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Rick Pitino Talks Bellarmine, Minnesota

Mike Stobe

Video available here.

--We really only have five days left of practice left before we play Minnesota. Minnesota has some distinct advantages over us. We're hoping we have some advantages over them. We both obviously know each other very well. They have more experience than we do. It's going to be a great opening game.

--The conditions are going to be interesting. There's no air conditioning there so it'll be like one of the Maui Classic games. Conditioning is going to play a huge part in who wins.

--Bellarmine is going to help us tremendously in our Minnesota preparation. They almost had Cincinnati beat the other night. They pass and shoot it better than most Division-I teams. It'll be great for our bigs to have to guard some of their smaller players out on the perimeter. That won't help us for Minnesota, but it will definitely make us better defensively.

--(On Patrick McSweeney playing for Bellarmine) This was all Scottie. He first told me about it and I told him we'd do whatever he needed to make it work. He got approval from everybody and we told him we were on board with whatever he needed.

--I'm real proud of Scottie for this. I go to hospitals every now and then and see the struggles these people are dealing with, and I leave crying every time. I can't fathom how these nurses and all these dedicated professionals do it. It's people like Scottie who help shine a positive light on all this.

--I'm really excited that the young man is going to be able to suit up for them. He won't have trouble scoring on our defense. We won't have to get out of the way.

--Anas will start at center on Sunday. It's our last chance to get a look at certain players and we just want to see if he's ready to play this year, because there is some concern. Both big guys are going to be terrific some day, we just don't know when that day is.

--Anas skill-wise is ahead of Matz, but he's weak. Anas isn't soft, he's just physically weak, which makes it impossible for him to be aggressive.

--We turned in the last stuff to the NCAA regarding Shaqquan today, and we're hoping to hear before Puerto Rico that he's able to play.

--For the game, each side gets a traveling group of 60 fans, and then all the other fans will be coast guard.

--Anas can pass, catch and shoot, and for a 7-footer that's pretty darn good. But his size just allows him to get physically mauled and shoved under the rim on rebounds. He also doesn't move his feet well enough on defense.

--I don't see much improvement with Jaylen Johnson. It's baby steps. He's trying to think and play at the same time, whereas all the other guys had time to learn what they were supposed to do before he got here.

--Bellarmine is like watching the San Antonio Spurs in terms of the way they move the ball. They'll make 7-10 passes and then they'll go 1-on-1. They shoot the ball great and pass the ball great. This is one of Scottie's better defensive teams. He'll have a great shot at doing some great things this season. We're big fans of Bellarmine, so we hope they do.

--I was going to start Chinanu for this game, but he got hurt and missed two practices, so we're starting Anas.

--The only two Egyptians I've known in my life were Cleopatra and Anas. Cleopatra was great, especially when Elizabeth Taylor played the role. She was awesome.

--Mangok's the real leader on the team. Mangok has great positive enthusiasm and he knows how to make sure the freshmen are working hard. He's the real leader on the team from an emotional standpoint. He doesn't put people down or try to belittle them, he's stern and he demands that they work hard, but he does it in a really positive way like Gorgui used to.

--Mangok's group always wins in our individual instruction drills because of his presence. He needs to improve in a lot of areas, but his leadership skills are the best on the team.

--Minnesota will come into town Tuesday night.

--One team is going to open the season 0-1, and no one likes doing that. People expect us to start well because of our recent past, but we're not the same team we've been the past three years, and Minnesota is much better. This is a coin flip game. I know that for a fact. They can do everything we can do, in some areas much better than we can. I'm just hoping we can do some things better than they can.

--Loose ball rebounds and defensive rotations are our biggest weaknesses right now.

--In my estimation, this situation with Shaqquan Aaron should have been handled a long time ago. The family is not very happy about this. They're doing their part, and hopefully it'll all be resolved soon. He's practicing right now, but can't play in games. In fairness to him, something needs to be decided before we get on that plane to Puerto Rico.

--I used to be the worst loser. I was miserable for 24 hours and I made everyone me miserable. I'm not that way anymore. I hate losing, but for the last three years I've been going home, watching film, I make myself a drink and then I go to bed. Being miserable is not the answer to solving problems. It just took me 59 years to learn that.

--If you coach and play every game like it's your last on earth, then I think you get great results. When you don't feel that way, when winning and losing start to feel the same, that's when I think it's time to go into broadcasting.