Kentucky-Wisconsin Postgame Quotes

April 5, 2015

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Kentucky Postgame Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach Calipari and then go to the players for questions.

COACH CALIPARI: Could not be more proud of this group of young people. What they did all year, just took us all on a ride, our staff, our school, our state. Took us on a ride. We all wanted to win those last two. These kids wanted to win it in the worst way. But you have to give Wisconsin credit. They did to us what we have done to teams. I'm going to look at the tape. There's some things I probably should have done, a timeout here, I maybe should have changed up something. But we normally execute down the stretch, and we didn't. They did. They made plays down there and we didn't. Can't take away. I know everybody is going to say, This season... This season is historic. I just can't believe anybody is going to do what these kids just did to get to this point unblemished with the schedule they played, then how they did it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. How will you most remember this season and what you were able to accomplish?

Willie Cauley-Stein: Just being around a bunch of unbelievable guys and the way we all came together like brothers. You know, we'll never be on the same team like this again. You know, that's going to set in. We got a month of school left with each other, and that's it. So, I mean, that's what you'll remember.

Aaron Harrison: Just like he said. We had a lot of fun this season. One of the best times of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything. We didn't finish like we were supposed to. We got beat, so... They deserved the game.

Q. Talk about what you think happened when you had the lead, went five minutes without scoring.

Andrew Harrison: Maybe I didn't execute. I mean, we didn't execute as a team. Me being the point guard, I didn't do what coach told me on a couple of occasions.

COACH CALIPARI: He did fine. You did fine.

Q. Karl, could you talk about Kaminsky and what makes him so difficult to defend.

Karl-Anthony Towns: A very crafty player, great skills. He uses his height to his advantage.

Q. Karl, down the stretch, that Notre Dame game, guys went to the bigs, got the ball, that's how you won. Were you surprised you didn't get the ball more down the stretch?

Karl-Anthony Towns: That's not the case whatsoever. Coach did a great job. We all did coming up to this game. We had an absolute beautiful game plan. We just got beat. I mean, we can't go by a coaching decision. Without Coach Calipari, we don't even get to 38 at all, neither this 39th game. There's no way it's a coaching decision.

Q. Willie, could you talk about what happened rebounding-wise?

Willie Cauley-Stein: I don't know, a lot of them I think we had and just fumbled it and gave it right back to them. Probably 10 of their points was us just throwing them the ball. I think we didn't execute, checking out, going to get the ball. That's about it.

Q. Such an incredible collection of talent you have. I was hoping you could sort of talk about what Coach Cal has taught you about being selfless and being willing to play fewer minutes and get lower stats for the sake of trying to win a championship.

Andrew Harrison: First you have to like each other as people. Like all these guys said, that's probably the best part of being on this team, sitting around, laughing, joking with everybody. It's not as hard to sacrifice, especially when you're winning, had the season we did, so...

Q. You hear Coach Cal talk about his former players as 'his guys.' Tell me about your guy, tell us about Coach Cal.

Aaron Harrison: Well, he just made me become the best basketball player I could be at this point. He's pushed me to limits that I was very uncomfortable. But he's created me to be a great basketball player. Not many men can do the things he does with us. He's just a great man to be around.

Willie Cauley-Stein: He challenged not just me, but anybody, everybody that comes in the program. He challenges you in a mental way. That's what makes you successful. A lot of basketball is all mental. So the way he challenges you mentally, makes you do stuff that you would never thought you would do in your life, I mean, that's powerful from him.

Q. For the Harrison twins, this was the second time you played Wisconsin. Was there anything different about them this time around that surprised you or was it mainly the same team and the outcome was a little different?

Andrew Harrison: I mean, both years we played them, they were a great team. They made some adjustments this year. I mean, they made it this far. They're obviously a good team. We just didn't make enough plays at the end. Can't take nothing away from them, though.

Aaron Harrison: Just like he said, it's a great basketball team really. They won today, so...

Q. Willie, it's hard enough to win a national championship as it is. But with the pressure of being undefeated, how much do you think that began to weigh on you guys these last two games?

Willie Cauley-Stein: I don't think it weighed in on us, the 40-0 hype. If that was the case, we would have lost a long time ago. It's just time and circumstances. You know, like we was up in a crucial part of the game. The last five minutes is the game. We didn't make plays in those last five minutes to hold the lead and push it. If you don't make plays in the last five minutes, you will lose. Me being here for three years, you will lose in the last five minutes if you don't make plays. So that's it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, men. We'll continue with questions for Coach Calipari.

Q. What did happen after you were up 60-56? Why did you decide to slow the ball down a bit?

COACH CALIPARI: We didn't slow it down. We were trying to post the ball, run the pick'n rolls, the stuff we were running. They crowded a little bit, the guys got a little bit tentative. We were trying to still play. The thing that was tough is we are a finishing team, that's what we've been, and we didn't. They did and we didn't. That's why they're still playing and we're not.

Q. You said if a team beats you and you give it your best, you can live with the result. Do you feel that way?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, yeah. You know, I've been doing this so long, I've had some tough losses and some unbelievable wins at the buzzers. It's all part of this. My concern are these young people right here, making sure they keep this in the right perspective. They just had an historic year. Don't you look at anything else. There's not one kid in this team that would be blamed for us losing this game. If you want to blame somebody, blame me. We were down eight. The game probably should have been over. These kids just fought. All of a sudden I look up, we're up four. I'm like, We're going to win this thing. Then, you know, a play here, a play there, all of a sudden we don't post it. They crowd us, we don't post it again, we take a late shot... We're not a team that takes shot clock violations. We got three. Again, this team, the best thing for me, every one of these players has helped themselves even though they've sacrificed and been selfless. Every one of them has taken their game and their own personal stock to another level, yet they were selfless, sacrificed, brothers. They did this together. You know, I told my wife before the game, We could lose. They're good enough to beat us. I'll live with it. I mean, I've done this a long time.

Q. Do you think that the burden of being undefeated, the burden of expectations that come with Kentucky, what you've referred to in the last three weeks or so as clutter, do you think that had any impact on your team tonight?

COACH CALIPARI: I think what impacted the game the most was Wisconsin and how they played. I mean, they out-rebounded us by 12 rebounds. That doesn't happen. You think about this. We had six turnovers for the game. We shot 90% from the free-throw line, 60% from the three, and 48% from the field, and we lost? What does that mean they did? We struggled to guard them. They shot 47, 48 also. But it was the rebounding and the toughness and the plays around the goal. They made and-ones and we didn't. You got to give them credit. I'll be honest, for me, I wasn't thinking 40-0, I was just trying to win the game, get on to another game. I would hope my team was that way, but they're 18- and 19-year-olds. Maybe they were. You know what, if they were, okay, I'll deal with that, too.

Q. What was the biggest factor and the difference in rebounding?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, in the first half they got 11 points off offensive rebounds where we just didn't come up with balls. But they go after the ball. They ended up with 12, which is not a huge number. But they had a bunch in that first half. We rebounded better in the second half, which is why we ended up going up. But, again, we didn't execute down the stretch. We didn't make the plays. That comes back to me. I'll take responsibility. You know, there were things we were trying to do. Maybe we shouldn't have done. They were trying to jam it to the post. Well, they crowded. They knew what we were going to do. But I'm proud of these kids. Again, they took us on an absolute ride as a coach, our staff, this university, our state. You're not going to take it away. They're hurting right now, but when they look back on this time, they've all improved, they all learned to be a servant leader. Be about someone else more than yourself. In this day and age, they did it. They fell a little short. I would imagine people are going to look on this season and say, You know what, who cares. What they did to show all the young kids you don't have to try to shoot 30 balls, you can do right by your team and still be the number one draft pick, still get drafted, your own awards come your way. So proud of these guys. It hurts. We would have loved to have been 40-0. Let's see if we can take another stab at it. But 38, what these guys did in a row, incredible stuff. Thanks, folks.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Locker Room Quotes

Trey Lyles

On how disappointed he is
“It’s very disappointing, but they came out and executed when they needed to.”

On if their experience was deciding factor
“No, we were right there with them the whole time. At the end of the game they made better plays than we did.”

On three straight shot clock violations
“We just couldn’t get the shot that we wanted. They played great defense.”

On the end of the season
“Doesn’t feel real at all. Upset. Just a crazy feeling that everyone is having. Emotions are everywhere.”

How long with this hang with you
“(This will hang with me) for a long time.”

On how this loss takes away from the season
“It takes away a lot. We want to go out on top and we weren’t able to do that. Our final goal, we weren’t able to achieve.”

On (Nigel) Hayes’ shot that might have violated the shot clock
“The game is over with. There is nothing we can do about it.”

Dakari Johnson

On how he feels about not moving to 39-0
“It doesn’t seem real right now. I’m not sure what else.”

On the three straight shot clock violations
“I really don’t know. We tried to penetrate, but it didn’t happen for us.”

Tyler Ulis

On Wisconsin’s offensive game plan
“I really don’t know, it’s just, like I said, they played better than us and we didn’t come out with it.”

On the three consecutive shot clock violations
“You know, a couple things broke down offensively. We had the shot clock, threw it up, we maybe got a foul, maybe we didn’t. Whatever you call it, we didn’t execute at the end.”

On Coach Calipari’s message after the game
“Um, great season, basically.”

On tonight’s loss
“They came out and played better than us, and they got the win. They did a good job of keeping us at their pace and that’s one of the reasons we ended up losing.”

On the team’s offensive struggles with shot-clock violations
“A couple of things broke down offensively. We had to, late in the shot clock, throw it up. Maybe we got fouled, maybe we didn’t, but they didn’t call it and we didn’t execute at the end, and didn’t come out with the win.”

On how tough it was ending the undefeated season
“It’s very tough because we basically went the whole season winning all of those games for nothing.”

Devin Booker

On how people will remember this team
“That’s a good question. I don’t know how people are going to remember us. I know we made history a few times this year, but that wasn’t any of our goals. Our goal was a national championship. We knew that. Everything else was going to come with it, so it hurts. I’m not sure how everyone is going to view our team, but I’m going to remember us as, arguably, one of the greatest teams to come through college basketball.”

On if the game ever felt out of reach
“No. We gained the lead late, we went up four, and that’s when I thought we were going to run away with the game. Wisconsin never gave up and kept playing.”

On if this season was a waste
“It feels like that to us now because we have been so focused on getting the national championship this year, but I wouldn’t say it was a waste. We’ve done incredible things, but it just hurts that much worse to come that short.”

Marcus Lee

On the reality of the first loss of the season
“We’re athletes. This sucks. I’m not going to sugar coat it at all. This is the worst part of being an athlete, especially at this time. It’s the worst feeling in the world.”

On what changed in the final few minutes
“I don’t even know what changed. It’s the way the game went and where fate took us. That’s the way it ended.”

On whether they were trying to intentionally run out the clock while up four
“No. We were just trying to do the same thing we’ve always done this season. Try to get it done, but it just didn’t work out that way.”

Wisconsin Postgame Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the University of Wisconsin. Coach, we'll ask for an opening statement.

COACH RYAN: Extremely proud of the way our guys hung in there when it looked like we dug ourselves a hole that we could never get out of. When you don't score a field goal in about a seven-minute period, the other team got hot. When we got down four, we just kept battling on every possession. I'm recapping the game for you (smiling). It was just the end, the last five minutes. Again, these guys just gutted it out. I told them, I'll hang out on the sideline for 40 minutes Sunday night [sic]. So here we are.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. What was a bigger motivation for you guys, the loss last year or the fact that you could end Kentucky's unbeaten streak?

NIGEL HAYES: It's definitely us wanting to reach our goals. I mean, it was not the mindset to try and end their streak. The fact that we wanted to win a national championship and they were the team we had to play, inevitably we would have to end that streak if we wanted to reach that goal. The fact we were able to do that against a great team was definitely secondary, but we'll take it.

SAM DEKKER: He kind of touched on it. Last year's game obviously was motivation, not 'cause of Kentucky, but just 'cause of how far we got. You know, that was a hump we wanted to get over. It didn't matter who was in front of us. We just wanted to get a chance to play for the national title. We set those goals out before the season. We were very vocal about it. I think it was big for us making that run that we could get back. I'm proud of these guys for stepping up. Couldn't be more privileged to be with these guys.

FRANK KAMINSKY: I think that loss last year motivated us through the off-season so we could get back here. Once the season started, we had our own goals in mind. It's great we had a chance to play a good team along the way and come out on top. I'd say it's wanting to achieve our own goals we set for ourselves more than anything else.

Q. Frank, you defend against a lot of different players, different sizes, bigs, guards. From your experience with Okafor, what makes him unique and what do you need to make sure you're prepared for on Monday night?

FRANK KAMINSKY: His combination of skill and size is unseen in the college game. We know he can score. We just got to watch film, see what he can take advantage of. See what he likes to do, try to take away from him. If we watch film, we'll pick up some things we'll be able to do.

Q. Down four, you get three straight shot-clock violations. What did you do mechanically within the game?

SAM DEKKER: Well, I don't think we necessarily did anything different than what we were supposed to do. I just think we clogged up the driving lines a little better and just made it tough on them to get easy looks inside. If they get you behind them on the low block, those guys are so big and so talented, they're going to score that 70% of the time. So we just tried to make it tough off the dribble, for them to enter the post. Those shot-clock violations were big for us. Gave us confidence on the defensive end and maybe hopefully drained a little bit of their confidence on the offensive end. Any stop we can get, hopefully we can turn it around and get a bucket on it. And we were able to take a lead back on it.

Q. How did you out-rebound a really good rebounding team by 12?

FRANK KAMINSKY: Just staying into 'em, attacking them, trying to do whatever we can. The ball bounces your way sometimes. It's just the luck of the bounce sometimes. You saw how they got some bounces on some offensive rebounds as well. We just tried to do whatever we could to stay into them. We know if they get another offensive rebound, they get another chance to score. They're such a good offensive team, if they get buckets that way, it's going to be a long night. Just trying to keep them off the glass is one of our main priorities.

Q. Frank, did you ever see at any point where you thought maybe you saw Kentucky had their confidence rattled? Sam, take me through that three-point shot when it was tied at 60.

FRANK KAMINSKY: I think the only time we really saw their confidence rattled was at the end of the game. We finally took that lead, we weren't going to look back. That's just something we try to do. We knew last year they came down and hit a shot to beat us. This year we knew we had to get a stop at the end of the game if we wanted to win. We were able to force a bad shot and come out on top.

SAM DEKKER: We called something. I don't remember what we called, but we called something to get Frank to get a ball screen for myself. Usually that's something that has been working for us as of late. Came off it. Karl-Anthony got on his heels a little bit. Thought I was going to drive. Able to free up some space on a setback. Off my hand, I knew it was down. I was waiting for a good look like that all night. They did a great job blocking off in the driving lanes, easy shots for myself. When I had that look, I knew I had to put it up. I knew it was good off the hand.

Q. Student-athletes, can you ask Coach Ryan what was the most significant insight contained in the scouting report about Kentucky?

NIGEL HAYES: The most insightful thing? Yeah, they were athletic, real athletic, yup.

Q. As much as Sam's three, how pivotal was that charge he took on that next possession?

NIGEL HAYES: It was very important. It gave us an imaginary thing we call momentum that we definitely needed at that point in the game. We knew they were trying to drive to the rim. Him being down low, Sam saw the opportunity of him trying to bully his way to the rim. He made a great play for us.

Q. Kentucky's fan base, they're Kentucky. Sam, you were working with the crowd. Talk about your relationship with the Badger Nation that's here.

SAM DEKKER: Yeah, well, the Badger Nation, 'Grateful Red,' whatever you want to call them. They ride or die, they're always with us through highs and lows. You know we're going to have that backing no matter where we go. I think that's pretty cool. I think that's something special about Wisconsin sports as a whole. Our fan base is so loyal. What more can you ask for as an athlete, wanting to come to a school, knowing you're going to be playing in front of 17,000-plus every night. On the road you're going to hear roars whenever you score. Not many schools can say that. We were outnumbered a little bit tonight, but I heard them more than I did Blue Nation.

Q. Frank, your birthday, said it was the best present you ever got. What was the previous best present you ever received?

FRANK KAMINSKY: I got an N-64 once. I don't know what happened to it. My dad drove me to get my driver's license when I was 16, so that was pretty cool, too. Yeah, that's about it.

Q. You spoke of your goals. I assume the goal is to win a national championship. Can you tell us when it started, how it started, who first said it?

NIGEL HAYES: Yeah, definitely after that loss, we really didn't speak much, but we all looked at one another saying we would definitely be back and we would definitely win the title this year. That's definitely the goal and the plan we had. It started back in the summer camp when we first got together, starting to workout. We know we have the potential, the capability to do what we've been doing thus far. We know all we have to do is play our type of basketball and just go out there really and do what coach has coached us to do, what we know we can do, and we'll definitely be able to reach that goal.

Q. Nigel and Frank, with Sam, there were stretches where he wasn't really able to get the ball with good looks at the basket, yet he scored a whole bunch of points down the last five or six minutes. When he's going through that stretch, are you thinking that it's not going to be his night and someone else is going to have to do it or are you believing that Sam is eventually going to get it done?

NIGEL HAYES: We're not worrying too much -- I know Sam doesn't worry about that. He's not going up and down the court saying, I need to score, I need the ball. The way the game goes, he wasn't getting the best looks. Sam can definitely take the ball and force a shot. That's not the type of team we are. We don't force up shots to get points. Sam just let the game come to him. He may be a part of the 'Clutch Brothers' group now with the way he's been playing these last two games. He just knows when to step up at the right moment.

FRANK KAMINSKY: I'm going to tell a little bit of a story here. I was playing FIFA in the room, you know, we had so much time today, one of my buddies from back home came and we were talking, Alex Flood. He said if I had 20, Sam had 16 or 18, Nigel would have 12, and either Bronson or Josh would add 10 or 12, we would win by seven points, that's exactly what happened. It's just too weird not to bring up, how the game ended, how the numbers worked out, it was perfect.

Q. Are you surprised in any way that you were able to perform the way you did down the stretch or did you expect this outcome when you took the court tonight?

SAM DEKKER: Getting wind shouldn't be surprising us, coming back. We know the type of team we have. We know the type of coaching staff we have. We know that whatever is going on in the game, we're not going to change. I think you guys have seen that all year. Whether we're down six or up 20, we're going to be us and we're going to play our game. I think that's the way you need to go about things in life, especially on the basketball court. We got down today a little bit, but we didn't change our expression, we didn't change what we did, we didn't freak out. We knew if we played our game, we'd get back into it, come back, crawl back. We're not surprised we were in this situation. This is something we've been talking about since day one this season. Look where we are now.

FRANK KAMINSKY: He hit it right on the head.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. We'll continue with questions for Coach Ryan.

Q. In a day and age when you have so many one-and-dones, how has the veteran experience of this team served you most?

COACH RYAN: Well, without a doubt we're not here without these guys, having been through the development that they've gone through. You know, people can say what they want about we don't have X-number of All-Americans, we don't have this... I've never in life looked at what you don't have, I've always looked at what we do have and what can we do with it. So to have these upperclassmen when they were underclassmen, and to work with them and to try to keep them focused. So many young people now want to transfer when they see, Oh, man, I might be buried two guys behind this position, two guys behind that position. You know, we've had a few guys transfer in 14 years, but not very many. And this group is doing what it's doing right now because they've stuck to what they believe in and worked extremely hard in the off-season, each season. Now they're veterans. So many of these guys have been here before. So I definitely have enjoyed working with young men like this and building a team with seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen. It works for us.

Q. You've done something that nobody else has been able to do in front of everybody, yet you still have one more game. What do you tell your players to keep them focused for one more game?

COACH RYAN: What do you mean we've done something that nobody's ever done?

Q. Be able to beat Kentucky so far this year.

COACH RYAN: Oh, all right. Hmm.

Q. The whole world was watching tonight and you did it.

COACH RYAN: We played a team that kicked our butt. In my mind, that's all I'm thinking of. Great win for our guys. Very short turnaround with the late game. We got some work to do. These guys need to get back and get some rest. Hopefully we'll be energized for Monday night. It's a nice feeling to know that you've got a chance. A little bit better than Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. There were times where it was a million-to-one, but not this time.

Q. When they went on that run and went up, you took a timeout. Frank looked animated. What was said in that timeout to calm the guys. Then your perspective when Sam took that three tied at 60.

COACH RYAN: Well, Frank might have been a little animated because somebody said to him, Frank, you just gave up three offensive rebounds. They had six for the game. Didn't they get three on that one possession? I don't know what the score was. Anybody have that?

Q. 60-56.

COACH RYAN: Yeah, and they scored after those offensive rebounds. We were not sitting in an envious position, nice way of putting it. But we let it out a little bit in the timeout. Okay, now, conversation's over, now we go out on the court and get it done with our actions. Frank was one of the leaders of that. And Sam hitting the three, the defender went back. It's a lot better than that three that he launched that they checked the glass on as to whether or not it had cracked. So it was a much better three. The fact that it went in didn't surprise anybody on our bench.

Q. Their experience and their veteran leadership, how much does that allow you to trust they will come down from this high and mentally focus in on Monday?

COACH RYAN: That's a good point. Yeah, we'll be focused. They will be focused. It won't be because the old man is going to do this or do that. We have veterans that are going to come out, when we go through our workout tomorrow, go through the scouting report, they'll be attentive, they'll be ready. The adulation, how about in this day and age, by the time we drove in the golf cart to get to here, I don't know how many text messages that Sam had. I said, Sam, why do you have your cell phone when we're going to the press conference? He says, Coach, it's tradition, I do it all the time. You know how big you are on tradition. Okay, bring your cell phone. That's good. But these guys are getting that already. Aunt Alice, Uncle Harry, whatever other friends. I think they'll be okay because there's a mix in there of personalities that, Look, we've gotten to this point, let's try to finish it. I'm sure Duke's saying the same thing.

Q. You were talking about that scoring drought. You got out of it by Dekker taking it inside and going to the basket, then Hayes getting the tying drive just before the shot clock expired. Was that something you asked them to do? How tough was it to get to the rim against Kentucky?

COACH RYAN: It's hard. We tried to keep encouraging them to do that so possibly we might get a foul or two. We did get some fouls. We got into the one-and-one and the two-shot foul before they got to it. That's what we try to do. It's not something that everybody else doesn't try to do, but our guys did it, and they did it again. That's been a theme for us.

Q. Your thoughts on Kentucky repeatedly down the stretch going one-on-one against Bronson? Did you know he had that mental toughness?

COACH RYAN: What I did know was that he hated to lose. When you watch a guy play from the time he's in ninth grade... I love to watch players on the court, whether it's high school or pickup games, whenever it is, workouts. You can learn an awful lot about people. That's why we offered Gasser a scholarship, Nigel Hayes, guys like that. They really hate to lose. They're tough competitors. Yes, I knew Bronson had that in him.

Q. You saw Duke very early in season. How much have you seen of them since and what do you think of the way Duke is playing right now?

COACH RYAN: On and off maybe just as a casual sit on the coach guy at home. You know, I actually saw them play, like Michigan State played them earlier in the year, then we play Michigan State, you take a look at that game. Greg Gard had Kentucky here. Again, might be one of the brightest minds in the game. His scouting report, what he did with our 6'4" guys in the scouting report. I know our guys were extremely prepared. Coach Close has Duke. He's got it ready. He had Duke. Lamont Paris had Michigan State. Our guys have stuff ready and they'll be downloading clips of games on their iPads. I'm sure by the time we get them on the court, they'll have a pretty good idea. Plus we played them. You know, they got us. So maybe we're going to try to get them.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Bo. See you tomorrow.

COACH RYAN: All right. Thanks.

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