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On the ACC Tournament
I think this competition, what we could potentially face, is incredible. The only thing I don't like is that I have a funny feeling there will probably be more Carolina fans there than Louisville fans. But we faced, as you all know, Syracuse in the finals of the Big East, and that was 15,000 Syracuse fans and 1,500 Louisville fans. So we've experienced that before.
But the place will all be Carolina, and will not be many Louisville fans. And that's saying if Carolina gets by Georgia Tech, or Boston College. I'm not picking these games, by the way. So don't read into that.
On how they scout conference tournaments
Well basically we've already scouted these teams from playing them, so the same break-up goes. So we're ahead of it. So Mike, who just came in here, and Doug Davenport who runs it, they're working ahead of time, putting together all the edits we need. Because you can't deal with much game film at that point because you have less than a day preparation. So everything is based on 8-to-12-minute edits on everything the other team does.
Sometimes you try to concentrate on who you think's going to win. This time around we'll do the same. The interesting thing everybody was asking me why it was so important for me to get this double bye. It really wasn't because of playing four games versus three, because sometimes I like to do that. It's more for the fact that you get three full days of preparation where Carolina gets none ... or the winner of Georgia Tech-BC gets none. All they get is a walk through.
So let's say we're guessing now that Carolina will be the team we'll play. Ok? If we guess wrong, we have no advantage. But we can now today, tomorrow prepare for North Carolina, or prepare for who we think's going to win the game. And that's not a big edge, but it is an edge. So that's why those double-byes are really important.
What if you guess wrong?
Well then you prepare for the other team, and you had no advantage. If you've guessed wrong.
On John Calipari saying he doesn't like conference tournaments
I love conference tournaments, not to be the opposite of John, but I've always loved them because I love the competition. I think it prepares you for the NCAA. The more games you play, the more I like it. I just like it because you get more experience watching things, working on things.
Now, yeah, it doesn't really pertain to seeding but it's another thing where it's -- you know, I loved going to Madison Square Garden and playing in the Big East Tournament. I thought that was about as good as it gets. I Looked forward to it not as much as the NCAA Tournament, but near as much. Now I can't speak for the ACC, because I haven't done it.
On where Louisville could be seeded on Sunday
Oh if we win the tournament, I can guarantee you we'll be a 2 seed. What are we, 24 wins now? That would be 27 wins, and look at the teams you're beating.
Can you be a 3 seed if you don't win the tournament?
Well, I think we'd have to win at least one game and probably two games.
How much can the Virginia win help from a confidence standpoint?
You know sometimes when a coach preaches certain things and then the players don't see the victory ... so here I'm saying to them, "I'm guaranteeing you guys, if you get your 35 deflections you're going to win 95 percent of your games, man you've gotta believe in this, you had 18 the other night in a game that you lost." Eighteen. We had 19 at halftime in a slow down game with not a lot of possessions. We had 10 steals in the game. So I think they see everything in front of them and what they can do if they get their goals, their defensive goals.
And then from the offensive end, I think they realize that if they share the basketball and they understand where the openings are going to occur - especially Montrezl in the last game, because the way Virginia plays is they trap the low post. So there's two ways -- what I told Montrezl was if offensive rebounding is the No. 1 way you score, then you're not gonna score very much. And then we also talked about him ducking in the paint and not outside the paint.
So there were a lot of really good things. I liked the way the ball moved. The ball moved quicker than sometimes the defense could set up, and that was a big offensive key to playing against Virginia. If Virginia knows what they're going to do, if they can step up their defense at you, you're not gonna score. But if you can create movement, where you can, what I call attacking downhill, you have a chance at scoring.
Why are your teams so successful in tournament settings?
I think it takes a while to pick up the things we're trying to do. Anytime you have a lot of variables that need to come together, it takes time. The more time and the more success you have at playing it, the better you'll be.
I think it was really, really important for us to take out some things going into that game, as we talked about before. So they can just play with a lot of mental freedom, where they're not just thinking about everything, and I think that helped as well.
Did you completely revamp your offense to run through Mangok?
Just the endings.
You know, what's really funny as you watched it, Terry -- and you gotta give credit to Virginia, Virginia really forced Terry to go wide. And what I was hoping for was getting fouled in that situation, if he could get fouled and turn the corner or get the ball to Montrezl, obviously that. But anytime they force a person wide, the guy setting the screen is gonna have to take the shot. You saw it with Montrezl Harrell one time and Mangok one time. You know, we obviously felt comfortable with Mangok, we felt comfortable if Anas was in the game. I did not feel comfortable, obviously, with Nanu in the game.
On options for plays in the final seconds
What you hope to do is have the ball in the hands of Terry Rozier or Montrezl getting the ball in the post or Wayne getting the ball on the wing. You hope to have one of those options.
How is your emphasis different during conference tournaments versus the NCAA?
Pretty much the same. Pretty much the same. The way I motivate or prepare is going to be the same as the NCAA Tournament. That's why I like it a little bit, because you play Thursday-Saturday, Friday-Sunday, and I think you have little time for preparation, except the first round, and then the second round of course, when you get a little more time. But once you get past that first day you get a little more time to prepare, so I sort of like it as a dress rehearsal.
Playing against great competition really helps. We're gonna play a North Carolina team in the first round --if they win, again -- in the first round of the tournament ... They're gonna definitely lose now, by the way. I'm telling you, they're gonna definitely lose. So it's great preparation for the NCAA.
The season's not over if you lose, so does that make the team approach it differently?
They know how badly I want to win this tournament ... and how badly I wanted to win the last Big East Tournament ... and how badly I wanted to win the second-to-last Big East Tournament. So the team knows how much emphasis I put on this, and how much we want to win it.
On the experience of playing Kentucky, Duke and Virginia
Well we've played great competition this year, different competition. And I will say that it doesn't surprise me that Kentucky is still undefeated. It doesn't surprise me that Duke's playing the way they've played. It doesn't surprise me to see Virginia where they are. They're all different, very different, very different styles, all three of those teams, but they're all great in their own right.
I've watched Arizona on television, and I'm equally impressed with them and what they do defensively. All those teams play great defense. Different ways. Obviously you have to have offensive talent to win, you have to have unselfish players, and all those teams I just mentioned have that. Now I have not seen Gonzaga as much. I have seen Villanova, and Villanova is very worthy of a one seed.
Have you had any contact with Chris Jones?
I have not. I spoke to his dad, but I have not.
Did you get any sense of his spirits?
I asked his dad about that and he said he's keeping his head up. I have a lot of faith in the judicial system, and I hope justice is served.