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Rick Pitino Previews Ohio State

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--I think this game is going to be the best atmosphere we've ever had at the Yum Center. They're a very great team that's about as good as it gets offensively. It's also the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, national TV, late start time, first year in the ACC, coming off a great football victory; the spirits are very high in this town. It's gonna be an awesome atmosphere.

--If you're a great passing team, you're going to shoot a great percentage, and Ohio State averages 18 or 19 assists per game. Great passing leads to great shooting, and that's why they're one of the best offensive teams in the country. You can say they haven't played a very tough schedule, well, we haven't played a tough schedule yet either, and our statistics are not good on the offensive end.

--I thought that our offensive problems were the product of our bench, but that was an erroneous statement. We want to take less than five challenged shots per game. We shot eight in the first half the other night. In the college game, you shoot about 22 percent on challenged shots, and we wound up taking 15 of them the other night. This team is going to play zone, and they're very long, and that's going to make it very hard to get non-challenged shots off.

--A lot of times with these exempt tournaments you don't get to pick your opponents, which was the case with the Global Sports Showcase. The opponents we did get to pick are very challenging. We opened with Minnesota, we have to play one of the best teams ever assembled in Kentucky, we'll have a challenging road game against Western Kentucky which is a rivalry opponent and will be a hostile environment, and then the schedule has a total of three Big 10 teams. The other schools in the "guarantee games," sometimes you can't really dictate who they are.

--Because of the Minnesota game I think we're well-prepared for Ohio State. If it wasn't for Minnesota I don't think we'd be prepared.

--Against a team like Ohio State, offensively, this is a very big challenge for us.

--Mangok is not 100 percent, but he practiced Sunday for the first time. Chris Jones is fine.

--We're usually a high assist team, and we're not so far, and that's concerning. That plays a large part in our poor shooting. We're still figuring out how to replace Luke and Russ.

--Always loved D'Angelo Russell and we obviously wanted him to come here, but he's starting and playing a lot of minutes right now, so he chose the right place. He can pass, he can shoot, he can go 1-on-1; we wanted him very much.

--The Shaqquan Aaron ordeal has been very frustrating because the amateurism issue is something I don't understand. Unlike a lot of coaches I tend to agree with a lot of the things the NCAA does, but I couldn't disagree with them more in the handling of this case than any player I've ever coached. Even though I thought it was unjust, I could understand the Muhammed Lasege case more than this one. This kid came here 165 pounds, he's not a McDonald's All-American, he's a project. If someone is being given a break because of this kid, they're from another country. He's not that type of player. Nobody would give something to get in favor for Shaqquan Aaron, it just doesn't work like that. I just wish they'd make a situation one way or the other because he's already missed five games and he can't get those five games back. He's done nothing wrong. The issue isn't even about him, so the whole thing makes no sense to me.

--It's frustrating because Shaqquan did nothing wrong. He's practicing right now, but he's not very motivated because he doesn't see himself playing. No matter how many times you tell him that this is going to be over soon, he's a young man who doesn't quite understand this stuff.

--If the NCAA ruled Shaqquan out for the entire year, then we should go to the five conferences and start fresh. I'd be a big proponent of that.

--I'm struggling to gauge this team, because statistically I'm not happy. The assist-to-turnover ratio is bothering me, we've improved our rebounding. The guy who's making the greatest strides right now is Matz Stockman. He picks up things very quickly, and I think you're going to be very surprised by what you see from him the next time he's on the floor. I hope I don't put my foot in my mouth with that one.

--I am not as confident with this team as I was on Dec. 1 of last year. I'm just trying to get these guys to understand passing. The toughest thing for this team is learning when to shoot and when to pass. This week is going to be very good for that.

--I'm concerned about this team, but I'm not worried about their attitudes, and generally things work out when that's the case. Our defense and our work ethic are there, but now our offense just has to grow.

--Shannon Scott is one of the premier guards in the Big Ten. He plays under terrific control, and D'Angelo Russell is the beneficiary of that.

--I don't think the Kentucky game is a great home atmosphere, because there's always 5,000 of them getting into our building. We get five into theirs and they get five thousand into ours. I would put that game 10th on the list of great atmospheres. When I was at Kentucky, sometimes you'd go into Freedom Hall and hear "let's go blue" by the end of the game. I wish we had what they had, which is, if you see red you don't get out of the building. I tell my children to wear blue when they go there so they can live.

--It was a great football game on Saturday. A magical story for a 3rd string quarterback to come in and do what he did. Sometimes you find a gem when you didn't think you had a gem, and maybe this kid is going to end up being a great quarterback for us.

--I want to publicly congratulate Bobby and his staff on a great season. They did an amazing job and made it a lot of fun for the fans. We had a blast this year watching the team develop. Hopefully we'll go to a bowl game and play a great opponent.