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Everything Chris Mack said after Louisville’s win over Wake Forest

Kentucky v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(Opening Statement)

The game tonight was - give Wake Forest a lot of credit. Every time we would get, whether it’s a 12, 14. 16-point lead, they would make some plays, they would get a little juice, and they would respond. I think that it’s very evident at times that we have a very young team that will give up a couple easy ones and allow somebody to get back in the game. That’s taking nothing away from Wake Forest, as I said, I thought they made some plays. We had just 10 turnovers on a team that was, I think, one of the leaders in our league of turning people over. A few of those were at the end. But, you know, Wake Forest is playing hard, and they’re competing. We got in foul trouble with David (Johnson) and Jae’Lyn (Withers) and it changed the complexity of the game. We had four guys cramp. I don’t know what’s in the water here in Winston-Salem, but it was affecting us having to pull different guys and playing some whacked lineups. But, anytime you can win on the road, you’re happy and you figure out like where we could have done a better job. We fouled out way too much tonight. But, I thought Sam (Williamson), he’s been a little bit maligned. To go double-double, really bounced back tonight. Carlik (Jones) was, was really really good and I thought Dre Davis did some great things around the basket. David (Johnson) goes nine assists one turnover. So we will take it on the road, trust me.

(On if he was pleased with the team’s overall movement)

Yeah, I thought there were a couple of decisions - you know, we want to be flawless at the end. You get a shot, you miss it, that’s fine. We can’t foul on offensive rebounds. I know Sam’s trying to hustle and get an extra possession, but the last thing you want to do is you come out of the timeout, you only run 20 seconds off the clock, you don’t score and now they get to the free throw line and get to cut the lead by two. So we got to do some things a little bit better down the stretch. I thought we did get better. They showed us an awful lot of looks tonight. They went 1-3-1, they went diamond press at the end, they changed up their ball screen coverage literally every TV timeout, they were icing them or downing him in the last five minutes of the game. I thought for having not really haven’t seen it, I thought we handled all that stuff fairly well. Again, defensively if we can defend without fouling, then maybe you are our defensive effort, and their score’s a little bit lower. But that’s okay. We’ll get better, and hopefully get after here the next couple days get ready for Miami.

(On if he had a conversation with Samuell Williamson to inspire him)

Not tonight. The majority of my conversation took place the day after Virginia Tech, and we sat and talked for about 20 minutes. I think he had a little frustration in the way that he was playing. I told him to focus on effort, and we covered some other things. Usually when you get, what they call ‘lost in the game’ and worried about like gameplan, who I’m guarding, keeping that guy out of the lane, fronting if he’s a post player, all the little things, and you run the floor really hard, especially with the guards that we have, you’re gonna find yourself getting a couple easy ones. Then, to top it off, the icing on the cake is Sam knocks down some open threes, then all of a sudden he’s played a complete game. I thought he was really good on the defensive end as well. Big step up for him from last game.

(On if tonight displayed what Louisville is like at their best)

Yeah, I mean we’d like to have David on the floor a little bit more. He sat a lot in the first half, Jae’Lyn sat damn near the whole game. I think that’s a little bit of what we get with Jae’Lyn. Last game, he goes 17 and 12, or whatever it was against one of the best post players in the league, and then, no disrespect to Oguama, but he’s averaging eight points, nine points a game, and we couldn’t stop him without fouling. He drew six fouls on our post guys, and the majority of times because we’re staying behind them. So we need some consistent play out of a few younger guys, which is a tough ask. But those are sort of the cards we’re dealt until we get Malik Williams back. So it wasn’t Jae’Lyn’s night. I thought JJ (Traynor) did some good things, Quinn (Slazinski) came in and finally fronted the post. We got a steal in the crucial time at the end. But yeah, I thought everybody contributed for the most part.

(On if some of the leadership is still coming from him, or starting to naturally occur with the players)

That’s a great question. UIsually, I’m sitting there saying we need more. I’ll tell you what, I’m really pleased with what I see in the huddles. What I see with guys when they’re walking off the floor, barking at each other in a very positive way. Carlik was very vocal in the huddle. David Johnson, even when he was out with foul trouble, was vocal in the huddle. Malik Williams had his head in the game, Dre Davis as a freshman. They are taking ownership of their team, they are competitors. They’re not perfect, we make a lot of mistakes with the young group, but they - trust me, I tell you they want to win. They want to clean up mistakes. They want to get better.

(On Charles Minlend’s debut)

He’s been released to practice full speed. He’s able to play in games, but I’d be lying if I said he was ready. This is going from personal experience. I had two ACLs in college, not that anybody cares about my sob story. But when I came back and I was fully released, there’s a part that the coaches just don’t understand. It’s like, you’re trailing on a screen, you just can’t catch up, you’re dragging your leg a little bit. I really felt after three or four games, not to throw my old head coach under the bus, I felt like that was it. I was pegged, like ‘hey listen, he can’t keep up.’ And it was tough. It was the toughest part of my life, to be honest. So I pulled Charles aside right after the game, and said, ‘Listen, you’re not ready. But I’m not giving up on you.’ You got to get to the point where you’re not thinking about it, you’re moving just like you did before the injury. I’m not going to judge your performance and your play on where you’re at now, because I know I know what he looked like before the injury. He’s a little cautious, but he’s allowed to do everything and I’m glad I’m gonna give him those minutes. Sometimes he’s gonna sink a little bit before he swims, but that’s why we got other guys on the team. We’ve survived without him this long. I don’t want it to be two or three more months, trust me when I tell you that. But each and every game that goes by, he’ll get more and more comfortable with it.

(On what it will be like to return to Wake Forest when fully energized given his history with the program and Steve Forves)

That’s gonna happen. That is absolutely going to happen. You can just tell the energy that he has on the sidelines, his teams are already disruptive. Hell, they didn’t practice for 30 days, who would expect a team that lost Olivier Sarr, Chaundee Brown, transfers, hasn’t really gotten his feet under him to recruit and bring guys in, a couple of guys that he had are out for the year. I mean, it’s like ‘My Cousin Vinnie’. It’s like, “could you pile any more on top?’ for the guy. But having said that, I wanted to kick his ass tonight. Because he’s gonna do really good things in this league, and with this team and he’s a dude. Steve Forbes is a is a great dude. He’s a normal guy, and I like normal guys.

(On how far Charles Minlend is from being 100%)

I don’t know, it’s different for everybody. That’s different for everybody. He’s gonna have to break through a little bit. I think it’s just as much mental as physical. Fred Hina and our doctors wouldn’t say ‘hey, you’re good. You can go out there and go full speed’ if he couldn’t. So that’s the challenge that an athlete coming off of rehab has to assimilate themselves. We’ve been practicing now and playing for a couple months. Not only is he coming off an injury, I mean there’s a lot of missed time and experience and all the other stuff. But he’s done it before, and done it at a high level for San Francisco. But I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you. He’s gonna get every opportunity to practice to keep proving that he can go a little faster, that he can keep up defensively, and I want to extend his minutes. But it can’t be at the cost of the team, and he knows that. But I’m not gonna give up on him at all, and I want him to know that. You see everyone’s like ‘Charles Minlend’s back!’ but he’s still behind a little bit. So give him time.

(On if he thought Carlik Jones’ would be this good)

Yeah, I thought he’d be a guy that could close games. I was curious to see how he would finish around the basket against bigger athletes. Greater size, stronger players, higher verticals. He is so daggone crafty. I still think that he can shoot it better at the end of the half. He sort of iso’d at the foul line and missed that shot, and he makes that routinely. But he’s getting there. I think he cramped up a little bit tonight. But he’s one of the best guards in the country, and one of the best guards in the league. I think he’s starting to show that, and getting more and more comfortable with his teammates. I don’t know if we knew exactly where he would be, but we were sure hoping.

(On what David Johnson was seeing against the Wake Forest defense)

Dave’s a playmaker. We were just trying to get him in the lane. He missed the easy bunny in the second half, and he’s done so much for us scoring the ball. The thing I love about David, is he does what the game tells him to do. He took an ill-advised three, and we took back-to-back ones in the break. But, again, we’re young. Sometimes we make those mistakes. We show them on film and then we try to improve upon it in the next game. I don’t worry about Dave scoring, or trying to score. There’s gonna be games where he scores more, there’s gonna be games where he scores less. He’s been a heck of a defensive player all year long. I think the game was a little choppy, just because of his fouls. But I thought he was very impactful at the end of the game. We started switching some ball schemes and he was guarding Oguama. That little double ball screen in the middle of the floor that was hurting us there for a couple possessions, completely froze up for him because of Dave.

(On if he could see the edge in Carlik Jones)

Yeah, good. I want guys that play with an edge. We don’t need milk drinkers out here in Winston-Salem. We need some guys that want to fight legally. They want to get in the lane. Carlik is a tough kid. He’s self made. Nobody recruited them. I hope he plays with a chip on his shoulder all year long, and doesn’t get used to the charter flights, and everybody patting him on his back and talk about ‘hey you’re a Cardinal’ and all that stuff like. I hope he keeps playing like he didn’t get recruited out of Aiken High School, because I that’s when players are at their best. I want him to play edgy, and I want him to keep spreading that edginess around our team.

(On the short turnaround, and then what was causing the cramps from players)

I really don’t know. I mean, we got all these electrolyte packets and Starburst flavors and straws and different stuff like, I don’t know what happened to like cutting oranges in half and just like putting them in your teeth. We don’t worry about the turnaround. The ACC did us kindly and said we’re going to try to play the game as late as possible on Wednesday night, and on Saturday night, and so that you can turn around and fly two hours - longest road trip outside of Boston College, to play Florida State. We’ll play the games the way they’re scheduled, but we won’t worry about Florida State. We can’t afford to. We gotta worry about being ready for Miami, and then we’re coming back on the plane, and we’re worried about the Seminoles after that.