Rick Pitino Post-South Florida Transcript

Joe Robbins

Opening statement:

"We had enough possessions tonight; it was a possession game. Even though they were shooting a very high percentage in the first half, they only got 14 shots off. So, sometimes, when you hold an opponent to just 30 percent shooting and they get a lot of offensive rebounds, sometimes you think you're not playing well on the backboards. It's the same thing with shooting. You can take a percentage, but you can look at the amount of shots in the first half, when it was 35-19 and it ended up with 71-45. That was the difference in the game."

On game stretch without Montrezl Harrell: 

"We shouldn't have played a stretch without Montrezl, but we did and we got through it and it's a shame because he played a good game."

On team's performance vs South Florida: 

"I think that sometimes they would disregard - we're better than South Florida, don't get me wrong, we were better than some of the teams like Houston - but it's the way you play those teams that is impressive. If you look at every league, and you look at the bottom, the way the bottom plays the top sometimes, and you realize what we're doing, sometimes they take it for granted. And as a coach, I don't, I think they are very focused and tuned in. Tonight, while you may think we didn't play as well because we didn't shoot the ball as well. If you break it down, open shots didn't go in. The other night, they did go in, but you still move the basketball, we still did a lot of good things, we only turned it over eight times, we had 20 forced turnovers, we had 10 steals. There are a lot of good things without question. I like what Mangok did tonight. He bailed us out of quite a few situations, lots of offensive fouls, so I like the way he played. I thought he did a very good job."

On difference between top and bottom teams in conferences: 

"It happens in a lot of leagues. If you look at the Big East right now, it has happened to them. There are a few conferences where it hasn't happened, like the Big 10 it hasn't happened, but every conference has that. The old Big East that we were in had nine teams in the tournament, so they didn't have that. The ACC this year has maybe four or five teams that are going to get in. It's always going to be that way."

On what the team needs to work on:

"You know the guys that played the last four or five minutes of the game played the zone to perfection. I think our biggest weakness tonight was the zone traps, the starters didn't defend it well. Russ and Chris did not do a good job where Tim and Anton did a very good job. So our match ups in the zone need to get a little better, but I think we are playing really good basketball right now. We are going to continue to get better, I think February is the time to get better and March is the time to win."

On the on court chemistry: 

"Yeah I think so, I think Russ is getting a little bit better with that. I think Russ at home just gets excited and try's to turn on the crowed with special things, you know since he's just a freshmen he does things that."

On Mangok Mathiang: 

"Well Cincinnati hurt us in the beginning because they switched, and we didn't take advantage of when they did switch of certain situations and we got off to a slow start. Then we came out and played very well. But we know what's coming, we have already been to two extremely hostile places with Kentucky and Connecticut and we are going to go into three hostile places with Cincinnati, SMU, and Memphis. It will be very good for us to get us tournament ready. We are starting to play the right type of basketball right now with a high number of assist and low number of turnovers, by in large, pretty good defense. "

On Montrezl Harrell breaking the Louisville dunk record:

"I really haven't thought about that too much to be honest with you Howie, but dunk hungry? I'm surprised that a sophomore, who played limited time as a freshman, could set that. I would think right away that Dr. Dunkenstein (Darrell Griffith) would've had that by many dunks. So, it's kind of incredible that a sophomore could do it, who played limited time as a freshman. Kind of interesting isn't it?"

On Russ Smith passing Wesley Unseld on the all-time scoring list:

"I looked at some of the rankings and one had Russ ranked like 90th in the country. Being an ex-pro coach, I'm praying the New York Knicks draft Russ (Smith). I think he would be great with the Knicks, because they need some guys that can get in the lane and do certain things; and get after the basketball. You know the Knicks are my team, so I'm hoping Russ can go there because they need a guy like him, desperately. It only takes one or two teams to like a player. I'm hoping some teams really study him. He can be a dynamic basketball player at the next level. We can't say Russ (Smith) is as good as Wesley Unseld, to go back to your question. You weren't born when Wesley Unseld played. Wes Unseld used to take the ball off the rim and throw it almost three quarter court on an outlet pass. We're talking about one of the 50 greatest players of all-time at 6-7, 6-8 so he's one of the greatest Louisville basketball players ever. That doesn't diminish how good Russ Smith is."

On Russ Smith making improvements and answering questions pro scouts had about his game: 

"What the pro scouts wanted to see is; better shooting percentage, better shot selection, accomplished. A positive assist-to-turnover record, accomplished. He doesn't have great bulk. I wish Chris (Jones) would give him some of his fat. In the off season he gains 8 or 10 pounds and he'll get stronger, so he's a constant. When you look at it and everyone talks about great players, all the people who look at it, everybody wants to fall in love with new players, new things, the newest phone, the newest gadget. Everybody loves new things, but when you look at the guys who are having great years; the young man from Creighton (Doug McDermott), Shabazz Napier, you know so many upperclassmen who are getting the job done. Now that doesn't diminish what Jabari Parker, Randle (Julius Randle), or the young man from Syracuse, Tyler Ennis are doing, they're playing awesome basketball. But some of the veterans are really lifting their basketball teams. When you look at Russ' Resume; two back-to-back Big East Championships, two back to back Final Fours, a National Championship. Pretty tough to top that resume, that's why I think if the Knicks would draft him, I think they would really improve."

On Victor Rudd's play tonight for the Bulls: 

"Victor Rudd is the type of basketball player that the pros like. He is long, athletic and only going to get better. Guys like that, love that type of athleticism. He needs to go left better, he needs to offensive rebound more. He needs to get inside more. You saw Montrezl, we ran a low post play, and what does he do, he took a turnaround 18 foot jump shot right. What the pros want to see is get in that low post, go to your jump hook, turn over your shoulder, and take that. They have a lot of guys that can make fade away 18 footers, and it's the same with Rudd. He is terrific on the perimeter, so he needs to get in there, and dominate the interior with some offensive moves. Every power forward in college wants to be a small forward, every small forward wants to be a two guard, and every center wants to be a power forward, but they don't realize what the pros look for, they just listen to people. I always tell the story of Rodrick Rhodes, a great young man, great defender, great slasher, great passer, terrific low post player, and was a first round draft choice, and what did he want to do, just shoot threes. Just to show everybody that he could shoot threes. He did seven things awesome, but he would get in the game, and want to shoot threes, and that is what Rudd has got to learn to do. He has just go to dominate the paint more, and then everyone is going to say wow, he can do it all. I hope he makes it, because he is quite an athlete."

On Terry Rozier's improvement: 

"You know, I think this is his 15th turnover in 26 games. Tyler Ennis is awesome, plays all 40 minutes, and he is a great, great basketball player; one of the premier players in the country, but he is up here, and I put Terry up here too. So that is the highest compliment that I can give him. He doesn't play 40 minutes a game, he is a role player, sometimes a starter, but I think he has awesome talent as well, and continues to get better, and better. We have Russ Smith, and Chris Jones upperclassmen, that's who he is playing behind, but I think he is having as good a year as any guard in the country, and I think Terry is in his class."

On Luke Hancock's potential for the NBA: 

"I think Luke can make a lot of money in business. I don't mean that in a negative way, he can't be a pro. I think Luke is the type of guy that can go into business, and make more in business than he can as a professional basketball player. I take that as a compliment to Luke. He is very, very good, and he can try out for the pros, but Luke will make a million dollars more in business, way before he makes a million dollars in basketball, and that is because he has a dynamic personality, a great looking guy, he's a great networker, and he is humble. He has got all of the ingredients. I am not saying that to diminish his basketball skills, because I think they are marvelous."

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