USA TODAY Sports
Rick Pitino spoke with the media on Friday for about 20 minutes and addressed a number of topics, including Saturday's game with Western Kentucky, the likelihood of Gorgui Dieng playing against Kentucky, gun control in the United States and the Bobby Petrino hire at Western Kentucky.
--When you go on the road and you're preparing for league play, you always want to continue to progress form your last game. Western Kentucky, with one exception, always plays us really tough, so we're expecting a good game.
--Thought we played well in the first half against FIU, but not great in the second half.
--Our biggest weakness right now is that we have too many guys reaching to try and get steals after opposing teams come down with defensive rebounds. It's killing our transition defense. Everyone on the team does it with the exception of Peyton.
--The parts are getting better. Wayne Blackshear, Montrezl Harrell and Chane Behanan are all getting better. They're all catching up to the backcourt of Peyton and Russ.
--Wayne was a very physical player in high school and he's getting more confident and getting back to that. Two shoulder injuries is a very hard thing to get over psychologically. He's over the hump with that now, and he's playing far more aggressively.
--Not having Gorgui has allowed us to develop Montrezl Harrell and Zach Price. If Gorgui had been healthy, Montrezl probably wouldn't have played the five, but him picking up that position is a big development for us.
--Even though the doctors and trainers don't think he will, Pitino is still hoping that Gorgui will be able to play against Kentucky. "Those guys always push it two weeks beyond what it should be to cover themselves."
--Gorgui is actually in better shape than the rest of the guys because he's been running by himself every day. He's in great shape.
--The team is getting time off for Christmas for the first time since he's been here because they're a veteran team, the schedule allows for it, and the best thing for them right now is a short mental break. He's called the moms of the only guys he's worried about (mentions Zach and Chane) to make sure they keep their sons doing what they're supposed to do.
--Stephan Van Treese hasn't practiced in eight days, but they're still hoping he can play eight or nine minutes on Saturday.
--Ray Harper is a proven coach, and that was a perfect hire by Western Kentucky. He's a great believer in tradition and he loves being at Western.
--A lot of people thought the Bobby Petrino hire at Western was strange and were highly critical. I can tell you one thing about criticism, it goes away. Those people who throw stones are going to go straight to heaven, but for the rest of us this world that does not, Bobby Petrino is one of the greatest football coaches I've ever witnessed. He's an offensive genius. Western took a big chance in hiring him, but in the long run it's going to pay great dividends.
--This is a rivalry game, we consider Western a rival and hope they consider us a rival. We have great respect for them. They always play us extremely tough.
--Russ is getting a lot of publicity, and deservedly so, but Peyton is having a great year. Peyton wants to be a pro and he wants to win a national championship, but he has no problem putting personal statistics behind the best interests of the team. "In this generation, there are very few Peyton Sivas in this world. This generation is not like that."
--(On Boeheim's gun control comments) I think we all share that. I can't fathom or imagine losing an elementary school child. I'm not sure I could coach after that. The fact that every single person doesn't want (stricter gun laws) would be a mystery to me. This is not the beginning of American civilization where we need guns. There should not be guns in our society, and we all know that.
--Has studied politics and doesn't like this era of extremes. Every politician that is ultra-right or ultra-left should be immediately voted out, because they don't have America's best interests in mind. Nothing will change until there are term limits. If these people were doing what's right for America, the next day they would have demanded gun control. So Jim's right. More importantly, I don't know how the families of those children keep going.
--I don't have any respect for people who put their own agendas above this country's agenda.
--Chane Behanan will be able to talk to the media when the second semester starts on Jan. 7.
--Chane has done some things that you all (the media) doesn't know about, and he doesn't need to be in the limelight because of that. He did the wrong things. He likes to speak to the media, and taking that privilege away hurts him.
Here are Pitino's comments in full: