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Pitino, Players Discuss Win Over Miami

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Opening Statement

Well, we've got great respect for the Miami program, and I've got great personal respect for the job Jim Larranaga does. Although he didn't have a lot of prep time, once he changed the lineup and went with guards, we decided we weren't going to press. You try to guess what the other team's going to work on, and obviously when you're preparing for Louisville you work on the press.

I didn't think, because of all the pick and rolling they do, that I could sub much tonight. So I decided to go away from the press and play guys major, major minutes tonight. I thought our guys executed as well as the Pittsburgh game. The way they ran the halfcourt offense was absolutely great. The defense was consistent the whole game -- we made a few minor mistakes by fouling at the end. But we played a terrific game. We kept the crowd out of the game, we controlled tempo, and that's what we wanted to do.

How is Terry getting even better?

Well Terry's playing great, but you all need to start acknowledging Chris Jones. The first question should be Chris Jones, because he's the man tonight, not Terry. Terry was great, but Chris Jones has 8 rebounds and 6 steals, and I don't even know how many assists. We all want to love Terry because he's the ultimate pro, he's D-Wade junior, but Chris Jones has been awesome, and he's not getting the love.

On Montrezl and the two hits he took

Yeah, he's a tough guy. He's really improved his midrange game. He's dying to be Steph Curry. I told him you can take the open three -- that corner three was a good three, the other night he had the perfect open three -- but hit the midrange jump shot and just play like that intense warrior you've been the last two years. And his motor is unbelievable. He plays a lot of minutes, goes after every ball, and he still has the stamina to play. He's a unique young man.

Terry, Chris and Montrezl are playing terrific basketball. Wayne Blackshear made two tremendous plays for us tonight. He had to score when we needed a bucket. And then he made a big-time defensive play down on the other end. Wayne had a good game, the stats won't show it, but he played really well.

Are you seeing any improvement from Mangok or Nanu?

You know, what they are is 10 fouls. Mangok threw a nice pass. Yeah, I am seeing improvement. I'm seeing a lot of improvement with Jaylen Johnson, Shaqquan Aaron and Quentin Snider. The only reason I didn't play them is that this team runs more pick and rolls than just about any team in the ACC, and those guys don't play pick and rolls well. But those guys are all getting a lot better. Our practices have been great.

On Miami

I think when you get nine new players and have four sitting out, it's tough to gel all the time. He's one of the premier coaches in the game, and I'm going to go through the same thing he's going through right now next year, because we're going to have a lot of new players. And it's really, really tough, because it's not only building execution offensively and defensively, it's building an entire culture of offense and defense. It takes time, but you saw what they did to Florida, Syracuse, Virginia and Duke. They have a great resume.

How did you neutralize Davon Reed down the stretch?

We did sort of a box-and-1 down the stretch when we were in the zone. We were just going to deny him the basketball, and then when he went out of the game we were going to deny 5 the basketball. We played really good defense with the exception of fouling the shooter.

On Chris Jones' rebounding

We start almost every drill with a boxout drill that leads into a fast break. We're really making that a point of emphasis, the technique of it all. I keep showing them Kenneth Faried tapes. The most amazing thing about him as that he never takes his eyes off the ball, and that's what we're trying to work on.


What's your mindset when you have the ball in clutch situations?

It's all opportunity that my coaches and my teammates make for me. We draw up a play and they do a good job of screening and getting me open and I'm just able to knock down the open shot. But like I said, without the opportunity of them, none of this would be possible.

Where did that post move where you hit the floated come from?

Oh, that's 2006 D-Wade.

Were you saving that for Miami?

I'm not saying that, but I guess since we're in the city, it just happened.

Why are you and Chris such effective rebounders?

We just play hard. We spread the floor, and we put their bigs in a lot of pick and roll situations that tire them out. So just space, and us being able to go fast to create shots or either for us or our teammates.

Has Chris been adding an emphasis on rebounding?

I don't know, but he's been in it, hasn't he? I'm not surprised at all, his little self can get in there and grab some boards. That's good because coach has been emphasizing for everybody to grab rebounds. It's tough for our bigs to box out and grab the rebounds, so we've got to get in there and help, and he's been doing a great job of that.

How are the rims here?

Soft and nice. I guess, but I still couldn't hit no threes. Kenny, I see you looking at me over there.


On his two injuries

Well the first time I fell on my back really hard and it was hard for me to breathe. The second time I was going for a rebound and Rodriguez was going for it too and he kind of kneed me in the stomach. Everything from drinking that Gatorade just felt like it had to come up, so I just had to sprint to the locker room real fast and let it all out.

So it was kind of like Russ last year at SMU?


Has that ever happened to you before?

No, that was my first time taking a bump like that and not really knowing what's going on until everything settles down.

What did you do after that to get yourself ready to get back into the game?

I just had to get some fluids in my system. Then I came back in there and was saying to my teammates the keys of the game and get back in there and get some defensive rebounds.

Is there any concern that only three or four of you all are scoring?

Right now it's not really a problem. I'm not really worried about it because I know that at any given time anyone can step up and knock down shots. Honestly it's nothing to really worry about. It's three main scorers right now, but I just feel like there's no defense that's going to keep all three of us from scoring at the same time. I just don't see it happening.


How do you keep a lead in the second half of a tight road game?

I don't think we rattle. Us four out there and a little bit of Mangok, we've been in those situations before last year, so I think we're used to those situations.

Do Chris and Terry ever surprise you?

Not at all. They're two great players and they're just getting better every game.

How are they such great rebounding guards?

They just get in there and throw their body around. I don't think their point guards that just watch the bigs rebound, they take it upon themselves to do it too.


How do you feel like you're playing right now?

The little things are what don't show up in the statsheets. The little things are what really win national championships and get your team where they need to be. I'm the type of guy that will do the little things and let Terry and Trez do the big things. Whenever those guys tell me that they need me, I just fill in what they need me to do.

Is there any concern that only four of you are scoring?

No. That's what we've needed. We don't need everyone to come in trying to score. Players know their role. They call us the big three -- me, Terry, and Trez. Other guys know that. But we do need guys to get tip-ins, lay-ins and do the little things that I'm doing also. I think some people are still trying to figure out their role, but for the most part, everybody knows their role now.

How did you all spend the last 48 hours in Miami?

We did a lot of things away from the court. He gave us a lot of free time to just free our minds and not think about basketball. We took it as a business trip, but we also took it as a vacation, and everybody needs that. A lot of us went to the beach, went to the mall, did a lot of different things. Coach believed in it, and then we went in and got a victory.