Rick Pitino Press Conference After Virginia Tech Win

Video from TheCrunchZone.com

(Opening Statement)

“The first unit guys played really well and passed the ball really well. They did a lot of really good things at executing, making extra passes, and executing. Their team was totally overmatched, and I think they worked really, really hard, and I just wanted to make sure that they weren’t embarrassed in any way possible because they worked so hard. It was good that we gave some guys an opportunity, with a big game coming up, to play. And real, real proud of the way our starters played tonight, they did a terrific job.”

(On what the team has improved on)

“We played well against Carolina, we played even better tonight. We’re getting better, and I think it all stems from Chris Jones’ willingness to be a leader and to be a point guard. I still want to see him take open shots because we need that at times, but he was totally into getting people good shots and running the team and doing great things defensively, real proud of his effort. Mangok (Mathiang) played extremely well. Montrezl (Harrell) didn’t force the issue, he kept passing the basketball … a lot of good things.”

(On Mangok Mathiang)

“He’s really a power forward. He can get away with playing tonight, against Duke he’s probably not going to be able to get away with that.”

(On what he’s seen from Duke)

“So this can serve as the press conference. Do you want to do it now? Okay, we can do it now. Duke’s got a lot of great weapons that make it very difficult to guard. If you trap the post, which most teams are doing, he’s very good at finding them. They’re very good off the bounce, what they run is fundamentally sound, they take advantage of their spacing, their shooting, their driving. So it’ll be a very tough game for us.”

(On Okafor of Duke)

“Okafor is a big time basketball player because he’s just as good mentally as he is physically.”

(On what tonight’s game meant for Mangok)

“I think ask him. He’d be better to ask than me. I’d be giving you probably the wrong answer.”

(On coming back after the loss to UNC)

“Well Mike Gminski says `You know it’s going to be really tough for your team after that loss to come out and play well.’ And I looked at him like he had two heads. I didn’t understand what he was talking about. It would be just the opposite in the way I think. He said `because the Duke game is coming up’. I said you win conferences beating the Virginia Techs, you don’t win it beating the teams at the top. You have to take care of the teams that you’re supposed to beat at home. So I really didn’t understand his question too well. None of you would ever ask that question.”

(On Chris Jones being open and electing to pass instead of shoot)

“I think against Duke he wouldn’t do that, I think he was trying to get shots for everybody in the game and it was good.”

(On Chris Jones’ play)

“I just think he is becoming smarter and smarter and smarter. He is playing with the same type of emotion but now with intelligence as well, it’s not just raw emotion. He is playing like a point guard should play and I am happy to see he is evolving into that.”

(On the energy of Mangok Mathiang)

“Mangok is one of five guys that gives you great energy every day. He’s not the most physically talented guy, he reminds me a lot of Otis George in a lot of ways. I loved Otis because he did so much for our team. Mangok is developing. I hope he can become an Otis George. Otis was all over the court protecting everybody defensively. I wouldn’t get too carried away. I really wouldn’t. Length bothers certain people. Mangok didn’t have the length to go against them, but he made very smart decisions. But having said that, Chris set him up almost on every play. Set him up beautifully.”

(On the win allowing Pitino to rest starters)

“Yeah, I think we were up 25 points and we got a chance to play some other people. We don’t worry about the score. We just play the other people, make sure nobody gets hurt, nobody gets embarrassed, and we get on to the next game. This is a really undermanned squad that they have. They play real hard, they try real hard.”

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