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Bearded Rick Pitino Previews Pitt, Talks Shooting Woes

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Just in time for the Valentine's Day season, Bearded Rick is back y'all:


--As I'm sure you all know, Pitt is great at home. They have an 88 percent winning record at home and a great student section. It's a tough place to play and it'll be a nationally televised game, so our guys are really fired up about it.

--(On past success at Pitt) It's more about the teams, not the venue. This team isn't those teams.

--(On the rally beards) It's a way to get over a tough loss. That's what it is.

-- (On Jahlil Okafor) I was disappointed in how we let him catch the ball where he could score. Mangok just let him have the ball, it was just poor defense. Maybe he was fatigued because he had 50 pounds on him and had been banging on him.

--Our zone offense is fine, we just missed shots. We did take about eight challenged shots and missed them all, and that's something we have to correct, but other than that we had great looks and just didn't put the ball in the basket.

--We've done nothing different this week since the Duke loss. We took two days off because the rules mandate it, but other than that it's been a normal week.

--(On ways to improve the team's shooting) We just keep working on it. I keep equating it to the 2012 season, even though we don't have a guy who can shoot it like Kyle Kuric or even Russ Smith for that matter. We're a more athletic team than that one, but we're not getting enough points off transition, and part of that is because we're not making shots and being able to get into our press. We're gonna do some different things that will hopefully allow us to get out on the break a little more.

--Wayne is what he is. He's not having a great year, but he's having a good year. The less he relies on his jump shots the better he is. His jump shot is fine, but he's better when he gets more paint touches and we're working on that.

--We don't pay too much attention to road or home. We were the best road team in the Big East because we viewed the games the same, so we don't put any more stock in playing on the road or home. Now I personally think going on the road is more challenging though.

--There was a terrible call against Northwestern last night which made Chris Collins do the greatest jump I've ever seen. He can do that because he's young. We also had a terrible call on Chris Jones against Duke that took him out of the game with two fouls. He had to come out of the game and there was no reason for it. Sometimes the breaks go against you regardless of where you're playing.

--Montrezl typically gets a lot of points from getting out on the break and dunking, but he hasn't been able to do that as much this year because the team hasn't been doing it. He needs to take more 16-foot jumpers than 22-foot jumpers. I thought he played much better against Duke than he did against North Carolina because he was much more active on the glass.

--We shoot 80 percent on the break, and we only got out on the break seven times against Duke. There's a lot of slow basketball in the ACC, so sometimes you can't do anything about it.

--Pitt rebounds great, they do a great job defensively, they're very active with their hands; they don't change all that much. They built a solid foundation on playing tough and being fundamentally sound, and that's how they win.

--Runs are so important in college basketball and they're gong to hit you whenever you play in a tough conference. Seton Hall is a prime example. We've got a tough road ahead of us, but it should be a lot of fun.

--I don't think Shaqquan has taken any dramatic steps forward. This freshman class is all going to be good, but overall they've been very average so far. Chnanu is the only one who's physically ready to compete and make an impact, and he hasn't shown that yet. He did a little bit at the beginning of the season, but that wasn't against this type of competition.

--Quentin Snider hasn't scored a point in the ACC, but he's taken all good shots and made all good moves. I think he's playing the best of the freshmen right now. It may not show in the statistics, but it shows in practice.

--I bet if you polled the fans right now, they're probably not ecstatic even though we're 15-3. But that's a credit to what we've accomplished over the last three years, so I take it as a compliment. The fans are used to Final Fours and competing for championships, so they expect the best now. Personally I'm not disappointed, I'm ecstatic. We've only played two poor games so far -- Kentucky and Duke -- but that also had a lot to do with our opponent.

--This team is getting a lot better in all phases of the game, you may not see it, but we're taking baby steps in the right direction.

--(On Captain Controversy 2015) You know, it's really not a big deal. I don't know why he brought it up. He shouldn't have mentioned it because things get so blown up. Are the deflated balls really that big a deal? But that was Montrezl's idea.