Rick Pitino spoke to the media after last night’s win over William & Mary. Here is the transcript of what he had to say as well as the video.
“I know because it is a lopsided victory, you may not understand this, but I bet you that team is the toughest team that we will have to prepare for all season because of the way they play. Because they can put four shooters on the floor at any time. They backdoor you to death, they are like Notre Dame shooting the ball and like the old Georgetown teams with the backdoor and they are very difficult to guard. Today, we had the best walk through that we have had in two years here. The focus was amazing because of the amount of respect that our guys had for William and Mary. They watched the entire NC State game last year and they are a year older and a year better, only we played terrific defense tonight. We did a really good job of putting the pressure on and not fouling. You will find out when teams play against us, even though they aren’t very good free throw shooting teams, they will wear out from the foul line as well as the field. That is a stat that I have never kept over the years but it’s a remarkable stat. So I am really proud of our guys, our walk through today was tremendous. It sent the coaches into the pregame really excited about that.”
“Well it is very tough to get deflections against these guys because they will put 4 guards on the floor. We got 35 tonight and we achieved our goal. It is terrific. We are 11 for 16 on the break, obviously we shot a good percentage from the field, almost 46 percent, at one point in the second half we held them to 19 percent. This is a team last year that shot 48 percent from the field against good competition.”
On Deng Adel
“I think he played well but I think V.J. played well too. The good thing is that VJ is getting his confidence and we can play Adel and V.J. together.”
On how Mangok is physically
“You know I think he is okay physically. I think he tires much quicker. We have to get shorter spurts and get him out. Running up and down the court, I think basketball wise, he is close to 100 percent. But I think conditioning-wise he is not. He had a lot, he had 10 rebounds tonight but I think he could have had 15 or 16 rebounds tonight that were right in his area.”
On side-to-side vs. north-south play in the second half
“That is because they played a zone. Sometimes a zone makes you do that (play side to side) When they played man, we were better than them. Also Donovan threw some great passes inside, even against the zone. I think we attacked their 1-3-1 very well. I thought our offense was really good. A couple guys got to think to value the pass more so than the shot. There are a couple guys that aren’t used to Louisville basketball yet but it takes time. We did a really good job on their point guard. He is a terrific basketball player, he is their glue, he’s a 3-1 assist to turnover guy, he shoots a high percentage, and we did a good job defensively the entire night and nothing was easy for them.”
After the last game you said you wanted Deng [Adel] to keep shooting. Do you think he listened to that?
“Yeah, I think they all listened. They had no shyness tonight. They all were putting it up. I think they are going to have to be a little more patient against better defensive teams, where they make the extra pass and swing. Look, I’ve got no complaints that focus today was unbelievable. I know you don’t know of William and Mary as a household name, but we watched almost every game they played. Kevin Keatts last year had a terrific team, pressing, running team, and they had Duke beat in the NCAA. Duke came back and beat them in the second half. This team beat them two-out-of-three, and the other one at Wilmington was overtime. That’s why I was overly concerned because we play similar styles, Wilmington and us. So I was real pleased with what they did defensively.”
Is the biggest thing you like to see is the help side defense blocking shots?
“It’s tougher against this team to play great help side defense. What we did tonight, tried to do, is if you got beat… If I’m guarding this guy on the perimeter and got beat, I’ll switch up to you, and that guy doesn’t pay any attention and he just runs to his man. We did a great job of that.”
It looked like it might be a close game and you all went on a run to close the half? Was that because of the defense?
“You know what I find interesting about commentators especially? Like last night I was very excited because Reggie Theus was down two, or up two at UCLA. I was listening to the commentators for the football game, and it was what 13-nothing at halftime? Is that what the score was? Twelve-nothing, and we wound up winning and playing great, and the announcers kept saying, ‘Boy they didn’t play well. They didn’t play well, and this is not indicative of this game.’ Yes it is indicative. It’s very indicative of the game. We wore them out. We scored 44 points, and that’s what happens. The other team is using the clock, running it down to five seconds. Playing great. Playing great defense. Keeping the offense off the field, and then we played great. It’s the same thing in basketball. ‘Oh at the half you were tied’ or ‘what did you think about the last game when it was 26-20 early in the game? They were right with you’. Well they’re supposed to be right with you. It’s a 40 minute game. A friend of mine today said ‘they hung in with you at halftime.’ I said, ‘No, it’s not halftime.” In the NBA a lot of times you’re at home and you’re down at halftime, then you win by 13-14. It’s a full game. Guys are judging how you play on halftime scores and third quarter scores, and that’s not the way the games played. We rely on fatiguing our opponents. You saw from the foul line as well. It’s a 40 minute game. If you’re down early, we’re going to be down early a lot at the 15-minute mark. We’re going to be down a lot at halftime, but it’s not a halftime game.”
On the runs being more dramatic because of the defense
“Well it’s dramatic sometimes you don’t get your runs because you don’t score offensively. You need to get your runs because you score, then you get into your press, then you get loose balls, then you get the other team to shoot quickly, and then it has that boom effect. But you got to score. The droughts happen when you don’t score because then you don’t get your pressure on and then fatigue has to set in. Guys that are in good shape as well as us and it takes certain point in the game when maybe you have your run.”
On what V.J. [King] has to do to play more minutes
“I’ll play him three more minutes for you, next time. He played 17. I don’t know. That’s a great suggestion. I’m going to play him 20 next game. I really, to tell you the truth, I don’t know how many minutes he’s playing. I’m just trying to get his feet wet. This is a very difficult game for him to guard. He gets a little tired out there and I can play him 30 minutes and be very happy. The thing I found out tonight is that Deng [Adel] and V.J. can play together. That’s the most important thing and it gives you great length.”
On what he liked about V.J.’s game tonight
“I think he’s very aggressive offensively. He’s got a great first step. He’s getting much more confident because of the thousands of shots he’s taken. He’s a really good basketball player. He’s overwhelmed with how many things are being thrown at him right now and each game you can see it. He’s not thinking as much, he’s just playing, and tonight was indicative of him just playing and not thinking too much.”
On importance of deflections compared to blocks
“There’s five areas we count on deflections. We got 35 tonight. There’s five areas: blocked shots, one; the deflection of the ball is two; the steal is three; the back tip in transition or in press is four; and a loose ball recovery is five. So the 35 is a combination of that, so that 10 is inclusive of the 35.”
On if he places anymore value on a block shot over another type of deflection
“Well the good thing about blocking shots is we can get up and pressure the three, and if we get beat, we got the shot blockers there. Other years we’re trying to draw the charge and trying to step in and you don’t get the charge call, I would say now about 70 or 80 percent of the time it’s going against you now. Like I thought Jay Henderson had a charge there, but the blocked shot is much more valuable than a charge to me.”