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Rick Pitino ACC Teleconference Transcript

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement

We're improving. You don't like coming off a loss and saying you're happy with your team, but we are improving, we're getting better. I think the key to our basketball team down the road is how much our six freshmen improve to help the team and give us a little more bench support. They're doing a much better job in practice and I see the improvement in a few of them, and I'm excited about that.

On the 8-day layoff between games

We're obviously going to recruit. We want to split it up. We practiced yesterday just to go over some of the things we did poorly against Duke. And then we're gonna practice today before we take two days off and let the guys just rest their legs. And then we're gonna go pretty hard on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as we prepare for a road game against Pitt.

On what the team did poorly against Duke

To be honest with you, the obvious thing to do is to say you didn't shoot the ball well, but anytime you miss five interior shots at the rim and you miss 10 to 12 wide open shots, you've gotta say that it was just one of those nights where it wasn't going in. We were 0-for-8 on challenged shots, which is something we've talked about.

In the second half, we just let their great player, Okafor, get the ball too easily and he scored at ease. In the first half we didn't allow that. So we'll try to make an adjustment. In defense of Mangok, he's outweighed by about 50 pounds by that young man. We probably have to go more without freshman center and try to get him to play harder.

On Duke playing zone

I actually thought they would play zone, to be honest with you. I told our staff, you know what I think they're gonna do -- because the last time we played them we hurt them with some pick and rolls -- when we go high on the pick and roll, they're gonna go zone to keep Okafor near the basket. And I thought they would do that from 12 seconds on. We were very much prepared for zone, because every single team that plays us plays a zone. So was I surprised in terms of how early they played it against us? That's the type of defense to play against us, no question, so no I wasn't surprised, but it was a very good move and certainly it reaped good benefits for them going forward if they have to play zone against someone else.

Do you try to get away from the 3-point shot when your team isn't shooting well?

Well what you want more than anything else if everybody is packing it in and saying "prove that you can shoot it" -- now understand the game before we made 10 threes. Here's the thing I'm struggling with as we move forward: this team, statistically, reminds me so much of three years ago when we had Kyle Kuric at the small forward, Peyton Siva and Chris Smith in the backcourt and we played Kentucky in the Final Four. We both shot a very low percentage, we couldn't shoot the three, we had difficulty scoring points. It's almost eerie of how close the two teams are. I'm just praying and hoping that we're gonna have the same result as that team. But it is just so remarkably close in every area with the exception that we were much better defensively back then, and we had a much better five man in Gorgui Dieng. But statistically speaking it's eerie, so what we did then was we didn't worry about the fact that we weren't a great shooting team, we just tried to be great defensively. It's almost like in baseball when you've got great pithing but not great hitting, and so you just try to have a great defense.

Do you like having a week to prepare for a game?

I don't like or dislike anything about a schedule. We've four out of five road games coming up. It's going to be a very difficult stretch for us. Where fans make mistakes is they look at the schedule and say, "Ok you can beat this team and this team..." We all know as coaches that playing at Georgia Tech is just as tough as playing at North Carolina or any other place -- and I'm just throwing two teams out. The road's difficult, period, so when you play four out of five on the road you know it's going to be a tough stretch. I will say that we play much better on the road than we do at home, which is a good thing.

But I don't really look at the break as good or bad. I think mentally for the players it's good because it can break up the season, and that's good for them. But we're improving. I'm very pleased with what I've seen the last 10 days. You know I've said many times that I have not been pleased with practice since September, but the last 10 days I've seen great progress from our young guys and I'm getting much more confident in using them. Even a young guy like Quentin Snider who hasn't made a field goal in the Big East is playing much better in practice, and I know that'll come because he's missing these shots around the rim.

On being better on the road

I think our guys are totally focused in on just basketball. I think when you play in front of 22,000 people and your whole family's there and everybody's talking about the game and tickets -- they start getting distracted about everything and they don't stay focused. When you're on the road, your family and friends aren't coming and you're not trying to ooo and ahh the home crowd with great plays, you're just focused on your opponent and all the distractions are gone. Now it is tough playing on the road, no question about it, but we were the best road team when we were in the Big East, and I think that's because of focus.

On the difference of playing on the road in the Big East and the ACC

In the Big East, the one thing you have is you play at Madison Square Garden and you play where the 76ers play and where the Wizards play. The flip side is you play at Notre Dame and Pitt -- but now you've taken those hardest places to play and put them in the ACC.

What I have found is that the Big 10 seems to be a very difficult to play on the road. They have very, very strong homecourt advantages. The ACC has a lot of places like that. I can't wait to get to Duke. It's like Kansas and one of the toughest places to play in college basketball. We understand it's gonna be like that, but we stay focused on the road. We're not as focused on home.

On feeling positive after the game

The way I look at it is there are some times we get a victory, and then I watch the tape and I'm very disappointed in our guys. In this game, I think we just missed a lot of shots that we normally make. We have a very tough left schedule left, and there's no room in a player's life or a coach's life to get down. I've been through this so many times at Louisville where we had to win seven out of eight games to make the tournament six years ago, and then the last three years we've had the most wins in the game. You can't get down in this game, you've got to get inspired. I told our team the exact same thing: it's not time to hang your heads because you lost at home, it's time to get inspired. And that's what we're gonna try and do.

On the consistent play of Terry Rozier

He's having a great year and he's being very consistent. He's very consistent with his attitude and he's very consistent in practice. I call him "the professional" because he's very professional in practice and in the way he plays and the way he carries himself. He's having as good a year as any guard in the country, but he stays humble and he stays quiet about it. He's one of the few guards who I've coached where if I say, "Terry I need you to get 12 rebounds tonight," he'll get 12 rebounds. If I say, "Terry I need you to get 7 assists," he'll get 7 assists. If I tell him he needs to get in the paint and get to the line, he can do it. He's having a terrific year, but it doesn't surprise me because he has a lot of professionalism every day. He gets the most out of what he does because he's very consistent.

Any flaws in Terry's game?

I can't find a flaw in his game because he plays the one and the two for us, he plays the one and the two, he's a good defender, he rebounds. I always try to find a flaw with him, and I haven't found one yet. I don't know. I try to yell at him every now and then practice so it doesn't look like I'm babying him, but I can't find a reason to yell. He's like the modern day Peyton Siva for me.