Kentucky-Alabama Postgame Quotes

March 5, 2014

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Head Coach John Calipari

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. In the second half, you didn't exactly shoot lights out, but you made a few shots.

COACH CALIPARI: We shot 32% for the game and won. I'm happy. We're still not all the way back. Guys were really tentative. James Young, 1 for 11. Aaron (Harrison) was 1 for 6 from the three. We had open looks and passed on open looks.

Look, this is a young team. They got a little rattled. An overtime loss, go to South Carolina, had what happened there. They're a little rattled, but they're fine. They're fine. They're having a ball.

Q. With James Young's poor shooting night, do you want him to keep shooting?

COACH CALIPARI: I just said, ‘You're not going to shoot open shots, you got to come out.’ Now you're playing four against five.

He and Aaron both had open shots. You got to shoot it. You got to be confident. You don't have to shoot a three, step in. You don't even have to bounce it, just don't stand out wide.

We did some things in the second half to get the ball to the baseline. I thought we did a better job of that. But we still missed every open play.

I thought Dakari (Johnson) was outstanding. Willie (Cauley-Stein) did a pretty good job defensively. But Dakari did some great stuff to get baskets for us when we needed it.

Then as bad as James shot it, he makes a 3 that matters and three free throws that matter. That was big. That was big. We could have lost the game.

Like I said, Alex (Poythress) didn't play as well as he's been playing. I'm so happy for Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson. Both of them scored. Jon scored two 3s. One they waved off.

Q. Cal, there was a play where Dakari hit a shot, you gave Jon Hood a high five.

COACH CALIPARI: Jon Hood said, ‘Coach, I'm telling you, the lob is there.’ We were in the huddle. Hoody is telling us that lob is there. That's why I walked down. He said it in the huddle.

Q. You talked a little bit about it on the radio last night. How much is your hip bothering you this season?

COACH CALIPARI: It's been bothering me. But I got no excuse. I'm just a negative guy (laughter).

Q. Are you on pain medication right now (laughter)?

COACH CALIPARI: Oh, my goodness (laughter).

I'm going to say this: If Alan (Cutler) chased me, he could catch me.

Q. Has that been a rough thing, though, to deal with in season?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, but c'mon. I mean, I got a massage today. We're winding it down. I'm fine. I did take some painkillers. I don't take aspirin, drugs, nothing. Never smoked. I'm like ridiculous. But I took four straight days of pain pills so I could sleep. I said, ‘I'm not doing it. I stopped.’

I'm fine. Look, I'm old. I used to be young. I'm old. I'm going to have to have my hip replaced. I don't know.

Q. When you said the players are fine, they're having fun. Watching them, it doesn't always look that way.

COACH CALIPARI: Let me say this. I said this the other day. You remember when John Wall came in and said, ‘I'm not having any fun.’ It really got rough. He wasn't playing as well. They were playing a way to make the game tougher for him.

That's part of being here. Then it's highlighted here because of all the glow, the other stuff, a hundred cameras, all that.

But there's no better place to coach or play than here. I just keep telling them, ‘You have to have more fun than the other team. You have to.’ If we lose, I've said this for five years, who is taking responsibility? I will take responsibility. If we win, they get all the glory. So play. If we lost today, I was going to say it was me again.

I'm so mean, I didn't kiss them enough. I tried to kiss the kid on the mouth. He wouldn't take it. I would have taken responsibility. Just play.

You know, the other thing is to tell them that we're here and we're all in this together for them. But they're young. I mean, I don't read it and hear it, but I imagine they may. I have five filters before it gets to me. Any tweets, Facebook, articles written, it will go through five people before I read it, which means I don't read it.

You know what, I read stuff about me sometimes. I imagine they're reading stuff about them. Got to deal with it.

The biggest thing, today was a little bit better. When adversity hits, we have not responded here with this group. Instead of coming together when it hits, they go apart.

Now, the other side of it is when we get down 12 or 15, what happens? They fight and claw and get back in the game. So my thing is, play that way the whole time. Play like you're down 15.

That was a tough zone for us to go against, too, by the way. It's a different kind of zone. It's a 1-1-3 zone. That middleman clogs. You don't get as much drive. You have to throw it to the baseline, which we started doing. It's a different kind of zone.

Again, we got a bunch of young guys out there, talking them through stuff.

Let me just say, you shoot 32% and win, you're really happy as a coach. You're happy.

Q. There was a stretch in the second half you were getting after it. Andrew (Harrison) dove on the floor.

COACH CALIPARI: We're getting there.

Q. How much of that happens only when shots fall?

COACH CALIPARI: That's the young guys. That's what we're trying to battle a little bit. Like I said, at the end of the day, you and I know we just had to win this game. Didn't matter the score. Could have been a half-court bank shot. We have to keep building.

We have a day off tomorrow, two days, a noon game down in Florida. Absolute war. It will be a hard game for us. But it's a great game for us. It's exactly what this team needs.

Q. Talking about that Florida game, there's so many storylines you can look with them trying to go 18-0. What are you going to zone in on for that game?

COACH CALIPARI: Haven't even thought about it.

Q. Like you are playing with house money?

COACH CALIPARI: Haven't thought about it. I'm trying to figure out if I'm coming back next year or not (laughter).

I didn't do a press conference. I didn't have anything to say. Couldn't talk about the officials, and I couldn't talk about the last 10 minutes, I wasn't there. I didn't do it. All of a sudden it's like people are going nuts, losing their minds.

Q. What is the mark that Jarrod and Jon left on this program?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, they're two of the most loved players, maybe other than Darius (Miller), that I've coached here. But they're right there with him.

They're both going to have great careers because of what they've done here. Both of them already have companies that have called them about, Hey, what are you doing after you're done playing? They both have grown as young men. Jon Hood especially.

I mean, this kid, I'd like to be around him all day. Those first two years were so hard and so tough on him. It's like he said at the end of last year, I hated everybody. I hated you, coach. Now I have fun every day. I want to be coached. I'm better. I'm the best I've ever been as a player.

He's played with more NBA players than any other player in history. He played with more in his time here.

Both of them have benefited. We both benefited by having them here.

Q. You said you have five filters before anything gets to you. How did it get to you about there was some talk about you not coming in back?

COACH CALIPARI: When I went in the office, my secretary asked me, Are you not coming back next year? She said it was on Around the Horn, it was on First Take and they're doing a 30 for 30 movie on it. Really? Then Dan Patrick talked about it, Andy Katz already has my replacement.

Because I didn't do a post-game interview? Wow! We're not the most overanalyzed program in the country. I was wrong when I said that.

Q. You are coming back?

COACH CALIPARI: I hope. If I get through the hip surgery.

Again, guys, understand, tough for these kids what we've been through. But they hung tough and did it. Even now you got a couple guys that you could see were still not through the dregs of what we went through. But we win, we move on, we see what happens from here.

Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#44, Dakari Johnson, C

On whether he feels like he is getting more comfortable as an offensive threat…
“Yes, I feel like when I get established, it’s easier for me to score. And, that’s due to the coaching staff just helping me every day before practice. Just learning new post-up moves to get position and stuff like that.”

On whether he felt like the team really needed a win tonight…
“You know, we felt like we just needed to get back on that path of just winning. Just getting the feeling of how it feels to win and I think this is just a good start for us and, hopefully, we can just carry it on.”

On where the team was confidence-wise before coming into this game…
“We just needed a win. That was the main thing. It wasn’t desperate. It wasn’t a must-win but we knew as a team that we had to win this game.”

#3, Jarrod Polson, G

On what was going through his mind during the senior day ceremony …
“Honestly, just how blessed I am to be a part of this. That was just kind of a final hooray for all of the cool blessings that I have had to experience in my four years here.”

On sharing the moment with fellow senior Jon Hood…
“We were talking about it all day. He was talking about how he was going to shoot 15 shots in the first three minutes, and he was almost there. We were both really excited this whole past week. It was really fun for us.”

On how they are preparing the younger guys for postseason play…
“Mainly just by talking to the guys. Me and (Jon) Hood, we haven’t played that much in tournament times, but we’ve been there and know what it’s like. It’s win or go home. Pretty much it’s just going to be getting in their ears and telling them you can’t let up at all once the tournament starts. If you let up at all, it’s over.”

#4, Jon Hood, G

On getting that flip shot off in time…
“Yes. 18 people have told me that I got it off in time. I cannot go back, I went kind of ballistic on the court, sorry for everyone who was close enough to hear me what I said. Mr. (Joe) Lindsay who was refereeing the game told me that they could not go back and review it since it was not the last ten minutes of the game. We still got a win so it doesn’t really matter.”

On teammates struggling from the perimeter…
“I think that our guys right now have a conscience and something as a shooter, as a scorer you cannot have. You have to continue to think next, next, keep going and keep moving on to the next shot, and moving the next play and the next free throw”

On playing Florida next…
“We lost a tough one here a couple of weeks ago, and we just want to go down and play like we know how. If we play like we know how everything should work out and everything should be fine.”

Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant

Opening statement …
“I thought our guys really competed tonight. The difference in the game to me was offensive rebounding and the free throw line. Obviously, we knew coming into the game Kentucky was the best team in offensive rebounding in the country and we would have to do a great job rebounding with their size and physicality. It was an issue in both halves. I thought in the first half, we had opportunities to create some separation, but their ability to rebound the basketball really affected us, and even in the second half more so. I thought they did a really good job of attacking and taking care of our mistakes, especially early in the half taking away some momentum, getting some energy back in the building and just benefiting off of those types of plays. In the end, I thought we had chances to get stops, but we weren’t able to secure rebounds and we weren’t able to get some looks that we had on the offensive end to fall. I thought our guys really battled. I thought we gave ourselves a chance to win the game today.”

On what makes UK such an effective offensive rebounding team …
“They’re big. You look at the size that they put on the floor at all times and they’re probably the biggest team we’ve played all weekend. You look one through five and the size and physicality they put out there, and then top that off with great athleticism. It makes it difficult. We’ve had our issues all season in terms of rebounding the basketball. This is the best team we’ve played all season in terms of what they’ve been able to do all season.”

On Kentucky wearing down Alabama in the second half with rebounding …
“I thought both halves it really affected us and our ability to rebound the ball. From start to finish, I thought tonight, it was probably the difference.

On trying to force Kentucky to make perimeter shots …
“I thought in the first half, our guys did a really good job of trying to sweep the floor a little bit and keep them from taking advantage of the size advantage that they had. In the second half, I thought they hit some timely shots from the perimeter that were somewhat momentum-changing shots. You know, I think that’s just part of the game in terms of guys stepping up and making plays. They needed to. I think they finished with five 3s in the game, but they were really timely 3s that were big.”