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Rick Pitino Talks About The North Carolina Win

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

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Opening Statement

You know playing at home, what's really applicable at home is what John Wooden said a long time ago -- be quick, but don't hurry. That's what we've been doing at home. We're setting the pick and roll too early and not letting things settle in. In the second half we didn't do that.

I'm real excited because we didn't play well offensively and we won. We were down 11 in the second half, and I told them we were up 11 at their place, we can get this back, but I need the old Louisville team back, I can't have the one that just wants to score. They dug in. The rebounding advantage went to us in the second half, we held them to two, and we got 22 second chance shots ourselves. Real, real proud of our guys, it took a heck of an effort to win that game, but we believed we were going to do it.

On how the rebounding improved

I got on the guys at halftime and told them I'm showing you the tape of the best shooters with arc, the best rebounders with arc, and the best dunking guys. If you don't simulate those people, you'll never be great at that. And then in the second half, they hit people and they all gang rebounded.

One of the keys is don't get beat, and if you do get beat -- Nanu made a great play and Mangok made a great play -- step out of bounds, and then they've got no place to pass it. Both 5 guys made great plays down the stretch.

On Montrezl's play

He was disappointed the last time he played Carolina. I told Trez, it's just a matter of you bend your knees, they can't block you out. It's when you're standing straight up that you make yourself an easy target to block out. So he was possessed. He played a lot of minutes, he was possessed, but it doesn't surprise me.

Was this the best Trez has pursued the ball?

I think Terry and Trez are both great rebounders. I think Chris at 5'10 is a great rebounder. Our guards really struggled tonight, but in the latter 10 minutes of the game they showed great maturity. Chris kept getting dejected because he couldn't get a call, when he needed to shoot that little jump shot or dribble the ball back out. I kept telling it, "look, it's not about that tonight." We would have never won a national championship if we didn't play defense against Wichita State, because our offense was struggling. I said this is about defense, no matter what you do. And then we made free-throws, we rebounded the ball, we executed well against pressure.

On the difference in the second half

Like I said, the team I witnessed the last two games on the road was an execution machine, and then today everyone was trying to rush. Coach Wooden said it for a reason, and it's really true -- be quick but don't hurry. That's what we're doing at home. It has nothing to do with the rims, because I know Kenny told you about the calibration. It has to do with rushing, and in the second half we didn't do that.

On the success of the press

We just went to our three presses. We had to gamble at that point. It's more heat than it is a 2-2-1 press. I told them to let their bigs catch it, deny the guards, trap as much as you can. I said as long as keep it within striking distance, it's going to pay dividends for us.

On Anton Gill

I think too much is being said about great games by individual players. When you look at the NBA, unless you're LeBron or Kevin Durant or one of those guys, you're gonna have nights where you've got to give credit to the way the defense is playing you. Sometimes bad nights are just great defense by the other team. For instance we got all kinds of pick and rolls against them the first time, and we couldn't get that this time. Primarily because we played East and West whereas last time we played North and South. You've got to give credit to them for that. Everybody wants to pick out guys and say this person did that -- give credit to the defense. If he played against a weaker defense, he may have scored.

On the defense

Look, our defense is just a lot, mentally. You really have to be thinkers. The great thing about our defense in the past was guys like Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Luke Hancock, they're just summa cum laude basketball players in terms of taking a scouting report. This team has struggled from day one with that. My hope is that we'll get better and grasp the defense. It's very difficult for freshmen to do that, unless they have really high basketball IQs.

On the incredible comeback

The only people who really believed in it were the people who were at the Marquette game.

On what he told the team to rally them

Well I didn't bring up Marquette because they would have looked at me like I have three heads. But I told them we've been in this situation so many times, we'll win the game if we don't give second shots and we don't give threes up.

On Montrezl coming out of the game late in the second half

Montrezl said to me coach just give me a minute. You know that "100 bottles of beer on the wall" you did as a kid in your head to kill time? I was doing that waiting to be able to put him back in the game.

On the Miami game

They're very talented, they're very long, but we're actually going to take a day off. I don't usually do that. But when you play two road games and you come right back and you have this comeback, you need a break mentally. If you come back too fast after something like that you can have injuries or you can just have bad practices. I want my guys to go out, have some good clean fun, enjoy themselves, and then will get ready with a little film work and we'll head down to Miami tomorrow.

On the ACC experience

There's so much brilliance in this conference in terms of tradition and coaching. You've got one of the best in the game overt there in Roy Williams. You know he came over to me before the game and was talking and he was trying to tell me about some of the stuff that's going on over there. I cut him off. I told him you never had to explain that to me because I never thought one time -- because he's like Coach K, they're two of the quality people in our game. So there was never a doubt in my mind because he's a quality man as well as a great basketball coach.

I look at the young coaches like Tony Bennett and Buzz. Jamie Dixon, he comes off a tough loss and beats Notre Dame. All these coaches prepare for every game like it's an NCAA Tournament game. So I'm really impressed with this conference, like I was with the Big East. I miss the Big East terribly, but I've got the Big East Southern style.

On Montrezl Harrell's shot at the end of regulation

I actually thought it was good. I really did. But there is a blessing in every miss, because if he makes that, we go to Miami and he takes eight threes.