Kentucky-North Carolina Postgame Quotes
March 27, 2011
Kentucky Postgame Press Conference
COACH John Calipari: The resiliency this team showed was unbelievable. It got late, they tied it up, and we didn't back away. There were a couple of times I thought about calling time-outs and I did not want my guys to think that I didn't believe in them. I wanted them to play through it. It was just a great fight, dogfight kind of game. And North Carolina does what they do and did not go away and made plays and tied it up. And it ends up being a great college basketball game.
Q. Brandon, it wasn't at the last second like the two you hit earlier in the Tournament, but obviously the three with under 3:00 left proved to be the difference. How important was it? And how confident were you when you let it go?
Brandon Knight: I was confident. Like I said, me and my teammates are hard workers. We come early to practice to shoot. We stay after to shoot. But it wasn't only me that made big shots. I think DeAndre hit the biggest shot of the game, you know, when we were up by one to put us up by four. It just shows how not only me, but the rest of our team can really make big-time shots.
Q. DeAndre, talk about that three you hit from the corner. And also, the block on Kendall Marshall when they came back and tried to answer.
DeAndre Liggins: Kendall Marshall drove past me and my length gave me the ability to block that shot. He drove fast me and my long arms, I stretched out and blocked the shot.
And that three I took, Darius drove the ball and Coach said, if it is a kick-out then shoot it, I shot with confidence and made it.
Q. DeAndre, right after you hit that there is a stoppage of play, and Cal called you over, you guys kind of embraced. What did you two say at that point?
DeAndre Liggins: That was celebration time. We bumped heads.
COACH John Calipari: I kissed him on the forehead is what I did.
Q. For Josh or Brandon: You guys played a tough, emotional game on Friday, and then you had another one pretty much today. How tough was it to, you know, call on what you had to call on to get this one done?
Josh Harrellson: You know, it was a tough turnaround but they had the same thing we had to do. You know, we're always ready to come out and play. All we needed is a day's rest. The SEC Tournament we played game after game after game and were ready to play every game. And I have faith in my teammates that they will come out and play every game whether it's back to back or a day in between. We just take care of our body. And Brandon and Darius do cold pool, hot pool to take care of themselves. Everybody is taking care of themselves.
Q. How about coming back emotionally.
Brandon Knight: Definitely. Our team does a good job of celebrating, just being in the moment. After we won that game, it was onto the next one. We had a goal and that was to make it to the Final Four and compete for a championship. And our guys really add a quick turnaround and focus on the next game plan we had to do.
Q. Josh, a lot is written about the change from last year, but even eight or ten games ago you weren't taking people off the dribble and doing some of the stuff you are doing now. Has your confidence increased on a different level, these last ten games?
Josh Harrellson: Yeah, it's definitely increased. You know, if somebody is playing me too tight and I see a lane, I just try to drive it and get around him. And that helps out for my teammates because they don't play me as tight and it is easier passes because they won't come and guard me as tight.
But it is totally different. Something I never thought I would be able to do. But we do a lot of stuff like that when I work out with Kenny Payne before practice and stuff, we work a lot with taking people off the dribble and going through bumps and also do it in practice with the bigs. That's what we have been working on and I am getting more confident doing it.
Q. Coach, going back to that forehead-kiss moment, what was going through your mind.
COACH John Calipari: Going through what moment?
Q. The forehead kiss with DeAndre. Talk about how much he means to you and this team.
COACH John Calipari: I was thinking he was really sweaty, I didn't realize he was that sweaty.
Q. Yesterday he was not on the stage yesterday and I remember you made a point --
COACH John Calipari: And he needed to be on the stage. He knows how proud I am. He has come so far as a player, trusting people, trusting his coaches, this kid works. He is in the gym. Brandon works, he works just as hard as Brandon does. You know, he's overcome a lot of stuff. And for me in this profession, you know I said this before, there are guys born on third base, and then there are guys born outside of the arena that have to try to get in the arena to get up to bat to get to first base to go to third base. And DeAndre has overcome a lot. And you look at him now. He defends, he is unselfish, he makes plays, his skills are improved. You know, he and Josh, all these guys. But especially him. I'm really proud -- and I am on him now. I am on him to do the right things and if he screws up, he knows he will be there. But he performs. He is not afraid. He is making plays.
Q. For Josh, but if you guys have a thought, please chime in: I just wanted to ask about the very aggressive emphatic tone you set the first six to eight minutes of the game. It just seemed almost like it was decided at that point. I know defense is a point of pride, but did you talk specifically about starting fast, making a quick statement in this game?
Josh Harrellson: You know, the first five minutes of each half really dictates the game. You always want to come out and play strong and, you know, the first five minutes of the game we came out and we played aggressive, played together as a team and that really dictates what's going to happen throughout the first half normally. And I think we did a good job coming out and dictating the whole game and running our stuff and keeping them out of their basketball game.
Brandon Knight: In the beginning of the game Coach just told me to be aggressive, so every time I got it I wanted to push it and see what we could get in transition. If not, try to attack the basket. And guys were just being really aggressive tonight and you could tell they really wanted it.
DeAndre Liggins: Coach said the first five minutes he wanted me, my job was to run the floor and try to make plays and that's what I try to do.
Q. DeAndre, what was your reaction to Coach kissing you there?
COACH John Calipari: He didn't kiss me back I can tell you that.
DeAndre Liggins: We still had a game to play. The game wasn't over. I love him as a coach. He defined my game greatly. He made me the player I am now and I respect him and I love him to death.
Q. DeAndre and Josh, you guys are two years removed from the NIT. Coming from a place in Kentucky where Final Four is the norm, how disappointing was it to be in that place and how sweet is it now that you are in the Final Four?
Josh Harrellson: Going to the NIT our first year was disappointing for us and all of our fans. They really were disappointed in us. And I think we had a better team than what we showed. We went to the NIT and we are here now and back in the Final Four. We got Kentucky back, and a lot of people doubted us this year. You know, a lot of people really didn't think we would be the team we are. We know we struggled early in the season, lost a couple of close games that we should have won. And you know, we really pulled it together as a team. And, you know, we're back now.
Q. DeAndre, at what point did you find out that you would start today? And what was your reaction when you heard that?
DeAndre Liggins: It wasn't no big deal to me. Coach say he is going to start me, no disrespect to Doron or anything like that. We play six guys, so it doesn't matter. And Doron came out and hit some shots for us to help us out, so.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach John Calipari.
Q. John, you know Carolina, as you talked about yesterday, likes to run out and get a lot of easy baskets. There wasn't much of that today. Can you talk about how you guys were able to cut that off.
COACH John Calipari: Well, it's hard on a quick turn like this, and we played and we were up until three in the morning. So you couldn't work on it, you can only talk about it. And we could dummy it. What we were trying to do is make sure Terrence and Josh went to offensive rebound. And two others would sprint back beyond half court. And DeAndre was going to pick up the ball to try to slow down Marshall, because if Marshall had his way I thought it would be a problem. That was our plan. Did it work? Some. They still got it over the top and got some baskets and drove me crazy, you know, but they go on runs doing that stuff. And I would tell you they still scored 10, 12 points doing it, but it wasn't 20, 25.
Q. John, you sort of just answered this, but your decision to put DeAndre on Marshall and why right from the start.
COACH John Calipari: Because I think he's changed their team and I think he's a terrific basketball player. And I thought that DeAndre could stunt off of him and stunt and dig into the post. And just try to bother him. Now I don't know if it did, but that was the plan. But we were ready to say, if Harrison Barnes goes nuts, we would move DeAndre on him and Harrison early in the game did get after us a little bit, but we stayed with it the whole game.
Q. John, there is sort of a prevailing wisdom that you making the Final Four this year is either a year late or a year early. You know, you kind of had it stacked up for those two years. Talk about making it this year, this group, and if you honestly look back at the beginning of the season, does it surprise you are sitting here right now?
COACH John Calipari: When I saw the board, the seedings, yeah, I am a little bit surprised we're here. But not because of how my team was playing, I just thought the path to get here would be so ridiculous that we would have to play out of our minds or people would have to get knocked off. It had nothing to do with my team. But if you ask me after we lost to Arkansas in overtime if we would be here, I would have said we got Florida, Vandy and at Tennessee left. And we just -- they got together, they believed in themselves, and I kept telling them the whole time, "I believe in you. I don't know why you don't believe in yourselves."
We lost a lot of close games because of me, not just them now. We were still trying to figure out how to play. This is a brand new team. Three freshmen and three returning players who did not play much. So now all six of them together, I was still figuring out how do we play at the end of a game? What can I let them play through? Where do I have to stop the game? Who needs to be in at what times? So it was as much me as them.
Q. Coach, obviously you've been here before. From a personal standpoint you are in rarified air now with three teams in the Final Four. What makes this one special?
COACH John Calipari: We lost five first-round draft picks and everyone wants to say you can't win with young players. I say if it is experience or talent and I have a choice, I'm taking talent and we will figure out how to make them play together, how to get them to defend, how to increase their toughness. How they have to play to win ballgames, I'll deal with that. Now if they're talented and experienced, you don't lose any games.
But, you know, I'm proud of these guys. Look, here's what this comes down to for me, Josh Harrellson, are you kidding me? Forget we went to a Final Four, going to a Final Four, so what? Look what's happened for him. Darius Miller has totally changed his game. Look what's happened. DeAndre Liggins. Their future, their dreams. Yeah, we want to win a couple more, but when you look at this, not only freshmen doing well, they've now established who they are and where they want to go and they have done it through this program and through this team, and I'm proud of that.
Q. You were just talking about how they bettered themselves, but even like I said to Josh, ten games ago we didn't see Josh taking people off the drive. Would you have thought that DeAndre would be taking your big shot at the end? Probably would have thought he might get the block, but they have now become guys you rely on. Does that surprise you?
COACH John Calipari: Let me say this, you were at the Mississippi game on the road, how many did they score in the second half? Those three scored, Darius, DeAndre, Josh got not one point and I think one rebound. And that's when we sat down and said, "This is your team, why are you relying on freshmen?" Since that time, this team has done that. That's why we're here. Our freshman have done fine. I mean, Terrence was a little bit shaky, Doron at times a little bit shaky, but they played good. And Brandon, I am leaving on the floor for 40 minutes. That's crazy, but I don't have any choice. I don't feel I do anyway. But those other guys are why we are stepping up and able to play with anyone right now.
Q. Coach, we had to take one of the two big men out, Josh Harrellson the first time was in foul trouble. What would have happened if Zeller would have been the guy you had taken out, would it change the plans at all?
COACH John Calipari: What we were doing with Zeller was we were meeting him early so he couldn't bury you under the basket. If he gets you under the basket, you have no shot. The second thing we did on the right side facing the court, if he's on that side we were going to trap big to big. The left side we were digging guards, they were digging down, that's what we tried to do. Did we do it the whole game? No. But that's how we wanted to start to make him think a little bit. But the whole point was Josh, you have to play this guy and don't expect help. Zeller has become one of the best big guys in the country now. Harrison Barnes has become one of the best players in the country. Marshall has been playing as well as any point guard in the country. And then you throw the other guys in there, Henson is not a bad shot blocker. We had our hands full.
Q. John, you've said all season that you were trying to figure it out, and I think I have heard you say a couple of times that maybe you have done more hands-on, minute-to-minute coaching maybe than you have in a long time. Talk about that process for you this year and what are some things you had to do to figure them out?
COACH John Calipari: I go to bed at 9:00 at night, that's one thing, because it is exhausting. But this has been a team that I'm trying, we're trying to figure out on the run, yet I want them to feel unleashed. That's why we play the dribble-drive. I want them to feel unleashed. I want them to feel they can make the plays they are capable of making. Yet this team wasn't physical enough to play the true straight-up dribble-drive. So we've had to do things to get into the driving motion to create space, to create opportunities for them to drive and then space out. And what happened today, North Carolina sucked in on our drives and we shot threes. It wasn't by design. I didn't go into the game saying we will shoot threes today. I didn't know they would play that way. I also spent half a day with my staff like okay, how do you think they'll play? What do you think they will do on the pick-and-rolls? How will they play handoffs? Will they keep Brandon from getting the ball, which they did and kind of got us out of sync. And I had to do more and I had to figure this team out.
But look, it is not a team I coached for two years that we have an idea of each other and how we play. This team came together five months ago.
Q. John, the distinction of taking three different schools to the Final Four, how much do you think that enhances your legacy as a coach?
COACH John Calipari: I hope my legacy as a coach is about what has happened for players and individual players. I hope, if anything, it's about what my wife and I have done in the communities where we have lived and on the campuses where we've worked. And, you know, we will all be judged 50 years from now. The good news is, there will be no emotion to it where someone wants to be nasty and mean; it won't be that. It will be, here's the facts, here's what he's done, there it is. Play it out. Do you like it or not? I truly, I'm young enough that I am not worried about legacy, I am trying to win one more game. But I would tell you I hope people look and say, boy, he does a good job with his kids and they get better and they play and they go on to good careers, whether it is basketball or business or education, whatever it is. He prepares them for life after basketball. I hope that would be what it is. And if I am lucky enough to do more on the basketball court, fine. If I don't win another game on the basketball court, that would be fine, too.
Now I want to win, I am not going to sit here and underestimate or tell you that that's not important to me, but it is. But it's not more important than what's happening for these young people.
Q. Sort of a two-parter, John: How did Henson's foul trouble impact the game do you think? And this is a second straight game where DeAndre came up big in the second half of an emotional test of wills. What does he have, do you think, that enables him to play so big in those moments?
COACH John Calipari: First of all, the Henson thing did hurt them, no question. He is a terrific player and it helped us. But I would tell you that he worked so hard that he has those reserves. The biggest Thing about making plays late in a game, you cannot be afraid to miss the shot. It's not that, I think I'll make this, you cannot be afraid to miss. You cannot be afraid to miss the free throw. If you miss it, you miss it. If we lose, we will get up tomorrow morning and the sun comes up. And so, you know, we try to tell them that. But the only way you have that self-confidence to make that play is if you're a hard worker and you have the reserves to stand up, dig your heels in and say I'm not budging, and he does.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach.
COACH John Calipari: Thank you.
North Carolina Press Conference
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, we're joined now by University of North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams and students-athletes Tyler Zeller and Dexter Strickland.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, we congratulate Kentucky. Congratulate John and his staff and the players. If you didn't really care who won the game, it had to be a game you enjoyed watching if you love basketball. And I couldn't be more proud of my team than I am. And John's got a wonderful bunch out there cutting down the nets right now and I would like it to be my team, but it's not. But I wouldn't trade my kids for anybody. It's been an unbelievable ride and they've been an unbelievable group of kids. And they really made coaching fun. And we've had some adversity and they just kept together and kept coming back, just like they did today. And it was a wonderful, wonderful time for us.
You know, we get it tied and Brandon makes a huge three right in front of their bench. And then I think, and I am not positive about this, I think we got it back to one and one of the players, I don't know who, made a big-time block on Kendall's drive when it was a one-point game and I think that was the only time we had the ball with a chance to go ahead.
But you just have to congratulate them. They shot it extremely well. 12-22 from three-point line. And their entire team coming in today shooting 39.6 from three-point line, and we knew that but they still made shots. And you have to congratulate them.
Q. Dexter, what did you say to Brandon after the game? Also, can you talk about the challenge of playing defense against him today.
DEXTER STRICKLAND: I just told him it was a great game. You know, "Keep playing your behind off," and that was it. He said "like-wise. And just kept moving."
But I think it was a challenge. You know, he's a great player. He stepped up and made great shots. I think we played -- I think we could have played, you know, better defense, supportive defense, but he's a great player and he stepped up and made great shots.
Q. Tyler, obviously this is disappointing for you, but what was going on out there? Coach said you were down, you tied it, got within a point after they had taken the lead, was it too much of them or just shots not going down.
TYLER ZELLER: A little of both. You have to give them credit. The shot Brandon hit, I still picture it in my mind. I think Dexter was guarding him. A fantastic job, had a hand in his face. It was a very tough shot and he knocked it down. You have to give him credit. And I mean, Dex did a great job all night shadowing him, chasing him around. And I mean, he still made shots. I think you just have to give them credit.
Q. Tyler, how much did the foul trouble John had hurt you guys in both halves, and what you wanted to do with him?
TYLER ZELLER: It definitely hurt us because it made us change what we've been doing for the past two or three months. We had to change. But Justin Watts or Justin Knox, even put another guard in at that position, so it made it difficult. But at the same time you can't blame it on that.
Q. Dexter, I know it's over now, but what did it mean to you to come home, play in front of your family and friends and really step up the way you did tonight? And Roy, if you would comment on Dexter and the way he played defense tonight.
DEXTER STRICKLAND: It was a great feeling just coming home. Just seeing my family and friends and playing in front of them. It was a great feeling. I felt comfortable and unfortunately we lost, but I had a great time being here in my home state.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I just thought it was a fantastic, fantastic performance by Dexter. Brandon is hard to guard. He was the focal point of their offense. For Dexter to do that for 37 minutes is about as tough a challenge as I've ever had any guard. And I don't know I ever had anybody do a better job than Dexter did today. And everybody wants guys to shoot the ball and score points and all that kind of stuff. And Dexter made his decision that he was going to be a big-time defender for this team, and that's what is great about this team. Because they did care about the name on the front. And I can't imagine anybody playing any better defense on a really, really good player than what Dexter did today.
Q. Dexter, when you're defending somebody who just kind of seems to be hot and on a roll, is there ever a time where have you in your mind maybe it is just their night, just the way he kept hitting shots?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: That goes through your mind but you can't use that as an excuse. I tried to limit his touches to the ball. I figured if he can't get the ball, he can't score. And I think, I did an all right job. I could have done better. We have to learn from our mistakes and get better, so.
Q. Aside from limiting his touches, Dexter, what else was the game plan as far as taking Brandon out of his game?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: Well, the scouting report, we know he likes to go right. So I felt if I forced him left, he would pull up for the jump shot. And you know the jump shot is better than driving to the rack and getting the lay-up. That's what we tried to do. We tried to have better supportive defense, you know. Leslie or Kendall just being there on the drive, just guys rotating in the right position. You know, we could have did a better job, but we have to get better at it.
Q. Tyler, could you talk about the big man, Josh Harrellson's improvement from when you played him before. If you saw a different player tonight than earlier in the season.
TYLER ZELLER: Actually the first time we played him, he was in foul trouble the whole game, so he only played, I have no idea what the time was, probably 15 or 20 minutes. He didn't play as much as he did today. He's a fantastic player. I mean, in the post he doesn't have a lot of moves, but he does a lot of great things as far as offensive rebounding or creating opportunities for teammates. And it makes it difficult. Their guards are always looking for him. If you help out too far, they lob it up to him and he does a great job of finishing. He is a very sound player.
Q. For both players, first half in particular you guys didn't get a whole lot of looks that you had been getting in recent weeks. What did they do specifically to keep you from getting a little bit of a comfort zone there?
TYLER ZELLER: I think we were a little tentative to start. The second half we did a better job of coming out aggressive. We stepped around a little bit and made it easy on them. The second half we started moving, setting screens and helping each other out. We needed to do that for 40 minutes.
DEXTER STRICKLAND: I agree. We didn't match the urgency in the first half. It hurt us a little bit. We picked it up in the second half, but, you know, you just have to start from the beginning.
Q. If you two guys could just give me a sense of how much energy it takes to be like constantly trying to catch up, get close and then they make a big shot, get close?
TYLER ZELLER: It takes a tremendous amount. It is something we work on all the time as far as we will be down six or eight or something like that in practice, and then we have to make a comeback. And I mean we've worked on it. We've done it. I mean you have to give Brandon credit again for making that huge three because we had a lot of momentum at that time and it was just a momentum-buster there.
DEXTER STRICKLAND: I agree.
Q. Dexter, again you've guarded some great players in your career, whether it's Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans and Kyrie and Michael in practice at St. Pat's. Where do you rank Brandon in guys you guarded in your career?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: I don't know. I have no clue.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: It is really a hard question. Do you have a good answer?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: No, I don't.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Everybody there is pretty damn good. You know, if you ask him if it is easier to guard you than Brandon, I think he would pick Brandon.
THE MODERATOR: We would like to thank Tyler and Dexter.
Q. Roy, is your knee hurt from that collision? You looked like you were lumping coming up the stairs there.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I am an old man, that's what it boils down to. It hurt, Brandon came into my knee and it sort of hyperextended a little bit but right now it does not hurt. It bothers me a little bit I guess, but no one knows your body like yourself, I am fine. I really am. It hurt like crazy when he first hit it and it was probably because the referee called a foul on him as much as it was him hitting my knee.
Q. Coach, perimeter has been a problem that flared up at times. You find ways to make up but tonight offensively and defensively it ultimately was the difference in the game. The challenge in which you had all year in being able to mask some of those areas that led to you this point and got you this far.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You can remember when we played them the first time they had a big-time advantage from the three-point line. We had the advantage from the free-throw line and some second-shot points I think. And so you do, you have to -- there are some parts of the game that you're not going to do as well and you hope that that's not the part that will determine the outcome of the game. And you look at our stat sheet, their team averages 39.6% from the three-point line and we don't have anybody shooting better than 39.6% on our team. I think Kendall is 39.6% exactly. So their whole team shoots better than anybody on our team. And we didn't want to work and make sure that we got there and had a hand up and hoped that they didn't make some.
And it's hard trying to overcome some things that are that big advantage. They scored 36 points from three-point line and we score nine. But that's the game of basketball. And for us, I think Z and Dexter both said it, in the first half we didn't get very good movement. Because of that we didn't get very good shots. The second half we ran a few more set plays, lobs and got things there and posting up Z, but we had better movement with everything, too. We were more effective defensively and got our break going. And I don't have the halftime stat sheet, I think the first half we had two points on the fastbreak and had ten in the second half. So that's what basketball is. You've got advantages over the other team and they have advantages over you. For us we try to make running a strong point, try to make rebounding a strong point. For the most part this team has been able to overcome that, but not today.
Q. What did Tyler mean when he said that John's foul trouble made you change what you had been doing for two or three months?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, the personnel being in there. You look guys John Henson plays 23 minutes and he was frustrated and in foul trouble. And he had zero blocks. He had a chance to break the single-season blocked shot record for our school today and so John was not able to do that when he is sitting over on the sideline with me. And also because of that, John had one offensive rebound. He's been the leading rebounder in the league probably since the first three or four games. And he took away an offensive rebounder for us, took away a guy that can block some of those shots inside. It took away somebody who can get some offensive and defensive rebounds for you, not just offensive. But you take away a guy who is second team all conference. Take away a guy who is the Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC. And he does play 23 minutes, but he couldn't play the way he wanted to play. But that's part of the game. You have to congratulate Kentucky for getting him in foul trouble.
Q. Roy, could you just elaborate on that, the three early fouls he got in the first six minutes and what you had to do with the line-up and go a little smaller. And when were you thinking of bringing him back in?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: He got two early and we took him out and let him sit there a few minutes and put him back in. And it is funny, Coach Robinson and I were talking and it was 7:33 on the clock and wondering if I should take him out there or let him play a couple of more minutes. I didn't want to take him out the last 7:30. I've never done that because a guy gets two fouls. I let them rest so they don't make a foul on stamina, being tired.
One of the fouls, somebody else should have boxed out Josh Harrellson running down the middle on the fastbreak, they miss the lay-up and getting the rebound. And another foul was 45 feet from the basket leaning over Brandon Knight's back. So they weren't the best fouls in the world, but that's what happens in the game.
So then he gets the fourth one and I told him I didn't want him to sit there the whole game but I wanted him to think and understand that if you are going to get a fifth foul, get it trying to box out or trying to take a charge. Don't get a silly one. Don't be jumping you in the air and the guy jumping into you. But kids can't control that all the time. But it was frustrating for us. It was frustrating for John, too.
Q. Will the development that this team has made since early in the season, and especially guys like Strickland and Barnes, will that eventually take some of the sting off the way that this ended?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, it's strange because it's the most inadequate feeling in the world for a coach right now, because there is nothing I can say to take the hurt away from my kids. And that's a really, really unpleasant feeling. I thanked them in the locker room. I told them that I was as lucky as I could be. And we'll focus on that, and we'll focus on getting better. I told them I didn't want them to forget this feeling. I wanted them to use it as a fuel to get better. And heck, I remember in 2009 we were -- I gave what I thought was just a wonderful speech pregame and start to leave and Bobby Frazier says, "Remember what it felt like last year." That was so much more important than any great speech this dumb old coach could ever make. And that team did remember, and they won the national championship.
But I think it will drive our kids. I'm going to focus on what a wonderful group of kids and what a wonderful year it was, but it still doesn't take away the hurt that you feel today.
Q. Coach, Kentucky had a really draining game Friday against Ohio State, emotionally draining. I wondered what you thought of their willpower, determination in another one like that.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, sometimes things may be meant to be. The Princeton game, the lay-up at the end, Ohio State the jump shot. John's kids are competitive and they really were so much more aggressive in the first half. Their defense beat our offense and their offense beat our defense. They were the hungrier team in the first half. I think we matched it in the second half, but the little engine that could, somebody asked a question about, is it draining to try to keep coming back? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. And sometimes when you get there you can't get over the hump. And Brandon Knight made it hard for us to get it over the hump.
Q. As many times as this team came back and won games like this this season, do you think there's a possibility that maybe they took it for granted, that they would come back and win it when they tied this you?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: No. We didn't come back and beat Duke in the ACC Tournament finals. I think they have confidence that they can come back, but I don't think they have confidence that says that they're going to come back and win the game. They realize they have to work at it. They realize they have to do it. I don't think that confidence makes them take things lightly during the first half of the game, I really don't believe that. I think anybody that would write that would be completely wrong. Give the other team credit. As I said their, offense beat our defense. Their defense beat our offense. We did make a nice comeback but I don't think that our guys were overconfident that we don't care what happens now, we're going to get you later. I really don't believe that.
Q. Roy, DeAndre Liggins was the guy that blocked Kendall's shot, and he also hit the three from the corner when they were up one. I wonder what you think of him as a player, they consider him sort of an emotional guy to get them going.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: He's a big-time player. If you remember, too, I don't know if he meant to bank the ten-footer in front of the goal but he banked that in, too. And you have to give kids credit for making plays. I love DeAndre's game. I really do. He is a 6'6", 6'7" long athletic kid that can guard and wants to guard people. And he gives them -- he had not started but one of the last six games. He started today, and I thought he was marvelous 12 points, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 block, 3 steals. He is involved and as athletic as all get out. A lot of athletic kids don't have the heart and desire, and I think he is extremely important to their team. Doron didn't start and comes in and has eight big points and two big threes and one of the guys that really hurt us, especially in the first half.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Thank you.