these players up here, and their teams. You know, each one of us is a big part of their team, the way they run things. It’s really just a good respect.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Us watching film, they run angles a lot. One of our biggest things in the Notre Dame game was giving up backdoors, easy baskets. They utilized that. They kind of pride themselves on, you know, exploiting people’s weakness and taking over from it. So that’s our biggest thing is not giving up easy baskets, not letting them play angles against us.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I think with the guys that we have, we’re going to do a lot of switching anyway. Not one person is going to be on that set player during the whole game. You know, everybody in practice has been guarding guards and bigs. We’re just kind of ready for everything.
FRANK KAMINSKY: Having so many tall, athletic players on our team, it definitely doesn’t make it easy. At the same time we know that we’re going to be able to get some stuff just like they’re going to be able to get some stuff going on on offense. It’s going to be a battle, we know that. They have like seven guys over 6’10”, so… It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait. It’s not going to be easy to prepare because obviously there’s no scout team in the country that can replicate what they have on their team. We’ll just be prepared for whatever.
FRANK KAMINSKY: A lot of it has to do with, if you look at these guys, the success they had in their college careers, I wanted that for myself. I wanted to work as hard as I could to get to this stage, be a good player. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I was willing to put in the time, effort and work to do so. It’s gone better, better than I planned. At the end of the day there’s still a lot of work left. I think I can still improve on my game and improve on the season.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Definitely. Especially the way Coach Cal coaches, it’s really high, it’s really quick. As freshmen coming in, you have to learn stuff at a way faster rate than other teams do because they have so many guys that have stayed. This year it was like that. We had the majority of our team that had played under him before. We already knew what the expectations was, everything like that. So it made it a lot easier.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I’m super excited to play. It’s a dream. When you’re young and you’re playing in your driveway, you’re playing one-on-one against yourself, this is the moment that you’re playing against. So it is definitely a dream and a blessing to be here. But I can’t say that I would have made a difference in the game. I’m not a fortune teller. I can’t really tell you that. I mean, I would like to think so, but I can’t really say on that.
TRAVIS TRICE: I think our camaraderie is what’s really gotten us to this point. We’ve kind of had an up-and-down year if you look at some of our losses. I think just staying the course really and never losing faith in our team or our abilities. But I think that speaks to your second question. We’re constantly together. Like Frank said, the hospitality room, we were there till 12:00, 1:00 last night. You really got to fight us to get away from each other. I think that’s a good thing and helps us in close games.
TRAVIS TRICE: He’s a matchup problem. He played well early on. He kind of hurt us when we played him. He’s gotten better since then, too. I think it’s their entire team. They’re a totally different team in a better sense than they were when we played them the first time. That’s why we’ve been studying film so much.
QUINN COOK: I’m like a kid in a candy store here. Obviously it being my first time, you know, I’ve had two early exits in the first rounds, losing to Louisville in the Elite 8, seeing those guys cut the nets down, celebrate, remembering that. It’s a blessing to be here, especially with these three guys. These four historic programs here, it’s a dream come true for myself. I’m blessed to be where I am on this team because we’ve been through a lot this year, a lot on the court, off the court. We always have trust in each other. Coach never gave up hope and always encouraged us. I’m just blessed to be up here.
QUINN COOK: It’s the Final Four. Everybody doesn’t get here. It’s a blessing to be one of the four teams remaining. I think those guys are having fun as much as I am. It was one of our goals to get here. We got a tough game on Saturday.
FRANK KAMINSKY: I learned that maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was at that point in time. Just going against a team like theirs, they have so many elite players on the court at all times, I just struggled and didn’t play as well as I wanted to. I think that was a big driving factor, motivating factor to try to get back here, try to play better than we did last year, hopefully come out on top. It going to be definitely tougher than last year, we know that. We’re going to do whatever we can to do so.
TRAVIS TRICE: Definitely. I mean, like Quinn said, these are four elite programs. The other three teams here are number one seeds. They definitely have more McDonalds All-Americans, more star power than we do. At the same time I feel that’s kind of what drove us to get here. Us against the world mentality, that’s helped us get through the season.
FRANK KAMINSKY: I feel like we’ve grown a lot in the NCAA tournament. We’ve gone through a lot of adverse situations so far and we’ve responded and played well enough to get here. It’s been a great ride. Hopefully we can continue with the success we’ve had so far.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Like what Frank said, we’ve been through a lot of adversity, kind of up and down. Playing the first round against Cincinnati, Notre Dame having a nail-biter. It’s been kind of up and down for us. As a group, you know, guys just stick together and stay the course, we were able to come up on top. To be in the situation we’re in right now is unbelievable. It’s crazy to think that last year after we lost, guys went back to the hotel and said, We’re coming back, we got to make it back to the tournament. It’s just crazy that it really came true like that.
QUINN COOK: Agreeing with Willie and Frank, it’s been a tough road. We had to grind out some games. Against Utah, we couldn’t hit a shot. Against Gonzaga, we had to get some stops. We couldn’t miss a shot at the end of the game. We’ve all had different paths. For us to be here is a blessing, like we all say. I think we’ve grown on the defensive end, taking pride at getting stops, stringing stops together, staying poised, staying together. Just agreeing with these two, it’s just unbelievable to be here. I’m thankful for it.
TRAVIS TRICE: I think adversity is what has gotten our team to this point. Midway through the year, we were on the bubble. People questioned whether we were going to get into the tournament. Because of that, we’ve banded together. I think we’re just peaking at the right time.
TRAVIS TRICE: Well, I slept most of the way down here (smiling). But it was kind of cool. We actually stopped on Dave and Buster’s on the way outside the city. Guys were excited. We’re going to take it all in. We’re blessed to be here. We’re just appreciative of it.
Video courtesy of UK BBL
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Video courtesy of zproductionz
On if it bothered him of how people's perception of their lifestyles in the classroom and having fun on the court at the same time changed over time …
“It didn't bother us because we knew it wasn't the truth. We know a lot of people say things about us and make their own theories about us, but it's not true. We're just student athletes like everyone else. We are required to go to class and make the grades. We're just like every other program in that sense.”
On people seeing their close games this year as them being vulnerable …
“There's been great teams, obviously, and I think every great team has been in close games. Nobody has run through a whole tournament, series or anything. You have to prove how to win tough games, to be a great team. The close calls that we've had this season helped us win the last game and other close games before that. I think it's made us a stronger team.”
On his thoughts of motivation from losing last year in the championship game and how he thinks Wisconsin is using their loss to Kentucky last year as motivation …
“When you get this close into the Final Four, everyone is motivated. I think that we have a chip on our shoulder and have a lot to prove. I'm not sure how other teams feel, but I know we're as motivated as we've ever been and even more. We're just going out and trying to win games, make statements, and play as hard as we can.”
On how this Final Four feels compared to last year's …
“I think last year we were just excited to be there. This year we're not going to be satisfied with just the feeling. We're just going up there to win.”
On the development of Tyler Ulis this season …
“It's tough being here overall and Tyler, being the small guy, is obviously tough. Everybody knows he's a tough kid. He's overcome so many people saying he's too small and things like that. He's a big reason we're in the Final Four and a big part of our team. He's a great player.”
On Willie Cauley-Stein playing in the game vs. Wisconsin this year as opposed to being hurt last year …
“Having Willie on the floor is obviously a huge help. He's probably the best defender I've ever seen in person. He's a big help.”
On how it's tough being here at Kentucky …
“Just in general. Everything you do is under a microscope. You're just overly criticized. It's tough being a young man here, but it's not a bad place to be obviously. We have a great amount of fun.”
On how late in games you have to shift from unselfish play to a ‘I have to score' mentality …
“It's a role you have to play. Karl (Towns) had it going obviously. Nobody could stop him. We just kept feeding him. For me, I had the feeling that my team needed a momentum change so I wanted to be that. That's just what you do when you have a lot of great guys that can do that. It's the benefit of being on a great team with other great players.”
On the definition of Kentucky defense …
“Playing with energy and just helping each other out on defense and just having each other's back.”
On which game felt the closest to getting away (losing) …
“Probably just the last game (vs. Notre Dame) and you know it being so close you know guys just stepped up and made plays.”
On if the talk earlier in the year of Kentucky ruining college basketball bothered you and how you feel now its swinging the other way with making grades and playing unselfishly …
“We weren't bothered by it because we knew what really what the deal was. We did everything everybody else does basically. We just stayed together and didn't listen to it.”
On the philosophy of the rotations when Coach uses different combinations based on matchups and situations and how you have adjusted …
“That's what makes him such a good coach. He knows what's best for us. He's going to do everything for the team to win. He's going to put the guys in there that are going to battle and just compete.”
On going into this final four compared to last year …
“Last year it wasn't expected. This year it's expected from us so you know we are going out there to win and last year it kind of just felt like we were happy to be there.”
On playing against this matchup last year without Willie Cauley-Stein and how having him this year will change things or do differently …
“It's going to be great. He matches up well with the guys they have on the floor. It gives us just another weapon that we didn't have last year.”
#12, Karl-Anthony Towns
On your definition of Kentucky defense ...
"Energy. (Everything) starts with energy and just make sure that we get contested shots at all times, no open shots, and just help each other out as much as possible."
On the problems that Frank Kaminsky creates for opponents ...
"Kaminsky is a great player and it is going to be just one competitive game. I really can't wait to play."
On staying poised and winning close games throughout the year ...
"I think it's implemented in us through our years of playing basketball. It's just always trying to win every game that we possibly play at any given cost. I think it has also been learned this year a little bit in learning to find ways to win by out smarting opponents in clutch time. I think that's what we've done a great job of this year is when the game gets really tight, we step up as a team and we come together instead of falling apart from each other."
On the journey of where this team was in October to where this team is now ...
"In October it is hard to think of being 38-0 in the Final Four. It's never been done before and obviously coming in I knew my brothers had a great amount of talent but we never knew we were going to gel so well and the season was going to go the way it went. We are blessed for this opportunity and we want to try to end the season with no regrets and that is what we are trying to do."
Maker’s Mark’s first bottle to be released as part of a series to raise money for a new UK Athletics Academic Center will be released on Friday.