Transcripts From Pitino, Harrell, and Jones After the Pittsburgh Game

Photo: Tim Haag/
Photo: Tim Haag/

The following transcripts come from Jeff Greer of the Courier Journal.

Rick Pitino

Opening statement: We usually win with defense. Tonight we won with offense. Not that our defense was bad, but our offense was special. Great shooting percentages are the result of great passing, and we did a terrific job of passing against a very good defensive team. So, I’m real proud of our guys. We needed to get this road win. We’re at BC. We’re at Miami. We’re at Virginia. We needed to play well to get our confidence back after that Duke loss.

On changing up Louisville’s offense: We made a lot of changes, but mostly … some changes are to our offensive schemes. Gorgui Dieng is not walking through that door. Neither is David Padgett, to bring out an old expression. Those other guys, even though the middle is where you beat the zone, don’t make the plays those other guys made. We had a week to work on it, so we ran some different offensive sets, which helped a lot. We did a lot of good things by getting into the paint with drives. That was our point of emphasis the whole week. If we could do that, I thought we could shoot a high percentage, and we did.

On Terry Rozier and Chris Jones: Both of those guys, they get so down about a mistake. I thought Terry was going to break his hand at one point because he got fouled and he got hit hard. I said, ‘That’s the road. You gotta let it go.’ That’s what makes them great. The most impressive thing is — not just that they played great — one guy played 40 and one guy played 35. With the exception of the first four minutes of the game, they pressed fullcourt. The stamina … I don’t know that I can remember coaching two guys with that type of stamina. I’ve never played that guys that many minutes playing this type of style.

More on Jones: For a guy that size, seven, eight pounds, maybe nine pounds, it’s a lot. When he lost that weight, he suddenly became a different ballplayer in terms of his speed. He always relied on being a little bulldog because of his strength.

On Mangok Mathiang: I was really pleased that Mangok shot free throws well. That was really important. Outside of that technical where we lost the 16-point lead, we played great basketball. We played great basketball at North Carolina. We have to learn from that and finish things, and we finished it.

On Montrezl Harrell: Chris set him up. When he plays that way, in the beginning, there’s nothing wrong with it, but he was trying to be Kevin Durant rather than Montrezl Harrell. When he plays this way, he has great nights. He played that way tonight. He did a little bit of everything.

On why Louisville wins so much at Pitt: Don’t take this in any negative way. The other two wins were awesome. Pitt has a little less talent than those other years because they’re so young. They’ll get it back. The reason they’re so good — we have a pro arena. We don’t have a zoo. North Carolina has a pro-type arena, Duke doesn’t. They have a great arena. They’re right on top of you. It’s a very tough place to play, but Pitt has their culture. They recruit to their culture and they get better and better and better. This is not as good as any of those other Pitt teams. They’re going to lose a few, and then next year they’re going to become invincible again because that’s the way this program is. This program is as well-run as any program in America.

On Harrell calming Jones down after the technical: Montrezl is extremely bright. You guys see the dunker and a guy who’s yelling, but he’s extremely bright. Chris and Terry, their emotion is what makes them great, but in that situation, we’re up 16, you can’t get a technical. As soon as you jump up and down, you’re going to get one. I was worried about calming them down.

On Louisville not using its press as much at Pitt: We worked all week on pressing after the first four minutes. On the road, I like to get to the first timeout because referees, in the beginning, will call it much tigher than the rest of the game. After the first timeout, we’ll come with our first heat. It was going well for us, so we didn’t need the heat early on. The only thing I’m afraid of — it’s Terry Rozier’s suggestion — we need to go back to our three presses and trap more. But what I was afraid of, and why I’ve been so cautious about it, is I’m playing these starters so many minutes. I’ve always had a bench where I play 10 guys and rotate them three minutes at a time, and I just don’t have that luxury right now.

On finding a third guard: I think Quentin Snider, offensively, is ready for the third guard. He’s having great practices. Both Terry and Chris, besides their defense and offense, which is obvious, they’re both great rebounders. Q doesn’t give us the rebounding. We lose a lot defensively with him. But I need to play him more.

Montrezl Harrell

On if he’ll be a captain again: I don’t know. I’m not going to stop showing my leadership on the team. It really wasn’t that much of a big deal on the team. I felt like I should’ve stepped down from the position.

On his role as a vocal leader: My leadership is not going to stop on this team.

On if not being a captain eases his responsibilities: It does. I can focus more on basketball, being able to play the game.

On if he was surprised the captain story got so much attention this week: I don’t really know about the reaction of other people. It really wasn’t a big deal. It’s something I felt like I wanted to step back from, and that’s what I did.

On his performance vs. Pitt: I just took what the defense gave me. I wouldn’t say I’ve been struggling. My teammates did a great job of finding me and I wanted to make sure I did a good job of rewarding them for it.

Chris Jones

On how he’s improved: To be a Final Four contender, I had to change my game. I just get my teammates involved first. Terry came out on fire. I had to get Montrezl back in his rhythm, and that’s what I did. They needed me to get to the rim in the second half, that’s what I did.

On what Louisville did to improve its offense this week after the Duke loss:We did a great job moving the ball against Duke, but at the same time, we were missing shots. When we miss shots, we drop our heads.

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