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Rick Pitino ACC Coaches Teleconference Recap

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We're coming off a tough road loss where we battled back and could have made a late free-throw to get down 2 and put ourselves in a position to win, but we didn't because Virginia just continued to execute well. It was one of the best home court advantages I've ever seen, and I have to put Virginia's arena and their fan culture right up there with Kansas. Most home crowds are bored my defense, but Virginia fans are driven it. They get up and stand when there's 10 seconds left on the shot clock on every possession, and I have not seen that before in my 40 years of coaching.

On Pitt

I always look at teams and judge their staffs by how much better they get week to week. I've always admired Jamie and they've made changes to their offense and changes to their defense, and they've gotten so much better since the first time we've played them. It doesn't surprise me because Jamie's such a good coach, but it really stands out on film. Pittsburgh is a terrific program and a terrific culture and we know it's going to be a terrific game.

On Trez

Montrezl is the ultimate competitor, but he has to be careful because some of these kids aren't as tough as him. The younger guys aren't worried about me getting on them when they make mistakes in practice, they're worried about Montrezl. He leads like Jordan and some of those old guys who would really get on teammates and really demanded excellence from everyone on their team. He's gone from a humble, quiet kid from the backwoods of North Carolina to this type of player, which has been really great to see.

On Virginia having only 2 turnovers

Well we couldn't press very much early on because we shot just 19 percent in the first half. I will say that the one thing about the stat program set up with fast breaks is incorrect and it's incorrect every game. We were 3 for 7 on the break and they only had us with only 2 fastbreak points. And it's every game, not just Virginia, it's a problem with that specific program.

Virginia is just as good offensively as they are defensively. They're so sound in every aspect of the game that it makes them really, really hard to beat. They work hard to get great looks and they're a terrific mid-range jump shot team. We worked all week on throwing the ball to guys when they rolled to the basket or had position deep, and we had those guys open but Virginia puts so much pressure on the ball that our guards couldn't see to make the pass. I have the utmost respect for that program and how they do things.

Can anyone separate themselves in the ACC?

Virginia's going to go through a bit of a stretch here without Justin Anderson. They have a great culture of team, but this is going to be a test for them. Duke is playing great basketball, I think we're playing great basketball, Pitt's playing great basketball. I really think it's going to come down to the last week of the season when you're talking about who's going to win the league. That was a pivotal game for us because we could have gotten into a tie for first place.

On being in the ACC with these coaches

I have been very fortunate in my life to coach against great coaches like Al McGuire and Dean Smith. Coach Smith's innovations were unbelievable, but the thing that always stuck out to me was his humility. All of us coaches have an overblown sense of what we mean to the sport and all that, but he was the best in the game, and you never would have known it when you talked to him. He stuck out, and he was just a true blessing to the game of college basketball, and we'll always remember him.

On Jim Boeheim

Jim and I and Jim's wife and my wife are all very close. Jim is one of the few guys in this business that hasn't lost his drive in recruiting. Most guys in our profession don't lose their coaching expertise when they get older, they just lose their drive in recruiting. Jim has gotten better with age. Look at how players like Rakeem Christmas have improved over time under him. I do know that he's going through some tough times now, but tough people get through tough times, and he'll certainly get through this.