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Rick Pitino Talks IUPUI, The New Big East And The Return Of Rakeem Buckles

Video available at the C-J's site.


--We're entering the time of year where the guys are about to get out of exams, which will give us additional time to work. It's an especially large gift now since we're just getting Rock back and are about to add Kevin Ware to the mix for the first time.

--We didn't do a great job on Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, who is a player a lot like Alex Young of IUPUI.

--IUPUI is a very good offensive team. They only turn the ball over 11 times a game, which is the lowest total we've seen this season.

--They're going to know us very well, especially with David Padgett on staff.

--Rakeem Buckles will probably play somewhere between 10-14 minutes against IUPUI, a little more against Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, and then he should be good to go for the Memphis game. The biggest thing is that he doesn't want Rock to be on the court for spans of more than three minutes at a time.

--Rock is 100%, but he's going to be a little bit nervous and he'll probably travel a couple of times. He really wanted to play in the Vanderbilt game, but we wouldn't let him. He's very anxious to play.

--We'll probably use Rock as Gorgui's backup right away.

--The one thing the injuries have done for Rock is make him a better shooter, because shooting is all he's really been able to work on.

--Elisha Justice will not play on Wednesday, and "he won't be back for a while."

--Hasn't talked to Big East commissioner John Marinatto since the season started. The moves he made today were spectacular. He did what he had to do with his back to the wall.

--"When it comes to basketball in this country, I'm not optimistic about anything." Marinatto made the right moves for the conference, he made some great football moves, but basketball is definitely not stronger. Understands that basketball is not a priority in all of this realignment stuff.

--The Big East should be the "Big County." We're definitely not Eastern anymore.

--Not one recruit or one parent of a recruit has ever asked about Louisville's conference situation during this realignment period.

--It doesn't matter as much with basketball because of the NCAA Tournament. Also, fans don't worry about the conference in terms of Louisville basketball, because they know Louisville basketball is going to be be good in any conference. It's a big deal for football though.

--The defense on this team is obviously way ahead of the offense, and that's primarily because of the injuries. We're going to try and start picking up the pace in practice to help with the offense. The loss of Preston Knowles also really hurt the offense. Still, it's better to be ahead defensively early in the season than ahead offensively.

--Vanderbilt outplayed us, but we made the plays - and the free-throws - we had to down the stretch.

--This team always believes it can win, in part because of all the comebacks last year.

--Peyton Siva is not in the shape that he needs to be in.

--After looking at all the tapes, Russ Smith has been our best player both offensively and defensively. He's doing the things now that Peyton did last year in terms of defensive pressure. Even the two fouls he got at the end of the game should have been offensive fouls. He's also really improving his decision-making and making some great bounce passes.

--Russ was a bad basketball player last year. He's put in a lot of hard work and gained a lot of experience. He scored a lot of points on a .500 team in high school, and because of that he's really had to learn how to play the game starting from scratch.

--Peyton will get back to where he was, he's just missed 30 practices.

--All freshmen get down on themselves, except the one that plays a lot.

--He and his assistants talked several times last year about how maybe it would be in Russ Smith's best interest to go with Steve Masiello (to Manhattan). This is why you don't evaluate freshmen. You just don't. And he's tried to let Angel Nunez and Zach Price both know this.

--Had an assistant, who he won't name, tell him after Kyle Kuric's sophomore year, "look Rick, if you really love this kid, let him transfer to Evansville because he's never going to play here." That's why you don't evaluate young players, especially in this type of program. You just have to be patient, and Russ Smith is just another example.

--Has no doubt that Zach and Angel are both going to be excellent players in this program. Not average. Excellent.

--Kevin Ware has been in Atlanta this entire time. We can't send him a playbook because we don't have a playbook. We would never want something like that to get into the wrong hands.

--Ware asked Pitino how much he'll play, and Pitino said he had no idea. At least he's healthy.

--Ware is a great athlete and he's very long. His length is like Gorgui's length. He's also a great defensive player. He's not a three-point shooter but he can hit the mid-range shot. As we get to running and pressing more, he's going to be a big asset, and we're going to throw him right into the fire.

--Mark Jackson Jr. won the weight-loss competition between he and Pitino.