Full transcript from John Calipari press conference after UK’s 90-83 overtime win over Missouri.
COACH CALIPARI: Let me answer some questions so I can go do my radio show and go home and go to sleep.
Q. We don’t often here opposing coaches praise your toughness. He called that the difference in the second half.
COACH CALIPARI: I love how Archie (Goodwin) got us going in the second half. (Alex) Oriakhi is really good and really physical. We did a good job. He didn’t score on Willie (Cauley-Stein); he scored if Willie had to help and got 16 and 15.
(Phil) Pressey is one of the best point guards you’ll see and plus he made shots today so it made it even tougher. We tried everything, showing hard, walling up, switching, big guy on him, small guy on him. He still had his way.
I was proud of, one, the way Alex (Poythress) played. That’s the best he played all year and I can go to him. Run something and we’re going to throw it to you because they can’t guard you.
Ryan (Harrow) played well again. Eight rebounds, six assists. We will win games if he plays like that.
Julius (Mays) was terrific. The shots he made and the leadership. Look, there was a play where Ryan let a guy turn down a pick-and-roll and I said, Ryan. Julius looks at me, I got it. What’s better that way? Coming from a teammate. C’mon, man, you can’t do that.
We left a corner. They’re starting to be empowered, and if they’re empowered they’re going to be better. That’s what you’re starting to see.
Q. Talk about the rebounding.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we had to go with Alex and Willie. I thought, again, our guards went in and rebounded. When you talk about Ryan Harrow coming up with eight rebounds, Alex had seven, and Julius Mays, two of our guards had 14 rebounds. Well, we have to do that. That’s what we’re going to have to do.
It was one of those gut it out games. Did you all go nuts that Julius didn’t throw that ball in regulation? I didn’t see it, the guy was in between. Just play.
What I told them after, what I’ve been trying to tell them all year, guys, if you miss a shot or turn it over or break down defensively, forget about it and just keep battling. They did a lot of that today.
We broke down. Like Archie let the kid go and shoot a layup. We’re going to shadow. But I just said, that’s okay, just keep playing. We had some bad turnovers late in regulation, bad turnovers, but we just kept playing.
Two weeks ago those turnovers would have led us to let go of the rope, and we didn’t today.
Again, when our guard play is good, we’ll be fine.
Q. Along those lines, you talk about you tried everything on Pressey. Make a mistake, keep going. What does it say about your guys where they’re coming fortitude wise?
COACH CALIPARI: The biggest thing is they had a collective will to win today. Again, I said we have to have two ‘oh my gosh’ plays by Archie. As long as it’s only two. If it’s four our five, we got problems. He had a couple of those today.
But they all had a will to win. They all went after balls, tried to defend and do what they could do.
Q. Frank Haith said he thought the crowd was really good for you guys.
COACH CALIPARI: It was. I should have started by saying that. This was as good a crowd and as impactful a crowd as I’ve ever coached in a building. This team needs that. Like the next game, they need to come back and do that again. Then that last game, they need to do exactly the same thing.
We need that extra that pushes us through, a missed shot, a turnover, where we get by it quicker. But that was a great crowd, as good as we’ve had.
Q. What do you think ignited Alex there in the second half?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. I don’t know. You have to ask him when he comes out. What were you doing today? What happened?
The last game, his monitor showed that he was in the max range for like 15 minutes, which is 13 minutes longer than any other time, 13 minutes longer in the max zone. I guess this game it’s even higher. We’re trying to figure out if he’s switching monitors with somebody, but we don’t think he is (laughter).
Q. You said you like this team. Where you were last Saturday, where you are right now, how much more likable are they?
COACH CALIPARI: Again, it’s funny, because we’re Kentucky. If we get beat, get beat bad, it’s a big deal. Other teams get beat bad, they’re a 4 seed, a 6 seed, 5 seed. This is Kentucky. We just lost and were devastated by our heart and soul taken away from us, have to go on the road and play an inspired team in a sold out building and got smashed.
I’ve done this a long time. I’ve been through this before. It didn’t have any effect on me. Let me get my team right. I’m trying to keep these guys in the moment.
We got better today. We showed some things that now we know we can do. They’re having confidence, not because of how I’m coaching, you’re really good. I coached them good. Demonstrated performance brings their confidence out. Willie is more confident because of how he’s playing. Ryan is, as well.
It’s not that, you’re okay, kid. No, you have to go on the court and battle and fight and bring that out of yourself.
They’re all doing it right now.
Q. I remember you saying earlier in the season that your guys play better when they not fear the opponent but sense they have to play against an opponent. How much do you think that applied to this game?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. I just know that I’ve got a really young team. I was throwing football with them last night. I’m doing whatever I can to get their minds off basketball. We’ve already prepared, you’re ready to go, let’s go play the game.
The next game on our schedule is the biggest game on our schedule, the next one. Everybody wants to talk the NCAA tournament. I’m going to tell you what I said. It’s a Bell curve, folks. They’re going to take 68 teams. They’re not going to say, This year we’re taking 46. So that means some teams that have F’s are passing. It’s a Bell curve.
All we have to do is take care of our business. If we do that, okay. If everybody loses, they lose, everybody loses, they’re taking a couple of us. You can have an F and get in. It’s a Bell curve.
You have a couple teams. I think Indiana is a little bit better than everybody. Tommy (Crean) is doing a great job. Miami, who I thought might have been the best team in the country, other than Indiana, what did they get beat by at Wake (Forest)? By 15. This team is supposed to be good. They got beat by 30. This team, supposed to be in the Final Four, they got beat by 30 the other day.
How good can we be before this season ends? Let me say this. Our point guard was out early. Willie was out two weeks. We got our big guy going. We’re trying to get back to how we have to play. I’m proud of these guys.
Q. On throwing football with the team.
COACH CALIPARI: Of all the people who could really throw it, me. I was throwing tight spirals. But I grew up in western PA. Willie, I threw seven foot high balls. He dropped a couple. ‘I wasn’t watching.’ We had some guys throw it, it wasn’t good. Just to take their minds off basketball.
We may do some other stuff just to keep these guys in the right frame of mind. Like I said, they’re happy with each other. They’re starting to be empowered where they’re holding each other accountable. Way better than when a teammate says, Listen to me. Exactly what I say. It’s better coming from a teammate than me. It is. They take it better. Because if it comes from me, He’s always so negative. What about your teammate? But that’s my teammate, he can say that. What are you talking about? It’s all what we’re trying to do to grow up and get better.
I’m going out to do my radio show.
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