CRAWFORD BLOG: Transcript -- Interview with Rick Pitino on summe - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD BLOG: Transcript -- Interview with Rick Pitino on summer workouts

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ERIC CRAWFORD: So what are you looking for in these summer sessions?

RICK PITINO: What I'm trying to accomplish is look at the talent, and I'm trying to work on things offensively and defensively that I know will work or not work based on this period. So I'm testing out a lot of offenses we're going to run, a lot of quick-hitters, a lot of defenses we want to run, and see if this personnel fits that. So if I go into September practice, I already have my blueprint ready to go. So it has allowed me -- today was our longest practice, we had a two-hour practice, got it all in one day, and I'm able to integrate to see Montrezl, what he needs to work on.

These guys are pretty much a push-button team right now in terms of picking things up quickly, with the exception of Montrezl. Kevin Ware never had that benefit. He's looking so much better now because he understands what he's doing. So you have Blackshear who knows what he's doing, Chane who knows what he's doing, Gorgui, Peyton, Russ, they all know what they're doing now, so it's a lot of depth, the most depth we've had. But it's also the most physical talent. So they're a great group. They have the same attitude they had last year of being humble and hungry, but they get it. So I'm able to put certain things in right now.

EC: I would imagine that means more competition, too?

RP:
There's competition at every position. Russ gives Peyton everything he can handle, Peyton gives Russ everything he can handle. You go to the two-guard spot, you've got Kevin Ware, who's going to battle Luke Hancock. Then you've got Wayne Blackshear going to battle Luke. You've got Montrezl battling Chane. You've got Zach battling Gorgui. And now you've got Van Treese comes back and he knows the system and he looked good today.

EC: Looking back, did having to jump right into the fire hurt Kevin Ware last season?

RP: I think it did. It was one of those things like when you get a young man out of a 10-day contract, they always look great that first week. Then as you get to know them you see the blemishes and you see the warts, and it becomes a problem that he hasn't been there, even though he looks good in the beginning. It's like the pitcher who comes up from the minor leagues, the first time out the batters have a problem with him because there's no scouting report. The second time, he gets his brains knocked in. So now Ware looks much better.

EC: How about Peyton?

RP: You know, Peyton is really becoming a true point. I would say right now, it's the first time where I say he's a true point. He doesn't get himself into situations he can't get out of.

EC: This was your first up-close look at Montrezl Harrell. How did he look?

RP: He's a physical specimen, a legit 6-8 with a 7-4 wingspan. He's a raw talent. He's totally raw. What I love about him the most is he's just this raw talent who hasn't been taught a lot of offensive moves yet. We're going to be spending a lot of time on his footwork, on his jab-step, on his back-to-the-basket game, and he's going to get so much better because he doesn't have this. So he's just a raw talent who's going to take off.

EC: Would you say his arrival is a good thing for Chane, because of the competition?

RP: There are times where you could doubt Chane. Now I know he's going to reach his potential because of 'Trez pushing him every day. Montrezl wants to be on that court, and he knows to get on that court he's got to knock Gorgui out or he's got to knock Chane out, and he's willing to do everything possible to do that, and it's going to make those guys that much better.

EC: This is a deeper group. How is it a different team?

RP: It'll be the same team in terms of attitude and style, it's just going to be better in terms of knowledge of the game. You know Blackshear, he just came on in the last 10 days of the season. Now he's been practicing going through it. And he was not in shape. And Gorgui was a little weak. So now it's the same team, but with more of a physical presence than last year's team.

EC: How is Blackshear doing?

RP: Wayne's playing terrific. He's doing a great job. Wayne's a different type of basketball player. He's like a junkyard dog. He can score inside, he can score outside. He's got a great nose for scoring. He likes to score. And he'll play defense, he'll block shots. They're all very quick and very athletic. Kevin Ware, Peyton, Russ, even Angel, they're very quick and athletic. And your guys up front a physical specimens.

EC: Everybody's looking for big things from Gorgui. How tough was that Final Four atmosphere for him last season, and how much does he learn from it or get motivated by it?

RP: It was the first time he was a little intimidated by the surroundings. It wasn't Anthony Davis, although everybody should be leery of Anthony Davis, but it was 80,000 fans, and he caught up to the magnitude of what it really means, and that experience is invaluable.

EC: Now you hit the road recruiting. Do you leave them with instructions or what do they do on their own?

RP: I told them that they have to have a plan every day. I said I don't want you spending more than 45 minutes on the court. I want your legs to get a rest. I want you to put in a maximum of 45 minutes, but get a good 45 minutes. I said I don't want you playing pickup basketball, because that's how you regress. I said I'd rather you play on-on-one basketball, with these rules -- games of five. If you play games of five you're playing hard on offense, hard on defense, winners come on. Play no more than that. Anything more than that, you start to break down, you don't guard, you don't have your hands ready, you don't play defense, you don't really get after it offensively. So I've given them certain things to follow -- improve your quickness, improve your strength and spend 45 minutes on your game each day.

EC: With Luke out, is that a big deal at this point?

RP: The good thing about this team right now, and it's even not bad that Luke Hancock is hurt, because I'm getting a good look at Kevin Ware, I'm getting a good look at Russ at two positions, I'm getting a good look at some of the other guys, because I know what Luke can do.

EC: Tell me about Luke as a player. What do you expect from him?

RP: He's just a baller. Now he is missing a lot right now, and it is his right arm. So I don't think you'll see the real Luke Hancock until Nov. 1, because we're going to bring him along very slowly.

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