“I’m as proud of this basketball team as any game I’ve ever coached because I’ve never seen a team have so many open looks from layups to wide open shots off good ball movement and (the shots) not falling. Earlier this year we had the same thing happen and we got down and we didn’t play good defense. But these guys kept their attitude and just focused on one thing: winning the game. You know Georgia Tech is just like us. We have two better players than them, but they’re just like us. They run great stuff, but the ball doesn’t go in. They’re not a good shooting team and we’re not a good shooting team. And that’s the most frustrating thing because they do so many great things offensively and so many great things defensively, and so did we. But when the shot doesn’t go in, you struggle. But they’re a team that played Duke to the wire and had them. Notre Dame in overtime. They’re young right now and they suffer the same things we suffer and that’s ‘you have wide open shots and they don’t go down.'”
Anybody know what the heck happened in those last 30 seconds? Wow! Louisville battles all the way back after looking so bad offensively and they finally get the lead back at 48-46 with 1 minute to go. Then with 25 seconds left Georgia Tech scores, and “just like that, in the blink of an eye” Terry Rozier gets a layup and the Cards lead again by 2 with 22 seconds left. After a turnover, a missed shot, and clutch free throws by Wayne Blackshear, Louisville held on to beat Georgia Tech 52-51. I plan on this being a few quick thoughts. We will see…
This team still has some fight left
Regardless of what Chris Jones did or didn’t do to get himself dismissed from the Louisville basketball team, the fact is that it happened and now it is over with and time to move on. There will surely be people for the rest of the season that play the “what if” game if the Cards struggle. “Well, if Chris Jones was still there….” and so on and so on. Bottom line: it doesn’t matter now. Chris Jones is not on the team. “What if” scenarios are for discussion and don’t mean much more than that. This team still has talent. Although Jones is very talented himself, it feels like this may be a case of addition by subtraction when it comes to the locker room and team chemistry. Because of that, I feel like a new season of Louisville basketball begins tonight at Georgia Tech.
“Well I’m buying beer because we finally got 35 deflections. And we needed it. Montrezl (Harrell) got 11. We needed the deflections tonight because our defense had to win it for us. The reason we got off to such a bad start- I haven’t seen our guys do this- on every drive to the basket, including Montrezl, we were trying to lean into the guy to draw the foul, and it was taking us out of our offensive rhythm by doing that. Then, when you have a start like that, the guys start to panic and they don’t want to shoot, as Chris Jones had a wide open three. But in the second half, I said, `Let’s just play defense every possession. We will win the game. Get our deflections picked up because we had 20 at halftime, and that’s what I want to see.’
Rick Pitino met with the media on Friday afternoon for about 20-25 minutes to talk about the Miami game, along with many other things. He talks about Chris Jones, Wayne Blackshear, team meetings, and much more. Here is the transcript.
There are a lot of big games that come into play when you’re in a league like the ACC, but by far this game has the most significance to us at this time. It’s probably the most important game for us that’s come in here this year with more significance than just an outstanding opponent. Because if you look at the standings, if our hope is to finish in the top four and get a double bye, we suddenly go with three other teams, including Miami, record-wise. So we need a win desperately at this point. There’s a lot at stake for both teams and certainly we need a very loud, very enthusiastic crowd, we need great defense from our team, need a lot of emotion tomorrow afternoon.
You know, we played well. I thought Quentin Snider played outstanding. It wasn’t his play, it was Wayne Blackshear not getting in foul trouble. We had to go substitute out of weakness rather than strength. But I thought we moved the ball great in the first half, did a lot of really good things. We missed a lot of shots that would have kept us in the game in the second half, wide-open, we had two in the corner.
But what’s stopping us from being a very good basketball team is the last three years we’ve been one of the most feared defensive teams in the nation, with steals, turnovers, and we’ve just been void of both. I’m going to put out there on Kenny (Klein’s) web site to try and motivate our guys — who’s getting the deflections. Again, we’re falling short of it, so I’m using you to motivate my players.
Nevermind the freezing temperatures outside. If you get on social media, the world seems to be ending and it has nothing to do with weather. It has everything to do with Louisville losing their second basketball game in a row. This game had plenty of storylines if you are a Cards fan, from a suspended point guard to a senior not exactly stuffing the stat sheet. Here are just some of my quick hitting thoughts after the 69-59 loss at Syracuse. I won’t try to paint a National Championship picture, but I also won’t act like we should give up the sport for good after this season. This will just be honest opinions from yours truly, a fellow fan of the Cards.
Chris Jones did it to himself
“I am really, really excited about this game tonight because we had a surprise at the beginning of the game, that Wayne Blackshear couldn’t play and then Quentin Snider had to come in and give us a good performance and he did. So I am really, really happy. Obviously, I am kind of amazed that Montrezl Harrell could play the entire game without a break and play as hard as that. His motor is kind of incredible, but the only bad thing is we are shooting 50 percent which is good execution, the other team is not, but we did not get a steal in the first half. The reason our press is not as successful is that we are not trapping. We are letting them clear us out and in the second half we went after them, and our 4’s and 5’s made a lot of key plays. So we are playing good defense, our offense executed well, but we got a big lift tonight from guys that don’t normally play, I thought Quentin (Snider) did an excellent job.”
Some pretty good clips here, including the pass from Quentin Snider to Montrezl Harrell for the dunk that didn’t even count. It was also good to see Anton Gill get a dunk. That looked like something he has been waiting to do for nearly two years now.
Check out these photos from the North Carolina game on Saturday. These were taken by Tim Haag. Follow him on twitter for more great pictures @UofLBirdsNest.
Here are Coach Pitino’s comments after the thrilling comeback win over North Carolina on Saturday. The video is from TheCrunchZone.com and the transcript from the Courier Journal is also included.
(Opening Statement) “As far as playing at home, what’s really applicable is what John Wooden said a long time ago, `Be quick but don’t hurry.’ That’s really the reason why we haven’t played well at home, we are rushing things offensively, from the pick and roll on and not letting our movement set in. In the second half, we didn’t do it but I am real excited because we didn’t play well offensively and we won it. This team needed to get back to, I told them in the one timeout we were up 11 at their place and now we are down 11 and we need to get this game back, but I needed the old Louisville team back. I can’t have the one that just wants to score and they dug in, the rebounding was a big edge in their favor, in the second half we held them to two and we got 22 second-shots ourselves. Real, real proud of our guys, took a heck of an effort to win the game but we believed we were going to win it.”
Rick Pitino and Terry Rozier met with the media on Friday afternoon to preview the UNC game. This is Rozier’s portion of the press conference. He talks about the NBA draft, Yum Center rims, Chris Jones, and much more.
On the NBA draft: We haven’t talked about that. Like I’ve been saying the whole year, or since I’ve been on this little verge of people saying if I’m going to leave or not, it’s something that we’ve talked about. But we’ve said I’m going to focus on being the best college basketball player I can be. It would be selfish to think about the pros right now. I mean, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t think about it. It’s something in my mind. But for me to be thinking about the draft and me leaving without taking care of business here first is selfish of me. That’s all I’m focused on right now — helping my team go and win the national championship.
Rick Pitino and Terry Rozier met with the media on Friday afternoon to preview the North Carolina game. Here is Pitino’s portion of the press conference, transcribed by Jeff Greer of the Courier Journal.
Pitino talks about the Tar Heels, the recent intrasquad scrimmage, Terry Rozier’s NBA draft stock, and much more.
Opening statement: I guess, when I got on the plane or the bus ride back from Boston, checked out the ACC scores, I was quite surprised. And that’s the nature of any great conference — it’s full of surprises because the bottom is very close to the top. Boston College played Virginia to the mat; they pulled away at the end. We pulled away at the end. Any great league has to have the bottom close to the top, and the teams in our league at the bottom. Georgia Tech, I believe, was winless and just blitzed Miami at Miami. So that’s the sign of any really good league. If you’re not on top of your game, you’re going to come away with an L. Carolina’s playing much better than the first time we played them. They’re on a winning streak, they’re playing with more scoring, more confidence and they’re better than the last time we faced them, so we have to be better.
Chris Jones and Terry Rozier combined to score 51 of the Cards’ 81 points last night against Boston College as Louisville picked up the 81-72 win on the road. They also combined to make 19-28 shots, including 5-7 from three. They had 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 turnover between the two of them.
Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen after a loss is a lot of time off between games. It feels like the Cards haven’t played in a month. They will finally hit the court again on Sunday at 4 p.m. when they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers on the road. The game will be on CBS.
Rick Pitino talked about the game at his press conference on Friday afternoon. Here is what he had to say.
“As you all know, Pitt’s had a great winning record at home, nearly 88 percent, and certainly, they have a great home court with their student body. It’s always been a tough place to play, and we’re looking forward to it. Obviously it’s a nationally televised game, and I know our players are fired up about it.”
When there is a week off in between Louisville basketball games, any kind of story will turn into a big deal. This time it is the fact that junior Montrezl Harrell is no longer a captain on the team. When I first heard that news, it really wasn’t a big deal to me because I couldn’t have told you who the captains were anyway. In my book, the captains are Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier. So my first reaction to the news that Montrezl was no longer a captain was basically “Oh, he WAS a captain?”
On his weekly radio show on WHAS, Rick Pitino went into detail about why Harrell isn’t a captain anymore. He said it was actually Montrezl who asked to have that title stripped from him.