Blog from New Orleans: Photos, quotes from KU's interviews, plus Calipari talks about his time with KU
7:23 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Here's our end-of-day video giving our observations from today's media session.
With that, we're going to wrap up the live blog here from New Orleans.
Be sure to check back to KUsports.com for addition coverage of Monday's national championship game, including stories, blogs, videos, chats and more.
6:20 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Really interesting behind-the-scenes look at the KU players from Mike Yoder in this video ...
6 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
I was at a breakout session with Elijah Johnson when he was asked about playing Kentucky the first time.
At that point, he said he felt KU was playing like a "rec team."
"It was our first big game. It was so fast, so quick," Johnson said. "We weren't a team at all. I barely remember the game — just up and down and sloppy. It felt like an AAU game. It didn't really feel like a college basketball game at all."
When asked about Tyshawn Taylor providing most of the offense for KU that day, Johnson said the reason for that was Taylor was the only Jayhawk who had been in that kind of environment.
"We weren't men about situations like we are today," Johnson said. "Once we got down, I don't want to say we panicked, but we didn't know what to do back then. We know what to do now, and I think that's something we're all conscious of. I feel like we definitely learned from that game."
4:49 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
A few more interesting quotes from today's media session ...
Elijah Johnson, on his thoughts about Kansas being an underdog in the national championship:
“These are the two best teams in the country. Obviously, I feel like no one wants to be second. I don’t think Coach (John) Calipari wants to be the second best coach in the country, and I don’t think we do. With that being said, everybody is playing with house money. If you are go out there feeling like you’ve got to save something, you are going to come up short.”
Johnson on his thoughts about Kansas coach Bill Self:
“Coach is a funny man. If only I could tell you some of the stuff he says to us. He knows how to get us fired up. That’s one thing I like about Coach.
"Coming out of high school, one thing a lot of people said about me was I didn’t know how to play hard all the time. I relaxed a lot and you never get everything out of me. Then I heard when you go to Kansas you can. Coach knows how to get his boys going. I never realized it, but he really does. He gets us going. He says small stuff, whether it’s a joke or it’s yelling, he knows what he needs to do to get our attention."
Thomas Robinson, on his first game against Kentucky this year:
"The biggest part of why we lost that game is because I was kind of selfish and tried to do everything by myself. I can’t let that happen this game. In fact, I won’t let that happen this game.”
Robinson, on playing Kentucky again:
“Extra motivation. I want payback. I don’t want anyone to think they have the upper hand on me and I’ve thought that way all season about Kentucky, but I get to see them again."
Tyshawn Taylor, on overcoming his early season struggles and playing through criticism:
“It’s a huge difference. I think I had a nickname earlier in the season, ‘Tyshawn Turnover Taylor.' I had that nickname, but I haven’t heard that in a while, not because I haven’t been turning the ball over, but we’ve been winning and nobody cares. There’s a lot more positivity now. We’re in the national championship game. If you’re a fan, a true fan, how can you not respect that?”
4:25 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
I didn't get to Kansas senior walk-on Jordan Juenemann for as long in the locker room as I have the last few games, but I still wanted to share his breakdown of Kentucky before Monday's game.
Here's a transcript of our conversation:
Jesse Newell: What's the scouting report on Kentucky?
Jordan Juenemann: They get a lot of easy baskets off offensive rebounds and in transition. They shoot a high percentage. We've got to look to limit that. But just, 1 through 5, like we said about Ohio State, they're loaded. Even with Darius Miller, too. They have some guys that can size you up, too. They do some dribble handoffs and do a lot of dribble penetration to get to the rack and throw some lobs up for Anthony Davis, so it is hard. They really just get those easy chip baskets off offensive rebounds and transition.
JN: What makes it tough to go against their offense?
JJ: Their dribble penetration, we've got to stop that, as good as they are getting to the glass. Then offensive rebounds ... they get a lot of offensive rebounds. So that's hard to guard, but also, Anthony Davis is getting drives and they spread you out. He gets some drives, gets to the rim and finishes. So that makes it hard on the defense.
JN: What are the keys for you guys?
JJ: Obviously, limit transition and rebounding. Just play tough and do what we do and make them guard us. Hopefully, we can give them a run.
3:56 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Here's the full photo gallery, along with a couple more highlights below.
3:30 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
A few more photos from our own Nick Krug and Mike Yoder ...
3:23 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Here's the full press conference from KU coach Bill Self and the KU starters, for those wanting to hear from the Jayhawks at their media session today.
Also, here's a short story about Self winning the Naismith national coach of the year award.
1:58 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
KU coach Bill Self has just been named the Naismith national coach of the year.
More to come ...
1:53 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Tyshawn Taylor, on his three-point shooting (he's 0-for-20 this tournament):
"I think I'm definitely due. I think the basketball gods are with me," he said with a smile.
He went on to say that if he had an open shot, he would take it, but he wasn't gong to force anything.
1:49 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
• Self says defending and rebounding is this team's identity. Being tough is what KU does.
Oh, and here's a cool photo from Nick Krug.
1:46 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
• Self just said that Kentucky probably should be favored against KU on Monday. But Self has never seen a game on paper. He said that he hasn't seen anyone pick KU on TV, and he joked if ESPN's Digger Phelps did, it might be the kiss of death.
1:30 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Calipari's media hour at the podium just wrapped up a few minutes ago. Not surprisingly, most of the discussion centered around Cal's use of one-and-done players, the coach's history with KU and lessons learned from the 2008 NCAA championship game.
Though it's not in the audio I put up, the most testy moment came when reporter Bob Ryan asked Calipari if this championship more to him than his players, because Cal has grown up with the college game, while most of his players are just using it as a short pit-stop before the NBA. Calipari gave a long answer, which went back into some of his family's history — his grandparents came to the United States through Ellis Island, and both of his parents were only high-school graduates. Ryan felt Calipari was avoiding the question, so he angrily asked it again. Calipari said the game would mean a lot for the players, and that it probably meant more to them.
Whether he's telling the full truth or not, Calipari was adamant during the entire session that this game does not hold extra significance for him and his legacy, even though he has yet to win a national championship.
12:51 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
12:35 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Here is a Cliff's notes version from Kentucky coach John Calipari's time at the podium this afternoon.
• Calipari said doesn't apologize for having one-and-dones. He says his team had a 3.0 grade-point average last year. The kids go to class and do what they're supposed to do. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both left college early, too.
• One reporter started to ask Calipari about the Kansas-Memphis NCAA championship game in 2008 and started rambling a bit trying to get his question out. "You're stuttering here," Calipari said with a smile. "I'm fine with that game."
So what did Calipari learn from that game?
"Make free throws," Calipari said emphatically with a smile. "That's what I learned."
• Calipari has fond memories of Kansas. He spent almost three years there. He met his wife at KU.
• Calipari said he enjoyed coaching in the 2008 national championship game. It's just everything down the stretch went wrong. The stars and moons and everything aligned for KU, and suddenly, the two teams were in overtime. Cal still thought his team played well.
• Calipari said Kentucky might play a 2-3 zone against KU on Monday. Kentucky hasn't played that very often, but Calipari says his team might do it. He says all his players know how good Thomas Robinson is. Robinson's a vicious competitor. He's great around the rim and can make top-of-the-key shots. He's become a better ball-handler, and he eats rebounds.
• Calipari saw some picture of the riots that happened in Kentucky after Saturday's game. Calipari says UK's fans are the classiest fans. They don't storm the court. They're not vicious to the opponent. The state of Kentucky is so connected to the program that sometimes crazy things happen, and those things Saturday probably involved alcohol.
• Calipari was a volunteer coach at KU under Ted Owens. When at KU, to make money, he served athletes peas and corn to KU athletes. Calipari said being a volunteer coach at KU was a great experience for him. He said he has great memories of Lawrence.
• Calipari says KU is the best post-up team in the country. The Jayhawks do the best job of getting their guys next to the rim. UK's shot-blocking might not have the same effect on KU because so many shots come on post-ups.
• Calipari has known KU coach Bill Self for a long time. Calipari said after 2008 that if any school and coach was going to beat his team then, he wanted it to be KU and Self, because of the respect he has for both.
• Calipari said there isn't pressure on him. He was dancing at breakfast this morning. He's fine. This isn't about Calipari. This is about his team. If Calipari's legacy is decided on one game, it won't be him doing that, it will be other people who do that.
• Memphis' Antonio Anderson is in town. Calipari has never looked at the tape of Mario Chalmers' three-point shot in the 2008 title game. He jokingly said he threw that tape out of the bus on the way to the plane. Some of Calipari's Memphis players have been texting him. He wishes they could all be with him.
11:55 a.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Welcome back to the NCAA Tournament blog, coming live to you from the Superdome in New Orleans, site of this year's Final Four.
Kansas will play Kentucky in Monday's national championship game, making this the last preview media session of this year's NCAA Tournament.
Here's the schedule for today:
12-1:05 p.m. — Kentucky coach John Calipari/athletes available to reporters
1:30-2:35 p.m. — Kansas coach Bill Self/athletes available to reporters
Both teams also will have closed practices, UK from 2-3:30 and KU from 3:35-5:05.
Be sure to check back throughout the day as we keep you updated on the latest happenings here.