BOZICH | Pitino on Duke, Kentucky dominance, silencing Chris Jon - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Pitino on Duke, Kentucky dominance, silencing Chris Jones' phone and U of L big men

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Rick Pitino answered questions for about 16 minutes Thursday afternoon. If you were scoring at home, it was 30 seconds of talk about Florida International and more than 15 minutes about Duke, Kentucky, social media, the Cards' defense and avoiding a post-Ohio State hangover.

Blame the messenger.

Who wants to discuss an opponent that lost to Georgia Southern or South Carolina-Upstate?

Didn't think so. FIU is 5-3 and ranked 246th in Ken Pomeroy's latest computer numbers. No wonder Louisville is favored by 30 points Friday at 7 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center.

So let's go directly to the good stuff. Pitino loves his team, which is 6-0 despite a few burps on offense. Pitino also loves the game of college basketball. And any college basketball junkies, Pitino watched the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and other early-season events. This is his one of his takeaways:

“Right now, I see a lot of really good teams and I would put us in that class. And then I see two teams that are overpowering right now and that's Kentucky and Duke. They're overpowering.

“That was an overpowering performance by Duke, shooting 60 percent on the road against a good defensive team (while beating Wisconsin by 10 Wednesday).

“Still, being up in the game without shooting a free throw, great inside and outside performances and Duke's defense was at its best in terms of ball pressure. So those two teams stick out to me.

“Then I've seen a lot of really good teams. I think Villanova is terrific. I haven't seen Arizona play a whole game. Gonzaga looks really, really good. There are a lot of very good basketball teams right now, and it's who is going to keep on going this way. We're certainly nowhere near our potential in any area. Even defense, we can get a lot better.”

The Cards can also improve on offense. Four guys – Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear, Chris Jones and Terry Rozier – are averaging double figures. But Rozier, Blackshear and Jones are all making less than 44 percent of their shots.

In fact, Jones is shooting 28.6 percent and has missed 23 of 33 three-point shots.

The answer? Pitino wants Jones to stop reading stories like this story and to put his smart phone in the OFF position for the next two weeks.

“I think Chris should put away his phone for two weeks because he's got phone overload,” Jones said. “Put away his phone. Relax. Don't read what anybody says because he reads every single thing.

“He's a product of this generation times 10. Put away his phone. Just relax. Enjoy the game of basketball. And he'll play quite well.

“I think he reads that phone too much … he's on it every second of the day. Doesn't get enough sleep. He's got technology overload. A lot of kids do today. But you can't be a basketball player. You need your rest. You need to put it away.

“I guarantee that if he loses it for two weeks, he'll play great basketball because he's giving it to me at the defensive end. You don't listen and you don't read that stuff if you're an athlete. If you're people like yourselves with nothing to do, you have to do that.”

Pitino also said that he did not expect center Mangok Mathiang to play against FIU because of an ankle problem. Ditto for freshman Shaqquan Aaron, who is still awaiting clearance from the NCAA.

But he does like the progression of his young inside players – Chinanu Onuaku, Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman.

“Bigs usually take a long time in developing,” Pitino said. “These guys are coming quick. We're trying to speed up the process with all of them. I thought Anas, who I wasn't even going to use, stepped up big in that game. For all the good things he did, he changed a lot of shots.

That's really good. That's something we've been working really hard on, blocking shots with our bigs and both guys are progressing.

“(Anas) is very smart, very bright. The one thing I miscalculated with Matz, because he speaks fluent English, he speaks so well, sometimes you get fooled by that. Gorgui (Dieng, a former Cards' center) was the same way. They don't understand that well so you've got to take your time explaining to him

“Anas is a lot more developed in basketball (than Stockman). When you come from Norway, you don't play a lot of basketball. I just realized when I'm explaining things to him he doesn't pick it up, even though he speaks it very well. It's something I've gathered.”

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