TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO: Rick Pitino talks U of L's 77-72 win at N.C. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO: Rick Pitino talks U of L's 77-72 win at N.C. State

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino's postgame comments after the Cardinals beat N.C. State 77-72 in PNC Arena Thursday night.

OPENING STATEMENT: Well anytime you can get a win on the road in this league it’s a great win. They’re a very difficult team to guard. I think Mark puts them in situations offensively where they’re very difficult to guard. We did a great job of mixing zone-man, zone-man in the first half, but we did a very poor job of grabbing the rebound. So we’re a very young team. We’re young mentally, we made a lot of mistakes with Damion and Trey, even though they’re fifth-year seniors they don’t know any of our offenses, any of our defenses, so they’re learning just as much as the freshmen. But we know they can shoot the basketball. We know what kind of basketball team they are, so we’re very pleased with the victory.

Q: As a coach to focus more on building the big leads or what happened in losing them?

PITINO: I thought we did some really good things down the stretch, of going to the right people in the low post, and then using some clock. Look, we fell down a few times, miscommunicated and they made a three, fouled Cat Barber when we shouldn’t have, these are all learning experiences, but most of the time the home team is going to come back, especially when you’re as talented as N.C. State. So we’re overly pleased to come away with a one-point victory, three-point, five-point, didn’t matter. We’re winning with offense right now. This is the first time we played the type of defense we can play in the first half, but we rebounded poorly.

Q: You had to throw some young guys out there in the first half. How did you feel about the way they responded?

PITINO: I think Deng’s got to learn to relax a little bit more and let the game come to him like Damion. Throw some passes when he drives. You know, we made some real mental mistakes, like Q coming up the sideline at the end of the game should’ve thrown a bounce pass. But these are things a new team is going to learn. And if we can keep learning, we’ll be a very good basketball team. But we are deep. We’re a deep basketball team. I’m not afraid to throw anybody in, whether it’s Matz, Anas, Ray, I thought Jaylen had an excellent ballgame tonight. He gave us a lot of different thing. We’re just not that relentless, pressing team anymore. We haven’t even worked on our press because we’ve had to put in so many other things. But we’re going to continue to work on it and get better.

Q: Were you worried about fouls?

PITINO: That’s the one area with this basketball team that I don’t worry about. Because I’ll play David Levitch. I’m not afraid to play him. We’ve got 12 guys that I don’t think there’s a major dropoff. 

Q: How critical was it to go 9-10 deep to be able to score points?

PITINO: Well that’s what makes us a pretty good basketball team. And we’re going to get better. Quentin Snider came off the bench tonight and played great. That’s something we wanted to bring him off the bench and get Trey some experience there, but we had to play Donovan because Donovan is giving us rebounding. Q was brilliant tonight, don’t get me wrong, but he just doesn’t rebound the basketball. He had zero in 32 minutes. And believe it or not, a point guard should grab 3-4 loose ball rebounds every game, and we weren’t getting those.

Q: Onuaku 14 rebounds and 12 points and again stayed on the court. Your thoughts on him?

PITINO: Stayed on the court. For a sophomore, like Montrezl, he’s a great thinker. He said, ‘Take me out of the game, they’re trying to foul me.’ I said, ‘No, you take the ball out, because you’re a good passer.’ Then he said run the turnout, go inside to me, I’ll score. He’s like that. He communicates very well with me and I trust in his judgment very much. He makes good points for a sophomore. Sometimes you look at a big, strong center and wouldn’t think he’s your best thinker, but he is.

Q: Is he getting better at hedging and recovering?

PITINO: Without fouling he is. He made some great plays for us down the stretch. He’s getting better and better.

Q: What did you like about your team’s offense during the stretch where you built the lead in the second half?

PITINO: Well interesting enough, we’ve been a very good offensive team all season, because we’re willing passers and have good spacing. Last year we had a lot of trouble shooting the ball. We were a layup away from the final four. We didn’t shoot free throws well. We didn’t do a lot of things well offensively. But we were a great defensive team. This team right now is winning on offense. This was the first time all season I would say that first-half defense was pretty special, because we were going from zone to man and zone to man and it was working for us the first time.

Q: With rebounding, you’ve been one of the top rebounding teams in the country but they outrebounded you tonight and hurt you on the offensive glass. They rebounded about 40 percent of their misses. What went into that?

PITINO: What happens is our guards didn’t rebound. Because they have great spacing, and their 2 and 3 men shoot it so well that your defense is extended and when they shoot it it’s going to be long rebounds, and the guards have to come back in the paint and rebound. You look at it tonight our two rebounds combined had two rebounds. Damion Lee, our small forward, had two rebounds. So we need to rebound from the one, two, three spots. And that’s what hurt us.

Q: Spalding scored 12 points tonight. What did you think of his play?

PITINO: I thought Ray did some good things offensively but he’s struggling on defense, learning what we want to do, but that’s to be expected.

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