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JOHN CALIPARI (Mar. 15)
“I didn't watch the (Vanderbilt) game, but I watched our tape with them last game and I'll watch the game they played tonight before I go to bed. Just did a little walkthrough with our team. Played them twice. They know us, we know them. They've won five out of their last six. Since we beat them, they win five of six, and the only game they lost was at Florida, where no one won. They make (12) threes today. We're playing them in their hometown. We've got a challenge. This is going to be a really hard game for us.”
WHAT'S THE CHALLENGE OF PLAYING A TEAM FOR THE THIRD TIME?
“It's not that, it's playing a team that played tonight. And then they're gonna be fine. It's the third night they start feeling it. The second night, you see Pitt got beat. I can go back through the line. People got beat that the other team played their second game, and (the better seed is playing) your first game. That's a hard one.”
IS THE THREE-POINT SHOT AN EQUALIZER?
“Same thing. If they hit 13 against us, we'll probably go home a loser. We're gonna guard them, but it doesn't matter. They're gonna shoot 'em. Whether you really guard them – then they'll step back deeper. Odom's gonna step back. He's gonna shoot 'em. Johnson will shoot 'em. They'll all shoot 'em.”
HOW HAS WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN PLAYED AGAINST VANDERBILT THIS SEASON?
“He was OK there, and he was better the last game. But he's playing better, not just against (Vanderbilt). I'm not worried about Vandy as much as I am our team playing well. And he's been playing well. We’ve gotta have the effort. Everybody’s gotta give us an effort. Two guys can’t no-show. We don’t have enough guys for no-shows.”
ON STILL FEELING LIKE UK’S IN A ONE-GAME SEASON, MUST WIN TOMORROW:
“Yeah. But we can’t worry about any of that stuff. What we’ve gotta do is: Let’s play against ourselves. Let’s be the best we can be. Let’s have everybody show up and do their job. You don’t know. There are so many things out of our control. They’re going to shoot 30 threes. Some of that’s out of our control. The way the game’s officiated. It’s out of our control. So there are so many things out of our control. Don’t worry about that. What we can control is us. Let’s worry about being at our best and let’s compete against ourselves. That’s what I do in all these tournaments. We’ve had three really good days of practice. I was probably as hard the last three days as I was at any point this season, because I told them, ‘The toughest game you’re going to play is the first game in the tournament.’ After that, it starts going downhill a little bit; it’s a little easier. This first one will be a bear. So I’ve tried to be tough and rough, and they’ve responded. So we’ll see.”
YOU GAVE UP DOUBLE DIGIT LEADS IN BOTH GAMES AGAINST VANDY BEFORE ULTIMATELY WINNING...
“It got up to 14, 15 (in second game). We broke down, both on offense and defense. We have a lob where my man tries to do a double-scoop, behind-his-head throw without looking and they come down and make a three. We gave them three threes by just getting screened and not talking. And they're a team that makes them, so all of the sudden they make their baskets and you come down and do something dumb. They're going to take advantage of it. They're a good basketball team. Like I said, they've won five out of their last six. This is not a slouch team. We know how good they are.”
HOW MUCH HAS VANDERBILT IMPROVED THIS SEASON?”They're better. I think he's done a great job with this team. He's got a young team. He's got inexperienced players like we do.”
HOW HAS ALEX POYTHRESS LOOKED THIS WEEK?
“He's been good. He's been OK. We did a lot of good stuff, a lot of competing. Today we didn't do any contact. We did an hour. Went over there, shot around so they could see the building. We did an hour, no contact. I just want them fresh and ready to play. But again, this is…Well how do you think they'll play? Come on now, you've watched us all year. No one knows. Have no idea. This isn't a team where I know, 'OK, I don't know how that other team is going to play, but I know how we'll play.' I have no idea. So, hopefully we come out of the gate, we play well, but even if we don't I just want to see us play for 40 minutes, play, compete, battle. Don't hang your heads. Don't droop your shoulders. Don't jog back cause you're embarrassed on how you're playing. Play, battle, fight. That's all we've been talking about.”
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