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Rick Pitino And Chris Smith Talk Vanderbilt And Russ Smith

Rick Pitino

--This time of year you see a lot of great matchups in college basketball, and Friday night's game will be one of them. Vanderbilt has great shooters, great athletes and a great coach. It will be a great challenge for us.

--Doesn't talk about the injuries with the team, they just go about their business. They are practicing more halfcourt than full-court in order to limit the chances for injuries though.

--Rock is making strides. He's back practicing and he's getting a lot better. Will probably play his first real minutes in the IUPUI game.

--Ohio is as good as any team we'll face this year from an execution standpoint. Was surprised to see them go into Marshall and come away with a victory because Marshall is very good. Long Beach State is also a team that can beat anyone in the country on a given night.

--We knew our non-conference schedule was going to be this difficult. We set it up that way.

--The only benefit of having to deal with injuries is that you find out things about the un-injured players that you wouldn't have otherwise.

--If he were eligible, Luke Hancock would be one of the three best players on this team, without question. He always plays the role of the upcoming opponent's best player during practice.

--With Van Treese out, he'll use Rakeem a little as a backup at the five because Zach Price just isn't ready to play right now.

--In this program, most players are really going to shine in their junior and senior seasons. Chane's off to a great start, but he has so far to go defensively.

--Mike Marra underwent successful surgery. He's in a lot of pain today because the anesthesia has worn off, but he'll feel better tomorrow.

--Marra is one of the smartest guys on the team and he's been helping in practice. He aspires to be a coach.

--Elisha Justice won't play on Friday.

--The good thing about putting Russ into the game is that it kills the other team's scouting report, because he doesn't know any plays. ("Do you know what he's going to do?") "I know he's going to shoot. I just hope it goes in."

--Russ is a terrific asset to this team and he's been very good this year. He brings a lot of laughter to the team. He made four terrific bounce passes in the Long Beach State game. He threw an awful left-handed bounce pass just before the half. He saw that I was upset heading to the locker room and said, "give me a hug." It definitely broke the tension.

--With Preston's offense gone, this team has to win with defense, and it has so far. Vanderbilt will be a big test for us from that standpoint.

Chris Smith

--He's going to be guarding John Jenkins pretty much the entire game on Friday. Jenkins averages about ten three-point attempts a game, and they're going to try and limit that to four or five by denying him the ball as much as possible.

--Vanderbilt's a heck of a basketball team, but so are we, to win we just have to limit their strengths.

--Heard Jenkins compared to Ray Allen. Knows that he's on a bunch of draft boards and all that stuff. Sees that matchup as a great opportunity for him to show what he can do in a game a lot of people will be watching.

--His attitude about defense is completely different now than it was when he was at Manhattan. Knows this team can't achieve its dreams without playing great defense.

--Knows there will be a lot of NBA scouts in the crowd Friday because of all the potential on both teams.

--"I came to Louisville for a reason, and I feel like I'm fulfilling that reason."

--"My attitude is all about winning. I don't care about scoring. Winning gets you where you want to go."

--Takes on whatever role he needs to take on for the team to win that particular game.

--Russ Smith may not know the plays, but you know what you're going to get from him. He's going to get a couple shots up, and he's going to get a couple steals and deflections.