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Rick Pitino And Tim Henderson Preview Missouri State

Andy Lyons

Rick Pitino


--Missouri State is a team like us with one loss. They're an outstanding offensive basketball team. They have great size in the frontcourt and great scorers in their backcourt. Their two guard is probably one of the best shooters in the country. They're an extremely difficult team to defend. They pose an extremely great challenge for us.

--Everyone they put on the floor can pass and handle the ball.

--We're trying to improve our defense every day, and I think we're getting better.

--The new rules haven't changed the way we've done things too much. The only big difference is that you have to put more emphasis on blocking shots as opposed to taking charges.

--The 9 p.m. tip doesn't change how we go about our game day routine.

--Chris Jones will play. He practiced Monday morning and showed no ill-effects from the injury.

--Thinks it's too cold in the media room.

--Isn't familiar with the term photobombing. I wasn't photobombing, I was just standing there while they were taking pictures.

--I've never seen a concert like (justin Timberlake's). I've ever seen a guy give 100% like that for a full three hours. It was an incredible performance. I'd like to take 90% of that crowd and have them come to our game Tuesday.

--JT won't cut into his Pitbull playlist. Had to go to the Timberlake concert because of his wife and daughter, but it was great. Isn't sure when Pitbull is coming to the Yum Center.

--The rotation for the three main guards and Tim Henderson is pretty much set. Not sure how many minutes Tim will get with Chris coming back, but he needs to play. He did a lot of good things besides just shooting the basketball on Saturday. He's the best weakside defender we have, he's very good at reading the scouting report, and he's a great rebounder.

--The way to get upset these days is to let the opponent shoot a high percentage from the three-point line. That's how teams get upset.

--Tim Henderson is different from other walk-ons in that he came here physically ready to play. It's evident when you watch lay-up lines and look at David Levitch and Dillon Avare and you see that physically they're just not ready to compete at this level. Tim Henderson came here physically ready, he just needed to learn how to play at this level. He's a great guy to have on the team because he has the ability of a scholarship basketball player, but he has the humility that you don't see in some scholarship basketball players.

--It's evident that Russ Smith has changed his game dramatically. He's been remarkable, and he's surpassed my expectations in the way that he's changed. His assist-to-turnover ratio is terrific and his shot selection is vastly improved.

--This is a great group to coach. They're a great group of guys and they're eager to get better. They don't catch on to things as quickly as I thought they would, for a team that returned members from a championship team, but they have a strong desire to get better.

--Chane has to get better at the free-throw line, and he should be better. When his motion is slow, he's a fine foul shooter.

--If you play Stephan Van Treese major minutes, you see his warts and weaknesses. When he plays in spurts, you really see his strengths.

--I've always felt the Missouri Valley was one of the most underrated leagues in basketball. They're not as deep as they've been in years at the past, but they're very god at the top. Wichita State is very good, this team is very good, Northern Iowa is very good and Indiana State is very good.

--I don't believe in the term "mid-major." Unless you're a league like the Ivy League that doesn't give scholarships, I don't believe in that term.

--Mangok is improving. He made a strong emphasis to try and make strong moves to the basket and score. He won the Rookie of the Week in the AAC (pronounces it the "Ack"), so they've noticed his improvement.

--Akoy Agau and Anton Gill are going to be very good basketball players here, but they're freshmen. They've got a lot of guys playing in front of them, but they're going to be very good college players here. They're going to get better and better and better.

Tim Henderson


--Everybody was really happy for me after the way I played on Saturday. My family was all ecstatic. They were all like, "22 minutes is a lot of playing time in a game." I haven't gotten that much burn since high school.

--Stuff like that makes it all worth it. Even going to the Final Four my sophomore year and not even playing was amazing. It just keeps getting better, it feels like. It's been an amazing ride and I don't want it to end.

--What made Russ so good without Chris on Saturday was him penetrating and then finding shooters. They were leaving me alone and Russ just kept finding me.

--This is one of the most important times of the year because you're building team chemistry. This is the time of the year where we're all together all the time and there's no one off doing their own thing. We're also practicing all the time and trying to perfect our defense. You need to get sharp now because before you know it there's the grind of January and February, and then it's March.

--Defense has been harder this year with the new rules because we're learning different rotations and we're forcing offensive players to different areas. There are a lot of different things to learn.

--We're one of the deepest teams in the country. Kevin and Anton could play anywhere. It all comes down to matchups. Coach will play the guys who give us the best chance to win that particular game. I think we go 12-deep.

--You're never happy just being here, you always want to go for the next step. My next level was trying to contribute. I was happy my freshman year just being here, but after that I wanted to take it to another level and become a contributor.

--I get noticed a lot more after the Final Four. People always say "that's the guy who hit the two shots." It's always "the two shots."

--My uncle has given me the nickname "Wichita." He also used to call me "Beau Zach" after Beau Zach Smith.

--Adjusting to these new rules is the hardest part of playing defense this year. You feel like you're always going to be giving up something. If you play too close, you're going to foul. If you back off too much, you're giving up an outside shot.