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Well I'm as proud of this basketball team as I've been in any game I've ever coached, because I've never seen a team have so many open looks -- from layups to wide open shots off good ball movement -- and not falling. Earlier this year we had the same thing happen, and we got down and we didn't play good defense. But these guys kept their attitude and just focused on one thing: winning the game.
Georgia Tech is just like us. We have two better players than them, but they're just like us. They run great stuff, but the ball doesn't go in. They're not a good shooting team, we're not a good shooting team. And that's the most frustrating thing, because they do so many great things offensively, so many great things defensively, and so did we. When the shot doesn't go in, you struggle.
They're a team that played Duke to the wire, had 'em. Notre Dame in overtime. They're young right now and they suffer the same things that we suffer, and that's you have wide open shots and they don't go down.
On Wayne Blackshear
Early in the season it would have bothered us that Wayne missed the first two free-throws of the game. It always happens that way, you lose your confidence. I really got after him at halftime. I said, "man you were open twice and you didn't shoot." There's only one way to get hot in basketball and that's to shoot. Terry Rozier took that to heart, because he had a first half that didn't go his way, and then he was brilliant in the second half.
The guys just played awesome defense, and then, like most of our games, we come alive shooting the ball in the second half. It's surprising a little bit because of the amount of pressure that we put defensively that we have those legs in the second half.
On overcoming recent struggles
I just told them now we're a totally different basketball team, now everybody's got to play. Everybody's got to mature, and everybody's gotta play.
At the end of the game I was going to take Chinanu out and put Anas in. And Trez said, "don't do it, coach." I said Montrezl they're going to foul him if we stop them. And he said, "coach, we need his defense." They fouled him, and I wanted to kill Trez. And then Nanu blocks the shot that seals the game for us. So if Trez doesn't get picked in the lottery, I'll hire him as an assistant coach.
On not having a timeout at the end of the game
Well we're on the floor and sometimes that hurts you, but I had to waste a timeout there also because our guys were flat-out exhausted from pressing. It's not easy coming back in a slowdown game. Sometimes in a fast game you can come back, but in a slowdown game, it's not easy. We've done it about three or four times and I'm really proud of these guys.
On the game's final sequence
I wanted Rozier to bring it out, but there was no stopping him at that point, you know, because he was going. Offensively, I give our guys the green light. I get upset with them -- like I was really, really upset at Wayne for not shooting. We gotta just shoot the basketball when we're open. Like tonight we had three challenged shots at halftime. That's all.
They learned a valuable lesson in the last few games that defense is winning it for them. We are going to get better offensively. We've just been having so much turmoil of all of sudden someone's back and then he's gone, but you never get a chance to practice. You know your whole game plan changes in a matter of hours without practice time. It's a little difficult, but now we're all set and we'll be able to practice.
On ball movement
The ball movement was great in the first half. Inside, outside, reversal, wide-open -- no.
On the Chris Jones situation
Guys, regardless of if somebody does something wrong, I feel they're all my children. But he's no longer on the basketball team, so he's now gotta talk for himself. No different than when Chane Behanan left. It's not up to me to comment about anything. He was dismissed from our team, he's not coming back, we wish him the best success in the game of life, but it is what it is. Nothing I can say can remedy the situation.
On the change after the team finally made a three
Well look the pressure can't get better unless you score. You know? You can't press on misses. They do the same thing we try to do: they break great because they know they're going to struggle in the halfcourt. We made a few shots and then obviously we got our pressure on. We smelled the game -- that we had a shot at it.
On all the Louisville fans at the game
One time a year, the churches in town all get together and they come sometimes with 50 buses. They always come for one game a year. We didn't know they were coming for this game. But we probably have the best group of churches that travel with any team.
On the younger players coming of age
I'm just telling them look now, our team changes. The freshmen have to play, so I am going to play you. I was so proud of Nanu's block because that's the same type of play where he gave Paige the wide open layup, and now he blocked it.
They're very competitive people. I've found a major difference in Shaqquan the last five days. That's why I started him, because I wanted to reward him for having a different attitude and playing hard. I'm sure it had something to do with his dad, to be honest with you, not me. But I think it's great parenting, and I was real proud of the way he practiced.
On being back in Atlanta for the first time since the championship
Well, it brought great memories until halftime. You know when we couldn't make a shot. But Atlanta is a great town. Obviously for me and the University of Louisville, it's one of the most special places of any city in America. So Atlanta is a very, very special place.
I feel a great deal of pride, but I also feel a lot of empathy for their coaching staff as well, because I know what it's like when you're young and you don't shoot the ball. It just eats you up.
You know I've always said that sometimes a lack of patience is the worst thing programs can do. Sometimes you've just gotta stay patient with young guys because they'll get it. Look I'm not telling the athletic director that this guy is the next John Wooden, but I can tell you something right now: he's a top 15 basketball coach in the nation. There's not a doubt. He kicked my ass one time when he was at Dayton and made me look like I'd never coached. I think it was Dayton ... it was? Thanks, Kenny.
On disciplining players
Well I feel awful for the young man, but there are certain rules that you can run people and there are others where you've just gotta move on. And unfortunately we just have to move on. You don't like to see -- it's like your children -- you don't like see anybody be hurt. But there's also accountability and doing the right thing. He didn't, and he's got to now get his life together, and get on with his life. There's no way he's coming back. It's over. And we've just gotta move on now and try to become a better basketball team. A hell of a player, but mistakes were made, and sometimes in life you've gotta pay for those mistakes.