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

Virginia Tech v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Postgame videos of Chris Mack, Samuell Williamson and David Johnson can be found here, here and here

Louisville Head Coach Chris Mack

Opening Statement

I thought that was a good win for our team. Coming into the game, Georgia Tech is one of the more experienced teams that we play. Although I don’t think they’re particularly deep, I think their kids play with an intensity and a toughness. I thought early on, Moses Wright sort of served us a lesson on the offensive glass. Over the course of 40 minutes, I thought our guys really competed. We got a lot of stops. We were connected on the defensive end. I thought it was one of our better efforts of the year. I thought David Johnson’s defense - and I probably haven’t talked enough about that, because everyone wants to talk about offense - but think about who David Johnson has guarded throughout the year. He has been on Sandro [Mamukelashvili] for Seton Hall down the stretch in a pivotal game that went down to the way. We put him on Matthew Hurt, as you guys know, a couple of games ago. Now he’s on the shortest guy on the floor in [Jose] Alvarado. To me, Alvarado has played all year long as a First Team All-ACC player, and to hold him to 3-11 with almost as many turnovers as assists, I thought David’s length bothered him. When we get that type of production out of Sam [Williamson], that can really bode well for our team. Not many guys get 18 rebounds that don’t play the power forward or center position. I thought our will on the offensive glass was really, really good. It was a quick turnaround for Georgia Tech. COVID has done some wild things with scheduling. None of the coaches that I know have been complaining. We’re just trying to figure out who we play next and how to prepare. Georgia Tech is better than how they played today. I think Josh [Pastner] has done an amazing job. He has a crew that plays with great intensity, so it’s a good win for our team. As you guys know, it’s a quick turnaround and we’re on a plane tomorrow, so we can’t look in the rearview mirror anymore. We have to look forward.

(About David struggling at Clemson, and then he comes out right out of the shoot and starts lighting it up. Walk us through that game to the start of this game where he came out with guns blazing.)

Like I said after the Clemson game in the press conference, I was not really concerned with David continuing to play poorly. He has been one of our best players all year long. He’s a competitive kid. He cares about winning, first and foremost. I was expecting him to bounce back. My biggest talk to him was about turnovers. He had a couple of decisions that he made tonight that weren’t great. Sometimes Dave, because of his size, turns his back on the defense. That’s fine on the block. That’ll help him, but it’s not fine on the middle of the floor. He has learned the hard way a couple of times. The good thing about Dave is that he’s a very quick learner. I didn’t worry about him going into a funk, in terms of playing. It was great to see him shoot the ball like he did. With them playing zone a lot of the game, we needed him to shoot well. Maybe the dunk got him going at the very beginning of the game. I’m just really excited about how Dave a year ago was just an average defensive player. He still had all of the things you need - length, athleticism, quickness - but no experience. Now he has experience. And to guard big guys and small guys and Alvarado the engines of their team, he stalled it today. He’s one of the best defensive players in the ACC, in my opinion.

(Do you think, when you look at that tape, could you see a defensive effort like you got today? Were they starting to grasp things you wanted them to do more? The defensive today, by and large, was pretty solid from start to finish.)

“Georgia Tech’s difficult to guard. They run a lot of those Princeton actions, and they really started to get away from that in the second half. I think a big part of them getting away from it is they weren’t very effective with it. Now, they did miss some shots in the first half. Some of those shots, when you put so much attention into [Michael] Devoe and Alvarado along with Moses Wright, you want some of the other guys on their team to take shots. You don’t want to give them open shots, but that’s sort of the plan: Take away their primary scorers. I do think that Clemson is a really good defensive team. They’re not as high-powered offensively as Georgia Tech is. Georgia Tech can really, really score the ball. I think a big part of how Georgia Tech scores, a lot of the time, is off their defense. They lead the ACC in turnovers and turning people over. For us to only have nine of them, that’s huge. That kept them out of transition, and they really tried to push the ball today. Holding on to the ball really helped our team.”

(About better rebounding in second half)

“A big part of it was starting with guarding the ball, if you are getting beat off the dribble and your bigs are in the position of ‘do I help on the penetration’. If the shot goes up by that guard, who is beating you off the dribble, you have no ability to effective block out Moses Wright. The opportunities that we had to block him out I thought we were not physical enough. I thought he was a manchild in that first five minutes. Jae’Lyn (Withers) and J.J. Traynor have to be better. And they can be. J.J. is a true freshman and Jae’Lyn is a redshirt-freshman and Moses Wright is a senior and is thicker. He is one of the best players in the league at that position. That is why it was so good to see Gabe (Wiznitzer) come in and present some physicality and gave the thicker body. I thought that for a guy who hasn’t played a whole lot, I thought he came in and really helped our team in the paint. That was awesome to see. I am going to have to play him more if he is able to do things like he did today. Gabe answered the bell in the second half. He didn’t quite answer it in the first. Samuell Williamson was terrific on the glass.”

(About the perimeter defense, and what was the defensive game plan)

“I think that if you can’t have a true understanding about their Princeton stuff, that Alvarado and (Michael) Devoe want to come to the ball when they set those screens and guys are backdooring. The “backdoor-ers”, for lack of a better term, are guys who are more of their role players. Alvarado and Devoe are trying to come to the ball, and I thought our guys were locked in on that. The Princeton style offense can be a hard prep. We had a few days to really prepare. I thought our guys had really good attention to detail, which certainly helps. “

(About playing against a zone, and will it help versus Syracuse)

“I will tell you Wednesday night. Syracuse’s one is unique. I will tell you that Tech’s zone is also very unique. I don’t think it was as effective as it was a year ago because James Banks was so hard around the rim. Having said that, Moses Wright almost set the Manute Bol record for blocked shots. (Jose) Alvarado’s ability to get hands on the basketball and out in the passing lane is really scary on film. I counted him, against Florida State, he touched the ball off the dribble or stripping them in the passing lanes, 11 times in the first 12 minutes of the game which is outrageous. That was a big part of it, to be able to have ball security.”

(About Samuell Williamson’s game and his effort being what Coach Mack wants to see from him)

“It beats the alternative. Sam (Williamson) is really good in the high post. Sometimes, Sam wraps his mind around ‘how am I shooting the ball from three.’ He has a great game today and only takes one three. If he can figure out a way to get to his spots of five feet, 12 feet, 15 feet off the dribble and off the catch, he has a great touch in the mid-range. We want to utilize him. When you play zone, often you are trying to get the ball to the short corner of the high post. We got there with not only with Sam but with David Johnson as well. Sam is very effective that way. We are going to need him Wednesday night as well. I love the fact that he had 18 rebounds in a game. It shows me that we need more out of him in a game consistently. He knows that. Nobody puts more time into the game than Sam. That is why you want so badly for a guy as his coach.”

(About David Johnson’s 3-point shooting)

“DJ has always been a better shooter than people give him credit for. A year ago, that was not necessarily his role. He didn’t have as many minutes on the floor to get him comfortable. He had Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora and even Dwayne Sutton, and two of those three guys are elite level shooters. David’s job last year was trying to make plays and get in the lane and be hard to guard when we didn’t have a lot of playmakers. I think David has been a lot better shooter. But when you only take two or three sporadically, then your percentage doesn’t look good over time. You go one-for-three in one game and then oh-for-two in the next and all of a sudden you are shooting 20 percent and people are saying you can’t shoot. David is a much better shooter. You are seeing that this year.”

(About Josh Nickelberry’s injury status)

“So, we got x-rays and MRIs and there is nothing seriously wrong with him. He had a big-time dunk in practice and landed on his wrist. He practiced the rest of the day. It gave us a little comfort to think at least he didn’t break it and kept playing. So, you never know. It is a little swollen. It hurts when he follows through and passes. I would like to think that with treatment over the next couple of days, we can get him back. I think it is too early to think that we know if he can play against Syracuse.”

(About Samuell Williamson being motivated by Coach Mack’s comments or not starting)

“My interaction with Sam (Williamson) is a lot more than comments through the media. I would like to think that I can sit down with a guy whether it is right before practice or in my office in a one-on-one setting. So there is more that goes into my comments than a press conference. I think if you are a competitor who loves the game and are a guy who puts a lot of time in and you go from being a starter to coming off the bench, that should tick you off a little bit. That is not the reason it was done, it just that he wasn’t very effective. I try to be candid with you guys and candid with Sam. Today the shoe was on the other foot, Quinn (Slazinski) was not effective in the first half and Sam was playing his tail off. So how do you start the second half with Sam coming on the floor as a starter. I don’t necessarily get too hung up on who starts and who plays. I do need Sam to be more consistent and more aggressive like he was today. I hope that today is step in that right direction.”

(About Sam Williamson’s effort)

“I don’t want to say like more (effort) because then we start looking at produciton. I think he is capable of being more consistent. We need him to for us to be a consistent team. A big part of us not playing well against Clemson, was David (Johnson) not playing well. David knows that. We can get our younger guys to play a little more consistently and be a little more reliable. They are giving great effort on the defensive end and to hold Clemson to what we did pointwise and Georgia Tech to 58 (points) and held Duke to the lowest point total of the year. We are battling. But offensively we have to be able to be a little more consistent with decision making and running harder offense. I would like to think that today is a step forward. Now we have to look forward and not let this game be in the front of our mind for the Syracuse game.

(On Samuell Williamson – what have you seen in the past games or practice that might have led to a day like this?)

“As I said before, I don’t think anybody on our team puts more time into their own individual game as Sam. Usually when you invest more, it means more. I never thought that Sam would be the kind of guy who would run and hide when things haven’t gone well for him personally. And so, I need him to play with some fire and I thought he did that today. I think he’s played that way, really the last two or three games. Maybe not necessarily getting these numbers, which are terrific. But just being way more consistent. And that’s what we need out of Sam. Whether that results in him being a starter or coming off the bench. I think any guy on our team would take 30 minutes and have the role that they did today. And if that means he didn’t get to hear his name in the beginning, I would hope that Sam is humble enough to where he doesn’t really care about that, he just wants to help his team win.”

(On the two road games coming up. Without the typical home court advantage of having big crowds, ACC home teams are still winning a good percentage. Are you surprised at that?)

“No, I’m not necessarily surprised. There’s a lot that goes into travel, I think that fans don’t see. It’s even weirder than it’s ever been. You get to your hotel and you get boxed lunches and go to your room and eat them by yourself. You’re sitting feet apart on a bus. You’ve got two buses and sometimes three on some trips. It’s just a really sterile, awful way to travel. And then you go to a team’s home facility where they’re used to playing and practicing every day. The fans aren’t there, and the fans do help. I’m not just getting into the metrics of it, like what the percentage is. There are some things that our guys and every team battles when they go on the road. Georgia Tech battled it today. So, it’s weird and I don’t think anybody likes it. It’s just the way the season’s gone, home or away, but we’re all dealing with it as a country.”

(You mentioned that this was the team’s best performance of the year, is that something you mention to them postgame or a point of emphasis before you play Syracuse?)

“They’re smart enough to understand that. This is like a ‘One Shining Moment’ thing. We’ve had other games where we’ve played our tails off. And I’m also smart enough to recognize that Georgia Tech had one day prep. They played on Saturday and we didn’t. That was an emotional game for them coming off of two straight losses and they beat one of the best teams in the league who we got drilled by. There’s a little human nature element I’m sure with Georgia Tech saying they could come in here and get us. But, I don’t give it much credit and worry about anything other than our next performance and our next game and getting ready for that zone. And that’s what we’ll do here over the next 48 hours.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner

(Opening Statement)

“First of all, we have to give Louisville a lot of credit. They really got us on the offensive glass today. Twenty offensive rebounds compared to our 12 that’s extra possessions and they had 20 second chance points, that’s the difference in the game right there. I think Louisville is really good. I said this earlier, but I think Coach Mack’s team could’ve won the National Championship last year. Obviously just got shut down due to Covid-19, but he’s got his team playing as well as anyone right now. He’s done as good a job as anyone, and could be the ACC Coach of the Year or national Coach of the Year. He’s done a tremendous job. That’s the bottom line, we just didn’t shoot the ball well. There was a big play, we were up 14-7 in the first half and I thought we were ready to pull away. We rebounded the ball and Jae’Lyn Withers knocks the ball out of Moses’ hands to David Johnson and he hits a three. That was the whole game right there. That momentum swing allowed him to kind of get going and it stopped our run. And we didn’t finish well the first half; we had a missed coverage that we should not have had. We shot the ball earlier than we needed to shoot and just didn’t finish out well there. The bottom line is we had some opportunities and just didn’t make some open shots that we usually make. They just kicked our butt on the glass, and you’ve got to give them credit. We will be off tomorrow and get back at it on Wednesday to try to get ready for Saturday’s game versus Notre Dame, another great opportunity in front of us.”

(On not hitting shots… did the quick turnaround have something to do with that?)

“Yeah, it could have been, considering the intensity of the game that we played on Saturday, but that is what it is. With Covid this year, you’re going to have a competitive imbalance somewhat on the schedule, because you’re going to try to remake games and that’s just part of the deal. No need to have an excuse on that, we’ve just got to figure it out and that’s just kind of how it is. Some teams are going to have lesser days of rest, others more, coming off a pause, not a pause, quick turnaround and games canceled. It’s just we are in that Covid situation and when you get an opportunity to play you have to make the most of it and try to win the game.”

(On not getting foul calls and making it to the free throw line)

“We were trying to drive some here and there and of course I’ve got to watch the tape to get a better feel on it. Moses had some ones that he just missed around the rim. I didn’t know if Moses was going to play today either, he didn’t practice yesterday because he wasn’t feeling well, so it was a game time decision. To his credit he did a great job on the glass - 16 boards and 7 blocks. But he has to be more efficient for us around the hoop. He missed some short ones here and there but yeah; we’ve got to get to the free throw line more. We tried to drive and get some angles and we just weren’t able to get to the free throw line this game.”

(On two plays back-to-back when the score was 50-35, Jordan missed a three, Moses couldn’t get to the rebound and David Johnson hit a three)

“Jordan missed and Moses usually gets that ball. On the other end, we were in the scramble, and in transition, Rodney was guarding the guy who was setting the screen and Moses was the last man in transition. He did have Johnson on that, because it was a scramble and just got underneath the screen and didn’t get through it. And Johnson hit a big three. I really think that big play in the first half that I mentioned, we were up 14-7 and had a stop on the other end which we were ready to run and score. We had the advantage, and they took the ball from Moses. Jae’Lyn Withers knocked it out and got it to Johnson who hit a three and that really got Johnson going. That being said, we just didn’t get it done today in a lot of different areas. I thought we had some good looks, we just didn’t make them when we usually make them. They didn’t fall for us today and we just weren’t the same in some of the toughness areas. We just really got our butts kicked on the glass, the second and third opportunities really hurt us. We just have to get back and figure it out to be ready to go on Saturday versus Notre Dame.”

(On Rodney Howard’s performance)

“I thought Rodney was really good. I thought he gave us great minutes. I probably should’ve played him earlier, to give Moses a little bit of a rest, but Moses was so active it’s hard to take him out. I thought Rodney gave us good minutes, and I thought Kyle Sturdivant continues to get better. I think Kyle Sturdivant continues to get better and gave us really good minutes. I thought he was really good defensively. Moses had a career-high with seven blocks today and he did make a mention that several times he went over when he didn’t need to block the shot. He didn’t get the shot block and he left his man for an offensive rebound. I thought Rodney and Kyle both gave us really good minutes today.”

(On Jose Alvarado after playing all but one minute in the last three games)

“I believe it’s a guard’s game and if you’re not really good it’s going to be hard to win the game. And our guards were really good on Saturday versus Florida State, but our guards weren’t really good today and Jose didn’t play as well. It was probably his worst game in a long time and when that happens, we just struggle. I thought Michael Devoe did a great job on the glass - had nine rebounds. Both him and Jose, we rely on those guys. Those guys combined went 9-for-20. Between Jose, Moses and Michael Devoe, those three combined went 15-for-43, that’s just not going to get it done. But between those three guys, 15-for-43 for those three guys just wasn’t going to get it done tonight. Not against a good team.”

(Did you give thought to having Bubba Parham start?)

“I went with the lineup that we had on Saturday, I just thought we played well and Khalid (Moore) did a good job and Bubba hadn’t been around on Friday or Saturday and we had a quick turnaround, so I just thought with the quickness of the turnaround, we would keep with the lineup that we had on Saturday.”