RICK PITINO: Well, I'm really proud of Coach Masiello. As you all know, he was my ball boy, assistant coach, played for me at Kentucky and helped me build the program at Louisville, and I knew this game was going to be this way. I told the team, when we play against ourselves in practice, it's a nightmare. We don't play well against ourselves, our style. And we knew it was going to be a carbon copy from the way they play out‑of‑bounds plays. It's almost a mirror image, and what really hurt us is when they kept going with four guards and opening up the court and taking us off the spread. He did a great job of coaching, him and his staff, his players did a remarkable job, but I knew this game was going to be this way.
And conversely we needed this type of game. Winning by 60 and 40 doesn't make you a better basketball team, and when a team's butts could get tight tonight, they didn't. I told my man to my right down here, I said, if you don't shoot the ball when you're open, and I said some other expletives, but I said, you shoot that ball because they're all going to come after Russ. Russ obviously had one of his off nights, and when you see Russ play that way, it's because the defense made him have an off‑night, and I knew they would do that to him, as well.
But these two guys played great. Wayne was an unsung hero, had to give us great minutes, great defense and did a super job. But we're really excited we had a tight, hard‑fought game, and a lot of times teams have jitters in the opening round. Not that we had jitters, but Manhattan deserves all the credit. They were great tonight.
Q. For both of you, it seemed like when you needed the big plays there in the final two or three minutes, it was you two and Russ and Montrezl who each came up with something. How much do you think that experience actually does come into play in a close game in the NCAA Tournament?
WAYNE BLACKSHEAR: It plays a big part, being in situations like that. We was in those situations last year, and we've got to give it up to Chris especially. He was able to get into the paint and I was able to get open. As far as Luke goes, he was just playing hard and knocking down big shots.
LUKE HANCOCK: I think that experience really does help you, having some guys that have been there, that have been through those postseason battles. It's extremely valuable, and they came through and made huge plays, not just those guys but the whole way down the team offensively and defensively and just really impressed with my teammates and the big plays they made down the stretch.
Q. Steve and the coaching staff obviously knew all the ins and outs of what you were doing, they were on the same system, same style. What was the preparation like, and when you first saw the defense that you were facing during the game, how difficult was it knowing that they knew everything you were doing?
LUKE HANCOCK: The preparation was pretty tough. I mean, the last week we knew we were playing Manhattan. I think coach had a little edge. We knew how good they were. We knew they ran the same style as us and how they ran it. It was tough preparing, and it was a tough couple practices, but once you got out there and you got in the flow of the game, it was just like we saw on film and just like Coach said, they kept coming after you. They deserve all the credit in the world.
WAYNE BLACKSHEAR: Yeah, like Luke said, it was just like playing against ourselves. We've got to give it up to those guys. They played for 40 minutes, and they didn't give up. Coach told us what kind of game it was going to be and that it was going to be a dogfight and that we would just have to come together as a team and try to pull it off.
Q. Just take us back to that last minute and a half. It's 60‑60, you make the steal, the two free throws, and then you bang the two biggest shots of the game, those two big threes. Tell us what you saw and what happened.
LUKE HANCOCK: I just tried to play off my teammates. When you have Russ Smith, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear, Montrezl, Stephan Van Treese, you just try and play off of them and I saw a trap. Coach was screaming at me the entire game not to leave the shooter, but we were in the press and he trapped and he tried to throw a cross‑court pass, I kind of knew Rhamel Brown had four fouls, so went in there and tried to get some contact, and then again on the shots, just playing off my teammates. I think Russ passed both of them, I think, and he had all the attention on him. Everybody knows he's a big shot maker, so I just kind of tried to float to the corners and then keep moving, and Russ is going to find you.
Q. You talked about yesterday how difficult this win would be if you got it. When you saw Steve at half court and you embraced, what was that like?
RICK PITINO: I told him he should be really proud of his basketball team, and I told him I was very proud of his coaching, his preparation. We've been together a long time. His dad was one of my best friends. You know, when it came out, everybody‑‑ I told everybody I didn't care about the seed. I never have. I'm trying to think back with Providence. I think we were a 5 seed when we went to a Final Four, I think, and in 2005 we were a 4 seed. So it really didn't matter to me which seed you get. But I was really disappointed I had to play Steve, because he had an unbelievable year. I thought he could win a couple of games in the tournament. That's how good. When Travis Ford and Billy Donovan and Steve Masiello and Sean Woods and all these guys coach, I sit at the edge of my bed and jump up and down like a cheerleader, so I did not want to play him at all. And that was the only disappointment, and it was disappointing‑‑ I was very happy for our basketball team that we could move on, but very disappointed for him and his kids because they played terrific.
Q. I know from following you guys this year you've had a few instances where it's close at the end, you have the lead, and it slips away, but Cincinnati you got the win. What do you think a game like this does for you guys to start the tournament like that?
RICK PITINO: I think we needed it desperately. We've been winning by‑‑ I knew the one factor was going to be difficult, I knew our press wouldn't work tonight against them because I don't believe we turned it over against their press and they didn't turn it over much against ours. They threw it away when a young man slipped one of the times. So I knew our style wasn't going to work tonight. When they went four guards it was very difficult defending them. We couldn't play our half‑court trapping zone because we would leave their three‑point shooters open, so we didn't want to do that. But we finished this game very well tonight, but the reason‑‑ even though we won by 14 points or whatever it was against Connecticut, Connecticut and Manhattan, we didn't pass the ball enough, and that's what Russ has to learn coming away from this game. We've been a big assist team, and in the last two games we've had 10 assists, and that's why we're shooting a low percentage. Russ has to really learn a lot of valuable lessons because he's on everybody's chalkboard to stop him, and tonight he forced things and had six turnovers, and I think more than the team it's really going to make Russ better going into Saint Louis.
Q. I'm not asking this saying it's an excuse because obviously you guys won the national title last year, but just curious the philosophy or maybe even the science behind going hard in the mornings of a game day. What goes into that for you?
RICK PITINO: We haven't gone very hard to be honest with you. Actually today was our easiest walk‑through we've had. You know, there's a lot of‑‑ I haven't gone hard in walk‑throughs in about five years. We do something now‑‑ when I was at Kentucky, our walk‑throughs were a game. But we haven't gone hard. We do something called recognition where we huddle a team, so the defense doesn't know what play is coming, and then we go through, we don't fast break out. I've learned the opposite. We've gone more to recognition and looking at it since I've come back from the Celtics after doing such a great job there. I learned my lesson.
Q. Just thoughts on a veteran like Hancock stepping up in the clutch and just would not let you lose the basketball game tonight.
RICK PITINO: Yeah, he was passing up some shots, and we need him to shoot the ball. I was all over him in the timeouts saying when you get open, you shoot the ball. You understand me? Because he kept ball faking and trying to drive. We've got to have his‑‑ when Russ is having an off‑night, we've got to have his attack.
But the story tonight was we won the game, but any team in this tournament‑‑ Albany played Florida to the mat. Because of everybody leaving so early, that's what makes March Madness so much fun. I think we're a very good basketball team. I thought Manhattan was the better team tonight until four minutes to go in the game, and then we were the better team. We got on the backboard.
But as I watched tonight, I thought Saint Louis was dead, it was over. They were up 16 points, and then boom.
Now, we have improved in some areas, one of the reasons I think we've won, we have really worked our butts off on free‑throw shooting. Even the ones Montrezl missed looked good tonight, if there is such a thing, and we've been shooting free throws well. So this was a great win for us, we can move on, and I think it will really help us, this game. I'm glad it was a tight game that we had to fight back.
Q. Montrezl just told me he thought the guys were sluggish coming out having to wait all day. Your thoughts on that?
RICK PITINO: I think this generation‑‑ now, Montrezl is a great guy. I love this team. The last three years have been very special. This generation is the greatest excuse makers of all time. If you would have watched one of our practices, they never get fouled. If they lose the ball, they were pushed. It's incredible what goes on in one of our practices. But you never get upset because they're such great guys, including Luke, who's obviously very cerebral, but he actually chops the guy, kicks the guy, I didn't touch him. Manhattan had to stay up late, as well.
I always keep telling them excuses are a sign of weakness, and when you make an excuse, you show weakness. They had to wait around, and they looked pretty good.
Now, it is late. Sh-t, it's 1:30 in the morning, so it is late.