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Rick Pitino Talks About The Win Over Miami

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement

Well I'm buying beer because we finally got 35 deflections. Finally. And we needed it. Montrezl got 11. We needed the deflections tonight because our defense had to win it for us.

The reason we got off to such a bad start, and I haven't seen our guys do this, on every drive to the basket, including Montrezl's, we were leaning in and trying to draw the foul. It was taking us out of our offensive rhythm by doing that. And then when you have a start like that, the guys start to panic and they don't want to take a shot. Chris Jones had a wide open three.

In the second half I said let's just pick up our defense and get our deflections, and we will win the game. We had 20 at halftime, and that's what I want to see.

I was telling Doris that this conference reminds me much more of the Big East than I thought it would. You think of the ACC and you think of Duke and North Carolina and transition basketball and getting up and down the court. It's much more like Georgetown and Pittsburgh of the Big East. There are the few teams that will run, then there's Clemson, Florida State, Miami, us -- we try to run, but we don't shoot it great.

It takes that type of defense to win in this conference. We knew what was at stake for Miami. You turn on the television and that's all they're talking about, the teams that have to win this game. Miami played great defense, played a winning game, we just made some really good defensive plays down the stretch.

With Terry, I kept telling him, "don't get down, don't get down, you're going to make some big shots at the end." And he did.

On the deflections

When you think of deflections, you think "oh that's coach talk," but just what you're saying, wins the game. Just getting a fingernail on the ball wins the game. Chris amazed me, him and Montrezl, just with how hard they had to work the whole game and their conditioning's amazing. Chris was well-rested.

On Montrezl's play

He hit a big three too. Now I'm going to mass tomorrow to pray that he makes that the one three he takes for the second half of the season.

On the importance of the game

They knew how important this was. We needed a win. I think what it did for us was it taught us the significance of our hands, our feet -- I thought that Nanu and Mangok did a great job of when our guards got picked, sliding, sliding and then blocking at the end. I thought we did a great job of that. We did a great job of limiting the number of threes they could take. And then in the second half we played much better offense.

They took away a lot of our options. We had two backdoor plays and missed two bunnies, which can happen when you don't get off to a good start.

On how important Chinanu's play was

Big. He's really improving. His hands are getting better. He's improving. And so is Anas, so is Shaqquan, and so is Jaylen. They're all getting a lot better, and you don't see it because I don't play Jaylen, but Jaylen's going against Montrezl Harrell every single day, and that's great. And then Q is going against Chris Jones every single day. It's very tough to guard Chris Jones, and if he can get to the point where he can stop Chris Jones, he'll stop anybody. So it's great for these kids.

On what Shaqquan did to earn playing time

He practiced like a Louisville basketball player. That's all he did. He practiced. He showed a great attitude. I'm sure his father and mother got after him, because I had a talk with them, and you don't mess with those parents. I'm being serious.

On the Montrezl Harrell flagrant foul call

It was a good call. I watched it. Here's the rule -- they deemed it was intentional. Montrezl was falling back, and he threw it, and it hit the guy's face. Here's the ironic thing about the situation: I was fine with it. You wanna call it, just call it. Stop going for four minutes. Call it. I'm livid, I said, "you're breaking the game up, you're giving them two timeouts."

Here's the ironic thing: Coach Larranaga walked over to the officials from his bench, all the way from the other side, I've never seen that. I wanted to know what it was about, and they said, "he wanted to let me know that the big guy has a concussion, on that play." I said, "for what motive? For what motive do you need to know that about that play?" I said, "oh, I got it now." I'll repeat something I said, I said "wait a minute, he's back in the game, so I just called -- this is no B.S. -- and said get ahold of that Miami doctor, because in 15 minutes a kid from a concussion to playing and totally healthy."

So we're sending a plane down to hire that doctor and get him out for football. We will never have a concussion ever again. Because he was back, 3 or 4 minutes later. He walked over to tell me he had a concussion, and he was back in the game. So we're gonna get to the bottom of what this doctor does, because I told those doctors in there, your job's in jeopardy.

On the crowd getting into the game after that play

You know, it's a tough call because now they're interpreting whether Montrezl meant -- you know it's tough. And they're talking about it, talking about it. I thought he was losing his balance, and he tried to throw it off him, and he hit in the head by mistake. But I'll live with (the call), because he hit him in the face. And then they said he's got a concussion. Now, you gotta live with it. And then he came back in the game.

On Larranaga implying there's an unwritten rule that you don't throw the ball off someone's face

Yeah, I agree with that. I really don't think -- and you gotta ask Montrezl -- I don't think he was trying to do it. You do try to bounce it off a guy's legs, but he was losing his balance. But he did it. It's a flagrant foul, and so on.

On Wayne's performance

I just keep telling Wayne more more, "drive to the basket, son, drive to the basket. You'll have big nights when you drive to the basket." And he's doing a better job of that. I think Wayne's having a really good year. And I base that not only on the games but in practice. He's playing really good basketball.

I think Montrezl, Chris and Terry --what we learned tonight was Terry, don't let -- against North Carolina State, Terry and Chris let their offense completely take them out of their defense. And they learned a valuable lesson that helped us win tonight, because we kept playing defense. I think the team really grew tonight in understanding the importance of deflections and defense. And rebounding, because we did an excellent job rebounding the ball in the second half.

More on Chris

I think in conference play he's been great. I think in conference play, Montrezl and Chris have been our two best players. It's really amazing what he can do in dogging the basketball. You know sometimes he tries to cop a ball on the weakside and his man cuts backdoor and he loses him. They're a team that runs a lot of high pick-and-roll, and that's not easy to defend.

I had a couple players a while ago that we're a problem, and I didn't like coaching them. The reason that I didn't like coaching them was not the problems that they brought to me, it was that they didn't work hard. See I can deal with a lot of problems, and we'll try to correct them and get them to own up to them and be a Louisville man, but what I don't like is when someone doesn't work hard at their game. Chris works hard at his game all the time. That's why I appreciate him. Is it fun to coach him? Not like Russ Smith with a lot of laughter, but you appreciate how hard he works, so you give him some latitude when things go wrong.

He came out of the game tonight and actually didn't pout for the first time, which was awesome. He just sat down, and then I said are you ready to go in, and he said yes. So now we took the next step.

On the short turn-around before playing Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is the type of team that can beat anybody on a given night if you don't get them into an up-tempo situation. You look at Florida State, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Miami, us -- you know, it's grind 'em out games. But they played today too, so it's no big deal.

More on deflections

We talked about it so much that I think they don't want to hear that word ever again. They really don't. That was my whole pregame speech. I said if a coach with 40 years of experience told me that if you get 35 deflections and don't give up a 100 threes, you're going to win 95 percent of your games, how can you not get that? How can you not get that?

Luke Hancock wasn't the quickest guy in the world, but Peyton and Russ averaged anywhere from 8-11. I think they'll get it tonight. It's really important because it's the barometer for how much pressure you're putting on the ball. It leads to steals, it leads to run-outs and break situations.