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Transcript: Rick Pitino talks about the state of his team and his future at Louisville

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed Wednesday's Ramsey & Rutherford.

Welcome back to 93.9 The Ville

Well, you guys disappointed me. You let me down, but I'm happy to be back.

On Syracuse

Well, they've won 8 out of 9. They beat Duke at Duke. They're a hot team. They're a hot team not only because they rebound the ball well, but they're shooting the ball much better than they ever have. Sometimes they can put four great 3-point shooters on the floor and they can move their center away from the basket. They can shoot it well with range from eight feet behind the line. I thought Duke was a great shooting team but this team surpasses Duke in that regard.

On coaching with Jim Boeheim

Well, that was very early on in my career. I was only 24, 25 years of age. Didn't know a whole about attacking a zone or playing a zone. I was a man-to-man guy totally. He really helped me with the full court press as well as attacking a zone, as well as playing a zone. Sometimes it's one thing to learn how to play a zone, and a completely different to attack a zone, and he was really influential for me in those areas.

How is the team holding up?

I wouldn't want to go through a crisis with any other group other than this one, because this group is a wonderful group to coach. We've had great practices. Now we did have a bad injury. It was funny because I was starting Anas Mahmoud. I told him before practice, I said "Anas, you're the guy who passes the best against the zone so we're gonna start you out with Chinanu." And he has one of the worst ankle injuries I've ever witnessed. He's gonna be out a good six weeks with this injury. I mean, on both sides it looks like a baseball.

So it's going to be a slow heal?

It's both sides. If all this didn't come out I'd say he wouldn't have sprained his ankle because I was giving a motivational meeting to the guys and it went on about 45 minutes. And if all this stuff didn't happen we would have been practicing at the normal time, but you can't look at it that way.

On the younger guys getting more minutes

Well Donovan's going to start out and only because he's earned it from practice as well as games. The interesting thing in that meeting, was Damion Lee. I told them I was going to start Donovan because he deserves it, and the players agreed and said back to me, "coach you've always said that starting doesn't matter." And then Damion said to me, "look, we're not playing for anything right now, give Deng my minutes. He deserves it, he's working hard."

I left the meeting again saying wow, that's a special young man. He's trying to show the pros what he can do and he says give Deng my minutes because I'm not concerned about that now.

On Damion and Trey's leadership during this time

It's been good. Trey Lewis made a mistake. Sometimes young people just won't give credit to the competition for playing well. He's frustrated because we're not going to the tournament, but he's a great guy, great leader. I respect him an awful lot. Both of them have been terrific and the rest of the guys have been great. I think they're emotionally drained.

Somebody asked me to comment on professor Jones. He has a right to his opinion, he's a great supporter of ours and we appreciate the man greatly. But right now, guys, you can't imagine -- last season ends and we're a free-throw or a layup away from another Final Four. So we've been through Sweet 16, Final 4, national championship, almost another Final 4 ... I'm so pumped up, we're almost going through triple sessions in August. In July, I'm coaching in Toronto and Mexico. I haven't had any vacation, but I'm so pumped up going into the season that I don't need any vacation, and all the sudden this breaks after Puerto Rico.

If you could understand how you go from the top of the world to that incident -- it just drains you emotionally and physically. It just drains you. Now, everything's come out and now what we need to do -- and Mike, because you have a website as well that's, I guess, well read by Cardinal fans -- you know what we need to do now is we need to drop it all.

I've been through a lot of adversity in my life and I don't believe in hiring crisis managers. What I believe in is tell the truth, learn your lessons, and put the past behind you. Learn from the past, cherish the past -- of our championships of our Final Fours -- but don't live in it. That's the past right now; what went on is the past.

So we need to get on with the present, on to this basketball team, and then we need to start rooting the women's basketball team on as well as our other spring sports. We need to get on with it right now. It's over. Everything's going to work out because we're gonna tell the truth and we're gonna move on.

A decision was made. We're not here to judge any decisions. We're here right now to support the decision that was made, and all Cardinal fans come together, be behind our basketball team, be behind our women's team, and support it. Let's get over it. Let's not judge anybody for any decisions. Let's just rally the troops behind one common goal, and that's Cardinal basketball.

I'm not gonna let this program slip out of the top 10. Next year we're going to be as good as ever. We're gonna have a great schedule, great team, so nothing's gonna slip.

We're going to pay our price right now. It hurts. I'm emotionally drained, the team's emotionally drained, but we'll get over it. We're tough people and we'll get over it.

Have you talked with Jim Boeheim about his similar experience?

Well it's a little different though, John. They weren't going to make the tournament. They could have won the ACC Tournament and made it, possibly, but it didn't look like they were going to make it. It's a lot more emotionally draining when you've just come off North Carolina and you're about ready to go into the top 12, 11. It's also a little different because you've got two 5th year seniors that came here for the sole reason of playing in the tournament because they believed we were going to be that type of team.

Nevertheless, it still hurts, and Syracuse was still hurting. To answer your question, we talked about it last year when we went to play them and dealt with it. But we didn't know that we were going to go through it, so no, I haven't talked to him about it.

Do you plan on staying at Louisville and leading the program through this?

Well, Mike, why do you ask that question? Because when did it ever come out that I wouldn't be that type of person? You know, Ive been here 15 years and never wavered. In the 15 years I've been here, I think I spoke to Providence College because I once coached there and they asked me if I would come back. I spoke to one pro team who asked me to be a general manager of the team, and that didn't make any sense. Outside of that, I just said no to everybody right away. The only one I thought about is Providence. So why wouldn't I do it?

I've got great experience in handling teams with success. And judging from Kentucky, when that little boy was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and they had their rock bottom moment, I had good success leading them out of tough times. So why wouldn't I?

I think I have one of the premier jobs in college basketball, and I think when everything shakes out -- I think there are a small percentage of naysayers that think other people know certain things, and we'll let the NCAA handle all of that. What we'll do is rebuild our program, our image, to be what we want it to be -- one of the best in America. And I feel very confident that we'll have a great basketball team next year, and that our fans will be very excited about both our team and our schedule.

On helping Trey Lewis and Damion Lee with their pro prospects

Well, I'll say this, I'm going to help them, but we didn't have to have adversity for me to help them. If we were on top of the world, I'd be helping them. It doesn't matter.

Like I said, I want Chinanu to go to the combine. I hope he gets invited. I want him to work out for one pro team. I believe that he's going to come back. I think he wants to come back. But I do want him to get that experience of going through that. I want him to see how hard he needs to work to try and make it. So I think he's going to be back. I think Matz and Anas are going to be great players in their junior years, I think that Quentin Snider is developing into a leader, I think Donovan Mitchell, and Ray Spalding and Deng Adel are going to be special as sophomore, I think the people we're bringing in are going to add strong pieces to the puzzle. So you guys don't have to worry about us, or about me in particular, going overboard and helping our players get their just deserved.

What the fans can do is show up for these next three home games, root like crazy for our basketball team, and always remember these guys as being something special.

On younger guys getting more minutes the next three weeks

Donovan has been the best player in practice over the last two weeks, and he's been one of the top two or three in the games. I just want to see what he can do with 25 minutes or so. So that's something I want to do.

I've got to get Deng Adel more minutes. And now, because of Anas, I've got to get Matz more minutes. Now I'm hoping it's not too many minutes. He's not ready for 20-25 minutes, but I'm hoping I can get him 12 or 15 minutes tonight.

Final thoughts

Well, guys, stay on message because really, I've been through a lot in my life -- at 63 a lot of people have been through a lot -- and it's something where you just have to rally together and take the past and stop living in it. Let's plan for the future, let's live in the present, let's root our women's team on. The University of Louisville is a special university. I've worked a lot of places. Special people, special university. We have the best AD in the land. We'll get through this, and we'll be one of the best teams in college basketball next year.