Rick Pitino Speaks After Louisville Beats North Carolina

Photo: Tim Haag/CardinalSportsZone.com
Photo: Tim Haag/CardinalSportsZone.com

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.”

(On what the guys were doing differently in terms of rebounding) “I got on them in halftime, look I am showing you the tapes of the best shooters with arc, the best rebounders with arc, and the best duck-in guys. If you don’t simulate those people, you will never be great at that and in the second half they hit people and they all gang-rebounded. One of the keys is don’t get beat and if you do get beat, Chinanu (Onuaku) made a great play and Mangok (Mathiang) made a great play, step out of bounds and then they have no place to pass it to and both 5-men made great plays down the stretch.”

(On Montrezl Harrell’s play in the second half) “Yeah, he was (possessed), he was disappointed the last time we played North Carolina and I told him, `Trez, I am just going to tell you it’s just a matter of you bend your knees, they are not keeping you off the boards.’ It’s when if you just stand up, you are an easy target to block-out. So he was possessed, he played a lot of minutes, he was possessed, but it doesn’t surprise me.”

(On Montrezl Harrell pursuing in terms of rebounding) “I think Terry (Rozier) and Montrezl are both great rebounders, I think Chris (Jones) at 5’10” is a great rebounder. Our guards were really struggling tonight but in the latter 10 minutes of the game, they showed great maturity. Chris kept getting dejected because he wasn’t getting a call, he needed to pull up in the lane and shoot the little jump shot or dribble it back out but I said it is not about that tonight, we would have never won a national championship if we didn’t play defense against Wichita State because our offense was struggling. I said this is about defense no matter what you do and then we made free throws, we rebounded the ball, we executed well against pressure.”

(On whether there was a moment in the second half that he knew he was watching a different team) “Like I said, the team that I witnessed on the past two games on the road was an execution machine and then everyone tried to rush. I mean Coach Wooden said it for a reason and it is really true, `be quick and don’t hurry’ and that is what we are doing at home. It has nothing to do with the rims because I know Kenny (Klein) told you about the calibration, it has to do with rushing and in the second half we did not do that.

(On if there was a change in the press that caused North Carolina to turn the ball over) “We just went to our three presses. And we had a gamble at that point. It’s more heat than it is a 2-2-1 press, and I told them, they bring a big up, so I said let them catch it, deny the guards, get as many traps as you can. I said down the stretch, if we get it within striking distance it’s going to pay huge dividends for us.”

(On Wayne Blackshear’s play) “I think too much is being said about great games by certain people. What I found is, from the NBA, unless you’re Lebron (James), unless you’re Kevin Durant, one of those great players, you’re going to have nights where you’ve got to give credit to the way the defense is playing you. You’ve got to give credit to that. And sometimes bad nights are just great defense by the other team. For instance, our pick and rolls, we got all types of pick and rolls against them last time, we couldn’t get it this time. Primarily, because we went wide, we were playing east and west, whereas last time we played north and south, and that’s what good defensive teams do. So you’ve got to give credit sometimes. Everybody looks to pick out this guy, well give credit to the defense. If he played a weaker defense, the may have scored.”

(On how they were shaken by North Carolina’s offense) “Our defense was very… it’s a lot mentally. It’s a lot. You really have to be thinkers. And the great part about our defense last year, when you have Gorgui Dieng, Luke Hancock and Peyton Siva, they were just summa cum laude basketball players in terms of taking a scouting report. This team has struggled from day one, just like I had to waste that timeout, we just went over that the 5 is going to play the corner so we don’t get caught in the bump in, we didn’t go out to him and he makes a shot. So that’s what my hope is on the potential of this team, that we’ll get better and grasp it. It’s very difficult on freshmen to grasp it unless they have really high basketball IQs.”

(On the crowd at the Yum! Center) “It was, it’s the only ones that really believed were the people at the Marquette game.”

(On if he made any comparisons in the huddle to the Miracle on Main against Marquette in 2011) “Well I didn’t bring up Marquette because they would look at me with three heads. But I told them, we’ve been in this situations so many times here. We’ll win the game if we don’t give second shots, we don’t give threes up we’ll win the game.”

(On how much stamina a factor in the game) “He (Montrezl) said to me `Coach just give me a minute. Just give me a minute.’ You know that, when you’re a kid, you sing that hundred bottles of beer on the wall song? I was doing that. Sixty bottles of beer when he needed it, then put him back in the game.”

(On preparing for Miami) “You know they’re very talented, they’re very long, but we’re actually going to take a day off, and I don’t usually do that. I think mentally, when you play two road games and you come back and you come back and hit with this comeback, I think…I have found that you have injuries, you have a bad practice. I want my guys to go out, have good clean fun, enjoy themselves. Have fun, and then we’ll get ready with a little film work, and then head down to Miami. We’re going to head down tomorrow.”

(On the importance of the win over UNC given their history in the conference) “You know, I just think there’s so much brilliance in this conference in terms of tradition and coaching. You know I can go back to Everett Case at North Carolina State… You know I remember Howard Garfinkel always talking about every case and Lefty Driezell, and of course the legendary Coach (Dean) Smith. So now the guys take their places and now you got one of the best in the game in Roy Williams. You know he said something interesting to me. He came down to explain to me what happened with some of the stuff that’s going on, and I cut him off and I said You know what, you never had to explain five seconds because I never thought one time, because like Coach K…they’re not only great coaches, they’re the quality people in our game. Have they gone through tough times? Yeah, but there’s never been a doubt in my mind, not even one percent, because he’s a quality man as well as being a great basketball coach.

So, I look at this, I look at the young coaches in Tony Bennett (UVa) and Buzz Williams (VT), and some of the other coaches that go on. You see Jamie Dixon coming off a tough loss and goes in there and wins today. The coaching is awesome because they all prepare as if it is an NCAA game. And so I’m really impressed with the conference like I was with the Big East. You know I miss the Big East terribly. But I got the Big East — southern style.”

(On what he thought about the shot from Montrezl at the end of regulation) “I actually thought it was good. I really did. But there is a blessing in every miss because if he makes that, we go to Miami and he attempts eight threes.”

Bonus transcript from North Carolina head coach Roy Williams

(Opening Statement) “Congratulations they kicked our rear ends. The second half was not a very good basketball game on our side. It was extremely good on their side, but Rick knows his team a heck of a lot better than I do. I thought Montrezl was a little possessed in the second half, it seemed like he got every rebound and ran the floor, posted our guys up. He got around when we tried to throw it to our post guys. Montrezl – 22 (points) and 15 (rebounds). Rozier didn’t have a day shooting the basketball, but he had 10 rebounds including getting the rebound on the free throw when we had inside position with a guy 6-9 and 270. That shows you how much Louisville wanted the basketball.

I hate to say this, but I have done a poor job of coaching. They wanted the basketball and were tougher about it than my team was and that’s my fault. They have a great game plan, a lot of times it fits what I like to do, because it’s an open court game, but today Rick did a much better job with his team than I did with my team. Again, the intensity on the backboards… at halftime it was 11-9 on points off of offensive rebounds and we got zero points off of offensive rebounds in the second half and we are supposedly the best offensive rebounding team in the country. And they got 17 points on offensive rebounds in the second half.

Every time I felt like we’d get a miss, they would end up getting it and putting it back. Their defense was stronger than our offense. I think their will was stronger than our will. (Terry) Rozier and Chris (Jones) really did a nice job out front, frustrated our guards. Their big guys frustrated our big guys. And their head coach frustrated our head coach. We talked about trying not to turn the basketball over and give them openings. We tried to talk about not fouling and we put them on the line 44 times. When we played at Kentucky we shot 13 free throws and they shot 31. Today we shot 20 and they shot 44. In both cases I am not talking about the officials. We made the fouls and we should not have done that. The other thing we talked about was doing a great on the backboards and we gave up 17 points on the offensive rebounds in the second half. Poor job of playing and worse job of coaching.

(Did foul trouble affect your rotation?) “Well it affected it, but that’s an excuse too. Louisville beat North Carolina. It affected it, We’re trying to draw it stuff up and every college team has got a lot of problems with numbers. This time of year you’ve got little aches and pains, but that would be an excuse. Somebody kicked our tails and I’m not going to say anything, trying to make excuses.”

(On a certain play and if Marcus Paige was supposed to get the ball back) “We didn’t do what we were supposed to do. And he takes a shot in front of our bench down at the end. It’s not the shot we wanted, but that’s bad coaching. That’s not the shot we wanted to be the case.”

(On whether he liked the shots North Carolina was getting) “Well we got to the free throw line, we missed free throws too. I think we missed, Marcus made two, Nate made two… 8 for 16 in the second half, then overtime… But no, again, their defense was stronger than our offense and their offense was stronger than our defense. We were very fortunate, they controlled the game at our place for a long portion. Marcus made a great shot and I was so pleased with our kids because they showed some toughness, and I thought today when we got the big lead, Louisville showed the toughness, so much more than we did. I think somebody said it was 18, I know it was quite a bit, but I never felt comfortable because of the way they could score, the way they defend, and even when we were ahead, I didn’t like the way we were playing.”

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