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EXTRA CALIPARI AUDIO
Can you speak about the level of trust and communication a coach needs to have in his point guard in general, and then how you have achieved so much to that end with Brandon in such a short amount of time relatively?
"Well, the trust has to be two ways, you know. I really have to trust their mentality, which is team first, and they have to trust that I'm going to put them in a good position for our team and them as an individual player. And then there's just a lot of coaching, a lot of talking. I mean, of these players right now, if I said, ‘Who have I been the hardest on this year, raise your hand.' They would all raise their hand. And I would tell you, and if they said that I am not hard on one, they probably would say Brandon, and I'd think I am harder on him than these other guys. "But you have to be fair with them. And you have respect one another. Respect their work, what they're trying to do, and then you just do a whole lot of coaching to try to get them to where you are trying to get them to go. Trust is two ways, you have to trust them and they have to trust you."
Can you compare the challenges North Carolina presents tomorrow with the challenges they presented when you played them in the regular season?
"Roy's just done a fabulous job. I mean, they're flying up and down that court. They're throwing that thing ahead. Their bigs are flying. Marshall is finding everything. Barnes is way better. McDonald now is now making open shots and threes. Strickland is getting to the rim like he is. Knox is better, Henson is better, Zeller is scoring 28 a game and 12 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. Think about that. They are playing great basketball and it's going to be a very difficult game for us. It will be a hard game."
You guys have won your last nine games against teams that have played in some sort of postseason tournament, allowed 61 points a game. What has been the key of that defense change? And how effective do you have to be against a Carolina team that is very reliant on tempo?
"One of the things that's happened, and I told them before yesterday's game, I've always believed in this team. I liked this team from the beginning. And there was a time where I believed in guys more than they believed in themselves. And there was a time that I believed more about this team, in this team more than they believed in themselves. What happened the last nine games, they are starting to believe in themselves, and they are starting to believe in each other. Now you are seeing a swarming team that is covering for each other. We had 11 blocks. Are you kidding me? We had 11 blocks. Well, that's coming from the weak side. It was perimeter players blocking shots.
"And again, we're doing what we have to defensively. Sometimes we're doubling down, sometimes we are scrambling from the guard, sometimes we are rotating. And sometimes we are switching. But I just believe they're buying into defense first. Can we, you know, guard North Carolina? I'm telling you, North Carolina is going to be hard. That may be a game we're trying to outscore them and they are trying to outscore us. Again, they haven't seen any tape. I have watched a little bit of tape to this point, and we still haven't totally decided on how we're playing some of the stuff, but they are good."
I just want to talk about the history of these two programs. The fact that you have 105 wins for Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, you have 104. Can you talk about that and the match-up and the size of this.
"Most of us up here weren't there for many of those. This is kind of like we got to 2,000 first and I think we were there for nine of them of the 2,000. So this, at this point, yes, the name's on the front, Kentucky-North Carolina, wow. The history of both of these programs, wow. But I don't think they are worried about that and I am certainly not. I know they are going against terrific players and I am going against a Hall of Famer. That's what I know. And I know the challenge of this.
"But I am going to say this, I believe in my team. I really like my team. No disrespect for any other team in the country, I'm take my team. And so I don't think these guys are worried about, you know, whether it was Ohio State or North Carolina or Duke or Kansas, whoever it is. I mean, it's not past history. These guys only remember two or three years max."
John, you referred earlier to Roy as a Hall of Famer, and yet amazingly he is probably the second most famous coach in his own state.
"Who is the most famous?"
The guy who has 900 wins.
"Oh, I forgot about him."
"And I think Roy would argue that by the way."
Would you argue that? What is the perception of Roy in the coaching profession? He will be coaching for the seventh possible Final Four tomorrow. People, when you follow a school like this, might take it for granted. How hard of an accomplishment is that?
"Well, he's as good as it gets. On top of being an unbelievable coach who gets players better, whose programs at the end of the season are much better than they are at the beginning of the season, who has a way he likes his teams to play -- fast, wide open, running big men, trapping at times, you know, showing hard on pick-and-rolls, doing things to mess up the game to make it faster. And he accomplishes that and he does it with good players.
"But aside from that, he is a good guy. He is a good man. I mean, I have enjoyed being around him. A heck of a golfer too, by the way. He hurt his shoulder and I know it made him mad because he had to stay off the golf course a little bit, but he is a good guy aside from being a heck of a coach."
What do you guys remember about the last couple of minutes against North Carolina, the execution, sort of just the sense of -- that was a really tight game obviously, you struggled with it early. And compared to last night, are you more relaxed in those situations now? Why do you think you are just more effective those situations than were you the first time?
"If I can remember correctly, we didn't execute that great towards the end of the game with North Carolina, and that was early in the season. I think with a lot of repetition, with being placed in that situation a lot of times through SEC play, we got a lot better at it. And I feel that right now we're a better executing team when it comes down to ending games."
What has to happen for a veteran group of players to take control of a team?
"I just lead by example. Just play hard on your opponent, show the other guys just to come out and compete and play hard. You know, DeAndre is the best at that. He comes out and locks down every great player, and you know, hold him to minimal touches, minimal points. He's great at that. And when he does that, it boosts our team and it boosts the confidence of everybody out there. And just being able to play with him, you know, it is a great honor for all of us because he is such a great defender and he adds a different element to our team."