Pitino, Smith, Behanan And Kuric Talk Kentucky, Final Four

Rick Pitino

--Our players are very pumped up. We've had a terrific few weeks in the Big East Tournament and first four games in the NCAA Tournament, and obviously we're extremely excited about being where we are.

--Kentucky is extremely good. They were extremely good when we played them in December and they've only lost one game since then. All of their statistics are impressive.

--Rivalries don't matter when you get to the Final Four, so we don't even have to downplay anything. When the stakes are so high with everyone playing for a national championship, it doesn't really matter who the opponent is.

--We've been gone so long that we haven't even gotten a sense of how excited the state is. Went to Molly Malone's for a Bud Light last night and that's really the only time he's been out since they've been back in town.

--They killed us on the glass in the first game and obviously we can't let that happen again. Chane Behanan didn't play a lot in that game because of foul trouble, and that's something else that can't happen.

--To see our players so happy has been incredibly rewarding for this coaching staff. Russ yelled over to the bench when he was on the free-throw line at the end of the Cincinnati game, "I'm going to win a Big East championship! I've never won anything!" To see so many guys who haven't won a whole lot having so much success feels really, really good.

--NCAA Tournament runs are great both when they're expected and unexpected. There's a lot more pressure during runs like the one in '96 when a championship is almost expected of you, but both experiences are equally rewarding.

--Sees some similarities between this team and his '87 Providence group, but physically, this team is much bigger.

--Heading into the last week of the season he told the team they just had to get through the South Florida and Syracuse games and then we'd change the way we played. Really thought we had to win the Big East Tournament to gain confidence heading into the NCAA Tournament, and doesn't think he's ever seen a team as happy as his when it won it.

--Kentucky and Louisville are both rabid fan bases and have unbelievable traditions. They're both different, but they're great. We're culturally different. We're 23% minority, we're an urban school. There are lots of Kentucky fans in Louisville and not a lot of Louisville fans in Lexington. The result is a lot of bad marriages in Louisville between fans of different teams. Marriages between Louisville and Kentucky fans don't work out well. I'm being serious.

--Chane, like most freshmen, will make some defensive mistakes, but he did a great job when we had to go man-to-man against Florida, and then he took over the game in some tough offensive situations. He's gotten much better this season, but he's just scratching his potential like Gorgui.

--We've got to get Kyle Kuric playing a little better.

--Has no idea what to expect from Russ this weekend. We put him in the game, and then all of the coaches hold hands and pray. You never know what you're going to get from Russ.

--Kyle has to find ways to score other than his jump shot. He needs to create some steals and create some opportunities for himself on the break. Also has to move better without the ball.

--Chris Smith has had a very consistent two years from us. He's very steady and does a little bit of everything for us. He has a good assist-to-turnover ratio, plays good defense and hits the open shot. He's been an integral part of our success over the past two years. I still don't know how he got here. He just showed up with Samardo and I thought he was a friend from Jamaica.

--This is a very quiet team. There are some guys like Russ, obviously, but for the most part they're very quiet and not especially outgoing.

--The Bahamas trip was great for us, especially from a bonding standpoint.

--Talked to Russ' dad after last season and they agreed that if it didn't work out this season, he should probably transfer to Manhattan and play for Steve Masiello. We moved him to the two guard and that's worked out very well.

--Anthony Davis is the No. 1 college player and he'll be the No. 1 pick in the draft. He's a little bit more advanced than Gorgui right now, and we hope Gorgui keeps working and gets to that point eventually.

--This team's run to the Final Four is more surprising than his '87 Providence team or the 2005 Louisville team just because it isn't a great shooting team. We've gotten here with defense and pure determination. This team fights all the time.

--There won't be any sort of Fourth Street Live send-off or celebration because we don't have time. We've been on the road and away from home so long that we're trying to get caught up academically and prepare for the Final Four at the same time.

--I told this team before the start of the tournament that they were going to the Final Four, and that all I asked was that they not be satisfied once they got there. Obviously I wasn't sure we were going at that time, but I keep saying, "remember what I told you."

--The one thing this team hasn't experienced yet in the tournament is fanfare. We haven't seen fans, we haven't really seen anybody yet because we've been out West and staying in remote locations.

--It's very different playing in dome than another arena. The depth-perception is terrible, the noise-level is delayed, everything is different. The good thing for us is that we've played Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

--With Chane, we recruited everyone in his family. We got very close to everyone in his family. Chane has so much potential. He's going to get stronger, faster and become more of a triple-threat.

Chris Smith

--The difference in our team between now and the first Kentucky game is the team is more physically built now, playing at a higher level, more confident, and there aren't as many injuries.

--We learned in the Bahamas that Russ can be a really great player at times or an average player at times. We wouldn't have won many games without him this season. You can't get frustrated with Russ. You have to understand everything is part of The Russ Package.

--We wanted to play Kentucky because we know if we beat them we can beat anyone and win a national championship. They're very, very good and they've gotten even better because a lot of their guys have gained more college experience.

--Talking is the most important part of our defense and we've communicated really well this season.

--We've actually played better on the road this season because a lot of guys don't feel as much pressure when we're playing away from home.

--The first time he knew how serious this rivalry is was when DeMarcus Cousins elbowed Swop and took his face off.

--People picking against us is definitely motivation. We know we just have to keep our heads high and keep it rolling.

--We have to rebound the basketball much better than we did the first time. Peyton's been helping out rebounding a lot lately, and me and Kyle have to start helping out more as well.

--We've always had a lot of faith in each other. Coach pushed us beyond our limits and everything he said and everything we wanted is coming true.

--Chane changes the game for us because his size and strength is tremendous and he can also play on the perimeter. It's hard to stop Chane Behanan when he's playing like Chane Behanan.

--People I've never talked to in my life have stopped me this week to talk. I'm a people person anyway, so it doesn't bother me.

--Teams have to go through adversity during the season to be successful in the postseason.

--Chane has learned to keep his mouth shut more since the first game. He needed to know that as a young guy you really shouldn't be speaking out like that. He's become a man.

--Feels like he kind of has one-up on his brother now that he's having college success and he didn't have a college experience. I live through him being in the NBA and he lives through me being in college.

--It's a little harder to shoot in domes, but if you can shoot it, you can shoot it anywhere. You just have to adjust.

Chane Behanan

--The first game against Kentucky was a close one, but I had to watch most of it from the bench. I think this one will be an even better matchup than the last time.

--(Joking) Hopefully they just ty to key on Russ and leave everyone else open so we can take advantage.

--Heard about the rivalry a lot when he was at high school in Bowling Green, especially after he signed with Louisville.

--Very happy that he's already played Kentucky once because now he's learned from his mistakes. Watching film of that first game has really made him appreciate how far the team has come. In that game in Lexington we looked like we had no idea what we were doing.

--These past few days since we've been back have been outrageous. It shows what winning can do to a city. It's been great, I've loved it.

--Saw the videos of people celebrating after the Elite Eight. It was crazy.

--Loves Kobe Bryant. When he told Gorgui to move when he scored the go-ahead basket, the only thing he was thinking was, "what would Kobe do?" Probably would have given the ball to Gorgui in that situation at the beginning of the year.

--This team is in a lot better shape than it was at the beginning of the year. When you're in good shape, everything else just sort of comes to you.

--Felt at the time like he would kind of be a "follower" if he went to Kentucky. Now we're in the Final Four and going up against the team that everyone sort of thought I was supposed to go to.

--Russ changed jerseys and gave me No. 24 because he said he was always getting hurt. He's still always faking being hurt, that's why I picked him up by his jersey and shorts in that game.

--After he said this team was the No. 1 team in the country and was going undefeated, the only person who talked to him was Richard Pitino. Told him he needs to watch what he says.

--Probably won't shoot another three. We were down 11 when he took the last one and we needed some momentum so I took it. Thinks he made it because he didn't hesitate it. In practice, during individuals, he knocks them down. He just doubts himself when he shoots them during the games.

--They've beaten a lot of teams in the postseason that they lost to in the regular season so hopefully that can continue. Knows he has to stay out of foul trouble this time.

Kyle Kuric

--It's been really fun around campus this week. Everyone's telling you congratulations and good luck.

--Yes, it has sunk in that they're playing Kentucky in the Final Four. We know how much this means to the fans, but we're just happy to be still playing and in the Final Four.

--Watching film of the first UK game made it really obvious how much they shadowed him and wouldn't come off him. If they're going to play that way again, that's fine, but we're going to have to find other ways to score.

--Thinks we've progressed more than they have since the first game, but that's only because they didn't have that far to progress. They were a great team then and they're still a great team now.

--We're focused in during practice, but we're still having fun like we have been.

--Knows when Pitino tells them things like they're going to win the Big East championship and go to the Final Four that it's motivation, but when you see it start to happen you really do believe it.

--Doesn't remember when Coach Pitino was at Kentucky. He was a Duke fan then.

--Chane is the same type of player he was early on in the season, he's just more mature. He used to have great games and then a few bad days of practice. Now when he has a good game he stays hungry and focused.

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