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Rick Pitino, Gorgui Dieng Talk Syracuse

The pre-Syracuse press conferences are officially the front-runners for most entertaining of the year.

Rick Pitino


--This should be one of the strongest teams to come into the KFC Yum Center since it opened, so this will be very exciting for our team and our fans.

--Teams never shoot a real good percentage against Syracuse because they just don't give you a lot. Also, not many teams are as good as stealing the ball out of the zone as they are.

--If you did keep the ball up and make quick decisions against the Syracuse zone, then those two guards are going to come in and rip the ball away from you.

--The Orange are great on the break, they dribble penetrate very well, they're very strong up front, and like Kentucky they're great at throwing lobs.

--Jim Boeheim is a different type of person. He's a very grounded, humble person. He really has not changed one bit since the day I met him.

--Fab Melo ending up at Syracuse was a win-win for both programs.

--What's difficult about Syracuse, and this team in particular, is the length of their guards. They make it very difficult to get the ball inside, and then when you get it inside they're very likely to take it away.

--(Asked if he talked to Russ extra this week about not forcing things against the zone) "I talk to Russ non-stop all game long, all week long. He's part of my family. At nighttime I put him on my lap and we watch TV together."

--One of the keys with Gorgui right now is that he's getting a lot of minutes. He's not having to sit with foul trouble. Today is his birthday and I noticed he had glasses on. He wanted to show me a picture of him in a Western with Peyton Siva (editor's note: BOOM), so I looked at his phone and said, "let me have your glasses I can't see it." Then i realized the glasses were fake. He said, "they're for my appearance, I'm now older."

--Only thing he said about Manti Te'o was that he went to Peyton and said, "this isn't a Samoan thing, is it?"

--Russ has a girlfriend now. His dad gave him a little bit of money for Christmas and he paid this girl to go out with him.

--I've changed my tune on not liking players having girlfriends. Chane Behanan has changed my feelings on that. I like players having one girlfriend now, I really like it.

--This team is very grounded. We haven't made a very big deal about being No. 1, and it's really not that big of a deal. It's important that you have a high ranking at the end of the year, not in January. We're going to try and hold onto this as long as we can, but we realize that playing in the Big East it's really hard.

--Montrezl Harrell is over the flu, but now Zach Price has it. He's been out for the past three days and we're not sure if we're going to have him tomorrow.

--We all got flu shots this year, but apparently the people in Atlanta messed up and we got the wrong strand. We've all had the flu.

--I've been lucky enough to coach against some of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball, and once a game starts, you never think about the other coach. You realize after a while that it's not coaches who win games, it's players.

--I would say there are 35 or 40 "elite" teams in college basketball. VCU would be in my top 12, Gonzaga is also outstanding and UCLA is making a strong run. There are a good 35 teams in the country that could be Final Four contenders, then there are 12-15 teams that could win a national title.

--We are humble enough to realize that we could lose to anybody.

--We have unique guys on this team. You don't cover many Gorgui Diengs, you don't cover many Peyton Sivas, you definitely don't cover many Russ Smiths. It's a unique group in terms of their humble personalities and the way they carry themselves. I haven't coached too many groups like this.

--Russdiculous will run at 7:15 right after our game, and if he doesn't win that race he will not be in his stable anymore. Russ is very concerned.

Gorgui Dieng


--(On it being his birthday) Everybody wants to be old. Don't you want to be born in 1790?

--Syracuse is very long, which creates a lot of problems. This year's team is a lot better than last year's team. They probably have the best point guard in the country.

--We're a lot better offensively this season than last, but the only way to score against a team like Syracuse is to shoot the ball well. We cannot make many mistakes. We have to be very focused.

--Doesn't think the wrist injury is hurting his jump shot, he's just missing shots. He doesn't want to make any excuses, but he really wants to take his cast off. He's going to the doctor on Monday.

--(Asked why he's rebounding so much better) I don't know, I think the ball follows be. It's just been coming right to my hands, seriously. I tried to learn from Kenneth Faried. I understand that if I can get 15 rebounds a game and Chane can do the same thing, we're going to be very tough to beat.

--We don't talk about the ranking. When we're in the locker room we're telling jokes and making fun of people, that's it. In practice, if coach makes fun of somebody we talk about that in the locker room.

--(On the No. 1 ranking) "If you have something that everybody else wants to have, you have to take care of it. We're going to try our best to take care of it and be No. 1 at the end."