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Everything Chris Mack said after Louisville’s win over Pitt

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Southeastern Louisiana v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(Opening statement) “It was a tough game. We knew it would be. I feel like Pitt has been playing really well. They have had heartbreakers in every game they have played in the league. Tonight was no different. I though our guys made some plays down the stretch to seal the win. So we move on and get ready for Florida State.”

(About El Ellis) “He had an energy about him all day. During the shoot around he was bouncy and excited to play. I sat down with him and had about an hour discussion with him earlier in the day. I said that he had to do some things better to earn some playing time and to earn trust from the coaching staff. I told him he could do it in one of two ways. I also told him that our coaching staff and, me in particular, believe in him a whole lot, so to never get lost or let that fact get lost. I think sometimes when you don’t play, you feel like the coach doesn’t appreciate you as a player or doesn’t think you can do it in certain situations. I said that was not the case. He played in three ACC games and I understand you want to play more. It is hard for the first time in his career, he hasn’t played 30 minutes a game. I said you just have to make the most of your time. You have to be better defensively and have to make really good decisions on the offensive end. We know that he is explosive and can score. But he has been errant in other ways. He recognized that. It was really good to see him happy. He really juiced our team in the second half. “

(How valuable could Ellis become if he adapts) “It is not just about getting to the middle of the floor, he is a fantastic finisher for his size. We are going to play bigger and bigger teams. Pittsburgh is long at almost every position and their center is a wide-body guy with a great IQ, so Ellis getting in there, a lot of guys can get in there, but don’t have the ability when they are El’s size to finish. He can really finish. Then he made some really good passes out. He has learned, and again, he isn’t perfect, to land in the lane when there isn’t necessarily a play on the run. He had those charges at the beginning of the year. I think those have lessened. He hit a little fade shot tonight when he landed in the lane. He sprayed out a few threes to his teammates. He got better tonight.”

(Can Ellis beat an opponent off the dribble) “That is not a strength of our team as you know. I think our guys are moving it and playing well together and trying to share the ball. Certainly Ellis is really good at that and it is definitely needed.””

(About Sydney Curry) “Syd did a terrific job. I told our team in the lockerroom that maybe more than any guy, he has responded exactly how you want as a coach watching him in practice. He has never hung his head. He has competed really hard. He has tried to learn to be quicker. He comes in earlier. He is a guy you root for. He is so strong. He has learned the game from the defensive standpoint. I liked his effort on Hugley, who was a hard matchup for any team, fronting him, blocking him out and contesting his shots. Then he (Curry) had some finishes around the basket. So really happy for Syd. It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

(About the technicals and had he seen techs like that might indicate a very physical game) “Yes, the UC (Cincinnati) and Xavier years ago. But in that case, there were a lot of elbows and swinging. But, no, I haven’t seen that before that I can recollect.“

(On what the team can take from being undefeated in conference play and moving forward to Florida State) “We just have to continue to look through the windshield, not the rearview mirror, we just have to press forward. We know we’ve got a huge challenge on Saturday. We feel like every time you win a game in this league, regardless of what people say it’s difficult. We’ve played four games; 20 percent of our league play is finished as long as we get to play our games this year. There’s no bigger challenge than going to Florida State, where we haven’t had any success at since I’ve been the head coach.”

(On if the players are maturing in late game situations) “In late situations, zone defense, I’m going to go back to the Western Kentucky game, and we’ve had way better purpose against Georgia Tech and Pitt, when they have changed defenses, we haven’t always made the shot. We executed tonight, there were a couple times where we got layups with a couple seconds on the shot clock against the zone. It’s not easy to do. I think there’s been a lot of growth made by our team and certainly by a few individuals.”

(On what has clicked for Samuell Williamson in the last three games) “I think it’s fair to say that he’s gotten more opportunities and he probably feels a little bit calmer on the floor, he feels a little bit looser, when he has the opportunity to play through mistakes. That’s not why he necessarily got pulled, he’s playing better and he’s playing with a lot of confidence against teams that play zone defense, he’s really good in the mid-range and he’s a good passer. His defense off the ball was exactly where he needs to be and sometimes on the ball isn’t the easiest thing in the world for him, but he has come light years since he was a freshman. There’s been lot of trust earned with him being on the floor on both ends. I’m really happy for Sam (Williamson), he’s in the gym a lot. It means a lot to him.”

(On tonight’s match up for El Ellis as a reason for his success) “I do not know if there was anything particular about the match up. They have good guards. They have long guards. Sometimes when you’re 6-5 it’s a little bit harder to keep a guy that is 6-2 with a lot of quickness in front. Some of his scoring came against the zone. Some of it came off the ball, on the ball. I don’t think that Pittsburgh overlooked him. I thought El (Ellis) was just excited to play and played well. He’s a good player and played with a lot of confidence tonight.”