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Everything Chris Mack said after Louisville’s win over Georgia Tech

The Cardinal head coach wasn’t exactly beaming.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 18 Louisville at Duke Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Video available here

(Opening statement) “I said it before we played them. They have two of the better guards in our league that I’ve seen so far, and I thought they completely controlled the game in the first half, Alvarado and Devoe. We didn’t face Alvarado a year ago. Those two guys completely got wherever they wanted to in the first half. And once you offer that little of resistance to start the game, why wouldn’t your confidence grow, not that those guys need any more confidence for Georgia Tech, but why wouldn’t your confidence grow when you’re getting anywhere you want? And I thought it opened up driving lanes for other players, guys like Jordan Usher, Moses Wright, I thought those guys were really playing well off of a really, really good tandem. And our defensive energy was completely different in the second half. And you’re going to ask me why, I’m going say I have no idea. Maybe it’s because everybody tells us, for the last couple of days ‘hey, great game great game, man, you guys are good, man that was awesome.’ and all that crap. It’s funny how success can change your mindset sometimes. Man, at some point, I have to get some older guys, resembling being older. I say that with all due respect. I know that Georgia Tech has lost some close ones. They’ve been in every game. I have a ton of respect for their talent level, the stuff they run. The way they try to keep you off balance going man to zone. I mean, they’ve been in every game they won three road games, out of four, three out of five now and we escaped by the skin of our teeth and, I think Georgia Tech had a lot to do with that.”

(As a coach have you been in a situation when you don’t know why the effort was different in the second half?) “I like to think that our kids really care about winning, and we have a lot of pride. But it shouldn’t take a deficit to figure that out. It shouldn’t. I told our kids before the game, I had no idea what type of fight Georgia Tech’s going to bring to the table. Maybe they mail it in, maybe they come out play the best game of the year. Maybe somewhere in between. But, what’s our fight going to look like? And disappointing to say the least. Now in the second half I thought we turned it around and it’s 18 to 22 year old guys, sometimes it can drive you crazy. We’ve got to be able to figure it out.”

(About it being a matter of effort and intensity, also about being up 11 and looking strong) ”Couldn’t score. I would tell you that, do we make a few adjustments at halftime? Yeah, absolutely. But we do that every game. Maybe a team has 15 things that they run, and then all of a sudden you see two or three of them primarily in the first half and you figure out how they’re really trying to attack you, versus maybe their past opponents. So we talked about how we wanted to guard the role and replace a little bit differently, But primarily Eric, it was about can we do the job on these guards and not have them just get in the middle of the lane with the live dribble, every single possession? And I thought we did a better job of that. And they still, because they’re good, they still had some times when they got down there. What happened, we get the lead, I think we couldn’t score. I give Georgia Tech a lot of credit, we ran a couple things. I thought we had decent looks. And then, our defense just eroded for about two or three possessions. It’s sort of a microcosm, what I’m talking about. First half, second half.”

(Was it success in Durham that caused where it’s kind of a listless first half and then takes you guys a little while to regroup. Is there any similarities that you see between all of those games?) “Just your adjective. And that’s it. I don’t know if there’s a common denominator. We had different lineups. We had different styles of play. We’ve had different times where the funk is to start the game, or it’s to end the half. But in either case, you’re right. If I knew, and could just wave a magic wand, I’d do that. That’s why we’re going to continue to practice and we’re going to figure this thing out. And again, I’m never going to be apologetic after a win. We found a way to win and make the plays down the stretch. And we just have to figure out a way to get better. We’re not this juggernaut. We’re trying to get there but it’s not who we are.”

(On the juggernaut theme, Josh’s opening statement was that he would be surprised if you were not in the Final Four. How do you receive that as a coach?) “Josh is a really good dude. He gives credit to teams and coaches I’ve played against them before. He gives credit to other teams and coaches. When he wins, and when he loses, he’s gracious. He understands that we all go through ups and downs with our team. He doesn’t get up here and just talk about what his team didn’t do. Both teams have scholarships and I got a lot of respect and really appreciate, whatever he said. Because I know he’s a genuinely good guy.”

(About Malik Williams’ play in the last seven minutes) “I feel like a broken record. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league. He made some big plays offensively and made some big free throws, some really big free throws. Defensively, his greatest attribute is his mind. He sees things develop. He certainly has great versatility. I could put him on a guard and switch ball screens at the end, they just didn’t happen to use any so he was never on [Jose] Alvarado or [Michael] Devoe but I think he would’ve done the job. His versatility and his mind and his length and his toughness and desire make him a terrific defender. If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t be a very good defensive team, or at least as good as we are.”

(On being 14-23 from the line, but in the final minutes Malik did hit five big ones and another in the final minutes) “You want to be that team that goes 100 percent. Our team has been there now in key moments where we need to make it a two-possession game or seal a game with free throws. We’re trying to go up there and concentrate, and obviously Malik made a couple big ones at Cameron and made some big ones tonight. I’m really happy for him, and a guy like that deserves it.”

(On Georgia Tech’s 2-3 zone) ”We have some guys who can really shoot, so it stretches the zone in ways that zones don’t get stretched. Often enough we try and put Ryan out there. They went to him to start the game. I thought our guys recognized what we talked about leading up for a couple days. The soft spots in Georgia Tech’s zone are a lot different than the soft spots in other standard two-three zones. Our guys found those spots and we did a really good job at converting at a few of the open looks that we got, so that probably gave him an eerie feeling to probably stay in it.”

(On Darius Perry getting more minutes) ”I thought he was the only guy with great energy and talk and effectiveness in the first half. Coaches really enjoy winning. If you’re going to see a guy put that type of effort out there… it’s never personal, if a guy plays 10-12 minutes it’s because he wasn’t as good as the other guys that played the 28 minutes. Tonight, Darius was our best defender and he was doing a terrific job on either Alvarado or Devoe or whoever he was assigned to. Offensively he was making the right decisions so he’s going to play then.”

(On David Johnson coming back with two fouls) “I just don’t think one-size-fits all. I look at like, ‘Ok David has two fouls with five minutes to go. Are we going to sit him the whole half? He hasn’t picked up his third, obviously, if he does, let’s say worst case scenario, I’m going to take him out. He’s not starting the second half. Now we’re 15 or 14 minutes left in the game and he’s got three fouls. A lot of guys play with that.’ I didn’t have any concern, a couple of my assistants did, but that’s why I get a different pay grade than those guys. I make those final decisions.”

(On David’s response after the Duke game) “He made some plays that I think that you guys are starting to see what we’ve talked about, as a coaching staff. I don’t know if you saw on the defensive end, he was a seive, like a few of the other guys where guys went right around him. David’s a freshman, he’s going up against sophomores, juniors, guys that can really handle the ball and get to spots and have had ACC defenders on them. Those are those moments that David has to learn from and gain experience in. I thought that Darius (Perry) and Fresh (Kimble), in the second half, were better on ball defenders than David was. David’s going to come a long way and be a really good on the ball defender, but he’s going to have moments where he can’t keep a guy in front of him. I can’t afford to keep anybody on the floor if they continue to get blown by. So, take the good with the bad because there’s a lot of good and we’ve talked about that. It’s just part of him maturing, getting better, and getting more experience.”

(On The older guys taking the next step) “They’ve been on really good teams. Some of them were obviously coached by one of the best, if not the best. It’s time and it’s been time that they’ve been around us long enough where they can’t just be on good teams. They got to be the leaders, they have to be the tone-setters for those good teams and not just be in the locker room. That’s a learning process. I have a few guys that want to do it by example. A few guys that are starting to grow horns a little bit and keep a teammate accountable, but we’re not there yet. You can see moments like tonight better get us closer to there.