The following is a transcript of John Calipari’s post-game press conference following the SEC tournament quarterfinal loss to Vanderbilt. Calipari believes the good news is that everyone is losing too and he trusts the NCAA Tournament selection committee to put the right teams in.
John Calipari: Well, it was a combination of a team that played well and had every shot bounce in for them and do what they had to do and played great basketball game. They won 7 out of their last 8. They’re playing great right now, and it was us laying an egg. It was a combination, which is why the score was what it was. We laid an egg and they played well. My thing right now is, the good news is everyone seems to be losing and I just hope we’re the best of the bad right now. That’s what I’m hoping.
THE MODERATOR: Let go ahead and get some questions in for coach while we’re waiting on the players.
Q. Coach, with some of the victories you’ve had this year against Florida and Missouri, you guys had a close loss to Duke as well, do you think you guys deserve and at large bid in?
John Calipari: I don’t know. When you play a game like this, it hurts you. But the good news is everyone else is losing, too. So at the end of the day, it will shake out and I trust the committee to put the right teams in. If we’re in, we’ll play better, and if we’re not, we’re not. I mean, there’s nothing we can do about it. We had an opportunity, it was in our hands to take it out of everybody’s hands and we didn’t take care of business.
Let me go back to, we laid an egg, but let me say this, Vanderbilt is playing great basketball right now. If I had a choice between Missouri or Mississippi, they would rather have played us because how they’re shooting the ball, how they’re playing off of one another. They had more energy than us. I told my team for three days, the hardest thing in a tournament play is to have a buy, have a team that’s playing well, play a game and then come up against you.
So, it was a combination of everything. I’ll tell you. I don’t want to take anything away from Vandy. They played great. We laid a egg. We had one guy go 2 for 15, miss 12 lay-ups.
Q. Coach, you went to zone and went on 10/0 run. What was your thought process to go back to –
John Calipari: We had no choice. It’s kind of like when I played Willie with 11 minutes to go with four fouls or Nerlens with five minutes with four fouls. We had no choice. We’ve got to try something here. The zone was good. We had our chances. It got to 11 and then we broke down two or three straight times. We miss a lay-up, miss a wide open shot. All we needed to do is try to get it to 6, 7, 8 points and see what would happen. We never — it was — we were stabbing ourselves in the eye in most cases.
Q. Coach, how has Vanderbilt been able to have so much success against you guys these last two tournaments?
John Calipari: They played great today, and to be honest with you, they played great the last year. They did. My hat is off to Kev. He’s done a great — they’ve got a young team, too. I can’t say we’re young. They’re just as young as we are. They shot the ball and played well and did their thing.
Q. Willie, how surprising — coming off a win like Florida, you feel like you probably have to just win one more here to get in. How surprised were you with the effort tonight with the fact that it was never really close?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I mean, it’s reoccurring. Happens every two games, it’s like that.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for either of the student athletes? Hands up?
Q. Archie, could you talk about — I mean, you guys had shots go in and out, they had shots that bounced in. How frustrating and how much did that build as the game went on?
ARCHIE GOODWIN: It was frustrating the whole game just to, you know, we did have a lot of chippers that we missed. We canceled any – some of those shots they made on the other end and it would equal out. We gave them a lot of open 3s and we gave them a lot of easy lanes to the basket, and so when you do — when you’re giving them that and giving them those many high percentage shots and on top of that, nothing is going down for you, it’s a compounded problem and there’s no way that you can win that way.
Q. Willie, you got off to such a big start personally and then the fouls and you had to sit. How damaging was that to what you were trying to get done and what the team was trying to get done?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Repeat what you said.
Q. You got off to a pretty good start in the early going, then you pick up a couple of fouls and had to sit. How damaging was that to your efforts and to the team’s efforts?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: It’s really damaging. Coaches preach for me not to get in foul trouble and, you know, I start playing overly aggressive and try to block every shot and end up getting myself in foul trouble. I mean, it’s real damaging.
Q. For both you guys, just an opportunity, if you think you are, state your case, why is this team an NCAA Tournament team?
ARCHIE GOODWIN: I feel that we definitely have the talent and we have a good wins against quality teams and, you know, some of those games we were right in there with the teams. We lost the game. We’re a team that’s going to compete. It’s just a lot of us doing it every day. Once we can figure out to where we can continue to compete game after game, then things — that will be even better than they are, but until we figure that out, man, nothing is going to change.
THE MODERATOR: Same for Willie.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I mean, we beat three ranked teams, Florida, Ole Miss, and Missouri, and Missouri is in it, so I don’t see, you know, we can’t compete, either. This is a matter of getting our stuff together.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for either of the student athletes? Last call. All right, fellas, thank you. You can be excused.
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