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Rick Pitino Talks Rutgers And Russ Smith's Self-Complimenting Ways

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Nothing particularly earth-shattering here (although the Russ story is a classic) but I think it is worth noting that at one point it seemed like Pitino was about to say that Wayne Blackshear will be ready to spell Kyle by the end of the season, but then he cut himself off. I still think we'll see Wayne get his first minutes of the season at some point over the next two or three weeks.

Here are the other highlights of the presser:

Rick Pitino

--February is the time to make a move and head into March as a much better basketball team, and I think we're doing that.

--We've had a lot of consistency in practice recently for the first time and it's made us a lot better. The guys are almost having too much fun in practice.

--Rutgers is capable of beating anyone in the conference.

--The guys are really enjoying their job right now. If you enjoy your job you have a lot of fun, and everyone's having a lot of fun right now.

--(Asked about Rutgers being young like Kentucky) It's not really the same thing because Rutgers is a young basketball team that's going to grow together, Kentucky won't. Kentucky's always going to be young.

--Chane lacked fundamentals coming into college, but he's getting much better now. He's learning how to rebound and he's learning how to defend.

--Wayne Blackshear is back practicing and that's starting to help Kyle.

--Everyone on the team has missed a solid amount of practice besides Chris Smith.

--We lack execution right now, but we have fresh legs and fresh minds.

--Wayne practiced about 10% of the time on Wednesday and about 20% on Thursday. He'll practice about 30% of the time today. Hasn't seen enough from him to know whether or not he can help this season.

--(Asked if he was as fresh as the players heading into February): "No." He probably would be if he didn't have to hit the road for recruiting whenever there's a free moment. He wants to see all these guys for himself, especially since he's working with a new staff.

--Thinks the involvement of the shoe companies is the biggest difference in recruiting between now and 20 years ago. You never would have heard a kid say he was going to a certain school because of their shoe contract 20 years ago.

--We only need one player in next year's class, so we're concentrating now on the 2013 class.

--On the recruiting trail we've been looking for guys who can shoot the basketball. We feel like we've filled that need. Now it's on us to develop that talent.

--Angel Nunez is going to develop into a great, great player. He's already a great shooter but now he's got to learn how to defend and put on some significant weight. He also has to improve his passing.

--Angel lives in the gym. He's never really been coached so he's a very raw talent. Zach Price is also very raw.

--Angel's close to being ready to play and I'm not afraid to play him. The thing is he's such a bad passer that you don't want to throw him out there, have him make a few turnovers and lose all his confidence.

--We're not trying to develop players during games, we do that during practice. We're trying to win games and make the NCAA Tournament right now however we can.

--Gorgui is obviously the most important player on the team and that has shown in recent weeks. He's done a terrific job of staying out of foul trouble lately.

--Since the team has already won two Big East road games, his new goal is to win five out of nine. Obviously, we're going to try and win every game though.

--If Kyle Kuric had played against Marquette, that game would have gone right down to the final minute, and they're the second best team in our league.

--The Red Team (reserves) beat the Black Team (starters) during a scrimmage in practice yesterday, and Russ Smith made the game-winning assist. After it happened, Russ himself yelled out "nice pass, Russ!." Pitino was watching from above and yelled down, "you're not supposed to compliment yourself for your own pass, Russ." Russ response: "I just wanted to beat my teammates to the punch."

Kyle Kuric

--(On his academic honor) It's something I didn't know too mch about before yesterday, but it's a great honor for both me and Peyton.

--(On the scrimmage yesterday) We never say anything after we score, but the reserves make a lot of noise whenever they score or get a steal. Angel Nunez was giving him a lot of trash about the reserves putting it on the starters and his response was that it seemed better than it was because they make so much noise whenever they do anything. The Russ line was hilarious. We're having a lot of fun right now, and that was probably the height of it.

--Didn't think anything of Russ saying "great pass, Russ." That's just Russ. Then he heard Pitino say "you can't compliment yourself" and thought it was hilarious.

--Definitely sees signs from Wayne Blackshear that he's going to be able to help us out.

--Being a freshman inserted into a starting role like Chane was is very hard. He's learned so much and gotten so better and we're seeing that now.

--Everyone is feeling so much fresher now with more guys healthy and as a result everyone is having a lot more fun. No one is dreading practice anymore or like they have in past Februarys.

--We would have liked to have kept playing this week since we've been winning, but it was nice to get a little bit of a rest.

--The team has worked a lot on press-breaking since the Seton Hall game. Can't exactly say what the problem was in those final minutes. Knows there were some guys who didn't want to come to the ball and that resulted in some bad passes.

--Leaders coming in and saying "guys this is what's wrong and this is how we need to fix it" helps the young guys, but it definitely doesn't solve the problem completely. The young guys have stepped up a lot on their own.

--Peyton's ankle injury is completely behind him and we're starting to see the old Peyton we're all used to.

--He himself is getting closer to being healthy. Angel jokes with him a lot, asking him whether or not he can dunk yet.

--He doesn't feel like he's met his personal goals at U of L. He still has a lot that he'd like to achieve this season.