DES MOINES, Iowa – John Calipari, Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee addressed the media following Kentucky’s 73-67 loss to Indiana in the 2016 NCAA tournament second round on Saturday at Wells Fargo.
Watch the full press conference below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
THE MODERATOR: We will have an opening statement from Coach and then we will open it up for questions for our student-athletes.
JOHN CALIPARI: Congratulations to Indiana. I thought they played a terrific game and they deserved to win the game. We tried to come back. We made two or three plays that were just two, three-pointers, back-to-back broke our baks, an inside on one and then leave a three-point shooter. Give them credit. They played, they fought. They did what they had to hold on and win that game.
Q. Tyler, did you feel like you could pretty much get to the basket anytime you wanted, and was there just not enough support from the supporting cast today?
TYLER ULIS: Yeah, you know, I felt like the way they were playing ball screens I could get around them and try to force my way in there. I got to the basket a lot and I feel like all my teammates played hard.
Q. Marcus, it gets to be a tie game at 50, take us from there and the two threes that Indiana hit and how you guys reacted.
MARCUS LEE: We broke down on those plays and those are plays that we’re usually able to come back to. We learned from our breakdown and we weren’t able to get back from them.
Q. For both of you, what will your decision-making process be over the next couple of weeks about what comes next?
MARCUS LEE: I mean, game just ended. We could care less what’s happening next. Literally the game ended 30 minutes ago, so we’re still worry being that.
TYLER ULIS: I feel the same way as Marcus does.
Q. Tyler and Marcus, thoughts about this season. You guys had to replace 7 players and went through a lot of adversity to get to this point. Thoughts about the journey and the bumps and it ending tonight and where that places in all that?
TYLER ULIS: It was a great year for us. I felt like we went through a lot of ups-and-downs, had a lot of young players and guys learning how to play the right way. Everybody got better individually and today we didn’t play our best as a team, but I feel like we had a good season up to now.
MARCUS LEE: Like Tyler said, there was ups-and-downs, the but the ups-and-downs made us a team. We played this whole year together as one and it just didn’t go our way today.
Q. Marcus, obviously you guys have a tremendous roster and talent, but when you look at Indiana’s roster and the athletes that they were able to put out there, the depth, what would you say about, you know, how they were able to match your athleticism it seemed?
MARCUS LEE: They are very athletic. They did really great today. Our players are really great players. They’re great people. The one thing we did do is we didn’t break down and we didn’t give up. We just didn’t go away.
THE MODERATOR: If there are no other questions, thank you very much. Questions for Coach.
Q. John, their depth, I think they were 18-7 in bench points. Do you feel like their depth made a difference tonight?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, but we had — and, again, we’re normally the most efficient offensive team in the country. There’s two things that happened. We had six offensive fouls. I don’t know if in my career I’ve had a team have six offensive fouls. Then we couldn’t make open shots so we have 8 assists. Like all these open shots we missed. We missed a ton of really good shots.
But these kids aren’t machines. They’re not computers. Stuff happens and you try to figure it out. We got it to a three-point game with a couple chances to win the game. What I don’t want to do is take away from what Indiana did. Indiana — they played every kid on that court, gave everything they had they deserved to win this game. We didn’t play our best, but maybe it’s because of them that we didn’t play our best. We missed a ton of open shots we normally don’t miss. Normally this would be 15 assists and 10 turnovers. This is 8 assists and 15 turnovers, but let me remind you, 6 of those were offensive fouls. Tyler had a few that he normally doesn’t get, Isaiah had a couple that he was a little bit out of control, but…
Q. Cal, Thomas Bryant had 15 of his 19 points in the last 7:32 including 10 in the last 5 minutes. How difficult was he for you guys to stop? Did he do anything differently than you’d seen on tape?
JOHN CALIPARI: Let me say this: I spent a lot of time recruiting him. He was right down the street from us and the biggest thing I want to tell you is his family should be proud of how much better he’s gotten. Tom and the staff have gotten a kid that I really liked, I thought was really good. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t realize he was that good.
Tom saw something that I’m like, well — and we spent a lot of time recruiting him and he was on our campus. He made every play and then made those trows after missing one. You think about a young player like he is making that play. I thought from the beginning of the year until now he got way better in pick and roll defense now we still got by him and did some stuff.
But I tell you, early in the year it was a struggle for him. The kid has worked hard. He’s deserved everything that’s coming his way right now and the staff did a great job with him.
Q. John, can you talk about the progress this team made from day one to right now, because clearly obviously winning the SEC Tournament, you’re playing your best basketball of the year, and as you said, probably didn’t play your best basketball today. But talk about your team and its progress?
JOHN CALIPARI: Here is what I would say, we knew — I didn’t think it would be shooting, but we knew if a couple of players didn’t give us great efforts we would struggle to win. I knew that before the game. If they struggled, we’re not going to — each level you go in this thing you’re going to have a team full of the guys performing.
They don’t have to be great, but they can’t have the five gazillion, in other words, five minutes, twelve minutes and everything is zeroes across the line. We didn’t shoot the ball well today. What I told ’em after the game is, don’t let this game get in the way of what you guys accomplished this year because it was incredible.
From where we were early in the year as an offensive team we ended up being the most efficient team in college basketball. We did not show it today, but that’s who we became. We became a team that physically didn’t have it, yet still became a pretty good defensive team.
You know, that’s — the hard thing — and a bunch of my good friends have gotten beat in this tournament and there are a bunch of 11 seeds and all this stuff going on. If you don’t understand it’s like you fall off a cliff, especially if you don’t know until you lose, until you lose. Like if there are 7 minutes left in game and you’re down 30-0, but if you think you have a fighting chance, it’s a hard deal.
I just want to focus and have these guys focus on the big picture. For our staff, we got a heck of a group coming in, maybe the best ever that I’ve had! Coming in, that group! The big picture for us is we’re fine. I am sick for my team, though. I’m sick for some individual players who didn’t perform well. I’m sick for Tyler and Jamal who had great years and, you know, Isaiah, and, you know, I feel so bad because, you know, you want — I’ll sit back. Could I have done something different? Is there something else I could have done to help them get over the hump? Is there some other way?
But, you know, I’m — the big picture of this is we’re all right. Now I’m going to have a brand new team again next year, surprise!
Q. You guys obviously haven’t played Indiana in a while. Do you think the excitement around this game and how good of a game it was merits bringing it back?
JOHN CALIPARI: In Indianapolis.
Q. With the new rule will you advise everybody to declare and test the waters?
JOHN CALIPARI: I’m not going to talk about that right now. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with it. My guess is we’ll have a lot of guys that will put their name in.
Q. Some thought about Indiana and its chances now in the Sweet 16? Impressions of the team you saw out there tonight.
JOHN CALIPARI: They fought, I’m going to say it again, I think Tom deserves Coach of the Year. I know he was Coach of the Year in the Big Ten, but what he’s done with this team, you know, again, when Blackman got hurt they thought they were finished. The way they played earlier in the year where they were still trying to figure stuff out where Thomas Bryant wasn’t playing the way he was right now all of the sudden they’re done! You got all the crazies going nuts!
Now all of the sudden, they’re in the Sweet 16 and they’re playing as well as anybody. I will say this: If they shoot the ball — today I’ll be — our whole game was make ’em beat us shooting tough 2’s, that was the whole game plan and they may have had the same game plan because we didn’t make any threes either, but that’s what they were saying. They were 6 for 21 from the three. We did a good enough job there, but we couldn’t make any threes. I thought we could have thrown it to the post and scored. We missed, I’m guessing, 51-footers, 7 one-footers, can I say this? They’re not machines. They’re not computers and stuff happens.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for Coach?
JOHN CALIPARI: Thank you.