Kentucky Basketball Friday Press Conference Quotes

NCAA Tournament Press Conference
Des Moines, Iowa
March 18, 2016


John Calipari


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Coach John Calipari. Congratulations on the win last night.

Q. Would you describe your relationship with Coach Crean? He had a lot of nice things to say about you and how much he's learned from you over the years.
JOHN CALIPARI: We go way back, ties too Pittsburgh. We both were assistant coaches there. I've always respected his work habits, his basketball knowledge. I loved being around guys that like to talk basketball and X and O and do goofy stuff like that and salt shakers and moving stuff around and he's one of those kind of guys. He's into basketball.

Then we played against each other when he was at Marquette and when he went to Indiana, which I told him, you know, he's got one of the great jobs in the country. We played against each other. We knew your team better be ready or you're going to get beat. We stay in touch. We talk once every couple of weeks or so.

Q. John, Tom said when he was in here that there is no door that's been closed that couldn't be reopened with the rivalry and playing on a regular basis. What's your view on that and what chance do you see --
JOHN CALIPARI: At this point it would -- for the next few years, because we're in all these kind of events it's probably not an option, but what I said before, and Coach Hall said to me, this used to always be neutral, when Coach Knight was there, it was always a neutral game and that's all I proposed.

I even said, let's play it in Indianapolis every year, play it in the football stadium. We will get 75 or 80,000 people there and it will be a crazy game. I understand they need home games and that's what they want. There is no issue with me. We've got our schedule. They've got theirs. It hasn't hurt, us and it hasn't hurt them.

Q. Coach, you're scheduled the first game of the double header tomorrow, and normally Kentucky is the main event. So I didn't know if you had a preference in playing the first game or the second and if there is any difference in the preparation of how you approach the two?
JOHN CALIPARI: I'm just happy it's not at midnight! They kinda try to slide us in that slot or that 10:30 slot in the morning. So it's in the middle of the day, we're fine. Doesn't matter to me, and if -- what I do know is that our tournament, SEC Tournament games were the highest rated for that weekend of all the conferences.

So we are a team that rates high if they put us on TBS or wherever they put us, it will be a highly-rated game and if CBS thinks there's another game that will rate higher than our game with Indiana that's their choice. I'm not worried about it. We're going to be playing a tough opponent.

Q. Coach, do you see comparisons between Yogi Ferrell and Ulis? What are your impressions of Yogi?
JOHN CALIPARI: Both of them are -- they both lead their teams. Yogi is probably more of a perimeter shooter than Tyler, and I think Tyler is probably more of a mid-range game than Yogi. But I think they both play extremely hard, extremely smart, know how to create fouls, know how to turn down pick and rolls, know when to speed up their team and when to say, hold up, guys, let's play basketball here. They're both very, very good players.

Q. Along those lines, is Tyler one of those guys that when he sees that guy across from him that he knows is supposed to be a great player that it lights that fire a little extra for him?
JOHN CALIPARI: You would have to ask him. I don't believe so, but you would have to ask him. I think he is one even this year that if we lose a game, there will be one guy crying and that's him. We've lost some games this year and he's tearing up now. So as much as you think it's the mono-mono with him, he wants to win. Last year in this tournament we lost, he was bawling! He was one of the few, but and he one or two of the other guys were crying. But he was -- you know, he wants to win!

Q. When you guys have been at your best these last 11, 12, 13 games what is going so well for you now that makes you so difficult to beat. Along those lines Indiana talked about them expecting this to be an up-tempo, high-paced kind of game. If so, do you see it that way?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we're healthy. The injuries that we had this year kinda helped our depth. In other words, when Alex went down we found out we have Derek Willis. When Derek Willis went down we found out that Isaac is a pretty good player, too. When Dom went down we were able to play Charles. All of the sudden they're all back. They're all healthy. We got a full team. That has helped us.

Also the efficiency we're playing with offensively really comes back to Tyler and Jamal. Jamal has become a volume scorer, yet not a volume shooter. That helps our team, because it gives us balance. We're expecting this game to be fast. I can remember when we played these guys and they had us play them in 2012, I believe, that game was in the 90s, and it was a high-flyin', fast, you know, played fast kinda game. So I would expect this to be the same.

Q. Does that play to your strengths?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, we could play either way if you've watched us. I like to teach a grind-it-out game so if the game is close and you need to use the last three or four possessions to win the game you know how to play that way. They've run -- it's funny, when you prepare for them they're going to run 102 things on the right side and 113 on the left and flip guys -- so you've gotta coach principles versus what they're using, the plays they're using.

Tommy does a great job of putting his guys in great positions, using the talents that he has, you know. The guys that should be diving are diving. The guys that should be shooting are shooting. The guys that should be driving are driving.

So it will be -- it's a hard game to prepare for, but to be honest, again, I come back to, I'm really concerned about my team and what we have to do to be able to play in a game like this.

Q. Coach, couple days ago you said nobody has more fun on the court than Jamal Murray. Is that part of the reason he has an ability to work through touch stretches when they happen like they did in the first half?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think so. But let me just say as a coach, it's a ball coaching him because if I walk in the gym and I'm not smiling, he will say, Coach, Coach, and he'll go (smiling) like, get me to smile. Like smile, man, we're in practice! This is good stuff!

I always tease him, how old are you? I said, how old is Lamar, his brother, 8. I said, how old are you? Coach, you know how old I am. But if you ask him who has more fun, he's going to look around the room and say, no one. And if you've had a child you ask that of your child, bouncing around, doing things, laughing. Who has more fun than you? My own son, Brad, no one! That's how he is!

But if you can play to your strengths for your team and stay focused on what you do well, you can have a ball playing this game. It's when you are listening to people tell you how to play to help you and do this and you need to do that and if you do this -- you can't have fun with all the cluttered thoughts.

These kids now, we've gone five months. They know exactly how they should play to be their best version, they know, and to help their team the most. They know. Now, they may choose not to do it all the time because they got other things in their game they need to show people which doesn't help their team.

But this team right now has settled in on how they have to play, and so as Indiana, how they have to play to win, what I look like when I'm at my best, what we look like when we're at our best. And let's play with great energy and go have a ball.

Q. Can you talk about the rivalry between these two programs?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, obviously we haven't played for a few years, but I think, you know, both Indiana, Kentucky, you could say Kansas, you could say North Carolina, they're a bunch of programs that they would call the "blue bloods" and I think, you know, you all -- all of us, the fans, they all watch those others, UCLA, more than likely do not root for those others. It's just how it is.

So with us and Indiana being fairly close, you know, it's that kind of game. It will be -- the fans on both sides will be into it and it should be good.

Q. Cal, did the court rush in that 2011-12 game have any impact --
JOHN CALIPARI: The what?

Q. Court rush where it was hard for your guys to get off in Indiana. Did that have an impact in you not wanting the game to be played there?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, it's just that you have to figure out how many home and homes you really want to play and when you come down to it you just -- look, we should be playing -- if you hear Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA, Duke, well, you can't play everybody. Well you should you're at Kentucky, really?

We should play everybody? Why don't we all play everybody and we'll just do a Round Robin between those nine programs and that will be our nonconference schedule? We'll play each other. I'll go for it if everybody else does. Well I'll have my hand up by myself. We play who we play and they play who they play and it's done.

I mean, I've said I would have done it neutral, but we've added the CBS Classic with North Carolina and the guys, we've added the ESPN Classic with Duke and the guys. We've got a game in the Bahamas and we play a couple other games that are home and homes and we got that Challenge, which I can't stand. January, had to go to Kansas. Come on!

Q. Specifically, what did you want your team or need your team to do to beat Indiana tomorrow night?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, look, I just want them to play their best, be their best version, play with confidence, just go play, have fun playing and if it's not good enough, it's been a heck of a season. This is not life or death, really want to win the game, want to win it for those kids and the state and all that stuff, but the reality of it is let's just do our best.

We'll figure out what that means. I imagine Tom is saying the same thing to his team. It should be a great game that should be played next weekend.

Q. How impressed have you been with Skal and the way he's handled everything this year and come through it to this point?
JOHN CALIPARI: I'm really proud of him. He's -- if you know, he's a wonderful young man. If you hear about his story you would be amazed that he's even standing, let alone playing college basketball. He's a great student, he's a great teammate, he just was behind. He was behind physically he was behind mentally he was behind exerting himself, knowing how hard you have to do this, physically -- he was just behind. But you see spots of him and you say, oh, my gosh, look at his jump hook. He looks like Kareem! Then you see him shooting 15-footers and you say he may be their best shooter and then he gets pushed around. He gets tired and humps over. He's just coming into his own right now.

My thing to him is when he plays worried we all see it. When he plays excited about playing, just be excited about being on the court, you see it. Last game he played excited. There are games that he's played worried, anxious. Well, you can't play that way. The way to build confidence is do what you do best and don't do that other stuff. That takes your confidence away.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Best of luck tomorrow.

Marcus Lee
Derek Willis
Jamal Murray
Tyler Ulis


THE MODERATOR: Welcome the Kentucky student-athletes. Questions for our student-athletes?

Q. Tyler, you talked a little bit about the match-up last night but when you look at Yogi Ferrell how do you assess his game, what's he good at? Are there ways that you two are similar and what do you expect in that match-up?
TYLER ULIS: I haven't seen him play that much to think too deep into you it. But I have to prepared to play, but it's not a one-on-up with match-up. We've to prepare as a team.

Q. Tyler and Derek, when things have gone right for you in the last 11 or 12 games what makes it so difficult to beat that maybe you didn't see necessarily in October and November, and when things are going wrong what are the things going wrong?
TYLER ULIS: Offensively, I feel like we're doing a better job spacing the floor, and when Derek is playing the floor it gives us more opportunity to get in the lane because they can't leave certain shooters and defensively I feel like at this moment in time we're focusing on the scouting reports and playing a lot better.

DEREK WILLIS: I would say the same thing. I feel like we're going to bring more energy and more intensity and once we get going it's hard to stop us.

Q. Jamal, growing up in Canada what was your perception of the biggest college rivalries in basketball and where would Kentucky and Indiana have ranked?
JAMAL MURRAY: You know, growing up I didn't watch a lot of basketball. So I didn't know about the rivalry and stuff, but being part of it now just kinda get a feel for playing against Louisville and stuff I got a feel for how the environment is going to be and how hard teams come at us and I know we've got to be ready. We can't come in lax and casual, we gotta be ready to fight.

Q. Jamal, I know I asked you about it last night. Can you talk a little bit about your performance last game and are you at all concerned about the slow start that you had moving into this next game against a much tougher opponent?
JAMAL MURRAY: No, it's not about my start. I know I started off pretty bad and I missed shots that I don't normally miss. I got it going the second half and I've got to carry that into this game and new day, new game. I have to take it one step at a time.

Q. For any of you guys, last night Coach Cal said that he had asked that you all not really worry about what other teams were doing in the tournament. Michigan State just lost, so I don't know how much you guys follow the other teams in the tournament.
DEREK WILLIS: I feel like I don't watch a lot of basketball anyway, so we're just focused on ourselves and what we have to accomplish during this tournament, and, you know, that's all it is.

JAMAL MURRAY: You know, we just can't worry about what's going on out there. We've got to focus on our game because this is for our season, this is for us and we'll get back to them later. We've just got to focus on winning and make sure our team is ready to go to war.

MARCUS LEE: Like they said, we're more focused on our own team and what's in front of us. Not really worried about the rest of the teams and what's happening out there.

TYLER ULIS: Well, you know, since there is not much to do in the hotel I do watch a lot of the games, but it doesn't really affect us with them losing because that's not who we have to play. We're just worried about the opponent we have.

Q. Tyler and Marcus, Indiana talked both the players and Coach Crean about how they really want to play a high-scoring, up-tempo kind of game. Your thoughts about that? They talked about your defense and how that's going to be tough but that's the style they want to play. How does that fit with your game plan and how do you see this game going?
TYLER ULIS: You're going to have to win this game with defense so, you know, we don't want them scoring really high. But if it is, Coach talked about it earlier we have to outscore 'em ask we're going to come down focus defensively and try to lock in.

MARCUS LEE: I think Coach said it perfectly if they want to run, let's run. We obviously don't have a problem getting out there and running. Offense isn't the only thing we do we strive playing defense and that's what we're going to try to work on.

Q. Jamal, the bow and arrow celebration you did a few weeks ago got quite a bit of attention. Were you channeling Wesley Matthews there? How did that come about?
JAMAL MURRAY: No, we don't pay attention to it anymore. It's just kind of a thing that I do and the bench does and he started in the Ohio State game and kind of been doing it every since late January, and I just do it now and I don't pay attention to who else does it.

Q. Did the bench guys come up with that routine on their own?
JAMAL MURRAY: That was all them. My job was to shoot them with the arrow and EJ Floreal and Mychal and all them just did their own thing.

Q. Tyler, Cal was telling us last night if we ever see him and you laughing together during a game it's because he's telling you something like this coaching thing isn't as easy as it may look sometimes. As you've become more of his coach on the floor as everyone says, what have been the biggest challenges as you try to facilitate this offense?
TYLER ULIS: You know, it's really easy now because everybody knows what they're supposed to do as a team. Earlier it was a little rough but everybody is doing their job, everybody is in the right places at the right time and we're rolling right now.

Q. If you guys could describe a little bit what it is like to play for Kentucky. From what I understand, it's probably every other team's biggest game. How has that prepared you for a huge game such as this even though it's just the second round of the tournament?
DEREK WILLIS: I mean, I feel like for our college basketball program we put up with a lot day-to-day, we deal with fans, signing autographs, taking pictures and I don't feel like other college programs do. Also when we go to away games, it's a Super Bowl game for them, free T-shirt day, everything. So I don't know, I feel like we're accustomed to it now and it's expected when you come here.

JAMAL MURRAY: Yeah, we just gotta know that going into every game that we're going to get a team's best shot and the there is no different facing a very good team, we can't let our guard down and we just government to know that this team is ready to fight tore their season and we don't want our season to end so that's what we're fighting for.

MARCUS LEE: You go out and every team is giving you their best, like they said it's their Super Bowl game and that prepares us throughout the year seeing as we go on to the tournament and everybody is playing like it's their last game but everybody else is not used to that where we're used to that because we get it every day.

TYLER ULIS: Like they said, we're accustomed to the environment. Every game it's a sell-out, white-out, black-out, and it just prepared us for this.

Q. Marcus and Derek, Marcus you touched on everybody is playing it could be their last game. If it is your last game, how do you feel like this season has turned out for you guys given the adversities you've been through, and if you do advance to the Sweet 16, what would that mean for this program in terms of its long and storied tradition?
MARCUS LEE: I think adversity makes the team. We've been through a whole lot of things. We've been trying to figure out a lot of things and individually we had a lot of ups and downstairs and it brought us all together. As we go on it kinda makes it as a new story. We're doing what we need to be doing.

DEREK WILLIS: Yeah, I mean, same. People -- as college kids you go through a lot. You go through life, you get injured, stuff happens. So, I don't know, it's all made us stronger. We know our roles, what we want to do, where we want to go. So we're just trying to win and move forward from there.

Q. Tyler, can you just tell me what your impression is of Yogi Ferrell and his assets that he brings to the game and what you like or think will be difficulty about that match-up?
TYLER ULIS: Well, you know, he's a great player, experience, he's been there four years and I know he's going to come out ready to play. But I'm going to come out and play the game like I always do and try and make things happen.

Q. Derek and Marcus, most of you guys were 4 or 5 years old when Bobby Knight last coached at Indiana. What are your strongest associations with that program? What do you think re do you think of when you think of Indiana?
DEREK WILLIS: I guess I always think of when you say Bob Knight was he the guy that threw the chair, right? That's about all I can associate with him. I don't know. I never really watched a lot of basketball growing up. I was always doing something else. That's about all I can remember.

MARCUS LEE: Like I said, the other day, it's like a childhood dream watching rivalry week and you see all these big games going on, so to finally be a part of it and make history like that is huge.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Best of luck tomorrow.