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Rick Pitino, Russ Smith and Chane Behanan Discuss Important Matters...Like Russ Smith

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Video available from the C-J (it's awesome).

Rick Pitino


--Happy with the team's Big East record. Thinks we're playing good basketball, but definitely not great. There are many areas for improvement. This team has to cut down on its turnovers, it has to block out better and it has to improve its transition defense. DePaul really hurt us on the break, they didn't hurt us in the halfcourt.

--Playing at Cincinnati is no different than playing at a place like West Virginia, Syracuse or Rutgers; they're all very difficult.

--This game's important, but it's no more important than the DePaul game, because every single game is very important in this league. If we would have lost to DePaul then we would have fallen behind Cincinnati. Every game is crucial.

--Their four guard lineup has resulted in them taking a lot more threes than they were at the beginning of the season. We won't change our lineup to match their smaller lineup.

--(Asked if Chane can contain whoever he's guarding) "Chane can't contain anyone, so it doesn't matter who he's guarding."

--Everybody's healthy now except Wayne, who still has some issues he needs to work through.

--We haven't played well against Cincinnati traditionally like we have against a lot of other Big East, so we have to make some adjustments this year. We didn't play well against them in their place last year and we didn't play well against them in the Garden two years ago. Doesn't know how we'd play against them in the Yum Center because the Big East keeps making us play them on the road.

--Doesn't think Wayne can be a game-changer in March because he was out of the game for seven months and hasn't had enough practice. Hoping he can do what he did against West Virginia which is play solid minutes and score some points. He's always missing practice because he keeps tweaking his shoulder. Sees Wayne contributing, but not being a "game-changer."

--Sean Kilpatrick is as good as anyone in the league. UC has some serious shooters and they will let it fly from anywhere.

--Isn't sure why the team is better shooting the three recently. Generally it's the product of better ball movement, but he isn't sure this time. It might be because of confidence. The team is having a lot of fun and playing with a lot of confidence, that could definitely be why the shooting is improved.

--Peyton has got to cut down on the fouls, especially since a lot of them are really bad fouls.

--Doesn't "punish" Peyton or other guys for things like bad fouls. He's intelligent and he knows what he's doing. Undisciplined players like Chane and Angel are the ones he gets on. Guys like Peyton and Kyle, they know when they're making mistakes and they don't need you to tell them.

--This team is extremely focused. They know they're playing for a good seed and they know they're working towards playing their best basketball going into March. They know how much better they have to get and they are not content at all.

--We know we're doing a lot of good things, but we also know we have a lot of areas for improvement. "That's why I like our potential and our chances. Because if we right now didn't have all these areas to improve on, I wouldn't be so bullish on this basketball team." (How bullish are you?) "I think if we work on our improvements, I'm very bullish."

--Really got on Kyle during halftime of the DePaul game for not paying with enough energy. Kyle is one of five guys I can name who he's never really gotten on, but he was very upset with him. He played with a lot more energy in the second half.

--(Asked if he's trying to reel Russ in a little more now) "It's impossible. Do you know how many times a game I say, 'Russ, pass the ball?' We've got our 'Russ-diculous,' and that's what he is, he's ridiculous."

--Probably says, 'Russ, pass the ball' 30 times a game.

--When he grabbed Russ's face during the DePaul game, he was telling him to settle down, relax and don't go crazy. Didn't want him to get in one of those mindsets where he thought he going to score from everywhere on the floor. That being said, we've needed him desperately and he's really come through a lot of times.

--Russ might think he can go after Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point record.

--If you ever watched Russ in practice, you wouldn't even consider putting him in the game. He is one of the worst practice players you will ever coach in your life. He doesn't dog it in practice, but he does things that you couldn't even imagine. It might be 1-on-5 on a fast-break in practice, and he thinks, "advantage, Russ." The other guys can't believe it, but that's Russ. You just gotta reel him in a little bit, talk to him nice, tell him how much you love him.

--Wouldn't say that Russ "stresses him out," it's just that you don't know what's going to happen with him. I've never coached any individual like him in my life.

--Angel has so much potential and I'd love to play him, but he just doesn't have any idea how to play the game right now.

--Angel shot so much in practice the other day that I called him "Russ's son." It was the worst thing I could have possibly done, because Russ overheard and the rest of the practice he kept saying, "you have to pay attention to me, pay attention to me, son."

--Really would like to play Angel more, but he just can't because of his defense. You could never play Angel and Chane play together.

--Russ's success story started in The Bahamas when he started playing the two. I never thought you could play a 6-foot, 155-pound guard at the two, but that's what we had to do. Now he can play the two and he also has the confidence to play the one when we need him to. Has a choice to make between Russ and Kevin Ware when Peyton comes out, and he's been going with Russ because of all the extra experience and practice time he has. It might not have been the case if Kevin had been with us the whole season.

--No one in the Big East recruited Russ because they didn't think he was a point guard and that he was too small to the two. I wouldn't have taken him if Ralph Willard hadn't convinced me that I could turn him into a point guard. He really twisted my arm.

Russ Smith


--When Pitino grabbed his face - from what I remember - he was just telling him to focus and that we needed a stop and to keep his hands active on the defensive end.

--If I feel like a shot is going to go in then I usually follow my instinct, but sometimes that can lead me into a whole lot of trouble. "But it's a risk that I like to take." Sometimes it might not be in the best interest of coach, and that's the balance I'm trying to find.

--Pitino definitely gets on him as much as much as he says he does. It's just something that he has to accept because he takes a lot of risks and does a lot of things that are questions. But I have total confidence in my abilities.

--The injuries and problems he had last year definitely made him more focused, hungry and confident for this season. "God forbid if I do get hurt again, I could never look back and say I didn't give it my all."

--Cincinnati is definitely a tough team. Knows they had some trouble earlier in the year and that guys had to sit out, but having to go to a four guard lineup actually has made them a little bit tougher to guard.

--(Asked if he enjoys some of Pitino's reactions to things he does) Sometimes it's funny, or sometimes I get very, very hyped when I do something positive that maybe coach didn't want me to do. Knows coach is mad, but ultimately it worked out. When he does something he's not supposed to and it doesn't work out, "I know I'm about to go to the bench and I'm about to get destroyed. It's tough, but it's a risk I take, and I've just got to get better at making better decisions."

--(When you do something you know you shouldn't, do you ever look over at the bench?) "Uh-uh. I don't. If I mistake I just totally focus on trying to get it back on defense because I know he's gonna remember it. He's going to tell me anything when I come to the bench anyway, so looking at him on the bench is just gonna be a distraction."

--Likes the four guard lineup. It takes a lot of pressure off him and creates a lot of mismatches. Also creates a lot of fast break opportunities.

--(Asked about "Russdiculous") "I definitely don't mind it. I've never been through anything like that, so I definitely don't mind it."

Chane Behanan


--Definitely looking forward to playing back home, especially knowing he was committed to the University of Cincinnati at a young age. His whole family will be there.

--He has a little history with Yancy Gates. They played for rival high schools when he lived in Cincinnati. He never beat Gates (they probbaly played three or four times), but hopefully that will change.

--Was young when he committed to UC and "didn't know anything at the time." He committed there because he loved his city so much, but then he got out and learned a lot more and once he opened his recruitment back up he got a lot more opportunities.

--Knows it's possible that he will be booed, but he also expects to get some cheers from friends and family that will be there.

--He has to keep playing the way he has been and let the game to him. Knows he can't do anything differently than any other game. His grandma knows that he is going to have some butterflies, so she told him the other night just to play the way he always does. A lot of the family members that are going to be there will be watching him pay for the first time.

--Doesn't bother him when we play four guards and he has to play center. He can usually outrun opposing centers because they're going to be bigger than him.

--Cincinnati's defense is tremendous throughout the whole game, especially when they're at home. We're going to feel a lot of pressure tomorrow, but we should be ready for it because of the way they've been practicing.

--Coach told the team this week that Cincinnati has beaten Louisville in years past because they've been tougher.

--Expects another grind-it-out game like Syracuse. "They match up pretty well with us." It's gonna be another grind out that's going to come down to the last shot...that's what I think.

--He's definitely changed as the season has gone along as far as rebounding and defense. It's not where it needs to be, but it's gotten a lot better since the Bahamas.