Rick Pitino Says Notre Dame Game Is Most Important In Yum Center History

USA TODAY Sports

Rick's locked in.


--This will probably be the most important game we've ever played at home, for a variety of reasons. First, we're playing for a championship, which doesn't happen often. Second, we're saying goodbye to two of the most special young men I've ever coached. Then there are the March Madness ramifications, and of course the fact that we always seem to play memorable overtime games against Notre Dame.

--Notre Dame shoots and passes the ball really well, which makes them extremely difficult to defend.

--We've developed great, respectful rivalries with Notre Dame and Syracuse. The players get along, the coaches get along, and we play great, memorable games.

--All senior days are special, but these two young men epitomize what you would want in a student athlete in all regards. They take the court every day in practice like it's going to be their last time. In this day of egotistical athletes, these two guys are the polar opposite. They're unique for this day and age where ego is very much a part of the culture.

--Everyone who comes across Peyton Siva says the most remarkable things about him. It's not just what he's done during his time here.

--This whole team is full of great guys, but with those two it's hard to find any weaknesses in their personalities, and that's an amazing thing to say about a human being.

--We've always had fun games with Notre Dame. They've been close and hard fought, but they've all been fun...with the exception of the one time we got blown out up there.

--The five overtime game wasn't fun after it happened, but once a week goes by and you're able to look back on it, you realize how special it was.

--Mike Marra means as much to me as the other two guys. He's a terrific young man and he has terrific parents. He's going to be the honorary head coach for the game and he's probably going to call a couple of timeouts. He wants to go into coaching and he's very serious about it. He's a valuable asset to our basketball team and someone that I have a great affection for.

--Mike is very intelligent. All three of these guys are three of the most intelligent guys I've come across. Mike sees the game as a coach. He's very, very smart.

--I don't think Peyton and Gorgui would be great coaches, they're way too nice. Not that Mike isn't nice.

--Told Gorgui before the season that he needed to go pro if he was going to be a first round draft pick and we haven't talked about it since. I told him I wanted to honor him on Senior Day because I think he's a first round pick.

--"This game is the toughest ticket in the history of our basketball program."

--We have more fans going to the Big East Tournament than ever before because everybody knows that the conference is ending and that this is going to be a special week.

--So many teams could win the Big East Tournament, which is why it's going to be so much fun. Anyone who's played in or watched a game at Madison Square Garden knows how special it is.

--Told the team that the DePaul game was the most important of this stretch run, and I meant it.

--We have to make sure that we don't get caught up in the emotion of senior night. We can't get caught with the seniors trying too hard to excite the crowd. Sometimes we have that problem at home where guys try too hard to make the incredible play to get the crowd energized.

--The fact that Luke Hancock is playing good defense is a huge boost for this team.

--We still have room for improvement, but I like the way we're playing heading into the postseason.

--Our guys bought into the belief that they could win the last seven games of the regular season, and now they're one win away from making that happen.

--I'm really low maintenance as far as the new uniform stuff is concerned. As long as the players like it I'm fine with it.

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