Louisville defeated Georgia Tech on Saturday 75-71 to improve to 16-3 on the season and 5-1 in the ACC. Here are Rick Pitino’s comments after the game.
Of all the teams we’ve played, their coaching staff takes away and knows what we run offensively and defensively better than any team in the conference. You always know it’s going to be a dogfight because they know what we run so well. They hurt our press and they do certain things that other teams don’t do, so I want to give them a lot of credit. They’ve had a lot of difficult losses, but our guys are a gutty basketball team in pulling out a victory.
On Louisville’s press wearing teams out
You hope it does, because we had a record-low five deflections (at halftime). We want 40 for the game, and we got 17 in the second half. Without question, the key to the game, in the second half, was going to Anas Mahmoud. Anas is the best passing big man (on the team). His length bothers people, but more important, he’s got a great low-post game. He’s just a little weak. Per minute played, he’s the best stat-stuffer on the team. He did a great job for us … making two crucial free throws and obviously Damion (Lee) made a great 3 on the break.
On Georgia Tech’s Marcus Georges-Hunt
They made a tough 3 on us. I told the team at the end of the game, ‘Be a statue and don’t leave your feet at all.’ And then both guys tried to block the shot in the corner. So, sometimes the exuberance gets carried away. But he’s tough to guard. (Adam Smith) is tough to guard and then they’ve got a great inside attack as well. You’ve got to double intelligently.
On trying to take Nick Jacobs out of the game
Well, if you have good pressure, it will take its effect. I always equate it to a boxer going to the body, and you don’t really see any dividends until the 11th round. And it’s the same thing with the press. Sometimes you don’t get anything out of it until late in the game when the shot’s off or they throw the ball away. With a team like them that executes so well in the halfcourt — and they’re great on the break, so you have to get back defensively.
On Donovan Mitchell’s play of late
Donovan is the most ready of the freshman to play. Obviously (Deng Adel) is coming off of an injury and Ray (Spalding) sometimes is a deer in headlights. The problem with Ray is that he doesn’t make free throws, and that’s something that he needs to work on on his own his time. That’s something that, if you’re a basketball junkie, you stay in the gym until you make 90 out of 100, and you don’t leave the gym until you do that. That’s something that he’s got to learn.
On the tough start to the season and if he’s proud of his team
I am because, you know — I was coaching Puerto Rico in the summer and I didn’t have a vacation because I wanted to see what FIBA basketball was all about. I don’t need to patronize our program and say it, but one thing I really believe is being compliant to NCAA rules. We actually put a hammer on somebody if they don’t do it. When we were hit with this, it not only broke our hearts but it broke our spirits because it’s so not what we’re about. And then, on top of it, I can’t find one damn person — even my nephews — who knew anything about it or saw anything. It just broke my heart into two pieces. Then, you get a group of guys like this. They totally raise your spirits and you forget about it. Let the NCAA do their thing. We’ll do our thing and just concentrate on basketball.
I haven’t had a group of guys this nice as people since 1987 Providence. I’m very lucky. I’ve got two fifth-year seniors who are great kids, great leaders, wonderful people. They’ve raised the spirits of our town. They’ve raised the spirits of our team. When you needed a group like this, they came along. We were all pretty down.
On the possession after Marcus Georges-Hunt fouled out
We were just trying to work the inside, create a little movement and go inside at that point, because we felt if they come after us, we can kick it out and get an open shot. We surrounded the perimeter with three guys who can knock them down. They didn’t trap them, and Anas used his length.