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Mike Pegues talks first win as Cardinal head coach

A win is a win, but Mike Pegues was not thrilled about his team’s Tuesday night performance.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 29 Louisville at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Louisville Acting Head Coach Mike Pegues

(Opening Statement)

“Obviously a tough one, my first game as a head coach. I felt everything from shootaround earlier this afternoon, to the pregame spiel, to when the ball went up, to all of their runs, to all of our mistakes. It was a feeling like a roller coaster ride. That was for me, personally. As a team, it was too much of a roller coaster ride on the defensive end. We have to be way more consistent on the defensive end than we were tonight. We’ve been a better team in practices and in scrimmages and the exhibitions as well. I shared with the guys in the locker room that that defensive effort won’t do because of the teams we have coming up. I think to a man, they understand that and obviously that is something we have to be a lot better at. Our defensive rebounding has to improve drastically. Guys flat out have to play harder. We have to be better. That is our responsibility as a staff, to get these guys ready to play on Friday over the next two days.”

(On Chris Mack’s reaction to the game)

“Our defensive effort… I don’t know if his TVs are cracked right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them was watching the amount of threes that we gave up and some of the layups we gave up, the inability to keep the ball in front of us at times and our lack of intensity on the ball. The ball was in the lane too much. We have an identity on the defensive end that we did not display that consistently enough tonight to get the type of separation that we needed from Southern. Credit to them, they’re a really good team. They will be competitive in their league, they will be competitive against other power five schools, but obviously more concerned with our group, we got to be a lot better on the defensive end and obviously on the glass as well, to answer your question even further. We gave up 15 offensive rebounds, no way we can give up eight to one guy.”

(On starting the season with the pressure of a close game)

“That’s a part of it. That’s why these guys came here. They came here to compete, they came here to be a part of tight games and to play against good competition. We’re going to see a lot better competition. Hopefully that fuels our fire and helps us better understand the importance of bringing our defensive identity with us when the ball goes up on every single possession. You don’t want to be in tight games, do a better job guarding the ball, keeping it in front and taking care of the backboard.”

(On Matt Cross’ finger injury)

“I did not get a good look at it, thank God, sounds like it was bad. At halftime, I asked the coaches to find out what was going on with him. They initially thought that he broke it, but thank God he only dislocated it. We’re thankful that that’s the case because Matt (Cross) was one guy in particular , who I thought did bring the energy on the defensive end. He wasn’t perfect, but I thought he did a phenomenal job of playing with effort, trying to keep the ball in front. He’s not the fleetest of foot, but defense isn’t about your feet all the time… He competed and we need more guys competing like that and bringing that lunch pail mentality to work every day.”

(On the lift Matt Cross gave coming into the game)

“He did give us a lift. We had some guys not play as well as they played at times throughout the preseason today. You can call it first game jitters. You can call it what you want. The fact of the matter is we’ve got to get more guys playing with that type of effort and intensity.”

(On Samuell Williamson’s performance)

“I thought Sam (Williamson) was great. I thought Sam played really hard. I thought he ran the floor hard. I thought he tried to do a really good job of getting the ball in the lane. I thought he was pretty solid defensively. He had 14 rebounds and that’s huge for us, we need everything we can get out of Sam Williamson and that’s the type of effort I expect from him. That’s the type of effort his teammates expect from him. He challenges himself every day to have these types of performances and we need more of that going forward.”

(On Malik Williams not starting)

“Sydney (Curry) had a really good week, to be quite honest. There is a standard that you have to play at every day in practice, in order to earn the right to start, we don’t just start guys because they are captains or because they’ve been here the longest. You have to earn the right to start and Sydney did that a lot better than Malik did this week, so we went with Syd.”

(On what he expects from team moving forward)

“I definitely want more, definitely need a lot more, not only from the starters ,but from the guys that came off the bench. I think on the defensive end, how much does it mean to you to keep the ball in front? I don’t care who you’re out there with, I think we got enough good players that everybody’s comfortable playing with everybody else. On defense, we’ve got to be a lot more connected. We’ve got to play with the hunger and the passion on the defensive end and on the backboard. We didn’t play with it consistently enough tonight for my liking.”

(On Jarrod West playing 30 minutes)

“If anyone can go longer stretches, it is Jarrod West. He is in phenomenal physical condition. He finds a way to play really hard and play through fatigue better than most of our guys. The intention was not necessarily to play him 30 minutes, but given the situation, we felt like he was doing a really good job running the team and guarding the ball, so we wanted to have him out there a little more.”

(On the frontcourt struggling to control the ball in traffic)

“I will take responsibility for that. Our big guys have to be much tougher. That is my biggest pet peeve of big guys is getting the ball knocked out of their hands and that happened far too often on rebounds in the lane and post ups. Whatever the reason is I don’t know, but we have to get better at it, we will figure it out, but that’s got to drastically improve.”

Southern Head Coach Sean Woods

“We played our hearts out but we ran out of gas, we ran out of bodies. We started cramping and just couldn’t sustain. I’m proud of our guys and the way they fought. For the first game, in this type of environment, we’ll take this, and we’ll learn from it, but I love the competitiveness. We need to clean up some things, but it’s the first game. We’re on the right track.”