CRAWFORD | Cardinal players discuss poor Puerto Rico performance
SAN JUAN, P.R. (WDRB) — To this point, the newcomers for the University of Louisville basketball team haven’t experienced a great deal with their head coach, Rick Pitino.
He’s been around for a couple of weeks’ worth of practice, and run individual instruction, but for the most part they’ve been under the care of assistant coaches while Pitino has worked with the Puerto Rico National Team this summer.
On Wednesday night, they got the full Pitino treatment — from an opposing team -- in a 96-62 loss. U of L fans have seen their team do that to opponents, overwhelm them with pressure defense, then stay on the gas until their will was broken.
It just seemed strange to see it happen to a U of L team. This Cardinal outfit is virtually brand new. A couple of its most important leaders are graduate transfers who will spend only this season in the program.
On Wednesday night, they experienced a 34-point loss at Puerto Rico, and Pitino talked to the players after the game, telling them that they got too caught up in officiating and trash talking and not enough in executing and playing defense.
Here’s how some of the Cardinals’ players responded after the game:
TREY LEWIS: “We’ve got to represent the name across our chest and we didn’t do that tonight. We can never let up like that. We’ve got to continue to fight and play defense. Shots are not going to fall sometimes, but during adversity we’ve got to band together and find other ways. This game was a test, this whole trip is a test. It’s so early. One of the guys on the other team let me know that we get mad at ourselves too easy. We get down on ourselves. It’s a learning experience, and I’m glad we’re going through it so early, in August. I’m not worried about where this team is going to go. I think we can be a great team when we put it together. . . . It’s never good to lose a game like that, and not bring it and show what we’re made of. But there’s some things we’re going to talk about tonight.”
On how adversity can affect team chemistry: “We’re kind of down right now because of what just happened. Nobody expected that to happen. But we’re definitely going to stay positive. I’m not going to let anybody hang their heads for too long. Like I said, this is August. This is a time for us to bond and get closer.”
JAYLEN JOHNSON: “We’ve just got to come together as a team, when the going gets tough, gel together as a team. Tough nights are going to happen so what are you going to do about it? . . . We’ll come together in one of our rooms, or something, because that was unacceptable.”
DAMION LEE: “It’s just a matter of keeping your head. . . . We have to just focus on playing the game and can’t worry too much about officials and players on the other team. We just have to come out and play the game.”
MANGOK MATHIANG: “This is a big test for us, before the season, and I’m pretty sure this is why coach brought us on this trip. It’s just for us right now to come together as a group and make it happen for ourselves and not point fingers or blame refs or coaches or anything like that. Just come together and figure this out. . . . You learn from losses, and today we took a huge loss. We’ve just got to, like I said, come together and just put everything behind us and move onto the next game and figure out what we have to do to turn this whole trip around. We have a bunch of leaders on the team. When we get back to the hotel, we’ll just talk to the guys individually, and come back as a group and talk about it, without the coaches and all that, and talk mostly about our defense and attitude and what type of team we want to be.”
QUENTIN SNIDER: I think our offense wasn’t really clicking tonight. They switched pretty much everything and we couldn’t really get anything inside or outside. I think tomorrow we’ll come out with more fire. Tonight was just embarrassing. We’ll come out more ready tomorrow.”
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