Rick Pitino’s Post Game Comments Following Syracuse Loss

Photo: wlky.com
Photo: wlky.com

Opening statement

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.

On having 2 steals for the second game in a row

I can live with the lack of steals. What we’re doing wrong is we’re in the right spot, doing the right things and all of a sudden it’s you get the ball, I’m guarding you, you go right by me. It’s ball containment of the dribbler that’s hurting us. I’ll tell you the truth: I was crushed by the North Carolina State loss. I’m not too disappointed with this. I thought our guys played a winning game. If we make some of our free throws early in the second half we go up and missed free throws are like a turnover. It’s the same as a turnover.

Was Chris Jones missed during this game?

We missed him a lot but, you know, it’s his selfishness that hurt the team. I’m not one that believes in suspensions, game suspensions. I believe in punishment where you get up in the morning and lift weights and curfew at night, but this was not a decision by me.

This was a decision – it’s all cleared up – he could play the next game if he does what the assistant coaches tell him to do. If he doesn’t, he sits again. And I don’t care if he sits the whole season, to tell you the truth. I couldn’t care less. Because if he’s not going to do the right things and act like a Louisville man, he can move on and try to go to Belgium somewhere.

Lack of offense makes a thin margin of error

I think what it comes down to is if they make free throws. If their free throw shooters make it and ours do not, sometimes it comes down to the foul line. But in the past, it hasn’t hurt us because we got so many more possessions from our defense.

On pressure or lack thereof 

We couldn’t give them the pressure because of Chris Jones being out. And then Wayne Blackshear. It’s tough to press right now with this makeshift lineup. And the problem is I didn’t know until we were taking off that we had a problem (with Jones). So I couldn’t even practice. At least the next few days I can practice.

How Quentin Snider looked

He played great tonight. I thought he was terrific. He got in the lane. He didn’t hurt us. Did he have a turnover? (looks at stats) No, four assists and no turnovers. It was missed free throws and Wayne Blackshear’s not being on the court that really hurt us. I think that Chinanu played a good game. Montrezl played a good game. Anas is coming. I like our freshmen. With an improved attitude by a couple of them, they’ll be very good players.

On Rakeem Christmas

He struggled against Duke but he didn’t get the calls that he normally gets. He is the most feared low post player in the country. That is a tremendous credit to him and the Syracuse coaching staff because when he was a freshman, you could leave him alone and he couldn’t score. So that’s a credit to him. He’s probably put himself into the middle to late first round because of how hard he’s worked. He could be a terrific power forward at the pro level. I can’t tell you how happy I am for the young man because I know he had to put a lot of work in to get to that point.

Is Christmas more feared than Okafor (Duke)

I think Okafor will step away from the basket and do other things. I think Rakeem is very quick, and that’s not taking anything away from Okafor, who is great. I just think he’s one of the more feared low post players and I think the coaching staff and Christmas deserve an awful lot of credit.

Why Shaqquan Aaron didn’t play

He just doesn’t have a Louisville attitude. He’s not a Louisville man in terms of the way we practice, the way we go about it.

Question: Can he (Shaqquan) get there?

If he doesn’t, he’ll be at another school. That’s the way it will be. He’s never going to step on the court until he gets that attitude.

Montrezl Harrell getting the ball

They did a good job defensively. It’s not about him getting the ball — because when you play zone, sometimes you’re not going to get it. What he’s got to do is get more offensive rebounds. The next time a team plays man to man, he’s getting the ball more. Against the zone, you have to offensive rebound to get some of your touches.

Bumps in the road

I figured some bumps in the road during this time, but I didn’t expect it to be NC State. I said in the beginning of the year, looking at the two teams, that Virginia and Syracuse were the toughest for us to play with our offense. But tonight we did a terrific job of getting paint touches. It doesn’t bother me. As long as we win two, three more games, I’m fine. We’ll have time to work on things and I think we’ll be fine. We’ve got to get our defense better, no question about it.

On Syracuse playing well despite postseason ban

Well they’re supposed to when you’re well coached. Also, this is their NCAA (Tournament). They have no tournament. So for Rakeem Christmas, this is his NCAA. They are all showcasing their abilities and it speaks volumes of what Jim (Boeheim) is all about. They played their a$$es off against Duke, played their a$$es off against us. They have a tough schedule coming up and I think that’s a great credit to the kids and a great credit to the coaching staff.

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