Kentucky-Princeton Postgame Quotes
March 17, 2011
Postgame Press Conference: Kentucky
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
COACH CALIPARI: I'm happy we won the game. There's my opening statement.
Q. Josh or Darius, Brandon did not have a very good shooting night to say the least, had not made a shot until the final one. Describe the final play and your confidence in him to make a play there.
Josh Harrellson: He didn't make as many shots as he normally did, but we always have confidence in Brandon. He's matured so much. You know, he's a different level of point guard than he was earlier in the season. So we always have confidence in him no matter how bad a game he's playing. We always have confidence that he'll make a big play when we need one. Coach ran a play and it didn't work out like it was supposed to, and he took his man off the dribble and he made a big time lay-up that we needed in traffic, and it was a big play for him.
Darius Miller: Like Josh said, we have a lot of confidence in him. He's one of the best shooters I've seen, so he's not going to continue to miss. We're not worried about that at all. He made a big play, especially for a freshman he made a big play in his first NCAA and finished. So it was a very aggressive play, a very tough play, so we're just happy to have him.
Q. Darius, again, Josh just seemed to be in the right place at the right time all night, kept making plays, seemed to come up with every big play. How big has his presence been the last couple weeks?
Darius Miller: Very big. He provided us with a lot of extra opportunities and finished them off sometimes himself. Like you said, he always knows where to be, and I think he just outworks most of the people we play against. He does a great job of working hard to get in great position, and like I said, he was finishing them today and did a really good job for us.
Q. This is for Josh. How did you feel actually getting to play in an NCAA game for the first time?
Josh Harrellson: Yeah, you know, I had a lot of jitters before the game, I'm sure just like all the freshmen did. I came out and I was nervous at first, but the jitters went away pretty quick. I've been around it enough being with the team last year participating in the NCAA, not playing significant minutes but getting a few minutes here and there. So you know, I've dealt with it so I've had a little more experience than them. But you know, come out with our first victory for me being a starter and a significant player, I'm happy and for all my teammates, we got our first win together in the NCAA Tournament, so hopefully we can keep it going.
Q. Darius, second year in a row you're going to see West Virginia in the tournament. Just your thoughts on playing them again.
Darius Miller: We know they're going to be a very tough team, very physical team, and we're going to have to be ready to go. We haven't -- well, we personally I haven't seen a lot of them this year, haven't seen a lot of video on them, so I don't know what all to expect. I know they're going to have talented players, and like I said, they're going to be tough.
Q. Darius, at one point you guys trailed maybe by five, second half. Just what were the conversations in the huddles, and how was the team able to really rebound in that second half and make that run?
Darius Miller: We all stayed focused. We talked to each other, made sure everybody was still confident. And I mean, just in most of the huddles, we were just trying to stay focused on what we needed to do. We needed to pick up our intensity and stay focused, and hopefully it played out the best for us, and it did.
Q. Coach, yesterday you said you can't count on freshmen and then you put the ball in his hands there and he delivered.
COACH CALIPARI: If you watched the game today, my freshmen didn't play very well. None of the three. They played okay. I mean, you know, and I'm saying Brandon didn't play well, he had five assists and one turnover. I mean, I was subbing him late, not anything to do with offense, I just wanted a longer team out there. And that's why I had Doron playing the point on defense. But I have all the faith and confidence in the world in him. I knew -- I'll be honest, I thought he had made one shot. I didn't think he was like an 0-for. But that being said, he's a winner. He's not afraid to make a play. Guys like him aren't afraid to miss. It's not that you're afraid whether you're going to make it, you're just not afraid if I miss it, I miss it.
So you know, Terrence didn't have one of his better efforts and neither did Doron. He did okay, but I just think those guys are better, and I think they had the jitters at their first NCAA Tournament game ever that they have been watching since they're 12, and all of a sudden they're starting in the NCAA Tournament that's on national television. How about we're down five and they're still in there having to play?
But our veterans, I thought DeAndre Liggins in the second half and Darius Miller in the first half and Josh throughout kept us where we had a chance to win. How we escaped I still have to go watch the tape and figure it out.
Q. One of the players said you had a different play drawn up at the end. Can you tell us what that play was?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we were going on a side pick-and-roll, and I was going to let those two figure it out. And they switched, so they hadn't been switching the whole game. What they usually do in that situation, they go man to man, and with about ten seconds they pull into a zone, so that's what we talked about. And because they were going to do that, we were going to ball screen either way, whether they were zone or man, to make it simple for our guys. And they switched, and he took his man one-on-one, and I had a time-out that I could have burned at that time, but I'm like looking at it like this kid wants to make this. You could just see that he wanted to make that play, and that's why I just let it happen, let it unfold.
Q. When you play against a team that actually shoots so well like they do every time down the court, how mentally draining is that because you know you've got to get stops?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, the hard thing is when you're playing six guys, you want to press that team and you want to really get aggressive pressuring the ball in the half court. But you're playing six, seven guys, so you can't really do it even with all the timeouts. So we did the same thing.
Penn did the same exact thing to us. We beat them a little better in the second half, but Penn had us down 16, and they did their stuff. And then we came out in the second half and said, forget about it, just go play the ball hard, get off on the weak side, play between your man and the basket and let's see what happens.
When we went to that bigger team, it gave them problems offensively, but they didn't get a whole lot of back doors against us. They didn't. They got some middle drives, which is what we wanted them to do. But they made shots. You know, they're a well-coached team, and put themselves with a chance to beat us on a national stage, and that's a credit to Princeton.
Q. You talked about Brandon wanting to make that play. He's missed some game-winning opportunities this year, he's missed some shots and he hadn't hit a shot all day today. What's that tell you about him that he wants the ball in that situation?
COACH CALIPARI: I'm with him every day. There's no one that works harder, spends more time or believes in himself based on his work ethic. He's the first one in the gym and the last one to leave and he goes at night. I have no problem putting that ball in his hand because he's made that shot in that gym by himself many times, counting it off.
Today at the shoot-around, this morning, he waited for the clock to run down, and with two seconds to go, he let it go, and as it went through, the horn sounded. That's how he is. There's no one else -- the other guy that's been playing pretty well was Darius and that's why I put him in a ball screen so either one of them could make that last shot, take that last play.
Q. Would you discuss Harrellson's overall play today and kind of his emergence this season as a contributor for you?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we're still playing, and we won the SEC title because of him. And really, when you look at today's game Darius and DeAndre, DeAndre in the second half, Darius in the first, but Josh has been steady rebounding presence. Now he's got confidence around the basket to make baskets that he hadn't had. He's another guy like Darius that comes to practice 40 minutes early and does conditioning and individual work and then practices. And what he's done is he's changed all his habits, he's changed his body, he's changed his mentality, so the result has changed.
And I tell those guys, my team, all the time, if you're going to do the same things over and over and over and think you're going to get a different result on that basketball court, you're insane. That's the definition of insanity.
So you've got to change what you do, how you think, how you approach it, and he has. So has Darius.
Q. You said yesterday that Kentucky fans inhale when you miss and exhale when you make shots. That's the nature of the nation. How do you think they're breathing after today's game?
COACH CALIPARI: They just want to win. They want to win. And when you're coaching here, whatever you do when you win was right, and if you lose, it was wrong. Even if it was calculated, it doesn't matter. That's how they are, and you know what, they're the greatest fans. You have a small minority that are absolutely off the cliff, but the rest of our fans, and I'm talking a small minority, our fans are the greatest. They're into it.
These players are their children and their grandchildren. If you're a grandmother, that's your grandchild. If you're a mother, that's your son or that's my brother. This is their family, and it's a neat thing. That's the other thing of being in this program as freshmen; I mean, to deal with knowing every basket is -- it's a little added for these guys. But the way we finished the game, Terrence came up with a big rebound, Doron helped us defensively, and then the last shot by Brandon. So those three played a part, yet this team was carried by the veterans today.
On his game winning shot…
“I am just happy we won the game, that is the most important thing. I just wanted to be aggressive and not settle for a jump shot. I was able to get in the lane and finish.”
On his confidence level with that shot…
“Yes. As a player that works on his game a lot, I felt confident. No matter what the situation is, even if I had missed all my shots up to that point.”
On what the play was…
“It was just pick and roll, and we just wanted to see what we could get out of it. Darius [Miller] had been hot and I thought they shaded to him, so I just took it.”
On whether he was surprised this was a close game…
“No I was not surprised. I knew they were going to fight for their lives. They are a great team, and they came out and battled us to the end.”
On his game…
“It was tough as far as shooting. As far as other aspects, I was trying just to affect the game in other ways.”
On knowing he had not made a shot to that point…
“Not really. I wasn’t focused on that. I was just focusing on running the team and getting the win. That’s the most important thing.”
On the attitude it takes to win when you do not play well…
“Just knowing that your team needs you; you can’t get down on yourself. You have to continue to play hard, keep everyone into it and keep up the enthusiasm.”
On getting the final shot…
“Definitely. I know that coach has faith in me no matter how much time is on the clock.”
On winning when the team does not play its best…
“It just shows that the rest of the team can step up.”
On who usually takes the last shot…
“It depends on what the situation. The ball was in Brandon’s [Knight] hands and he made the play.”
“They ran a lot of backdoor cuts and made a lot of tough shots. They made a lot of tough shots that we can live with, they were just tough.”
On winning a close game…
“It is always good to win every game you play. I am glad we won and are moving on.”
On the final shot…
“I was nervous, but I know that Brandon [Knight] is tough. We have a lot of confidence in him to shoot the last shot. He missed every shot he took up until then, but we still had a lot of confidence in him taking the last shot.”
On playing in the NCAA tournament…
“It was probably the same, but every game is like a championship game. If you win, you keep going and if you lose, you go home. We want to keep going.”
On what Coach Calipari said during timeouts in the second half…
“We were trying to get three stops straight, and if we could do that and execute on offense, then we would be good. We did that and we got some big threes and got on a little run. Then it came down to the wire and Brandon [Knight] hit the last shot.”
On Brandon Knight’s final shot…
“I knew he was going to make it. He had the defender on his right side and went past him.”
On what he saw on the final play…
“I saw the defender trying to switch, and Brandon [Knight] turned it down and they didn’t want to foul. And once he got past him, he just had to make the layup.”
On his feelings now…
“I am happy that we get to play another game and relieved that we won when playing awful. We still got through it.”
Postgame Press Conference: Princeton
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Q. Kareem, would you talk about what you saw on the last drive, on the last basket there?
KAREEM MADDOX: Yeah, we just switched, and Brandon Knight kind of blew by me for the game-winning bucket. That's about what I saw.
Q. Dan, was there a specific moment after the team went down 11-2 where you felt like you guys settled in and started playing like you wanted to play?
DAN MAVRAIDES: Yeah. You know, they came out firing a little bit. I don't know what it was for us, maybe another big stage, a little jitters or something, but they took a little early lead. But I knew we would settle in. We always have this whole season. I'm not sure when it came, but once we got a couple easy lay-ups and started running our offense and doing what we do, we calmed down and got back to our stuff.
Q. For Doug or Dan, describe what you guys did on Brendan, and did you expect him specifically, even though he had not made a shot, to be the guy to try to create one there?
DOUGLAS DAVIS: We did a good job as a team, the team defense. Brandon is a good player, so you have to get a good effort from both teams to stop him. But he's a player. In the last seconds you expect players to make plays, so...
DAN MAVRAIDES: Yeah, I think it was a tough lay-up. I think it was a difficulty 10 lay-up. You know, Kareem is our longest, biggest defender. There's no one else I would rather have on him driving to the basket in that late-game situation. And like you said, before that he was 0 for 7 but he made the one that counted. It was a great shot; you've got to tip your hat to him.
Q. Dan, at the end of the game when you guys didn't score, kind of with the fans serenading you a little bit, give us your thoughts on those final seconds being on the court and what that meant to you?
DAN MAVRAIDES: Yeah, there was a lot of emotion flowing through my head, very disappointed. But you know, being a senior and ending on this note is not all bad. You know, we came from a rough beginning as freshmen. My class with Kareem and Bobby, and we're helping turn this program in the right direction.
These fans, they've been amazing. They've been really amazing. They come with us on the road to every game, and to have a section over there almost yelling just as loud as the Kentucky gym was an amazing experience. So we had to give them some love because they've really been there for us and helped us through this season. So just a lot of emotions.
Q. This is for Dan. The shot that tied the game, what was the plan on that play?
DAN MAVRAIDES: I can't remember what the play was. I think it was an out of bounds play. And I just kind of got a ball screen or I was driving towards the middle, and you know, he was just -- I was able to create some space on the step-back and was open. I thought it was just as good as any shot we were going to get in that possession, so just let it go up, and it went in.
Q. Kareem and Dan, I think a lot of people in the country turned on this game today expecting to see you try to slow it down, to back door them, all the stuff that Princeton is known for. Looked like you just played them basket for basket. Was there a certain point you felt like you could beat this team when you were out there?
KAREEM MADDOX: Definitely. I think we prepared this whole week to beat these guys, and you know, our team believed that we could do it. I mean, I don't know if there was one moment where the switch kind of flipped, but you know, I just think we knew what kind of team we had and what kind of heart we had, and we knew we could compete.
DAN MAVRAIDES: Yeah, pretty much the same thing. You know, we've had a lot of confidence in each other from day one this season. You know, we knew we had a lot of talent and great coaching, so once we settled into the game, we knew we could play with them.
I personally believe we had a tough game against Duke in the beginning of the season, but as we moved on and have been through a lot of experiences, you know, I think we can play with anyone in the country, and I think hopefully we showed that tonight at the very least.
Q. Doug, that stretch in the first half where 11 consecutive points for the team, what took over for you in that stretch?
DOUGLAS DAVIS: I don't know, the ball was falling and I was able to get open for my teammates to set me up. We just ran off and I was able to get open and knock down some shots.
Q. Did they do anything different in the second half, switch up some stuff, or were you just not feeling the shot as much in the second half?
DAN MAVRAIDES: Well, they pulled the ball screens a little bit better. They were trailing me kind of tight. But that's what you expect. So I'm looking to make another play, and I'm just soaring, so trying to get my teammates involved or whatever, draw and kick. I mean, they played me a lot tighter, so...
Q. Dan, did you feel for the most part that you made them take the sorts of shots that you wanted them to take in the scouting report?
DAN MAVRAIDES: Yeah, I mean, I think we had, like in any game, you're going to have a couple defensive breakdowns. But I think the final score, they scored 59 points. I know they average a lot, lot more than that. So I think overall we played pretty well defensively. We stuck to our scouting report and executed for the most part. A couple of their players stepped up and hit some big threes down the stretch, but I was pretty happy with our defensive effort.
Q. Coach, on the last play with two seconds to go, what was the call in the huddle? Just curious whether you insisted on trying to get a pass beyond half court because invariably in those situations if you don't get the ball beyond half court it's a real tough shot.
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it seemed like they were thinking the way you were thinking, so they tried to make it hard for us to throw something long. I think the smartest thing to do is to keep everybody in front of you, and that's what they did.
Q. As a follow-up to that, the two previous huddles, the one before Dan's shot and the one before Brandon's shot, what were the plans in those situations?
COACH JOHNSON: Xs and Os wise? Well, my message to the guys, we came off the court and our guys were down at the floor, and I just -- I didn't understand that. I love this team, and they've battled so much, and I didn't understand why they felt down. I mean, we've been down, but we've never played like we're a team that doesn't feel good about themselves and doesn't have a bit of swagger. So I was pretty animated about that. Like we've come a long way, we're a terrific team, and we seemed to kind of smile in the face of adversity, and so I wanted them that way as opposed to, okay, we've got a battle. Forget that. We've battled so many times and been good at it. So that was the focus as much as anything.
Q. Just put in perspective the season but also playing a team like Kentucky so well and falling short when it looked like this was going to be your day for a while.
COACH JOHNSON: You know, Kentucky has got a great tradition, and they have a fantastic coach and players, fan support.
Ours is no less. I hope I'm not offending anybody. We have a proud and rich tradition. And I really like this match-up. I really thought that it was a special one for the tournament. Princeton-Kentucky, from my vantage point, are two of the best basketball programs that we've seen in college basketball. So I was very excited, and I wanted to demand from our players that we live up to that, and I think we did. I think we did that.
Q. Coach Johnson, what did you say to your players in game to sort of calm them, allow them to get their composure, not be intimidated by the Kentucky franchise?
COACH JOHNSON: You know, I didn't want them to be too calm, to be honest. There's a fine line between being calm and not ready to play, and you know, being overly confident. You've got to find that sweet spot because I wanted them to believe in themselves as much as I've believed in them. So it was just, again, trying to find that sweet spot where we were ready to perform and that we were excited about these bright lights and all the hype that surrounds us, but we were focused on the task at hand and what we had to do. We've recruited guys to come to Princeton who want to play on this stage, and so why spoil it.
Q. Can you talk about the gesture of having the team over for a curtain call to the fans?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, we're not -- I don't like losing, so it was hard to do that. But I just felt that we owed it to our fans. We didn't want to celebrate a loss in any way, shape or form. That's not what that was about. I just feel like there's a lot of love for our program, and our alumni and fans and families and everybody has come out to support us in droves, and you have to acknowledge that. You know, as much as I love our guys, they have to realize that we're all people and we've all got to do things the right way, and when someone is giving you the support that our fans have given us, you've got to say thank you. You know, you can't take that for granted. That's all that moment was about.
Q. On the game winner, was there anything you would have wanted to see different there, or was that just a good shot by him?
COACH JOHNSON: It was a tough, tough shot by a kid that we had bottled up pretty much the whole game. Good player, I'm sure Coach Cal is pretty pleased with how he was able to come back down the stretch. We felt like we had done an amazing job on him, and he just had one more play to make, which he did.
Did Kentucky looked worried at all…
“Yeah I saw on a couple big shots where they would put their heads down. I definitely feel like we had them on their heels for a while.”
Did the game go the way you wanted…
“To be honest it really did, you look at the stats and we held them under 60 points. We outrebounded them and had only six turnovers. We came to play today.”
How does this performance change Princeton basketball’s history…
“This is definitely a step in the right direction for Princeton basketball, 10-15 years ago everyone had them on upset alert. Were heading in the right direction. In terms of bringing us back to an Ivy league championship and making some noise in the tournament this year.”
On Princeton’s up-tempo offense…
" All year people have been talking about us pushing the pace. If people had been watching us all year they wouldn’t have been surprised today.”
On being ready for the big game…
“The first few minutes we had the jitters. But once you get over the lure of the tournament it just really comes down to the being ready to play basketball.”