clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rick Pitino Previews Virginia

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Video available here

--This is as good an execution team as there is in the country on both ends of the floor. They've been incredible on the road, and apparently they have one of the best basketball arenas in the country, and I'm looking forward to seeing that. This is a great team that we have to play twice. We're going to have to really execute to come away with a victory.

--Virginia doesn't allow transition baskets because they get back on defense as opposed to going for offensive rebounds.

--Duke beat UVA because they went crazy with NBA threes. North Carolina did a great job of executing for a half, and then Virginia just wore them down. They've got NBA size and that's  what they do to teams, they just wear them down.

--You've heard about their Pack Line Defense, and that's what they do. They play five guys below the line and they don't give you a good look. They put you under duress every possession.

--Tony Bennett is like the coach at Wichita State, he's one of the bright young coaches in the game. He's got staying power because his teams execute so well.

--About two months ago I showed our team tape of Virginia because we weren't helping well enough on defense. I showed them that tape and told them to look at the way that their five guys play the ball. We use different illustrations to show our guys how to do different things, and they're my example for how to get five guys to play the ball.

--They'll only give you a split second to get off an open shot, so you've got to take it if it's there.

--We played a great defensive game against Miami. Our closeouts and our rotations were great, and Wayne Blackshear made some terrific defensive plays down the stretch. Chinanu has improved immensely defending pick and rolls, and he and Trez did a great job with that.

--Virginia's just as good offensively as they are defensively, and most people don't realize that.

--Wayne's having a very good year. He's not having a great year shooting from the outside because he's not getting enough arc on his shot, but we're working on that. He's made great improvements, you don't see it, but we see it every day in practice. He makes big plays for us defensively. He made a tremendous defensive play at the end of the Miami game by tipping the ball away, but Chris got credit for the steal.

--Wayne needs to drive more and shoot less from the outside. That's one of the things that Luke would do so well. You use that outside shot to set up your drive. Wayne's having a great year, but you wouldn't know it from his stats.

--(On not utilizing the bench much) I'm a little confused with some of the questions you guys have been asking. For years, Syracuse would never play more than seven guys. This is college basketball, you don't play 100 games. You don't need to play 10 people. I know you guys love the platoon systems, but we don't have to do that. We have more than enough people. Russ Smith, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng barely played as freshmen, and they turned out to be pretty good. Russ just had his All-American plaque go up. I don't understand the questions about the bench scoring. We're not getting bench scoring because we're playing scorers. Do you want Anton Gill to play in place of Terry Rozier or Q to play in place of Chris Jones or Jaylen Johnson to play in place of Montrezl Harrell? We don't have to play those guys because our starters' stamina is unbelievable.

--If we do get a guy in foul trouble, Quentin Snider is playing terrifically and is more than capable of stepping in. Mangok and Nanu are splitting time and giving us good minutes. Hubie Brown says if you have 3.5-4 scorers in your lineup, you've got a good lineup, and we more than have that. We're relying heavily on our starters, and I think that's fine.

--Chris Jones' stamina is incredible. Terry's is good, Trez's is good, Wayne's is very good. We have a good bench, we really do. If I played them, you would see it.

--Montrezl has no patience with guys dropping balls or not being in the right place. Thank God he's going to be a player and not a coach.

--Right now our team chemistry is great, but Chris and Terry have always had great chemistry, whereas that hasn't always been the case with the whole team. They really click together on the basketball court. I'm not going to say they're the best backcourt in the country because I'm sure Mike Brey and some other people would argue with me, but I think they're one of the top backcourts in the nation.

--This is a Wichita State type game. If we're not in the same class as them defensively, we don't have a chance. It has to start with rebounding.

--Quentin Snider has made tremendous strides, much more than I anticipated. He's playing great in practice right now. You don't see it, again, because he's not playing much in the games. If a person has a tremendous work ethic, they're going to reach their potential in our program, and Q has that. Shaqquan has that somewhat, but he makes a lot of mistakes.

--I asked Ray Ganong to give me a breakdown of the freshmen in the weight room, and what he tells me is exactly what I see on the court. He says he has to push Chinanu to work hard, but when he does, Chinanu works hard. Anas and Matz don't work hard, because that's their culture. Gorgui was the same way. Foreign cultures are a lot of different, and you've got to be patient with that.

--Chinanu and Quentin are getting a lot better. I think Wayne Blackshear is going to be a great tournament player, because again, he's having a much better season than the statistics indicate. If Montrezl, Chris and Terry can just keep playing the way they're playing, it would be terrific. Mangok and Chinanu need to get better, and our guys need to develop more confidence in their ability to score. Our guys are afraid they're not going to catch it because they see them drop it so much. I've got confidence in those guys, but our players don't.

--Every center I've coached has struggled with catching the ball as freshmen. They just want to move too fast. It takes big guys longer to develop.

--Quentin Snider is limited athletically, but he has a tremendous work ethic, and he's going to be a terrific college player. There hasn't been a day since he got here where I've felt like he's given me anything short of 100 percent. I can't say that about anybody else on the team, and he's a freshman. We'd have him in afterwards today, but he wouldn't speak.

--Our offense has improved immensely ever since we put an added emphasis on paint touches.

--Virginia is totally focused on the team. They pass exceptionally well, and they don't let you go North and South when you have the basketball.

--At the beginning of the year, I never thought we'd be close to 19-3. If you'd have watched us practice, you'd have seen why I thought we were really going to have a tough year. I wouldn't say we're Final Four caliber, but I'm very pleased with where we are.