Coach Calipari and the team met with the media on Saturday to preview their Elite Eight matchup with the Auburn Tigers.
After narrowly defeating Houston 62-58 on Friday night, the only thing standing between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Final Four is a beating familiar SEC opponent for the third time this season.
Even though Auburn may be the hottest team in the country, it is still difficult to have any gripes about UK’s path to Minneapolis.
Kentucky has already beaten Auburn two times in the regular season, including on their own homecourt. The Tigers’ last loss actually came inside Rupp Arena on February 23rd, when UK blew them out by a score of 80-53. Bruce Pearl’s team responded in a major way by winning their next 11 straight games after being embarrassed in Lexington.
Auburn is arguably the most feared team that remains in the NCAA tournament.
The big news from Friday’s Sweet 16 games in Kansas City was the incredibly unfortunate injury of Auburn’s sophomore forward Chuma Okeke. The Tigers dominated the #1 seed North Carolina but losing Okeke is going to be a major blow ahead of taking on a deep front-court team like Kentucky.
Even more unfortunate, Okeke was probably playing his best basketball of the season. He had 20 points on 8/11 shooting before leaving the Sweet Sixteen game with a gruesome knee injury. Not having his 6-8, 230-pound frame available is sure to be a great challenge for Auburn to try and overcome. The Tigers will be without his 12 points per game and 50% FG shooting in their most important game of the season.
If you’ve watched Auburn play at all this season you know that their success is predominantly predicated on making shots from the outside. The Tigers have attempted an unbelievable 1150 three pointers this season, which includes the 98 that they’ve shot in their three NCAA tournament games. Auburn put up 37 shots from behind the arch against Tar Heels, and Kentucky can likely expect the same on Sunday.
Early in the season, the Cats biggest weakness was their perimeter defense, but now that March is here, that area is now a strength. Kentucky has only had 20 total threes made against them in their three NCAA tournament games. Auburn made 17 threes in their last game alone.
The biggest advantage for the #2 seeded Wildcat team is going to be their ability to dominate the glass. Auburn has been outrebounded in every single game of the NCAA Tournament. In their 1-point win in the opening round, New Mexico State pounded the Tigers by +15 on the boards.
UK should use that blueprint and use their size to get offensive rebounds and second chance points.
Here is what John Calipari and the players had to say about their Elite 8 match-up with Auburn:
Q. If you had any message to the guys who maybe knew him or even to the team when something like that happens.
JOHN CALIPARI: We were all like -- you shake your head as a player, you know, that’s out there. You know what I’m saying? Every one of us were -- makes you physically ill. You know, this is a sport that that happens at times, and you don’t want to see it happen to anybody. And the crazy thing is, you know, not only is their team playing as well as any team in the country right now, they’re beating people by 25. Not only is that the case, he was playing as though he was their best player, which he probably was. So, I feel bad for him. File bad for his family and his teammates.
Q. Keldon or PJ, first of all, how is the foot feeling today? And does your presence up here indicate that you’ll be starting tomorrow?
PJ WASHINGTON: I don’t know if I’m going to start. I’m definitely feeling good. Got some treatment going and good night’s rest. I’m feeling a lot better.
JOHN CALIPARI: I asked him at halftime, Do you want to start?” He said, “No, I’m good. Let me come off the bench.” I said okay. You know, what’s great about it, this group of players that are here, even Mr. Hagans down the other end, you know, they’re gym rats. I mean, you know, PJ and I were talking about it. What made you do it? They love playing. I love competing. I love --you know -- and you look at Reid in here in the gym all the time, Tyler and Keldon and they’re gym rats. They love this. They love the game. They love making plays. They’re a pleasure to coach. I told them they added years to my life coaching this team. Well, maybe not Keldon, but the rest of them --I’m just teasing, Keldon.
Q. Reid, you’re sitting up there on the podium and it literally and figuratively is the biggest stage in college basketball right now. How does it feel to be just one game away from being able to get home to Minneapolis license and play a Final Four in your home town? That’s really like living the dream for you. Can you kind of express to us your emotions, your thoughts, the blessings you feel for being in that position?
REID TRAVIS: Yeah, like you said, just being one game away from being in the Final Four and back home. I’m really excited for it, but no more than any other game. I’m trying to just take the preparation the same way, just approach it like any other game. I feel like if you look at it too much as far as trying to go home and kind of put all that on it, that’s just too much weight on it. So for me, it’s just trying to approach it the same way, just enjoy it with my teammates, go out and work as hard as I can in the game.
Q. Tyler, I have a question for you. Obviously you guys played a few games without PJ who is one of your top players. Now Auburn is kind of facing the same thing with one of their top players in Okeke. How did you guys rally around that, and do you kind of expect Auburn to do the same thing in the situation they’re in?
TYLER HERRO: Yeah. I think they’ll still be ready. They’re playing, like coach said, as hard as any team in the country. I think they’ll still come out, play their game. I think they’ll be ready to go.
Q. PJ, if there’s one person’s story that is better than Reid’s, it could possibly be yours, to be able to come back for a second year and then overcome the injured foot that you have and now playing for the Final Four. What are your thoughts about that, and what would you like to say to the people now that you’re up there on the stage?
PJ WASHINGTON: Just a lot of hard work we all put in as a team finally paying off. We got one more game to prove how good we are. So I mean, we’re just kind of trying to come out tomorrow and look out to play tough and how we’ve been playing the rest of the season. If we did that, we’ll be fine. Our goal is to win the whole thing. That’s always in the back of our minds.
Q. Given that the last time you guys played Auburn, it was a huge blowout win for you, how much confidence did that give you going into the game, knowing it’s more of a known entity and you’ve been able to beat this opponent by a sizeable
JOHN CALIPARI: Let me say something, because I watched that tape. They haven’t watched the tape. I watched it twice, as a matter of fact. We made more 3s than we’ve made most of the season. PJ made five himself. You ready for this? Ashton had four. Hear what I just said now. And so all of a sudden, you know, we have a lot of 3s we normally didn’t make, which was the difference in the game. And they missed a lot of shots. When I watched the game, it was close for awhile, and all of a sudden PJ went corner, PJ went top, PJ went wing, and all of a sudden, we’re up 12. It kind the got away because they missed some shots. Reid didn’t play in that game. The rim was protected by both Nick and EJ. They wanted EJ a little bit. Nick went in, they blocked shots, we made those tough, and that’s what happened. They’ve won 11 games in a row. The game has no bearing on this game, really doesn’t.
Q. Keldon, you guys have beat Auburn twice this season. How difficult is it to beat a team three times in one season and why?
THE MODERATOR: We’re going to have Keldon answer this then Ashton, back to the head coach.
ASHTON HAGANS: We played them twice already. They’ll come out an give us their all. We just got to go out there, play together, and stay as a team.
KELDON JOHNSON: I mean, just to piggyback what he said. Just got to come in focused and ready to play. We can’t be thinking about the last two times we played them. They’re hot right now and they’re playing really good. So just got to come in focused and ready to go.
JOHN CALIPARI: You know, it’s funny, fate has intervened for this team where we thought it was bad. Reid went down -- he and I went to church together because we were worried, believe me. It didn’t turn out that way but it gave Nick and EJ a chance to play. Then they tell me he hurt his foot at the Tennessee game. I said, “When?” ”Last play.” What? He’s not playing for awhile. What? Now all of a sudden we get to play Keldon at 4. We get to put Jamal Baker and get him minutes. All of a sudden it kind of plays out. In our conference tournament, we had our chances to beat Tennessee. And if we had beaten Tennessee, we would have played Auburn. I’m not sure anyone has ever beaten a team four times. When you ask me about three, I’m just happy it wasn’t four. So we’re playing them a third time. It’s going to be a really hard game. They’re playing out of their minds rights now. They’re shooting balls, they’re playing loose and aggressive. We know. Those other two games have no bearing on this game.
THE MODERATOR: We are halfway through the session.
Q. This is for Reid. I asked you this because you’re the old guy up there. When you saw Tyler come in, I know that you both are here first year for both of you. When you say him come in, what did you see in him? Did you think that he would be as impactful as he’s been this season, and if so, what did you see that made you think that?
REID TRAVIS: The biggest thing I saw in him early one was just his confidence. And I think a lot of guys you can see have confidence but don’t necessarily put the work in. But for Tyler, that’s not the case. See him in the gym every night, every morning, putting up reps and shots. So you know that he’s going to shine in these moments. Especially when he gets his opportunity, it’s usually in because you see him every night and morning putting in reps. So I’d say that’s the biggest thing to see his progression throughout the season and just how consistent he’s been with his work behind closed doors where people don’t necessarily see it. So when he gets on the biggest stage, he’s calm, collect, and always confident to take those shots.
Q. John, considering what Auburn was for -- Auburn basketball was for decades and decades and decades, what kind of job has Bruce done and
what specifically has he done to get it to this level?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, he’s gotten a program where people are absolutely excited. And Sonny Smith back in the day had it rolling. He had that guy -- what’s his name? -- Charles, what’s his last name? That big guy with the big head. What’s his name? Oh, Charles Barkley. I peed on a statue down there, just so you know. But, you know, when you take over, you have to change the culture, and he’s done that. And, you know, they struggled some in the middle of our league. They lost a bunch of games, and it tells you something. I always say when things are going good, that’s not coaching. When things are -- it’s looking bleak and everybody is running, now let me see you coach. Let me see you do it when you’re up against it, when people are doubting, when they’re -- the outside clutter is starting to overwhelm, how do you coach now? You know, for him to do what he did in that stretch and now they’re 11 in a row, I’m telling you, there’s no team in the country playing better than them right now. We have total respect and really good players who compete and play really hard.
Q. John, what do you remember about Reid’s recruitment when you heard he was going to be a grad transfer, and when is the last time you coached a 30-year-old like Reid?
JOHN CALIPARI: When I was with the Nets, I had a couple players that were older than I was when I was coaching. No, he and I talked politics. So what do you think of Amy? I was her neighbor. She may be a good president. We would -- we talk about Supreme Court justice stuff. Tell me what you think. But Kenny came to me, and I believe it was his brother saying, “Hey, he’s thinking about doing this.” And I remember when he played AAU basketball. And when Johnny got him to go to Stanford, I said what a great get for Johnny. Johnny and I have been friends for a long time, one of the great guys in our profession, so happy for the year they had. Then it became okay, can we help him as he helps us. Not here to have a guy, you know, play ten minutes a game or have a guy that we’re just saying in case somebody gets hurt. That’s not what this is about. What I’m proud of -- I’ll tell the story. He was 260 something. I said, “You got to lose 20 pounds. You can’t -- we can’t get -- you’re going to have to move better, have to go quicker. You’re going to have to” -- So he’s down to 242. He comes in and we’re talking. I said, “Maybe five more pounds. What’s your body fat?” He said 4 percent. I went, “4 percent? You would have to give up a kidney, are you kidding me?” (laughter.) The pleasure for me has been he’s also in the gym as much as these guys. He also takes care of his body, in the training room, stretching, coming over in the mornings and night. You know, how about yesterday? He got 11 rebounds and they were tough fought. He only took two shots and never said a word. He was happy as heck. Happy as heck. That’s what it means to play here. Now, my hope is he has 20 tomorrow. But if he gets 20 rebounds, I’ll be just as happy. And you know what, so will he. They trapped him on every chance he had. He just played the game as it came.Every one of these kids, I tell them all the time how much I respect them and what they have to deal with, the clutter, what’s at stake, how they have to deal with this. Like PJ playing, I told him, “I respect you, man.” I love this coach. I love competing. So for Reid and how it ended up playing out, it’s not done yet. It’s not done. He’s absolutely helped our team, and I believe he’s helped himself that he’s gotten better. He’s absolutely committed. You know, going forward any team that drafts him will be calling me saying I can’t believe it, cannot believe it. This is the greatest thing. We’ve had guys in the league like that. They’ll call and say it’s unbelievable. Shai Alexander, like they should be Rookie of the Year. Should be Rookie of the Year. Leading them, starting and Clippers and they’re calling and -- Sam Cassell called me yesterday about him. This kid is unbelievable. It will be the same with him.
THE MODERATOR: We have four minutes to go in the session before we dismiss the student-athletes. We have a question in the back.
Q. Reid, obviously you guys have played Auburn a couple of times. You know pretty much everything about them. They know pretty much everything about you. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
REID TRAVIS: You could take it either way. For us, like you said, when you’ve played a team as much as we have with Auburn, it really comes down to fight and how hard we play. That’s been the message all season. You can much as much film and X and O as much as we want, but if the effort is not there, the fight is not there, it all doesn’t matter. It will be the same thing tomorrow. Bring fight and energy, and that should be what will help us win the game.
Q. This is for any of the non-30-year-old young-ins over there. What does having an older player like Reid on the team, what has that done for you guys just to have that leadership, I guess, and what have you learned from him?
THE MODERATOR: Tyler, please.
TYLER HERRO: It’s great to have a veteran like Reid on the team, someone that we can look up to. Obviously he’s been through a lot. So whenever we need the advice or anything like that, we can go to him. But like coach said, he’s in the gym doing all that. Something like that, we can just follow him. So I mean obviously just great to have someone like that.
Q. There was a really nice feature article put out on Tyler in The Bleacher report a couple weeks ago. Tyler, I asked you if you had read it the last week, you said you hadn’t. I’m wondering if anyone has read that article, including you John?
JOHN CALIPARI: What did I tell you about that when you I talked?
TYLER HERRO: Not to read it.
JOHN CALIPARI: Don’t read it. It’s poison. Season is over, read it then, don’t read it now. Did any of you guys read it? Keldon, you read it, didn’t you?
Q. Tyler, you’re out there on the big stage now. What do you want to say to all your haters out there? This has got to be --
JOHN CALIPARI: Why would you say that? Who hates you?
TYLER HERRO: Nobody hates me.
JOHN CALIPARI: There you go. That’s what I’m talking about.
Q. Reid, given that Kentucky is a place that’s kind of known for having one-and-dones, you kind of have your own way of doing that this year when you came as a grad transfer. So what about Kentucky drew you to the program and why did you pick that school as a destination?
REID TRAVIS: You hit it right on the head with that. Asfar as just being able to prepare a player in one year for what they want to do, getting a collective group of guys never played with each other in one year, you got to accelerate the process to win at a high level and get in the right shape to play beyond college, I felt like it was the great opportunity for me. Obviously, I’m a different kind of one-and-done as far as I already had four years in college and coming here for my fifth year. I felt like it was the best spot for me as far as coaches and the players that were already established here. So it’s a great spot, and I feel like it’s done everything that I needed it to do.
THE MODERATOR: Final question for this session.
Q. For Tyler. I know y’all aren’t supposed to read the clutter, but your phone had to have blown up last night, all the former players tweeting about you. What was it like after you finally got to the phone after hitting the big shot?
TYLER HERRO: I didn’t read anything, really. I don’t know.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. At this point we’re going to excuse the student-athletes to go to their breakout sessions. We’re going to sit here with Coach Calipari for 20 more minutes. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Best of luck tomorrow. 1:20 tip time with Auburn, CBS, Central Time. Go, please.
Q. Cal, if I remember correctly, there was some confusion when you went to visit Tyler and offered him a scholarship about which recruit you were going to see that week.
JOHN CALIPARI: What?
Q. There was a report you might see Zion on the
same day and you went Milwaukee instead. What
made you go see Tyler and make that offer?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, again, you know, when you’re doing what I do and as hard as this is here and as much as you have to do in a short period of time, you don’t have a whole lot of time for B.S. You just don’t. You have to keep it real. The only kind of guys that really will be into that are the guys that really want to play for us. And for me -- and, you know, the word came back that that was the case with Tyler. So, I flew up, let me meet him, meet his family, watched him a little bit. I had seen him in the summers, but he had committed to Wisconsin so we really never really followed him that way. The more I was around him, you know, I said this kid reminds me of some of the guys we have. I didn’t know he worked the way he did. His work ethic is unbelievable. Reid said it right, he has the confidence but it’s not fake. I’ve had guys that, you know, you’ve had to explain what it means to be fake confident, like, you know, you’re swagger is fake. You haven’t earned it. You haven’t worked for it. You haven’t done enough things to have that and you’re acting like you have it. This guy has earned his stripes and, you know, we’ve been blessed. You think about him, Jemarl -- guys that have been late, late coming to us that have been vital to what we’re doing, and not every kid wants to play here. They don’t. That’s fine. It’s not the right place for everybody. But if you really want to get after this and you want to see how good I can be, want to learn to be a great teammate -- you know, I always said we probably have more volume shooters in the NBA that played for us than not even close, probably. They weren’t volume shooters here. Anthony Davis is going back and forth texting me yesterday after the game. Here is a kid that wasn’t a volume shooter. Shoots every ball now. But, you know, you can do that, but you learn to win, to be a great teammate, to do it together, to sacrifice, to serve your teammates, to be that servant leader, and he’s learned it.We just told him you’re not coming here to be a jump shooter. You’re going to learn to play basketball. You’ll be able to get to the rim. You’re going to create fouls so you can shoot free throws. You’re going to defend. If you don’t guard, I’m not leaving you in the game. If you remember in the Bahamas, he couldn’t keep anybody in front of him. Now all of a sudden, he’s like one of our defenders that you go to.
Q. John, how would you characterize your
relationship with Bruce Pearl and has it changed
over the years from your time at Memphis and his
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah. I mean, you know, I think there’s respect between us. I mean, I really respect what he does and how he coaches his kids and how he builds a culture. You know, I think sometimes you’re at places, it’s hard to have a relationship. The Memphis thing kind of bothered him because we were at Memphis and he was at Tennessee. They were the big state school and we’re in the little corner over there d getting a lot of play, and it probably bothered him some. Even then, I mean what he did there, you know, have respect for him.
Q. John, transfers this year, why do you think that’s out of control if it is? Number two, do you think kids should be able to transfer without sitting out if the coach got fired or goes to a bigger job?
JOHN CALIPARI: I haven’t dealt with a lot of transfers in our program. We’ve had a couple. The crazy thing is I’ve stayed in touch with them just as much as kids that played in our program or stayed four years. I would tell you that if a coach is fired or leaves, the kid should have the ability to do what he wants. That’s my opinion. I also think they’re talking about kids not having to sit out, and the one thing that happens is you probably can’t lie to them in the recruiting process. If you lie and they know you lied and you didn’t do what you said you’re going to do, they’re going to transfer. You tell them you’re going to start and play 30 minutes, everything is going to run through you and you’re telling every player that? Now all of a sudden there’s three of them, they’re not going to be happy because they’re not true and they leave it. May do that. I don’t know -- haven’t spent a whole lot of time on it, but I do know that when they are moving from team to team, they’re going from high school to prep school, going to another prep school, it’s probably not the best environment in that the one thing that’s hard for these kids is when you keep it real, they’ve got to -- when I’m evaluating a player, I want to see when he’s not at his best. Let me see him now. Let me see when he’s not at his best what he looks like. And for a kid really to make it, in my mind, they have to face adversity and deal with it. They have to have been beaten out. What do you do? You run or you say that’s not -- it’s not acceptable, I’m going to keep competing and I’m going to beat him out.Or someone else is working harder. So now you leave because you’re not willing to spend that kind time in the gym and you’re making every excuse. You’re being enabled by people around you. I think the kids need to face adversity before they leave our campuses so that they have a chance to make it. If they’ve been able to do whatever they want and then they think they’re going into that -- NBA stands for “No Boys Allowed.” No boys allowed. That’s a man’s world. And so I think our kids, you know, there’s adversity at very step, I would hope, and we’re holding them accountable. I’m not -- I’m on PJ as much as I’m on Reid and Keldon and trying to hold them accountable.
Q. You’ve said for several weeks now this team has added years to your life. Why has this team been so much fun to coach and can you give several examples?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, one of the things that this team is, they love being in the gym and they’re great kids. They’ve come from great homes, which means they’re willing to sacrifice. They’re willing to be about each other. Then the third thing is, they’re skilled basketball players. It’s really fun to coach players that can bounce it, shoot it, have a feel for the game, that have a competitive spirit, that have a will to win. You’re not going to win every game. You’re trying to. You don’t. At the end of the day, you just want to be able as a coach to say every one of these kids has gotten better and improved their skills. But they have to have a basis of that. And this team did. Every day whatever we challenged them with, they were fine. Never have gotten too high, never gotten too low. This has been one of those years that -- you go through one of these years you think you can coach another 20. Then you go through other years and you say why am I still doing this? This is crazy. But this is -- you know, this is a good group.
Q. Reid talked about finding a place where he had one year for accelerating. How do you accelerate that process every year without cutting corners?
JOHN CALIPARI: There’s no B.S. We don’t have time for B.S. I’m going the tell you the truth, we’re going to keep it real. If you don’t guard, you’re not playing. If you fall behind, you fall behind, I’m playing other people. We’re here playing, trying to win. We hold them accountable statistically. Rebound attempts. Every one of them knows what their rebound attempts are. If your rebound attempts are low and you’re not rebounding, I’m playing somebody else. That’s energy. You’re responsible for that. I’m not responsible for that.
The other thing becomes when they come here, we’re telling them you’re not going to take 25 shots a game because you got a team full of guys that are trying to eat, too. Now, you may take 25 in a game. I think Malik Monk had 47 in a game. I would have let him score 57 if he could have. But that’s in one game. That’s not a season where you’re shooting every ball. Again, there’s some that don’t want the hear that. Some families that don’t want to hear that. So, this becomes -- we’re in this together, we’re all going to eat. This has never hurt anybody. Number one pick, Karl Towns played 21 minutes a game. Devin Booker -- I think he’s still mad at me -- didn’t start. Had 59 and 50 in back-to-back games in the NBA, didn’t start. Never said one word. All he did is came everyday like Tyler Herro and practiced and put time in the gym. Unbelievable. Anthony Davis took the fifth most shots on our team, was the number one pick. Numbers don’t matter. And so you know, numbers matter to some kids and families and I want more numbers. Here it’s putting yourself in a position to have success, and I don’t think you can just say numbers. I don’t think it is. Like I said, we’ve had a lot of people do well, lot of people score well and rebound well and do well, but it’s
a group of them.
THE MODERATOR: We have eight minutes to go.
Q. John, you frequently say to Kentucky fans, “You people are crazy.” After last night, they’re probably saying the same thing about you.
JOHN CALIPARI: What did I do last night?
Q. A lot of head coaches end up losing their jobs because of last shot doesn’t go in. And so everything seems so random in these tournament games. How do you sleep at night knowing that the entire collective hopes of Big Blue Nation is kind of resting on your decisions in the huddle and PJ doesn’t block a shot, Tyler doesn’t hit the 3, then you’re going out?
JOHN CALIPARI: First of all, my mother before she passed away used to say, “How do you do this?” She goes crazy watching the games. She did go crazy. First of all, I’m focused on what I’m doing, and I don’t look at this as life or death, because if you look at this as life or death, you die a lot. This is what I do, trying to help these kids be the best they can be, put them in the best position to win and be about them. That’s what I try to do. I don’t take this personal. I don’t take it personal with another coach. Anytime that eeks in, I don’t coach as well. Like if the other coach wants to make it personal with me, I’m fine. Then he won’t coach as well. So, you know, the fans want to win every game, and the Kentucky fans have been great to me. I tell them their they’re crazy, watch tapes and -- they’ll watch the game three times. I watch it twice. They’re crazy. But they love it. They’re invested in it. They see these layers as their own children and grandchildren. It’s a unique and special place, really is. There’s no place like this school that I’m coaching at.
Q. What do you think about agents having access
to elite college players?
JOHN CALIPARI: I thought there’s going to be access to high school players. So I don’t know where that goes yet. We’re trying to all figure it out. But they’re going to be able to talk high school player, they will be able to have a relationship with an agent that as long as there’s nothing signed or nothing official, you know -- I mean, that’s part of where this is all going. So, again, as I go through this tournament, I’m not spending a lot of time on that right now, but that’s going to be an issue.
Q. John, I was wondering who you had to tell that your swagger is fake? Who have you had that conversation with?
JOHN CALIPARI: Do you want me to be honest?
JOHN CALIPARI: With myself.
Q. What were those conversations like those with kids?
JOHN CALIPARI: Are you spending time? Are you really spending time? I’ve had guys that their skill set, they were really struggling, but I’d come in the office at night, it’s 10:30, 11:00, they’re in the gym shooting. Next day in practice, I bring all the team in and said the reason I’m sticking by my men, I came in last night -- I know he was 1 for 10 last game but he was in this gym. I’m with him. As long as they’re putting in the time and they’re not -- I’m good with it. But if you’re not in there and you’re not really trying to master your craft, if you’re not trying to master your craft and you just want to play, just let me play, let me shoot more balls. Instead of shooting 10, you should have let me shoot 20 I could have got going. What if you went 1 for 20? That’s okay, our next game I make them. What? So mastering your craft in this sport that we play, it’s everything. If you can’t master your craft, which means do you love to grind, do you love being in the gym, does that wake you up everyday, is that your solace? When you’re feeling down, you go in and you get some shots up and you feel great leaving the building? As a coach, is it the same thing? You’re down a little bit, have a great practice, and makes you feel great. If that’s not your mentality, it’s really hard to make it at this sport.
Q. John, I wonder, kind of interested in the 3 as the shot of choice and wonder what your thoughts are on building an offense around making that maybe the primary or the first option? And then does Auburn resemble anybody or remind you of anybody from your career?
JOHN CALIPARI: They do a lot of stuff that Wofford does. They’re going to shoot 30 3s. They shot 37 last game. There’s all kind of ways of doing this. One of the ways is we’re going to rely on 3-point shooting. The other way of doing this, we’re going to play basketball and if they give us 3s, we’ll take them. If we’re spaced out there -- I think there’s not a college coach right now that doesn’t space to the 3-point line. Whether they shoot 30 3s or 20 3s, one of the best teams in the country. One of the best coached teams in the country was Tennessee. They shot about 18, 19, 3s a game. Literally one of the best teams in the country. We played them. They were wars. They were veterans. They didn’t turn it over. They created good shots. They moved the ball. They would guard physical, and they only took 18, 19, 3s. There’s all kind of ways of doing this. Bruce, here is the other, if you have really good shooters why wouldn’t you do it? He has really good shooters. They shoot them, 25 percent are in transition, another 30 percent of them are on pick and rolls, and the rest of them are off drives and extra passes and finding an extra man.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the head coach of Kentucky? Last question, go.
Q. In Jacksonville, even with PJ were hurt, you seemed to be in a really good mood.
JOHN CALIPARI: I’m miserable right now.
Q. Same thing here, did you know something we didn’t know? Or is it just that as you said earlier, you really enjoy coaching this team?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think most post seasons -- the season is the grind of it. When you’re here, you have a ball with this. Somebody asked me the other day about was it a relief to win. I don’t know where I was. No. If it becomes -- winning becomes a relief, you’re in the wrong profession, it’s time to retire. Winning it fun, it’s fun for these kids. You see them come together and the joy it brings because of all the hard work and everything they did together. No, the NCAA Tournament for me personally is the greatest -- you know, you follow us. Everything we do all year is geared --
Q. Towards March?
JOHN CALIPARI: -- towards March. Every game we play, every preparation. I want to play teams that play different ways, shoot 3s, don’t shoot 3s. 1-3-1, 2-3 zone, press us, hold the ball, back doors, Princeton. We want to face it all so if we face it here, we’re ready for it. This is why we do what we do is to get into this time of the year and try to keep your team going.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, John. Good luck.