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Rick Pitino Previews Clemson

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports


--Clemson has four starters back from last year's team and they've already beaten a pressing/trapping team in Arkansas. They're a very good defensive team and they have guys who know their system very well.

--We only had one day to prep for this game because we had to take Monday off. The late Sunday night tip really screws things up.

--The older players on our team really understand what it takes to be a great road team and what it takes to be a great basketball team. The younger guys are just trying to get through practice. They're not thinking about the same long-term goals that the older guys are. The younger guys just don't understand the intensity and the effort it takes to win games like Sunday's. So there's one group on the team that has very lofty goals, and another that has very short-term goals. That's all normal.

--Our bad defensive night against Wake Forest was 100 percent on me. I had the wrong defense set up and put the wrong players on that guy (Devin Thomas). Anas was not ready to guard that guy, and that's my fault. Nanu could have played that guy, but he wound up getting four fouls in 7 minutes.

--We've had three good practices in a row, and that hasn't always been the case. We're taking baby steps right now. We have a chance to be good by March because we have a very high ceiling, but there are going to be some bumps in the road, and we expect that. We have a great record right now, but there are definitely going to be some bumps between now and March.

--The ACC used to be a transition league, but now it's a league with a bunch of different styles just like the Big East was. You're not going to speed up teams like Clemson, you just have to be good in the halfcourt.

--Chris Jones was very well-coached in junior college. I know the coach and he's outstanding. Chris' thing is he wants to be right all the time. My eyes are still very good at 62, and I know when a mistake is being made. But I've got the easy job and he's got the hard job, because he has to keep doing the things he's supposed to be doing when he gets fatigued out there. He won that game for us Sunday night. He was brilliant. But still, he always wants to be right and he always wants to get his way. At this level, you never get your way, and he's learning that. I love him as a player and I love him off the court, but he's got to understand that when he makes a mistake, it's not someone else's fault, it's something he has to correct. He was very well coached in junior college, he just didn't want to listen and get better. Now that's changing.

--The fundamentals in the game are so lacking right now. Guys don't know how to throw bounce passes or pivot or things like that. That's the AAU mentality, and Kobe and LeBron are right when they say that AAU basketball isn't about teaching the game. That said, there are places out there where good fundamentals are being taught, and we're recruiting a lot of guys like that. Donovan Mitchell is a perfect example. We've had guys who came here and didn't know what foot to go off of for a lay-up. That's what you don't learn in AAU, but what you need to learn from your high school coach. I don't blame the AAU coaches because they don't have the time to do all that teaching, and that's not really their job, it's the high school coach's job. There are great high school coaches out there. If you go watch a Trinity practice, you're going to see great fundamentals taught, and that's really going to help (Ray) Spalding once he gets here.

--I don't think any of these high school kids know much about the NCAA rules. Shaqquan Aaron definitely didn't. That's why I think the NCAA needs to take control of these summer camps and spend some time educating these kids about the rules, the fundamentals of the game and the eligibility necessities. Instead, the AAU and the shoe companies control it all, and I don't blame them for that. I blame the NCAA because they could change all that if they were proactive.

--What I really like about our basketball team right now is that every time we get into a close game we really bear down and execute.

--Terry felt like he had some bad calls go against him that took him out of the game and he was really frustrated. The foul that sent Terry to the bench was called by an official who couldn't even see his arm. The same thing happened to the kid from Notre Dame last night. But I told Terry not to get frustrated because he was having a great offensive game, and he made some huge plays at the end of the game.

--Wayne Blackshear and Larry O'Bannon are the two most similar personalities I've ever coached. They're both unbelievable young men with unbelievable personalities, but their mild-mannered nature doesn't change when they step on the court. I kept telling Larry that he had to change that and become a fighter once the game started, and he finally did at the end of his senior year. Wayne still hasn't gotten that. That's the only thing he needs to change because he's playing good basketball right now. We talked after the last game and I told him that he needs to act like he's in a fight when he gets out there between the lines. He needs to develop that fire. You've got to become a pitbull when you enter the ring, and I believe he'll get that now. He's going to get there.

--Sometimes when there's nobody pushing you for minutes it's hard to get fired up, but I think Shaqquan playing so much in that last game is really going to light a fire under Wayne.