ON FINISHING THE GAME: “Let me just say this: What happened at the end, Terrence Jones, I looked at him at the 10-minute mark and said, ‘Kid, this is your game. You go rebound and go make plays.’ And he did. Obviously Anthony Davis came over to me and said, ‘Cal, tell ‘em to throw me the ball, get me the ball on the block.’ The other thing is Michael Gilchrist made those dunks. But Darius played well, Marquis Teague. But Michael Gilchrist made those two or three plays that were dunks that kind of changed the outcome.”
ON ANTHONY DAVIS: “He did what he’s done all year: blocked four or five balls; he scored around the basket, had a couple offensive tip-in. But the greatest thing about him is his teammates make him better and he makes his teammates better. You know, they were trying to play him. Marquis Teague was shooting layups to start the game. If you’re not going to play him, Marquis will shoot layups.
“Darius was going in because they wouldn’t leave Anthony, which gave us baskets around the rim. The reason we shot such a high percentage is Dieng was back and wouldn’t leave him. And then it came to a point where he said, ‘Look, I can score. Throw me the ball in the post.’ And we went to that offense where we kept going to the left side letting him get fouled and doing it.
“He’s played like this all year. (To Davis) You think it was better than the other games you played? It was kind of like how he’s played all year, it’s how he’s been. He defers to his team. He’s a great teammate. You have to understand, maybe it’s me, but he shoots the fourth or fifth most shots on the team. That’s what he was telling me: ‘Cal, tell them to throw it to me.’ ”
ON DAVIS PLAYING STILL WITH A POINT GUARD’S MENTALITY: “I told him he could play point guard for us if he’d like to, just come back next year and work that out.”
ON PITINO SAYING HE HOPES KENTUCKY WINS IT ALL: “I think that’s neat. When I was at UMass, I can remember hugging him and telling him, I’m happy for you and I really want you to win the national title. He did the same to me tonight, so I think it’s kind of neat.”
ON SCOUTING THE NEXT OPPONENT: “We’re worried about us playing at our best. We did not play at our best tonight. We played good, but that wasn’t our best. You know what, so maybe Monday is our best. We’re just worried about us. … I will say this: We must play tougher than we played this game. If we don’t, it’s going to be a hard game for us to win because I think toughness is going to be the factor in the game.”
ON DARIUS MILLER COMING UP CLUTCH: “Darius basically has started for me for two years. Darius was the Player of the Year, the MVP of the conference tournament last year, led us to a Final Four, and accepted coming off the bench. Now, he’s had his best year by far. His numbers, he’s a top-50 player to ever put on a uniform at Kentucky. But he’s accepted coming off the bench. There are times I started him this year, times he started in the second half because he was playing so well.
“But what he did today shows what he’s done all year. People love him. All the calls I’m getting about him, people want him on their team for the simple fact he’s got to be a great kid. We have six starters. Someone had to come off the bench. He said, ‘I’m good with it.’
“The other side of it was, when we played in the tournament against Vandy, Michael Gilchrist said, ‘We need him to play better, so start him, I’ll come off the bench.’ He went in and did fine. From there, he’s gone like that back to where he was at the end of last year and played. My hat is off to him. He’s the most unselfish player I’ve ever coached. Sometimes it drives me crazy because I don’t think he understands how good he really is, but he’s done great things for us.”
ON DRIBBLING OUT THE CLOCK, FIRING THE BALL HIGH UP IN THE AIR: “It was just a close game, very emotional. We fought all game, with the goal to a national championship with the team that we have, starting three freshmen and two sophomores. It’s just great. We had a great team. We’re just one game closer to our dream and our goals. So there’s a lot of emotion there.”
ON WHAT HE KEPT SCREAMING AS HE WALKED OFF THE COURT: “I said, ‘This is my stage.’ We’re from Kentucky. We built for this. We come out, go hard in practice. (Calipari: ‘Did you say that?’ Davis grins.) We go hard in practice. We go out there to have fun. The emotions, I’m just glad to be here, national championship as a freshman. (Calipari jokes: ‘Don’t ask him a follow-up. He doesn’t know why he was saying that.’)”
ON THINKING HE NEEDED TO DOMINATE FOR THEM TO WIN: “I mean, yeah. I’ve got to do it for my team. That’s all the effort, the ball in the post. I knew I could make plays down there. I was asking for the ball. My team needs me to play well just like I need my team to play well. I think that’s what we did tonight.”
ON DARIUS MILLER’S ROLE: “Darius is a great player. Comes out with a lot of intensity, can shoot the ball, rebound, does it all on the floor. When we get in tough situations, he calms us down and tells us what to do. He’s a great leader, leads the team. That’s what he does at crunch time, tells you what to do.”
ON WHETHER HE WORRIED ABOUT THE YOUNG GUYS UNDER PRESSURE LATE: “Not at all. These guys don’t play like freshmen. Y’all been watching them play all year. They play like seniors in college. We’ve been successful in those situations throughout the whole year. So I don’t have any doubt, no. Not at all. I have all the confidence in the world in them. Like I said, they don’t play like young players. You see how talented they are, how good of teammates they are. They’ve came through all year.”
ON THE EMOTIONS OF REACHING THE TITLE GAME, CONSIDERING WHERE HE AND UK HAVE COME FROM (UNDER GILLISPIE IN 2008-09): “It’s very emotional. We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point. I feel like we’ve all did a great job throughout the whole year. This is what we’ve been reaching for. At the end of this game we have a chance to win a national championship.
“It’s an opportunity that not most people get. Can’t really explain it in words. You have to experience it. For me to be able to experience it with these guys who I’ve grown to be brothers with, it means a lot to me. Especially, in my freshman year, I was in the NIT. It was terrible.”
ON DARIUS MILLER’S ROLE: “He’s our senior leader. He’s been there since day one for us. Whenever we get a little hectic on the floor, he huddles us together, tells us to stay poised. We always look to him for leadership.”