Kentucky and Wisconsin Meet Again in Final Four
Kentucky meets Wisconsin in the Final Four on Saturday, April 4. The game will be televised on TBS and tip is set for 8:49 p.m. ET.
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NCAA Tournament Central
Kentucky vs. Wisconsin
Saturday, April 4 - 8:49 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UW
| TV: TBS |
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Audio (Westwood One)
Cat Scratches: UK-Wisconsin about the stakes, not the rematch
Kentucky fans can probably recall every detail of the shot Aaron Harrison hit to send the Wildcats past Wisconsin and into the 2014 national championship game.
They remember how Andrew Harrison drove and dumped to Dakari Johnson, who quickly returned the pass. They'll never forget how Andrew kicked to his twin brother and told him to shoot. The memory of Aaron rising and burying a game winner is burned into their minds.
The same can't be said for the man who hit the shot.
"I just remember falling and celebrating," Aaron Harrison said. "I really don't remember anything else."
Josh Gasser - the player defending Aaron Harrison - has a memory similar to Kentucky fans' when it comes to the shot, though the feelings that come with it are quite a bit different.
"I think our fingers actually interlocked," Gasser said. "When it left his hand, I was feeling good." ... read the full story
Cat Scratches: UK ready to contend with foul-averse Wisconsin, Kaminsky
In theory, there's an easy solution for Kentucky when it comes to facing Frank Kaminsky.
Just get him in foul trouble.
In reality, there's a problem.
He almost never fouls.
"Well, he plays with his feet more so than a lot of other 7-footers I've seen," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "He doesn't reach in. He doesn't try to block every shot."
The Wildcats (38-0) can throw all the bodies they want at Kaminsky in Saturday's national semifinal. They can try the bruising Dakari Johnson, the springy Willie Cauley-Stein or possible No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, but history suggests Kaminsky won't take the bait and fall victim to foul trouble.
"I think Arizona was the first game I think I've ever had four fouls here in my career at Wisconsin," said Kaminsky, who was named AP National Player of the Year on Friday. ... read the full story
This Week's News:
Kentucky's NCAA Tournament History
- UK is making its nation-leading 54th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
- Kentucky is 120-47 (.719) all-time in NCAA Tournament games.
- Since 1992, the Wildcats are 119-32 (.788) in postseason play (SEC, NIT and NCAA).
- Kentucky is making its 12th appearance as a No. 1 seed. The Cats were a one seed in the 2012 tournament en route to its eighth national championship.
- UK is 22-3 (.880) in NCAA Tournament games under the direction of John Calipari,
- Calipari is 47-14 (.770) as a head coach in NCAA Tournament games, the highest winning percentage among active coaches.
- Calipari-coached teams have appeared in four of the last five Final Fours and is the first such school to achieve that feat since UCLA from 2006-08.
- UK is the first team to appear in four of five Final Fours since Duke went to five straight (1988-92).
- Calipari joins Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and UCLA's John Wooden to lead a team to four Final Fours in a five year span.
2015 NCAA Tournament
- Kentucky is shooting at a 45.8-percent rate, while limiting opponets to a 32.8-percent clip.
- Three players have led UK in scoring, while eight have scored 10 or more in a game during the run.
- The Wildcats are hauling in 40.5 rebounds per game with three players logging 6.3 or more.
- Kentucky's defense has charted 30 blocks and 25 steals.
UK in the Final Four
- UK advanced to its 17th Final Four in program history.
- UK is 9-2 in the national semifinal games all-time.
- Kentucky is 5-1 all-time when playing in Indianapolis, including earning two victories there a season ago to march on to the Final Four.
- The Wildcats are 2-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament when facing Wisconsin including a 74-73 victory in the semifinal contest in 2014.
Wildcats Lead in NCAA Tournament Wins
- UK leads the nation in NCAA Tournament wins (120).
- It also leads the country in wins in the tournament since 2010, when John Calipari first led Kentucky into the Big Dance (through games on March 29):
- 22 - Kentucky
- 14 - Duke, Louisville, Michigan State
- 13 - Florida
- 12 - Connecticut, Kansas
All Eyes on the Cats
The Kentucky/Notre Dame telecast -- peaking with an 11.1/20 U.S. HH rating/share and 19.7 million total viewers from 10:45-11 p.m. ET -- was the highest-rated and most-viewed college basketball game ever on cable television.
Midwest NCAA Region All-Tournament Cats
- Three players were named to the NCAA's Midwest Regional All-Tournament team.
- Karl-Anthony Tonws was tabbed the Most Outstanding Player and joined by Willie Cauley-Stein and Andrew Harrison.
Cauley-Stein a Consensus First Team All-American
- Kentucky junior Willie Cauley-Stein was tabbed a First Team All-America selection by the Assocated Press, USBWA, the NABC and Sporting News.
- The NCAA recognizes the Sporting News, AP, NABC and USBWA All-America teams in considering consensus All-Americans.
- Cauley-Stein is the first Wildcat to earn consensus All-America status since Anthony Davis in 2012.
Towns, Harrisons Push UK to Fourth Final Four in Five Seasons
- Karl-Anthony Towns poured in a career-high 25 points, while Aaron Harrison hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minutes and Andrew Harrison knocked down the game-winning free throws to lead UK to a 68-66 victory over Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.
- Towns scored 17 points after halftime and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the floor in the second stanza.
- All seven points from Andrew Harrison came at the charity stripe including two with six seconds remaining in the game.
- With 38 consecutive victories, Kentucky is the first team in the history of college basketball to start a season 38-0.
- With its 38th win, UK has tied the most wins in a season in NCAA Division I history. John Calipari's 2008-09 Memphis team and the 2011-12 national champion Wildcats also won 38 games.
- Kentucky is 215-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 60 of the last 62 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
- UK advanced to its 17th Final Four in school history and fourth in five years under Calipari.
- Kentucky improved to 3-0 vs. Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament and 2-0 in Elite Eight contests.
- Kentucky shot 53.2 from the field, the 12th time this season UK has shot 50 percent or better.
- The two-point win was just the third time this season a game was decided by five or fewer points. It is tied for the smallest margin of victory of the season (UK won at LSU, 71-69 on Feb. 10).
- UK shot 70.0 percent from the foul line (14 of 20). Kentucky is 80 of 108 (.741) from the charity stripe in the NCAA Tournament.
- Prior to this game, UK had only trailed for 191:05 of the possible 1,495 minutes of action and a mere 22:11 of the 320 against ranked opponents.
- Notre Dame led for 22:51 of the 40 minutes, the most for any opponent this season.
- UK won bench points 15-5. Kentucky has won bench points in all but one game this season (vs. Arkansas in the SEC Tournament championship game).
- Towns 25 points were the second most by a player this season.
- He also had a team-high five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
- Trey Lyles scored nine points and added five rebounds with two blocks.
- Devin Booker scored 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers.
Wildcats Pound West Virginia to Advance to Elite Eight
- Kentucky opened the game on an 18-2 run and never looked back in a 78-30 rout of fifth-seeded West Virginia. UK's lead reached 20 at 30-9 with 7:53 left in the first half and peaked in the opening frame at 27 at 42-15 with 1:52 remaining.
- UK opened the second half on a 10-0 run and held West Virginia scoreless for the first 8:17 as the Mountaineers were 0 for 12 from the field to start the half.
- Kentucky had 13 fast-break points, including eight in the second half, while holding West Virginia to just two.
- UK held a 44-32 rebounding edge, including a 33-19 advantage defensively. Offensively, West Virginia owned a 13-11 advantage.
- Kentucky scored 34 points in the paint while limiting West Virginia to 12.
- The Wildcats had 13 assists to West Virginia's seven.
- Kentucky combined for more blocks and steals (14) than West Virginia made field goals (13).
- In addition to holding the Mountaineers to their lowest point total in a half this year, the 18 points the Wildcats surrendered in the first half also tied for the lowest in a half of any team in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
- It's the 17th half this season UK has held an opponent to less than 20 points in a half.
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, WVU's 39 points were the fewest scored in a Sweet 16 game since the tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1975. It's also a WVU school record for fewest in an NCAA Tournament game and the fewest scored by any team in this year's tournament. Only one other time has UK allowed fewer than 39 points in an NCAA Tournament game.
- Kentucky is 60-0 when holding the opponent to 55 or fewer points under John Calipari.
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, West Virginia's 24.1 field-goal percentage was the lowest ever in a Sweet 16 game and the worst field-goal percentage by the Mountaineers in a tournament game in the past 50 years.
- Kentucky entered the game as the nation's toprated shooting-percentage defense, and the Wildcats held West Virginia to 24.1 percent from the field. It is the fifth time this season UK has held its opponent to less than 25.0-percent shooting.
- According to ESPN, UK's 39-point margin of victory tied the largest scoring margin in Sweet 16 history.
- Kentucky held West Virginia to .582 points per possession, the second lowest by a UK opponent this season.
- Kentucky committed 10 turnovers, its 17th game this season with 10 or fewer. West Virginia had 13 turnovers.
- Five players scored in double figures for UK for the first time since March 14 vs. Auburn
Trey Lyles had a team-high 14 points.
- He led UK in points for the fourth time this season.
- His six made free throws tied a career high.
Andrew Harrison had 13 points and a team-high four steals with three rebounds, two assists and one block.
- His 9-for-10 performance from the free-throw line tied a season high from the charity stripe.
- He's scored at least 13 points in four of the last five games.
- Dakari Johnson had 12 points and six rebounds with two blocks, both marking his high totals since the Auburn game on Feb. 21.
Aaron Harrison had 12 points and scored in double figures for the second consecutive game.
- He has scored in double figures a team-high 23 times this season.
- Willie Cauley-Stein had a team-high 10 rebounds with eight points and a team-best three blocks.
Tyler Ulis had nine points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds.
- Ulis tied his career high in steals (three) and minutes (34).
- He has had three or more assists in eight of the last nine games.
- Ulis has scored six or more points in a career-long five consecutive games.
- Devin Booker recorded 12 points with four rebounds.
Media Opportunity - April 3, 32015
HE MODERATOR: We're joined by John Calipari. We'll take questions for Coach Calipari.
Q. John, you've won the Coach of the Year award. You've been to so many Final Fours now, but with the undefeated record looming over you, how different has this Final Four been and how have you had to treat the team as they're coming in here?
COACH CALIPARI: Every team that you coach is different. My first two when I was at UMass, we really had backed up, were trying to keep them loose. It was our first time, school's first time. Probably didn't do as good of a job as I needed to because of that. I mean, our practices were an hour. When we went back, and at Memphis, that team had a spirit about them that they wanted to go, but we did back off some, but not as much as we did. This year's team, I mean, we had two vicious practices Tuesday and Wednesday. I was on them like it was December. This is a team that wants to go at each other. Our advantage is that we have a lot of guys. So when we scrimmage, you really benefit by that. They want to. They don't want to do drills. This is not a drills team. Stop the drills, throw the ball up. They go after each other. They argue every call. They fight. I have to, Stop it! I'm saying that five times a practice. So we went at it. We're basically done now. I feel that we've done what we're supposed to do with this team, but you never know. Probably after it's over, I'll say, I wish I hadn't gone so hard.
Q. Obviously you've had to learn to trust freshmen a lot over the last several years. It seems to me you have a level of trust in Tyler Ulis that is uncommon for your circumstances. What is it about him that inspires so much trust?
COACH CALIPARI: I've had other freshmen that I've really trusted, like really, really said, I'm with you. I've had guys tell me, Calm down, I got this. Then I calm down and I sit down and I let them do their thing. With Tyler, you know he's going to bring it. He's going to go as hard as he can. He doesn't always play great, but he brings it. The second thing you know, he's playing for his team. I've got to get him to score more, like I did Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose, his inclination was create for his teammate and make everybody happy. Tyler, from Chicago, is like the same. I mean, you know, like the shot in the corner against Notre Dame, he posted it, it came back, he reposted it. Kenny and I at the same time, You let that thing go, you let it go. It came back to him and he made that three, which basically kept us in the game. He's been injured now. He's been injured for months now with shin splints. But he knows if he doesn't practice, I'm not playing him. So he figures it out.
Q. The four best big men in college basketball are here. Is that coincidence or a culmination?
COACH CALIPARI: Look, I know how important big guys are, and I'm proud of our two. I mean, you think of how far Karl has come in a year, it's ridiculous. But how far Willie has come in his career is truly ridiculous, too. At this time of the year, and in college basketball, guard play is vital. And for us right now, Andrew and Aaron, Devin and Tyler, but Andrew and Aaron did what they did a year ago, which is dragging our team. The good news for those two is if they're not all on point, you got Tyler and Devin. The big guys, the big guys of the other team, they give you a presence around the goal. We scored against Notre Dame for nine straight minutes because we threw it to the post every single time. That would have never happened if we didn't have a post player like Karl.
Q. How important is it for you to connect your current players at Kentucky with your past players at Kentucky?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't have to do that. Those kids do it themselves. I mean, our former players are in touch with our players, in touch with our staff. I get the texts and the calls. You know, they know over All-Star break if they're not playing, they stop in. In the summers they always will pass through. It's been a great thing to see how they help each other and talk to one another. Anthony Davis sat down with Karl, basically told him, Hey, kid, you better step on the gas here. You know, came in and talked to him about it. It's been fun being a part of this family, knowing that they've benefited by the experience of being at Kentucky and they give back. They give back in a lot of ways, but they give back to each other.
Q. What is the biggest challenge when coming back to the Final Four, other than the opponent you're competing against?
COACH CALIPARI: Tickets (smiling). The challenge is staying away from that, getting your players to stay away from it. This year, and again this is the sixth Final Four I've been in, this ticket is ridiculous more than any other. Well, take that back. We were in the Meadowlands with Kentucky and Syracuse and Mississippi State. That was a ridiculous ticket, too, back in the day.
Q. Bo Ryan said he remembers you going back to the five star camps when you were doing your thing there. What do you remember about Bo then, also early memories of the other two coaches here?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, my respect for all three of these guys, I've talked about Bo. See, Bo was one of those guys as an assistant you always looked at because he was a class act, he did his job, he was into coaching, he's a 'Basketball Benny'. He speaks his mind, he doesn't hold back. He goes to Division III, which most guys would not do, and he goes undefeated a couple seasons, won national championships. So then he goes to Wisconsin. Everybody says, You can't have a division... He's not, he's a coach. He's a 'Basketball Benny', he's into the game. Every time I see him, we just go spend time. He's from Chester. I'm from Coraopolis, Moon Township. You're talking about the same kind of upbringing, all those things. So we've become close. Tommy and I, we've gone through this at the same stages. I mean, he's a guy that I always throughout the year will call him if I have issues. If I see something good happening for him, he knows I'm on the phone for him. We compete, but we don't compete. In other words, I don't see him, I got to beat Tom and be better. I want him to do everything, win national titles. He knew I was happy he went to the Final Four this year. He called, I know you're happy. Because you beat Louisville. No, I'm happy for Tom. Well, that too maybe, I don't know (laughter). I was happy for Tom that he got that team, brought them together when they struggled. Then I've said about Coach K, I respect what he's done in coaching. I respect what he's done over decades. I respect the numbers which are jaw-dropping. But what moves me is what he's done for mine. USA Basketball with, first of all, Derrick Rose, went from figuring it out, getting better, to MVP. You had Anthony Davis. He went from, What am I, who am I, to, I'm as good as anybody, to All-Star, to gold medal winner. I begged he and Jerry Colangelo. Please, the difference you will make for DeMarcus, you will take his career, you will save another. They kept him on that team. Look what happened for DeMarcus. He's an All-Star. He's a 20/20 machine, he's ridiculous. But what he's done for mine, that moves me. I've told him publicly and privately how much I appreciate what he's done for my kids.
Q. You are the pup of these coaches, the youngest of the four.
COACH CALIPARI: This is an old crew if I'm the youngest of the four (smiling).
Q. You all have been so accomplished, successful. How have you prevented burnout and is there room for hobbies in your business?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I don't live and die with this stuff. The people that know me know I have other interests. I'm focused on helping these kids reach their dreams. Their dreams are my dreams. I sit on the same side of the table as them and their families. Want to win, want to win for the university I work for, want to win for the program. But the reality of it is our season ends June 28th here. That's when our season's over. That makes this different, for me anyway. It makes it different. Whether I'm with my family, I like to travel, I like to go to baseball games, I like to go to football camps, I like to go to different events and hang out. I love being with my friends, big dinners. That's who I am, what I do. My wife's not always happy. Where are you? But...
Q. Obviously you knew the pressure this team would face. How much have you emphasized drama and distraction that can hurt teams?
COACH CALIPARI: We're concerned about us, to be honest with you. I talked to them last night again. We have one job. Individually it's to be the best version of yourself. Get yourself mentally and physically prepared to be your best. We have to play at our best. That's the best we can do. I can't ask them for anything else. I told them, I don't know the outcome. I can't promise you the outcome. But I do know our chances are best if you're the best version of you and we're our best as a team. Things are going to go crazy. We'll adjust. We've done it all year. If I can count on you for effort, you can count on us for adjustments, so...
Q. How would you describe the evolution of Trey Lyles from the time you got him to current day?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, he was injured this summer. He didn't get to play with us in The Bahamas. The way this played out, which really for him personally was ideal. When Willie came back, Trey was going to have to play three because I had to play other people. Trey is probably a 4-3. Trey professionally will be a four, a stretch four. He's playing three for us. He's playing like a small forward guard. It's helped him become a better defender. You get to see his postgame against players. He's 6'10". Then he got sick and he was out three weeks. Good news is he did not lose weight, which we were fearful of. So when he came back, he came back about 80% and he's worked his way back. He's the X-factor for our team. He did not play well against Notre Dame, and he knows it. As a matter of fact -- no, I won't say that. He didn't play well against Notre Dame. Now he's our X-factor. He's that one guy that is hard to guard, can make rebounds, plays hard, plays big. Makes us a really big, really team, 7', 7', 6'10", 6'6". Really big.
Q. The Elite 8 game at the end, your guys ran on the floor and embraced each other like they made it to the Final Four and they weren't supposed to be here. Is that a mentality they've created on their own or embraced? Is that something you've brought on to the team?
COACH CALIPARI: They're kids. They're 18- and 19-year-old kids. For Karl Towns, those other freshmen, they'd never been to a Final Four. The other guys had been there, but it was a hard game. We were lucky to win. You saw their joy. I can't remember if we didn't cut down nets somewhere, our conference tournament, we forgot. Oh, they're not enjoying the moment. No, we forgot. But I wanted them to enjoy the moment. It's a great accomplishment. I mean, getting to the Final Four is really, really hard. To be able to do it, I don't care what your record is, 'cause everybody is 0-0. Right now, whether you're Duke, Michigan State, Wisconsin or us, everybody's record is the same. We're all feeling the same thing. We all want to win a national title. So you have two losses, six losses, zero losses, 11 losses, it doesn't matter. That's why for us right now, let's just be at our best. If that's not good enough, I'll deal with the results.
Q. I'm sure you don't spend a lot of time thinking about awards. You've had a lot of great teams over the years. This is the first time I believe you've gotten the National Coach of the Year award from writer voters here. I'm curious if you're surprised you got this and do you think it maybe indicates there's a change in perception about you as a coach?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I mean, you'd have to tell me. I know this: I'm the same guy I've always been. Well, not really. A lot of things change as you get older. My heart's the same. My friends are the same. My approach to things are the same. Hopefully I've matured and grown up a little bit. That's questionable also, I hear. But, look, I always say this. The reason I'm not worried about now and how I'm evaluated, legacy, it doesn't matter. 50 years from now when we're all gone, people will look back without emotion and say, What has he done? What did he do for people? What did he do for the universities? Not just me, but all coaches. Your legacy is how did he benefit these people, these families? Did they benefit by that connection? Doesn't matter what I say now. 50 years from now people will look back and either like what we did or not.
Q. Coach K recently on his radio show had Charles Barkley on. Both of them seemed to suggest that college kids, young pros all want to be rich and famous. Not all of them want to do what it takes to win, aren't as competitive as players used to be. Would you agree with that? Would you say your team is unique in that it seems all of them are so competitive?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you have to understand, one, where the kids come from. I'm not saying they're all poor, but many of them are. They struggled, their family. Their family needs to breathe. They finally get a chance to breathe in life, to put their toes up. When kids go to the NBA, their first thing is, they're not thinking about winning, and it's not about money, it's about establishing who they are. Then they worry about winning. That was every pro and that was always. Maybe Magic because he stepped into a team that had three other Hall of Famers, and maybe Magic is just a different soul. I believe he is. He's a great guy. Most guys went into the league, Michael scored 40. He figured out, This isn't going to win me a championship. He went back. He said, I'll score less, defend more, win championships. All of a sudden he's the best player in the history of our game, arguably. But I think the kids nowadays are the same. Look, Anthony is trying to establish himself. So is John. They want to win, but they need to be established. After they're established as players, the whole focus becomes about winning. It's not about money. It's not about how many points. I think in a way you may say yes. Now, the money's different. I mean, the money is different. As a coach, I try to respect that. These kids have a genius just like anyone else on our college campuses who can leave and go start a business and become Twitter, become Bill Gates, become Steve Jobs. They're no different. It's not size and athleticism. If they didn't have a mind, there's no way they're going to make $250 million. You have to have the mind for it, too. These kids have a genius. We try to respect that. I mean, I'm not going to hold a kid back. I'm not going to tell him, You're bad for wanting to chase your dream. I tell them all, You can always come back and finish. You have a spot at this university and we'll pay for it. Go chase your dreams, we're here for you.
Q. You take a lot of criticism for the one-and-dones. You're not the only one who is doing it. Why do you think you're the lightning rod for it?
COACH CALIPARI: Because I got a big nose (smiling). I don't know. But it's not my rule. It's the NBA and the Players' Association. Now, what we need to do is control what we can control as far as the NCAA and college basketball, which means don't put up roadblocks that encourage kids to leave if they're not ready. Don't have them pay for their own disability insurance, know I got a $50,000 debt. If I stay another year it's $100,000. Don't do that to him. If a kid chooses to stay because he really loves college, but if he's worried about his draft position moving drastically, maybe the NBA should pay for their loss of value insurance. If you really want to stay, stay. Understand, if we can get kids to stay two years and two summers, they're a year away from a college degree, maybe a year and a half. Why wouldn't we want that? Why wouldn't we do stipends? How about this thought. How about parents being able to get a loan versus future earnings? What's the problem? Their son is going to be worth $25 million. Let them get a loan based on future earnings maybe through the NBA. Let the NBA do it. Now you're not pushing kids out the door. I don't ask kids to stay and I don't tell them to leave. I'll give them my opinion. If they say, I want to stay, and I believe they should leave, they better tell me why. Patrick Patterson said, one, I'm going to graduate in three years. Two, I've never played in an NCAA tournament. Three, you're going to move me away from the basket and teach me how to play basketball. I said, Welcome back. Those were good reasons. Don't tell me, Coach, you can teach me to improve my free-throw shooting. Stop. They can do that up there. You're the seventh pick of the draft. They can do it. Nothing would hurt me more than a young man coming back and moving the wrong direction in the draft and getting hurt. I couldn't live with myself.
THE MODERATOR: We'll bring the Kentucky players up to join us at this time. We'll continue with questions.
Q. Given the success you've had, the graduation numbers you mentioned yesterday, why do you think for many you're still a polarizing figure in college basketball?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know if I am as much as you want to portray it. Maybe I am. It's not that I'm trying to be. Here's my focus. I'm not focused on changing people's minds who don't know me, their opinion of me. I'm doing my job for these kids. If you like that, I'm happy. If you don't like that or don't like that kid, that's your problem, not mine. I'm not doing this to please everybody. I'm doing this to please these young people and their families. That's my mission. Now, as that plays out in the next 50 years, maybe I was wrong doing it this way, being about players first. Maybe I'm not wrong about doing this. We start moving in a direction to do more for these kids, help them. Not program to program, will be here 50 years from now. Kentucky's program will be right here where I'm sitting 50 years from now. What we do for these kids change their whole lives and a direction, and that's how I look at this.
Q. John, when Bo Ryan was up here, he said last year in Texas the shooting background kind of blew him away, it was so wide open, it was hard to adjust to. He thought this year would be better even with the dome. What is your take on that? Do you expect it to be better this year here?
COACH CALIPARI: I thought it was great. We won the game, so I thought it was outstanding. Plus the shot. Did it bother you, Aaron, on the game winner?
Aaron Harrison: No, it was good.
COACH CALIPARI: Tough playing in domes. The worst one we played in as a coach, we played in the 2011 Final Four in Houston, that was hard. Every team shot 30%. It was crazy. I don't think that will be the case here. All four teams are good shooting teams. The backdrop and the way... We went out, 75,000. It looks like it's 30,000. We play in a building that seats 25,000. I don't think it will be an issue.
Q. For the players, if you could briefly, what you respect most about Wisconsin?
Karl-Anthony Towns: Just a great team. They have a great coach also. A great program. I think all together you just have to respect the whole program as a general to make a team like that come together.
Andrew Harrison: Everything about them. They execute well, play tough defense, have a great player inside, so it's going to be tough to beat them tomorrow.
Q. John, I know you're focused on Wisconsin, but do you see any similarities between UConn last year and Michigan State this year? Why do you think it is a team like that can come out of nowhere like they have and get to this point?
COACH CALIPARI: They defend. Connecticut by the end of the year was a really good defensive team. Two, they got good forward play. In this tournament, if you have those two things, you have a chance. I told Tom after I watched Wisconsin tape with them, I texted him and said, You know, you can win this thing. He said, We know we can. So this is four teams, we all have a chance. It's going to be a tough, tough deal for any of the teams.
Q. You cringed last week when one of your players used the word 'desperation' after the Notre Dame game. When you look back on that, because it's finally coming into focus what's at stake, how much did that game help prepare you for this moment?
COACH CALIPARI: The game was great. 'Desperation' is just not a term I've used. Normally they use terms that I use. When I heard 'desperation,' I said, Geez, I've never heard that word. I think it was from Willie, was the one that said it. But the point of, they didn't want to lose and they were desperate to win, their will to win is what they're about now. Playing a team like Notre Dame, who is an unbelievable shooting team, passing team, cutting team, efficient offensively, it was good for us. And we had to play near perfect down the stretch to try to win the game. And the guys did.
Q. For Willie and Aaron, what is the most upset you've ever seen Coach Cal?
Willie Cauley-Stein: Probably in practice when you're doing an action or a drill and he's explaining to you like two or three times and you're still getting it wrong. I think it gets to him a little bit and he gets a little crazy.
COACH CALIPARI: Be careful.
Aaron Harrison: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm trying to be careful. Just practice. When we just don't come out to practice with a lot of energy. We come out kind of cool and things like that, so...
Q. Willie and Andrew, obviously a lot of pressure on this team. How have you been able to maintain your focus and avoid the off-court distractions?
Andrew Harrison: I think the pressure is more what other people have put on us, so I don't think that's like too real. We just have to stay doing what we've been doing, stay together, stick together, stick to the script.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Our coaching staff does a really good job of making sure we're always together and making sure that every day we have dinner with each other, everybody's in the locker room with each other for an hour or so after practice is over. We're just in there chilling. They just make sure, you know, everybody's staying together and everybody's in it for each other, not in yourself.
Q. Aaron and Andrew, what were your first impressions of Karl and how has he impacted the game from your perspective?
Aaron Harrison: Well, last game he completely took the game over really. We just kept feeding him and feeding him. He's pretty unstoppable on the offensive end. Really a great player.
Andrew Harrison: Well, my first impression, I mean, he was a freshman. It's like everyone else when they're young. Like Aaron said, he's gotten better and better. When he wants to be, when he wants to be, he's pretty hard to stop.
Q. Trey, can you talk a little bit about what it means to you to be back here in Indianapolis playing in the Final Four in front of your hometown, family and friends.
Trey Lyles: It's just an exciting moment for me and my family. I'm just trying to approach it like any other game. You know, going to stay focused. You know, just got to go out there and play hard.
Q. Aaron, I'd like to know, we have all talked about this perfect season, something you guys don't like talking about, you're trying to win a championship. What does it mean also to be trying to do something that no college team has done in 40 years, long before you were born?
Aaron Harrison: It's just a blessing to be on such a great team. I mean, I could tell my kids and grandkids about being on a team that is so far 38-0, just so blessed.
COACH CALIPARI: We're not perfect. We're undefeated. We've had teams that had their chances to beat us, and we figured it out somehow. The good news is, we talked about it as a team. If Willie played bad, we still won. If Aaron went 3-20, which he's done, we still won. If Andrew didn't have his spirit, if Trey against Notre Dame... We still won. Karl, West Virginia, we win by 40, he had one. I told him, We don't need you at all. They understand their job is being prepared to be the best version. They've got each other's back. We got enough guys. We are not a perfect team. We're undefeated, but we're not perfect.
Q. John, how would you define Devin's role on this team and the impact he's had this year for you?
COACH CALIPARI: When we recruited Devin, I knew he could score the ball. I didn't think he could guard a little bit. Knew that would be a problem for me to play him. I saw him in Moss Point playing 40-year-old guys who would score on him and run by him. I'm like, Oh, my gosh. Now you look at him, not only does he score the ball for us, he guards and he rebounds. His shooting takes us to another level. But he's had games where he's 0-9 and we still won. He's been a good teammate. He and Tyler in practice, these two can tell you, are ultra-competitive. They argue every call. Like if we make a call, Wait a minute, that's our ball. That's what they've added to this team. It's not just as players. Their competitive spirit. They all feed off of one another. Then these guys get mad and try to beat them by 100, then they talk. That's what's been happening all year for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks coach, thanks players. Good luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Player Breakout Session - April 3, 2015
On Coach Calipari
"He helps us get to the level that we want to be at. He challenges us in every way that we need to be challenged. He helps us in becoming better ball players and better people off the court."
On Coach Calipari not guaranteeing him a starting role:
"It is true. It resonated with me because it showed that I'm going to be challenged with everything that I have to do here. He wasn't going to take it easy on me or give me any benefits of the doubt because I'm a freshman coming in. He made me start from the bottom like everybody else."
On being proud of Canadian heritage
"I am very proud to be a Canadian. That's where I was born and lived there for seven years. That's where I started. I'm just proud to be a Canadian."
On growing up in Indiana
"It means a lot. It's where I started playing basketball. My family is here and it's a basketball state so playing became second nature to me."
On defending Wisconsin
"We just have to pressure them. Trying to make them uncomfortable with the ball."
On coming back to Indiana
"This week hasn't been any different from any other week. I keep my circle tight. People that usually are in contact with me I'm always talking to so it hasn't been that hectic for me."
On how Coach Calipari has pushed him
"Defensively. Having me go out there and guard smaller guys and pushing me to better myself defensively."
On first thing he did when coming back to Indianapolis
"First thing I did was get my hair cut. I went to my regular barber that I have here. Other than that everyone is just hanging out in their rooms playing games."
On perception of Kentucky before Coach Calipari was head coach
"I didn't know that much about Kentucky before Cal got there. Few years later they started winning, making noise, so people turned their attention to them. Of course everyone is watching them in the championship and stuff. Really once I saw that is when I started paying attention."
On the declaring for the NBA
"I haven't thought about that yet. I'm just trying to focus on this season and not get ahead of ourselves."
On creating more basketball memories in Indianapolis
"It's exciting to think about. It's right around the same time last year when we won the state title. It's just a cool experience. I know it's unique so I'm just blessed to have the opportunity to do that."
On his past year's experiences
"It's been crazy. Obviously winning a national title is bigger than a state championship. But those two will go head-to-head with me because they are such big moments in my life. They are great experiences to be a part of and not many people have that opportunity in their lives to win back-to-back championships in high school then in college. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
On blocking out distractions
"I'm just trying to take it as another game. It's cool that I'm at home but that shouldn't put any more pressure on me. It's just another game that I have to go out there and perform."
On Aaron Harrison
"He puts in a lot of work. After games and stuff you'll see the lights on in the gym or we'll walk in the gym and he is shooting jumpers on the gun. He puts a lot of hard work and preparation in."
On having a Tim Duncan-like game
"It does make sense the comparison and I do like it. Growing up, me and my dad worked on a lot of things that Tim Duncan would do such as fundamentals and just being fundamentally sound around the basket and in all areas so I have no problem with the analysis."
On playing for Kentucky and for John Calipari
"It is a lot of pressure sometimes, and he is hard on you, but he makes you a better player and a better person. It is an adjustment for everyone coming to college."
On his brother's clutch play
"He just has something in him that a lot of people don't have. He believes in himself. It was probably the fourth or fifth grade in an AAU game that I remember him hitting a big shot so he has been doing that for awhile."
On the team's great free throw shooting
"I think there is definitely a mental side to it. You just need to focus, know your routine and do it every time. Everyone is getting better at the line, and that is just having confidence and knowing what you are going to do when you get up to the line."
On what he has seen from Wisconsin
"They are a great team, a tough team and they are more athletic than they look. They can execute and play defense and get after you, so it is going to be a tough game."
On being in touch with former Kentucky players currently in the NBA
"It is cool because we have a lot in common. We are trying to get to where they are at so anytime you get some good advice that can elevate you, you better take it."
On watching and reviewing last year's National Championship Game
"I actually have not watched that game. It really can't help you. It is a new year and a new team, but at the same time, you remember the feeling you had after that game and you want that feeling again."
On the possibility of an undefeated season
"It would be a blessing. I couldn't even put it in words. It will be a tough two games to win, but if we do complete that goal, I couldn't even put it into words."
On the team's secret to playing unselfishly
"Winning. When you win, everything takes care of itself. When you have a lot of talented guys on the team, you have to be willing to sacrifice. It has not been difficult because we don't have any bad guys on the team or jealous guys so everyone is gelling just fine."
Thoughts on Wisconsin's opportunity for revenge:
"It helps them to want some revenge, but at this point everybody is after the same goal. That wouldn't be in my head. I'm just trying to win the game. For us, we're trying to make history. That's what is driving us."
On whether Blake is a good luck charm for him:
"I hope so. Lately he has been, especially in our last game. The game came down to crunch time and a turn of events happened. I like to think that he is a good luck charm. It would be crazy if he was here, and we won it all, and then he got to experience it all. It would be nutty for him."
On what the next couple of teams will help define the team as:
"I don't think it would necessarily define us, but it would put the icing on the cake. If we end up winning it all, then we will go down in history. If we end up losing, we will still go down in history being talked about that we were undefeated until we lost it. So either way we're going to be talked about, but we want to be talked about in a good way, not a letdown way."
On what this year's experience means to him after last year:
"It was just like being a spectator. To know that you don't have any influence in the outcome, that you can't affect the game in any way, this year is just a lot different. I now have an opportunity to affect that game, playing in something that few people get to play in."
On critics talking about making or losing history:
"It is what it is. You can't go around it. You know the way we've played thus far is historic. But to top it off by winning these last two games is unheard of, especially in this era."
On game-winning three pointer vs. Wisconsin in 2014 Final Four
"He was pretty tight on me, but it was a pretty important shot. I was pretty focused."
On (Josh) Gasser's aggressive defensive style
"I don't remember a lot about the game since it ended so dramatically and so emotionally. I mean I didn't score the ball very well throughout the whole game. I didn't play as well as people think I did just because I hit that last shot."
On potential motivation of a missed game-winning shot
"It would drive me pretty hard. It is just a chip on their shoulder just like we have a chip on our shoulder being so close to winning it all last year."
On people overlooking Kentucky's unfinished business from last season
"I think so. I think everyone is overlooking that. I don't see how it is really a revenge game because we are a completely different team with different players."
On game-by-game mentality of the team
"Our team is really confident on the offensive end and I think we have multiple players that once they get going they are tough to stop. That is why we are such a good offensive team."
On comparing yourself with Jahlil Okafor and Frank Kaminsky
"Obviously we're talking about two great, great players who are the best that college basketball has to offer. Just to be mentioned with them, knowing about them, they're great players and great human beings who play for such prestigious programs like Duke and Wisconsin. Just to be here is a blessing and just to be playing against competition like that is a blessing."
On what an undefeated season would mean
"It would mean we won a national championship. That's the biggest thing and that's our goal. That's been our goal since the beginning of the year. We wanted to win it all and we're so close to it right now. We just need to capitalize on opportunities and play the game we know how to play."
On his relationship with Jahlil Okafor
"Like he said, we are really good friends. Before we went to college we were really good friends, so you know, you always root for him also. You want him to do well. Just watching him play, he's having an outstanding year and I've always wished him the best. We talk to each other on each other's birthdays, so I'm just always wishing him the best."
On preparing for Wisconsin
"They're a great team, a great program and they have a great coach. When you have that combination, anything's possible. You never know how March is gonna go, you never know who's going to get upset, who's going to lose, you just have to worry about what the next game holds. I always knew Wisconsin had the talent and definitely had the coaching to make it to this point."
On competing against Jahlil Okafor and the future of his basketball career based on this weekend's outcome
"(Laughs) Of course we're going to be competitors, I mean we aren't going to be in the spot we're in playing for great universities if we weren't competitors. But at the same time, number one or number two, we both haven't declared for anything. We still are coming back for our sophomore years, looking to do more impressive things. So, the day we declare is when we can worry about number one picks. Right now, I'm just a freshman at the University of Kentucky looking to finish out strong and get ready for my sophomore year."
Coaches Press Conference - April 2, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We're going to open with questions for Coach Ryan or Coach Calipari.
Q. John, talk a little bit about Trey coming back here. Sometimes you're worried about players when they come home.
COACH CALIPARI: I worry about that. As a matter of fact, I even forgot it until I got on the bus last night. I went, Oh, my gosh, we're coming back to Indiana, back to Indianapolis. I said, Oh, my gosh. He laughs about it. But it's a hard deal. The whole environment is hard for everybody. So he'll be fine.
Q. So much college basketball history, it's built on four-year guys. In the current state of basketball, is it possible for guys to do that in one year? What does it require to do that?
COACH RYAN: John knows more about this than I do. I wouldn't know how to answer it. About one-year guys and how they can leave a legacy?
COACH RYAN: By doing what they're doing: winning, garnering national attention, playing in Final Fours, at least to the semis.
COACH CALIPARI: (Laughter).
COACH RYAN: John and I were having a blast back here talking about Pennsylvania high school basketball. Maybe he would know more about what he's seen over his tenure, so...
COACH CALIPARI: It's changed. It's changed for all of us. It's changed from Internet to draft lists to the gazillions in the NBA. It's all that stuff that's made this different, our jobs different. I will tell you, we have universities here around this country, some of the top, that encourage genius, kids to move on and do their things if they stayed one or two years. As a matter of fact, they'll invest in them financially and tell them, If it doesn't go, you can come back and your position will always be there. I don't understand why it's a problem if it's the same with basketball players. These kids have a genius. Our jobs are to help them grow on and off the court, to help them become better men, to be prepared for society, yet they're chasing a dream and they have a genius. Their genius isn't just athleticism or size. There's no way you can be special at this sport unless you have the right kind of mind. Our kids, some have stayed one year, some have stayed two, three, some have stayed four. We've graduated kids in three years. We've had 10 kids graduate. We'll have four on this year's team. That's in six years. We've had two of those kids graduate in three years. We've had a 3.0 grade point average for five straight years. Last semester was a 3.1. 13 out of 16 kids had a 3.0 or better. That may aggravate you to hear that, but that's the truth. We both have jobs, help our kids reach their dreams. Some of them can leave after a year, others can't, so they stay.
COACH RYAN: Going back. What I agree totally with is the entertainers, the people who are talented in other areas that end up going and doing something, going out of school thinking later to come back, that maybe they'll get their degree, maybe they won't. You never hear about those people. It only comes up, and John has to face those type of questions a heck of a lot more than I do. In college, if people are stepping away, I don't call it dropping out, they're stepping away to pursue their passion. So if it happens, I'm sure there's still a connection there later. Guys can take care of business. I have I can't tell you how many players on a different scale, that played four years, were pretty good, but not good enough for the NBA. A lot of them have like eight credits, 15 credits, 20 some credits left to go. At Wisconsin, you cannot take classes, paper classes, and these other type of classes. You have to be in the classroom for the majority of your major. So it's two semester sports, so when they play professionally overseas, I have a ton of guys who cannot get their degrees until they are finished with their professional contracts. They're hanging out there with maybe a semester to go. People would say, Oh, they didn't finish college. Some of them have played for 10 years, eight years, five years professionally. As soon as they're done with a professional contract, 'cause you have to show that for your APR, then they start to count again. But the federal graduation rate is six years from the time you start. The really neat part for someone like me is to see these guys chasing their dream, getting a paycheck, getting paid pretty well overseas, and then come back and then finish their degrees. So I didn't know if you were referring to why people come in and leave or whatever. My guys are leaving in a different sense more so than John's guys.
Q. Coach Ryan, with the amount of fun that your team seems to be having this year, how did that personality and chemistry of those guys develop? Are they looser than last year, as well?
COACH RYAN: Believe it or not, I know how I'm perceived by some people. I'm actually a pretty funny guy.
COACH CALIPARI: No, you're not, you're mean (smiling).
COACH RYAN: You know, I'm a serious guy. I know what the other side is like. As far as understanding that this is a lifetime experience, a small timeframe of four years, three, whatever the years are, you may as well enjoy it with the personalities that are there. You can either try to stifle certain things or you can feed the certain things, you can enjoy certain things. But the fun that our guys have is all about their relationships and the things that they're interested in, the things they're competitive about. They have more fun with the bragging rights of video games, which is why I did the thing I did the other day. I made a statement that I was the pinball wizard of the state of Pennsylvania in the '60s, to elicit one thing. Do you know how many guys have said, Wait a minute, you weren't that good. I was better than you. When do you want to play again? So it did exactly what I wanted it to do. Just what these guys are doing when they get into their needling about who is the best video games guy. So they have their fun. Believe me, when they get on the practice court, they're looking at film, they're playing in the games, they understand what competition is about.
Q. John, do you find with this whole one-and-done thing that is criticism is abating a little bit as time goes by or other programs adopt the same philosophy?
COACH CALIPARI: It's just a different era. We're deal ing with things in a different way. You just have to, we all are. Whether me or Bo, if Bo has a guy after a year, Bo is going to tell him to go for it if he's a lottery pick. We're all in the same thing. You don't know when you recruit a kid if he's going to leave after a year. You don't know. You just coach them, then they make a decision what they want to do. We just try to make sure we make this about the kids. The reason things are different, 20 years ago NBA contracts were 125,000. Now if you're a top-10 pick, it's $25 million. Your next contract may be $8o million. That's $100 million. You have to respect that. You have to respect these kids' genius. You have to develop young people. People are looking at it and saying, one, we have great kids. Whether they chase their dream or not doesn't make them good or bad, we have great kids. The second thing is our kids are connected. Anyone that knows any of our players that are in the NBA, not in the NBA, they are connected whether they stayed one year, two years, three. We are family, and they know that. They stay in touch. They text. We talk to them. I'll go to games. They'll come in for watching games. It's just different. I think everybody's now looking at this saying, It's not my rule. As a matter of fact it's not the NCAA's rule. This is a rule between the NBA and the Players' Association. It's something that we can deal with in a way, let's just worry about me as a coach and my program, I'm not worried about them. Get them to stay, force them to stay, don't play them as much at the end of their year so they got to stay. Or you let them run and make a decision on what they want to do. They don't always make the right decision now. Like sometimes they should stay, and they choose to live. Well, you got to live with that, too, because it's their life, not my life.
COACH RYAN: Can I add? Nigel Hayes, after he said he was coming to Wisconsin, you can ask him this, said, Coach, now if I'm the Player of the Year my freshman year and I decide to go pro, is that okay with you?
COACH CALIPARI: No, you're staying (laughter).
COACH RYAN: I had a young man, Are you serious, Nigel? I just said, Hey, sure, I have no problem with that. Did I know how good he was going to become? No. But he wasn't MVP his first year. But, you know, by the time he's finished, he might be pretty good. But that's his sense of humor. When I was asked about our guys, the camaraderie, the fun they have, Nigel is one of the leaders in there.
Q. Cal, what has it been like to watch Willie grow up personally as a player and for you what does it mean to see him sit up on that stage in a few minutes after not being able to experience the Final Four fully last year?
COACH CALIPARI: I have the veterans come to my office before we left, tell them how proud we are of them. I looked at Willie, I said, Can you imagine, Willie? Tell these guys where I saw you play. In an AAU game. He said, I don't want to remember. How many points did you get in that AAU game? He got two. The guy he who was guarding him was like 6'4". He has come so far as a player, but more importantly as a person. He came in saying, you know what, I don't like academics, I'm going to do what you're making me do. He and I became book club members together. I would make him read books. He and I would discuss books. One of the things he said last year is, I'm enjoying school. That's what we're supposed to be about. This is supposed to be about the love of reading, the love of learning, understand an educated man doesn't get robbed or fooled. If you think you're coming here, getting all kinds of money, you'll be broke. You educate yourself. You understand how to read contracts. Those are things that for these kids I'm most proud of. Now he's going into his junior year, here is a kid that averages under double figures and is one of the top players in the country 'cause he's that selfless about his team. It's a good part about what we do, to see that kind of growth.
Q. How good is the overall talent on the four teams here? How much is there sort of a pick your poison element in trying to design your defenses to stop all the players?
COACH RYAN: Well, we played Michigan State and we played Duke. We played Kentucky our last game last year. What I can say about the talent is there's shooters, there's ball handlers, there's bigs. I mean, you can go from every aspect of the game of basketball and look at these four teams, there are guys that are just blue-collar guys that are there to rebound and play defense, there are guys that are there to score, there are guys that are there to kill you in the post, there's guys defensively that can lock you down. I would say in this Final Four, having played all the teams within the past year, there's a little bit of everything. It's at a very high level.
COACH CALIPARI: I think, you know, that because the talent level is what it is, I think we're all just worried about our own teams playing well. I just want my team -- we're not going to control what Wisconsin does. They're going to play the way they play. I just hope my team plays well. I think if you talk to all four coaches, when you say, We're stopping Wisconsin. We're not stopping Wisconsin. I just hope my team plays well and then we'll see how it plays out.
Q. In the Final Four game last year, Kaminsky struggled a little bit. Cal, what did you do against him so well? Can you use what you did last year at all Saturday?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we didn't have Willie. Marcus Lee played him some. We really played him with a bunch of different guys. I don't think there's one thing that we did. He missed some shots that he normally makes. Just looking at it, because I glanced at it again to make sure, What did we do? You know, played like we always play. Dakari Johnson played him a lot in that game and Marcus Lee was the other. I even think we put -- I don't know if we put any smaller guys on him, I can't remember. We know how good he is. I just saw him out in the hallway. I said, Look, I'm so tired of looking at your tape right now. I said to Bo, we were laughing, how much better he's gotten in a two-year period is almost scary. He and Dekker both. They both have a swagger about them, they both have a high belief in their teams. They know how they're going to play. This is who we are. They do it.
Q. This year's tournament is worth somewhere around $700 million for the NCAA. By making the Final Four, you guys have earned $8 million or $9 million for your conferences to cover costs, salaries. Should any of that money do you think go directly to your players?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I think it's taken the NCAA 30 to 40 years, but they're beginning to change now. I mean, right now we brought parents to the Final Four for the first time. My opinion, which I don't give very often, I keep my opinions to myself, but in this case I'll tell you. My opinion is the parents should come to every round. Why should the parents only come to the final round? What about the other 64 teams that played in this, why wouldn't their parents enjoy being with them? We changed the food policy. We now can feed our kids. We're not going to try to make them fat. You won't believe this, we're not going to try to feed them too much, but we're going to feed them and we'll make it as healthy as we can because that's what we're doing. I think what we're doing with the stipends, I think we have to move to paying for their insurance. These kids have to pay their own disability insurance. It encourages them to leave early. Would you want a $100,000 debt to pay back. We should pay that. If a kid stays more than one year, maybe the NBA or someone else should pay for the loss of value. If you decide to stay longer, we'll insure you if you choose to stay in school if that's what they want to do so they're not forced. I think the NCAA is moving in the right direction they need to move. It's a slow-moving boat. But for 40 years, This is the way it is, we're not changing. Now they've been forced to move in the direction of these young people. I think they've done a pretty good job here over the last year.
COACH RYAN: Well, I know there has been changes. I've been on the board of the NABC, I've lost track of the number, but I'm now on the Executive Committee, which means I'm getting close to being President of the Coaches Association. Cal is on the board now. We've been discussing this for a long time, about even in the Big Ten tournament, parking in Chicago for the parents, driving to games. For the NCAA tournament, you gave the figures. I don't know the figures. You gave the figures. We've been asking for help for the parents to get to the games in the NCAA tournament at least for the finals is where we started for the Final Four. But then the more we talked about it, it's like, for the whole NCAA tournament that parents should have some stipend. Isn't it amazing that the basketball, men's basketball tournament, men's basketball, period, pays 90-some percent of the NCAA's budget, expenses. Football had a championship game, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't the parents get taken care of to go see their kids play in the football championship game? Somebody told me that, but I never had it verified. John, if you're shaking your head, and Hoops is agreeing with you, I'm not sure if I'm right. What I'm getting at is, all of a sudden football goes to a championship game. Oh, and then, for the men's Final Four we're going to take care of the parents for that, too. Well, thank you, that was awfully nice. But we think it should be for more. We've even in our own conference been trying to lobby for expenses for parents coming to the Big Ten tournament. It's not going to be just in the Midwest, it's going to be on the East Coast now. From our own conference which makes money from the Big Ten tournament, parents should get some help, some type of stipend.
Q. Bo, John just talked about how much growth Frank has had in the last couple years. From your perspective, have you coached many guys that have grown as much as Frank has from start to finish?
COACH RYAN: No, not someone who -- and it's not the finish because Frank is still getting better. As soon as he gets some good coaching when he's out of college, he'll be really good (smiling). He's worked at every drill. He's worked at everything we've given him. He's looked at the films. He's very astute when it comes to picking up nuances of moves, using his body, positioning. So, you know, his family background, there's athletes. His parents are very athletic, very smart. So we were getting a player who we knew was hungry and wanted to prove that he could get to be pretty good. We tend to enjoy having those kind of guys around. But for somebody to go to the level he has, from start to finish, no, I've never had a player like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coaches.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Players Press Conference - April 2, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the players. We'll start with questions.
Q. Travis and for Quinn, you guys played in your second and third game. What do you remember about that game and does it have any relevance?
TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, we watched a lot of film last week on that first game, just looking at all the turnovers, a lot of mistakes we have. Duke is a great team. They were great then. We feel they're a better team now than what they were earlier in November.
QUINN COOK: Agreeing with what Travis says, they're a great team, we're a great team. All four teams here are great. We played them our third game of the year, still trying to figure ourselves out. I guess it was their second game. We're two different teams now. They're way better. I feel like we've gotten better. Everyone is playing at championship level. Watching film of that game, more recently from how they've been playing, they're playing as well as anybody. We got our hands full tomorrow or Saturday.
Q. Willie, if you could just sort of reflect on the journey from the last three years here at Kentucky, also playing here, getting a chance to play in this Final Four after last year having to watch it.
Willie Cauley-Stein: One, he lied. I didn't only score two points. I mean, it's just crazy to think about the last three years of losing first round in the NIT against Robert Morris. Coming back and finding a way to get back to a title game, coming up short, having a chance to come back and do it again. With the guys that we got, it's a special group. I mean, everybody on the team has a purpose. That's how we play.
Q. Frank, could you talk a little bit about what you've seen of Willie Cauley-Stein by watching him on film, if you know anything about him personality-wise?
FRANK KAMINSKY: He's a great player. He changes the game in so many different ways, offensively, defensively. You got to know where he is on the court at all times, he's that good. Personality-wise, we're talking about Super Smash Bros. on the way up here, so I feel like we would get along (laughter).
Q. Travis, you've talked often about the journey, how far you've come personally. Are you able to look where you are today, have you taken time to appreciate how far you've come?
TRAVIS TRICE: Yeah, definitely. Not only this week, but just driving in here, even today, all the media, all the things we've had to do. I'm appreciative of it. After everything I've been through for the past four years, makes it that much more memorable.
Q. Frank, you now face the third team you played in the tournament last year. When you saw the bracket come out, did you allow yourself to think at all about maybe having almost the same path you had last year? Then, has that impacted the way your team has played, to face Arizona and Oregon and Kentucky again?
FRANK KAMINSKY: It does make it a little bit easier. It's definitely not easy, but it makes it a little bit easier having seen opponents because you get to see their sets. You have a scouting report that's just a year old. It's not going to be easy. But Kentucky's a really good team and we're going to have to prepare as well as possible from them. We know they're different from last year, so are we. So it's going to be a good game.
Q. Quinn, you've been a team leader all year long, kind of ushered the freshmen through the ups and downs of ACC basketball. This is all new for you, too. Is your role the same? How are you handling this Final Four opportunity?
QUINN COOK: My role is the same. Just continue to lead these guys. No player from our team has been here to the Final Four. New experience, we want to take it in, have fun. At the end of the day, we're here to win games. Not change, just continue doing the great habits we've done all year, just have fun.
Q. Frank, how did the personality and chemistry of this team develop over the last two years? Is it safe to say you and Nigel set the tone for that in the locker room?
FRANK KAMINSKY: Yeah, Nigel's a funny guy. It's great being around so many characters on our team. It just makes this experience that much more memorable being around so many fun guys. It's just been a great ride so far. Hopefully we get to stay here as long as possible.
Q. Frank, have you watched how Travis has caught fire? Travis, Coach K called you last night the best player in this tournament. If you start, Travis, how do you react to that?
TRAVIS TRICE: I'm just thankful. That's the ultimate compliment, especially from a coach like Coach K, one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game. But I just try and focus and do what my teammates need, what our team needs to win. That's all that's going through my mind when I'm out there playing, what do I need to do to help us win.
FRANK KAMINSKY: We've seen Travis twice this year. We know how good he is. We know how he can inspire his team. He's the leader of his team. He knows how to get his guys going. In that Big Ten title game, it was tough chasing him around for so long. You saw against Virginia in the tournament how he got hot to start the game, set the tone for his team. He's a great player and he's doing a great job leading his time.
Q. Frank and Willie, who do you each to prefer to play in Super Smash Bros and why?
FRANK KAMINSKY: I've been trying Captain Falcon. He's really slow, so I think I'm going to go back to Kirby.
Willie Cauley-Stein: I play with Kirby just because he can change. He can change into anybody he's playing against. And he flies around, so when you get knocked off the little stage, you can just fly back and you don't have to worry about jumping.
Q. Frank, your team is a fun bunch. Do you feel like the guys are tightening up at all here at the Final Four?
FRANK KAMINSKY: Yes and no. I mean, we played Super Smash Bros in our hospitality room for a while last night while the barber was in there, hanging out, chilling out, having fun. When we got on the court today for practice, all seriousness. We know how to flip it when we need to.
Q. Willie, might be strange for some folks to see a UK guy right next to a Duke guy. You've played each other. Not exactly the hatred the fan bases may have. What is the mentality for your peers up here, respect?
Willie Cauley-Stein: Definitely respect. Just the road that everybody's gone through to get here. Especially at the beginning of the season when they said this is going to be the people in the Final Four, it's just crazy that those are the people in the Final Four now. But, I mean, just a great respect for each one of these players up here, and their teams. You know, each one of us is a big part of their team, the way they run things. It's really just a good respect.
Q. Willie, you played Notre Dame. Tremendous offensive team. Wisconsin ranks as the best team on offense in basketball. What do they do better than Notre Dame? Do you anticipate you're going to guard and get primary duty on Frank come Saturday?
Willie Cauley-Stein: Us watching film, they run angles a lot. One of our biggest things in the Notre Dame game was giving up backdoors, easy baskets. They utilized that. They kind of pride themselves on, you know, exploiting people's weakness and taking over from it. So that's our biggest thing is not giving up easy baskets, not letting them play angles against us.
Q. Willie and Frank, you showed your versatility in the Notre Dame game. Is it possible you could play out on the perimeter against Dekker? Frank, if Willie is out on the perimeter, they still have a lot of other big guys on the inside. What is the difficulty of playing that many big guys?
Willie Cauley-Stein: I think with the guys that we have, we're going to do a lot of switching anyway. Not one person is going to be on that set player during the whole game. You know, everybody in practice has been guarding guards and bigs. We're just kind of ready for everything.
FRANK KAMINSKY: Having so many tall, athletic players on our team, it definitely doesn't make it easy. At the same time we know that we're going to be able to get some stuff just like they're going to be able to get some stuff going on on offense. It's going to be a battle, we know that. They have like seven guys over 6'10", so... It's going to be fun. I can't wait. It's not going to be easy to prepare because obviously there's no scout team in the country that can replicate what they have on their team. We'll just be prepared for whatever.
Q. Frank, a lot of the coaches' talk was about your development. Bo said he never has had a player that's taken it to the level you have. What factor do you have in your mind in your development to take you where you're at?
FRANK KAMINSKY: A lot of it has to do with, if you look at these guys, the success they had in their college careers, I wanted that for myself. I wanted to work as hard as I could to get to this stage, be a good player. It definitely wasn't easy, but I was willing to put in the time, effort and work to do so. It's gone better, better than I planned. At the end of the day there's still a lot of work left. I think I can still improve on my game and improve on the season.
Q. Willie, you had so many freshmen last year. Has it been easier pulling together as a special team this year with some sophomores and even an elderly junior such as yourself?
Willie Cauley-Stein: Definitely. Especially the way Coach Cal coaches, it's really high, it's really quick. As freshmen coming in, you have to learn stuff at a way faster rate than other teams do because they have so many guys that have stayed. This year it was like that. We had the majority of our team that had played under him before. We already knew what the expectations was, everything like that. So it made it a lot easier.
Q. Willie, you didn't get a chance to play here last year. Do you think you would have made a difference against UConn and how excited are you to play in the Final Four?
Willie Cauley-Stein: I'm super excited to play. It's a dream. When you're young and you're playing in your driveway, you're playing one-on-one against yourself, this is the moment that you're playing against. So it is definitely a dream and a blessing to be here. But I can't say that I would have made a difference in the game. I'm not a fortune teller. I can't really tell you that. I mean, I would like to think so, but I can't really say on that.
Q. Travis, what do you love the most about this team and what makes it so special both on and off the court? If you can follow that up by answering, how you think you guys have changed the most since the first time around since Duke?
TRAVIS TRICE: I think our camaraderie is what's really gotten us to this point. We've kind of had an up-and-down year if you look at some of our losses. I think just staying the course really and never losing faith in our team or our abilities. But I think that speaks to your second question. We're constantly together. Like Frank said, the hospitality room, we were there till 12:00, 1:00 last night. You really got to fight us to get away from each other. I think that's a good thing and helps us in close games.
Q. Travis, you played obviously earlier in the year. What was your memories of Justise Winslow?
TRAVIS TRICE: He's a matchup problem. He played well early on. He kind of hurt us when we played him. He's gotten better since then, too. I think it's their entire team. They're a totally different team in a better sense than they were when we played them the first time. That's why we've been studying film so much.
Q. Quinn, how do you suppose this experience is different for you as a senior than what it might have been as a freshman? How do you think the prism you're taking all this in is what the freshmen on this team are enjoying right now?
QUINN COOK: I'm like a kid in a candy store here. Obviously it being my first time, you know, I've had two early exits in the first rounds, losing to Louisville in the Elite 8, seeing those guys cut the nets down, celebrate, remembering that. It's a blessing to be here, especially with these three guys. These four historic programs here, it's a dream come true for myself. I'm blessed to be where I am on this team because we've been through a lot this year, a lot on the court, off the court. We always have trust in each other. Coach never gave up hope and always encouraged us. I'm just blessed to be up here.
Q. (No microphone.)
QUINN COOK: It's the Final Four. Everybody doesn't get here. It's a blessing to be one of the four teams remaining. I think those guys are having fun as much as I am. It was one of our goals to get here. We got a tough game on Saturday.
Q. Frank, you had a great run through the tournament last year, had a tough game against Kentucky. What did you learn about yourself from that Kentucky game that maybe you took with you into the off-season?
FRANK KAMINSKY: I learned that maybe I wasn't as good as I thought I was at that point in time. Just going against a team like theirs, they have so many elite players on the court at all times, I just struggled and didn't play as well as I wanted to. I think that was a big driving factor, motivating factor to try to get back here, try to play better than we did last year, hopefully come out on top. It going to be definitely tougher than last year, we know that. We're going to do whatever we can to do so.
Q. Travis, when you look at the other teams, the star power they have, is that something that motivates you a little bit more, see kind of star power on the other teams?
TRAVIS TRICE: Definitely. I mean, like Quinn said, these are four elite programs. The other three teams here are number one seeds. They definitely have more McDonalds All-Americans, more star power than we do. At the same time I feel that's kind of what drove us to get here. Us against the world mentality, that's helped us get through the season.
Q. How do you feel about the growth of your team in the NCAA tournament? What does the slope of that line look like?
FRANK KAMINSKY: I feel like we've grown a lot in the NCAA tournament. We've gone through a lot of adverse situations so far and we've responded and played well enough to get here. It's been a great ride. Hopefully we can continue with the success we've had so far.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Like what Frank said, we've been through a lot of adversity, kind of up and down. Playing the first round against Cincinnati, Notre Dame having a nail-biter. It's been kind of up and down for us. As a group, you know, guys just stick together and stay the course, we were able to come up on top. To be in the situation we're in right now is unbelievable. It's crazy to think that last year after we lost, guys went back to the hotel and said, We're coming back, we got to make it back to the tournament. It's just crazy that it really came true like that.
QUINN COOK: Agreeing with Willie and Frank, it's been a tough road. We had to grind out some games. Against Utah, we couldn't hit a shot. Against Gonzaga, we had to get some stops. We couldn't miss a shot at the end of the game. We've all had different paths. For us to be here is a blessing, like we all say. I think we've grown on the defensive end, taking pride at getting stops, stringing stops together, staying poised, staying together. Just agreeing with these two, it's just unbelievable to be here. I'm thankful for it.
TRAVIS TRICE: I think adversity is what has gotten our team to this point. Midway through the year, we were on the bubble. People questioned whether we were going to get into the tournament. Because of that, we've banded together. I think we're just peaking at the right time.
Q. Travis, earlier in the week Coach Izzo talked about the bus ride, what it would be like to be on it coming down here. How was it different maybe than any other rides you've had before?
TRAVIS TRICE: Well, I slept most of the way down here (smiling). But it was kind of cool. We actually stopped on Dave and Buster's on the way outside the city. Guys were excited. We're going to take it all in. We're blessed to be here. We're just appreciative of it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Media Opportunity - March 31, 2015
#2, Aaron Harrison, G
On if it bothered him of how people's perception of their lifestyles in the classroom and having fun on the court at the same time changed over time ...
"It didn't bother us because we knew it wasn't the truth. We know a lot of people say things about us and make their own theories about us, but it's not true. We're just student athletes like everyone else. We are required to go to class and make the grades. We're just like every other program in that sense."
On people seeing their close games this year as them being vulnerable ...
"There's been great teams, obviously, and I think every great team has been in close games. Nobody has run through a whole tournament, series or anything. You have to prove how to win tough games, to be a great team. The close calls that we've had this season helped us win the last game and other close games before that. I think it's made us a stronger team."
On his thoughts of motivation from losing last year in the championship game and how he thinks Wisconsin is using their loss to Kentucky last year as motivation ...
"When you get this close into the Final Four, everyone is motivated. I think that we have a chip on our shoulder and have a lot to prove. I'm not sure how other teams feel, but I know we're as motivated as we've ever been and even more. We're just going out and trying to win games, make statements, and play as hard as we can."
On how this Final Four feels compared to last year's ...
"I think last year we were just excited to be there. This year we're not going to be satisfied with just the feeling. We're just going up there to win."
On the development of Tyler Ulis this season ...
"It's tough being here overall and Tyler, being the small guy, is obviously tough. Everybody knows he's a tough kid. He's overcome so many people saying he's too small and things like that. He's a big reason we're in the Final Four and a big part of our team. He's a great player."
On Willie Cauley-Stein playing in the game vs. Wisconsin this year as opposed to being hurt last year ...
"Having Willie on the floor is obviously a huge help. He's probably the best defender I've ever seen in person. He's a big help."
On how it's tough being here at Kentucky ...
"Just in general. Everything you do is under a microscope. You're just overly criticized. It's tough being a young man here, but it's not a bad place to be obviously. We have a great amount of fun."
On how late in games you have to shift from unselfish play to a `I have to score' mentality ...
"It's a role you have to play. Karl (Towns) had it going obviously. Nobody could stop him. We just kept feeding him. For me, I had the feeling that my team needed a momentum change so I wanted to be that. That's just what you do when you have a lot of great guys that can do that. It's the benefit of being on a great team with other great players."
#44, Dakari Johnson, C
On the definition of Kentucky defense ...
"Playing with energy and just helping each other out on defense and just having each other's back."
On which game felt the closest to getting away (losing) ...
"Probably just the last game (vs. Notre Dame) and you know it being so close you know guys just stepped up and made plays."
On if the talk earlier in the year of Kentucky ruining college basketball bothered you and how you feel now its swinging the other way with making grades and playing unselfishly ...
"We weren't bothered by it because we knew what really what the deal was. We did everything everybody else does basically. We just stayed together and didn't listen to it."
On the philosophy of the rotations when Coach uses different combinations based on matchups and situations and how you have adjusted ...
"That's what makes him such a good coach. He knows what's best for us. He's going to do everything for the team to win. He's going to put the guys in there that are going to battle and just compete."
On going into this final four compared to last year ...
"Last year it wasn't expected. This year it's expected from us so you know we are going out there to win and last year it kind of just felt like we were happy to be there."
On playing against this matchup last year without Willie Cauley-Stein and how having him this year will change things or do differently ...
"It's going to be great. He matches up well with the guys they have on the floor. It gives us just another weapon that we didn't have last year."
#12, Karl-Anthony Towns, F
On your definition of Kentucky defense ...
"Energy. (Everything) starts with energy and just make sure that we get contested shots at all times, no open shots, and just help each other out as much as possible."
On the problems that Frank Kaminsky creates for opponents ...
"Kaminsky is a great player and it is going to be just one competitive game. I really can't wait to play."
On staying poised and winning close games throughout the year ...
"I think it's implemented in us through our years of playing basketball. It's just always trying to win every game that we possibly play at any given cost. I think it has also been learned this year a little bit in learning to find ways to win by out smarting opponents in clutch time. I think that's what we've done a great job of this year is when the game gets really tight, we step up as a team and we come together instead of falling apart from each other."
On the journey of where this team was in October to where this team is now ...
"In October it is hard to think of being 38-0 in the Final Four. It's never been done before and obviously coming in I knew my brothers had a great amount of talent but we never knew we were going to gel so well and the season was going to go the way it went. We are blessed for this opportunity and we want to try to end the season with no regrets and that is what we are trying to do."