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Rick And Russ Talk Memphis State

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Rick Pitino


--This is a good time of the year for us because we're getting healthy, the guys are out of exams and we have more time to work on things we haven't been able to work on yet.

--Kevin Ware will see some time against Memphis if he has another good practice. He's in much better shape than we expected. We'll give him a couple of things to run and play him at the backup point (Siva) and backup three (Kuric).

--Ware got hurt today - "he's officially a Louisville Cardinal" - but it's nothing serious (reportedly a rolled ankle).

--Ware's in great shape, he picks things up quickly and Memphis is going to be his type of game (up and down).

--Ware gives us some things that we haven't had - speed, athleticism and length at the guard position. He's 6-3, but his wingspan is like Gorgui's. He's much more of a point guard than we'd anticipated. Peyton has already been a great asset for him.

--It's going to be harder for Blackshear to come back than it is for Kevin, because Kevin has been healthy.

--He's sort of used to the situation with Ware because he had so many 10-day contracts with the Celtics "because we were so bad."

--Anybody who knows the game shouldn't be surprised by Murray beating Memphis. Memphis had the edge because of the homecourt advantage, but that was a 50/50 game, just like Saturday's game will be.

--Teams like Murray and Middle Tennessee can beat anyone. College of Charleston looked like one of the best teams in the country last night. "Mid-major" is a bad expression to have. We're not football. With some exceptions, we're all the same level. You play teams like Iona and you're in jeopardy of getting your tails kicked.

--Memphis is very talented, they're underrated defensively and they have some very great one-on-one players.

--Louisville/Memphis is a great rivalry and this will be a great game for our fans.

--It wasn't that important to get this rivalry back on the schedule because we're in the Big East now. Ever since we joined the Big East, our non-conference schedule hasn't been as important because we already have to play so many great teams.

--Likes having Memphis on the schedule because it will be a fun up-and-down game, not because of the history with the rivalry. He likes rivalries because of the basketball, not because of the passion or history.

--We're not playing great basketball right now. We're winning and surviving, but anyone could beat us right now.

--Will Barton is very long, very talented and very good. He's a difficult matchup for us.

--Russ Smith will probably start this game. Rakeem Buckles also might start.

--Thought we played very poorly against Fairleigh Dickinson. "That's probably my fault. I was just trying to get out of that game and move on. We had a lot of physical problems that you didn't know about."

--The Xavier/Cincinnati fight is "none of my business." You don't comment about things you don't know about. We all have our opinions, but we don't have all the facts. Look at the situation at Syracuse. Jim Boeheim said what he said because he absolutely believed it, but it turned out to be wrong.

--Anytime you have two up-tempo teams playing, they usually bring out the best in one another.

--"Rivalries are good when you see great basketball." Cincinnati/Xavier was not great basketball, so he didn't see that as a good rivalry game.

--We've been playing good ball, not great ball. We've been making a lot of mistakes, but we've been winning. We're going to need to play much better to win this game.

--Our defensive statistics are great, but we're playing very poor defense. Teams haven't been scoring against us because we've been confusing them and wearing them down.

--We'll get better defensively now that we're getting healthy and can stop playing musical chairs with our guys.

--Memphis creates a lot of fastbreak points off of turnovers which means we've got to take care of the ball.

--Our weakness has been one-on-one defense, and Memphis is a very good one-on-one team.

--We tried to get Memphis to open the new arena last season.

--The Big East was founded on basketball and the conference has to do something to save basketball. Wants the conference to add Memphis and Temple. Thinks there's a very good chance of one of the two being added.

--Memphis is a little sharper on the break than we are, but we're going to run with them.

--Memphis and Louisville are two great cities and two very proud basketball institutions. We have great respect for them and we're very excited for them to come here. It's going to be a great game.

--Russ and Peyton will probably start because Memphis has two smaller guards and we're trying to limit their penetration.

--Chris Smith had probably his best practice of the year today and he'll definitely play a lot against Memphis. Likewise, if Buckles starts, Chane Behanan will still play a lot.

Russ Smith


--We've been focusing a lot on one-on-one defense and closing out on the perimeter in preparation for Saturday.

--Definitely excited to play in an up-tempo game. We've been getting up and down a lot in practice this week, and it's really the first time we've done that this season.

--Kevin Ware caught onto the system within the first few minutes of practice. He's very athletic, very quick off the bounce and he's taller than you might expect.

--Kevin fits in very well with the team. He's funny and has a lot in common with the rest of the guys.

--Feels like everything is starting to come together since we're finally getting healthy and everyone's meshing. There have been a lot of guys who have been very hungry to play, and that has made practice more competitive and it's made us a better team. Knows Wayne Blackshear is really hungry to play.

--We don't pay attention to the amount of respect we get nationally. At the end of the day we know how good we are and what we need to work on. Our national ranking in December doesn't mean anything.

--Wasn't really watching college basketball until the end of his high school career, so he doesn't really know anything about the rivalry. Knows about Duke/North Carolina, but that's about it. Didn't start watching college basketball until he started getting recruited and realized he needed to learn something about these programs.

--Hasn't heard anything about the Louisville/Memphis rivalry from classmates or fans. Has heard they're good and people are excited to play them because of that, but that's about it.

--Communication is going to be really key for us, especially when we're playing zone.