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.
So he’s officially undecided? Undecided. Let’s go with that.
He was emphatic you weren’t coming back. Was he? Undecided.
After (Thursday’s scrimmage), are you considering forgoing your playing career and just becoming a coach? (Laughs.) Well, I am 1-0, thanks to Jaylen Johnson on a buzzer-beater. That might work out, too.
On coaching vs. playing: His goal for that — having us coach — he said we don’t play hard enough so he wanted us to see for ourselves how hard they don’t play. They were a little tired out there but me and (Montrezl Harrell) actually drew up some plays that (Pitino) would’ve done. We yelled at them a little bit in timeouts. It was a lot of fun to do that and see our team win. It was a whole lot of fun yesterday.
On the intrasquad scrimmage and if it gave the younger guys confidence: Definitely. (Quentin Snider) wasn’t on my team but he had a real good scrimmage yesterday. Anton (Gill) stepped up and hit some big shots and did a lot of good things. Jaylen Johnson was amazing, probably the MVP of the day. He needed that. Playing behind (Harrell), all the young guys need that, especially with (Pitino) on them all the time. We need some energy from the bench. With all the veterans doing all the work, they don’t get much credit. It was good for them to step up and play well yesterday.
On if he notices opposing guards wearing down vs. Louisville: I can’t really tell if they’re getting frustrated, but once me and (Chris Jones) get things going, we’ve got it going. It’s good to see him doing real well in ACC play. He’s very focused. It starts in practice. It’s hard not to want to play hard when you’re playing with Chris. He plays hard on every possession, offense or defense. He’s leading in the way by showing that he can play hard and it makes us pick up the energy.
On this past week: We looked at the last game as the first round of the tournament. This is the second round. It’s getting to that point where every game is important. We’re not trying to lose. We’ve been struggling at home, so we know how big this game is for us. We know how good an offensive rebounding team this is, so we just want to take care of business.
On the Yum Center rims: (Laughs.) Like I said, I don’t want it to seem like I’m making excuses. I don’t like to talk about it. But if somebody could loosen up our rims, that would help us a lot. We make more shots on the road. We’re more focused on the road. We’re going in with the mindset of, it’s just us. It’s us against the crowd, us against everybody in the building. We have more focus. Maybe when we’re here, there’s a lot of our fans and we try to turn on the crowd. We have a lot more focus on the road.
On if it’s psychological: You never know … Loosen up the rim.
On if the rims are tighter at one end or the other: No. Both the same. If we were to play every game in this practice arena, we’d be undefeated right now. We don’t miss shots in here. When we practice at the arena, it’s the same results — we can’t make shots. It’s difficult, man. Maybe it could be an “in-our-head” type of thing, and I don’t want to make excuses, but loosen up the rims.
On how they tell a tight rim vs. a loose rim: When we played at North Carolina and we were doing a shoot-around there, we could tell. When we shoot the ball, it bounces on the rim. It’ll hit the front of the rim, then the backboard, then in. Our rims, it bounces hard. It comes off hard. You can really tell. It’s a basketball term … A miss is a miss, but you’d rather have a soft miss than a hard miss.
On his relationship with Chris Jones: We’re real close off the court. He jokes a lot. That’s my guy, man. It starts in practice. Me and him, we work so hard in practice. It goes back to what I was saying: He works hard. It makes me want to work hard, even when I’m not around him. We’ve been doing real well. It starts in practice and carries over into the game.
On his and Jones’s upbringing and if they talk about it: I think it has a factor. Me and him came in a little immature. We both did. We’re both more mature. We both have similar backgrounds, from tough areas. Most people may not know that, but we talk about it a lot. We just have that bond. We understand each other. He’s relentless. He’s a great person to play with.
On Anton Gill: It’s definitely confidence. I’ve witnessed Anton get 40 on every single night if he wants to. I know it’s tough. I’m one of his best friends on the team. It’s definitely a confidence thing for him. He’s our key guy. When he starts to play, he’s going to be our key guy going into the tournament. Because me and Chris can’t play 40 minutes every game and be productive, especially with the games we have in a week’s span. We’re definitely going to need him and he’s going to get his time. When he gets his time, he’s going to do great things. Coach is going to realize that and give him more time.
On Chris’s demeanor changing with success: He may get down on himself. It happened sometimes. But his actions, how hard he plays, makes up for it. It’s never going to change his demeanor on defense. He’s still going to play hard.
On UNC: They don’t change much. Their coach preaches that they have to do things harder and better. We want to stick to the things we were doing. Play the zone and switch to man. It was a good game. It was tough being at their place, but we were up 13 and we just let it go and slip away from us. We just want to have the same mindset. We just have to pull it out this time.