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Louisville Press Conference Transcript 4-5-2013
THE MODERATOR: At this time we’re joined by head coach of the Louisville Cardinals Rick Pitino and student‑athletes. Coach Pitino will begin with an opening statement, then we’ll take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH PITINO: Well, for us, we’re 24 hours away, a little bit more, from playing our first game. We are super excited, very. Our players totally understand the challenge that lies ahead with this Wichita State team.
I’ve got all the faith in the world in them. We understand with Kevin out that we not only have to play very hard, we have to play very, very smart. But here are two of the smartest players I’ve ever coached. So we’re thrilled to be here.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions for our student‑athletes.
Q. Peyton, can you talk about how Gorgui has improved since the first time you saw him?
PEYTON SIVA: Well, Gorgui always been great offensively. He’s always been skilled. A lot of people don’t really know that.
Just he’s improved so much this year. He’s mastered the 15‑footer. He can shoot threes, but coach said just relax off of those. He’s improved so much that his jump shot is really great, his passing has always been phenomenal.
He’s just a great all‑around player. Not even the little things he does, his passes, his screens have gotten better since he stepped on campus from day one.
Q. Luke, you’ve been described by teammates as a big‑brother figure, yet you grew up as the youngest brother. How do you see yourself?
LUKE HANCOCK: As a big brother. I don’t know. I just try to take care of some of the little things, try to let people know kind of where we need to be, what we need to be doing, try to be a leader in practice, stuff like that.
I guess my brothers beating up on me growing up has helped a little bit. But I just try to be a leader and help our team wherever I can.
It’s easy with this group of guys. But just try to help out where I can.
Q. Luke, to go from fighting for playing time with Kevin Ware to the moment that everyone’s talking about when you kind of ran out there, he calls you now a brother for life. What is that relationship like now compared to where it was? Why did you react so quickly?
LUKE HANCOCK: I mean, our relationship hasn’t changed too much. You know, we were really close before, and we’re really close now. It’s a very tough injury and a tough situation.
But, like you say, we’re brothers for life. I have that guy’s back in any situation. I know he has mine. You know, I don’t really know why I went out there. But, you know, just didn’t want him to be alone out there, I don’t know.
Definitely we’re close now and we were close before, so…
It’s definitely brought the team together, though.
Q. Peyton, can you describe the difference in your approach or your feeling about this year’s Final Four as opposed to last year. Is there more of a feeling of needing to go further this year?
PEYTON SIVA: Last year, you know, nobody really expected us to be there in the Final Four besides us. This year, quite frankly, a lot of people counted us out during the regular season also.
Our whole mindset was that we had to stay together and we had to play on that chip that we believe in each other, no matter what anybody else says. Come together as a team and win. Just like last year, we’re trying to win this year. That’s pretty much it.
LUKE HANCOCK: It’s obviously different for me. I wasn’t playing last year as a redshirt. But we’re just excited for the situation, excited to be in the Final Four, just hoping to win.
Q. Peyton, how are you dealing with the pressure that must be there to avoid getting into foul trouble in this game and what are you guys working on to compensate for that?
PEYTON SIVA: I try to avoid foul trouble every game. Sometimes it finds me, I don’t know how (smiling).
I just got to play a lot smarter. But Coach P doesn’t want me to lose my aggressiveness, I got to continue to play hard no matter what. Got to be even more careful of my slap‑downs, more careful of the way I move my feet.
Coach P always tells me when I try to stay out of foul trouble, I get into foul trouble, but I just got to play hard.
Q. Is the pressure more intense with the shortened rotation that you guys will have?
PEYTON SIVA: I don’t feel so. I think Tim Henderson, I think Luke playing more, too, they’re more than capable guys of, you know, playing the role.
Tim Henderson, a lot of people talk about he’s a walk‑on, everything, but he’s been guarding Russ Smith the whole year. I feel like he can come in and spell anybody. If you guard Russ Smith the whole year, you can pretty much guard anybody, especially in practice.
Q. Peyton, you’re one of the premiere guards in the country, but your coach said yesterday Malcolm Armstead is also one of the better guards in the country. How are you going to attack them, the guards that they have?
PEYTON SIVA: Well, they’re a great group of guards. They’re playing really terrific. They wouldn’t be here right now if they weren’t.
So we got to go out there and continue to play our game, continue with our game plan, our scouting report. They’re both tough guards, all of them are tough. But their whole team is tough. It’s not just one guy. Malcolm Armstead, of course, makes them go. But on any given night, anybody on the team can have a big night.
It’s up to us to play collective defense, hit the glass, continue to play how we’ve been playing.
Q. Peyton, you obviously had a very strong emotional response last week to Kevin under the circumstances in the moment. As the week has gone on, there’s been all this focus on his injury. Has that been emotionally taxing on this team? Do you worry about how you’re going to come out in this game on Saturday?
PEYTON SIVA: I don’t think so. I mean, we’ve pretty much been within ourselves, with our team. I don’t think the attention has really been taxing on anybody.
I think, you know, if anything, I’m just glad to know Kevin Ware now even more because he’s probably the most famous person I know. You know, when you have Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama call you, it’s pretty good to say I know that person. It’s pretty amazing, I think it’s more taxing on Kevin than any of us.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll excuse our student‑athletes and continue with questions for Coach Pitino.
Q. Rick, you took over a storied program that you’re at now. The polls are not made by the sport that you coach. How would basketball people characterize all the conference shifting and moving around that is really for football’s sake?
COACH PITINO: Well, we would give you diplomatic answers. But inside we’re not happy about it. And I personally am not happy about it, not because of basketball, because most basketball programs at BCS schools charter, football programs charter. I’m more concerned about women’s sports, track and field, swimming and diving.
You take a school like West Virginia. The closest school is 800 miles away. Basketball and football benefit certainly, but what about all those other sports that have to make three connections to get to all those schools and miss all that class time and everything else?
The one thing I will say that’s different today than it was 10, 15 years ago, you’d get some BS answer from the administrations. They are being very transparent in saying, It’s about money. We can’t run all those other programs unless we generate more money. So at least the transparency is there. But that doesn’t make it any less.
For me personally, leaving the Big East, for Jim Boeheim, not to speak for him, it’s very, very difficult. We love Dave Gavitt, we love the fact that he put something special together, and me personally growing up on 26th Street on the Eastside of Manhattan, being a New York Knicks assistant and head coach, leave the Garden, is a big loss personally for all the great memories we’ve had.
We don’t like it, but we understand it. The one thing you can’t do is complain about it. Sometimes you have to move. Moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference is not the most difficult thing in the world in terms of competition. It will probably be one of the greatest conferences I’ve seen basketball‑wise.
I think you probably have to look at CoachK. I think he’s a little responsible for these basketball schools coming in, at least that’s what I hear, so…
Q. Teams like the team you’re playing tomorrow, the non‑power conference teams, have been making runs in the tournament over the past few years. Is that a trend you saw developing or is it a surprise to you?
COACH PITINO: When I watched Wichita State beat VCU at VCU, I’m a big VCU, I’m a fan of the way they play, Shaka worked for Billy. When I saw them win in that environment against that style, I called my son Rich and said, Watch out for that team, back then. Little did I know we’d be playing them in a Final Four.
So today the great thing about college basketball is there’s no difference between Butler, VCU, Wichita State, than UCLA, Louisville, North Carolina, Duke. There’s absolutely no difference.
If you play them 10 times, they’re going to win a few of those games, and sometimes they’re going to win more than their share. That’s what the one‑and‑done has done for college basketball in a positive way. You see teams grow together.
We played a team that I was up all night, didn’t get an ounce of sleep getting ready for, Colorado State with five seniors and two fifth‑year seniors, as good a team as we’ve played against in the tournament.
So, you know, it’s great. It really is great for college basketball to see us all join. I go back a long, long time ago where you could pencil in Coach Wooden, Coach Smith, pencil in Kansas or Kentucky, whoever that may be, and now you can’t do that. It’s a lot of fun for all of us.
Q. Rick, what led you to go ahead and develop the full‑court style that you did at BU? How much of what you did then do you do now in terms of pretty much everything?
COACH PITINO: I played for a great college basketball coach named Jack Leaman. He was Dr. J’s high school coach. His assistant Ray Wilson was Julius’ high school coach who recruited me. When I left UMass, I was a frustrated basketball player with our style. But look back on it today, he made me a man. He made me to think team first. He made me understand the fundamentals that you can’t win without all the fundamentals offensively and defensively of the game.
Even Dr. J played in that system. It wasn’t a running system. It wasn’t a pressing system. It wasn’t a trapping system. So when I finally became a head coach, we never had any coverage. We were on page 7 and page 15 of the Herald and Globe, never had any coverage at all.
There was only one cub reporter at that time that knew nothing about basketball. They said, You’ve got the bad job tonight, you’re covering BU and Northeastern. That was Lesley Visser. We remember the days of having 250 in the stands. Today she knows more basketball than I do.
It was my own laboratory. I could make all those mistakes trying to put a pressing, running style at the age of 24, and nobody would notice what I was doing wrong.
So for five years I got to tinker, tinker. By the time I got to be assistant coach of the Knicks, head coach of Providence, I had a system I believed in. It was due to some frustrations as a player. It takes everybody to get involved to win.
So I’ve been doing it ever since.
Q. Will you be remembered more by your fellow coaches for the press or the early embrace of the three? Is it harder to win with the one‑and‑done rule or being at the mercy of the ping‑pong balls?
COACH PITINO: If I had Tim Duncan, I may still be in Boston (laughter).
For me, sometimes ping‑pong balls can change your life in the NBA. If you’re as shrewd as the Red Auerbachs, the Pat Rileys of the world that can pull off these incredible trades, that does it. In college basketball, it’s all about recruiting. My son recruited Peyton Siva, and Kevin Keatts got Luke Hancock because he coached him at Hargraves Military. So recruiting is our game. But you got to recruit the right people, evaluate the right talent.
Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng I don’t think were rated. Russ Smith from New York City at a famous high school was not recruited by one Big East school, not one. If it wasn’t for those two guys, we don’t play in two Final Fours. So there’s no science to it.
As far as being known by pressing and three‑point shooting, it was the only way we could go from dead last place in the Big East to having the chance of winning.
I knew one thing, I knew not only we were going to shoot it, I knew Rollie, John, Louis, the guys I consider were legends in our game were not going to shoot it. I knew it was going to help us win and it carried us to a Final Four.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Wichita State Press Conference Transcript 4-5-2013
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by the Wichita State Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall and student‑athletes. We’ll ask Coach Marshall to give an opening statement and then take questions.
COACH MARSHALL: We’re excited to be here. It’s a great, great championship, as you can imagine. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to compete for a championship here this weekend.
There’s four teams left, and I’m just really excited to have these gentlemen to my left have an opportunity to play for it.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll again with questions for our student‑athletes.
Q. A few weeks ago, Antoine Carr, Xavier McDaniel came into your locker room before a game and addressed your team with the ‘play angry’ motto. How important was that for your team?
COACH MARSHALL: That’s a great question for the student‑athletes because they’re the ones going out and playing angry.
I think at the state we were in at that time, I think we lost a couple of games. If you’ve ever seen X and Antoine play, they played angry. They were aggressive and tough and were the initiator of hard contact in the post. They were boxing out and beating checks, beating folks to loose balls, 50/50 balls. That’s what ‘play angry’ means, to defend with your feet, put your chest on people.
This team has embodied that creed. So I’m glad that those gentlemen gave us that advice.
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD: Pretty much what coach said. Playing with energy, passion, playing like your hair’s on fire. Just playing hard. Everything you got. Leaving it all out there.
Q. Carl, how much did you make at the lighting factory? Would you recommend that job to your teammates here?
CARL HALL: I made about $12 an hour. I wouldn’t recommend that to my teammates. It was a lot of hard work. I don’t think Cleanthony could make it anyway (smiling).
I wouldn’t recommend that job to anybody. It was just a hot, nasty job. I tell them every day to stay in school and do they work.
COACH MARSHALL: With Carl’s degree, which he has in hand now, he can go back and at least be a supervisor.
Q. Did you guys learn anything or get any more resilience from holding off Ohio State in your last game?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD: Yeah, we learned a lot about ourselves. You know, we learned that down the stretch we got to be able to do more things, take care of better situations like the ball, being able to score more efficient down the stretch.
You know, we showcased that we can play with anybody in the country. It was just a matter of us, you know, going out and doing what we do, executing the game plan that coach gives us.
CLEANTHONY EARLY: We just got to continue to play hard and know it’s never over till the buzzer sounds. At the end of the day, we got to go out and do better than what they do. That goes to Ohio State, Louisville, Gonzaga. We just got to play with intensity and energy.
Q. For all three players, could you just tell us how much you knew about Wichita State before you went to school there.
CARL HALL: I knew nothing about Wichita State. I had to Google it, see how big the city was. When I first heard the word ‘Wichita,’ I’m thinking a small country town, people walking around with cowboy boots on, things like that (laughter).
CLEANTHONY EARLY: Yeah, I didn’t know much about it either. Carl pretty much hit it on the head. Had to do my research. I found out there were a couple of good things I liked about the school. I took my visit and I continued to like things I found out about the school.
I made my decision and I felt pretty good about it, and I still feel good about it.
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD: When I heard about Wichita State and found out that it was in Kansas, first thing came to mind was Wizard of Oz, like Dorothy. That was the only thing I really knew about it.
But I’m glad I’m here. We’re making the most of our opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll excuse the student‑athletes at this time and take questions for Coach Marshall.
Q. Yesterday Rick Pitino described your defense as ‘Marquette on steroids.’ Can you translate that for us? And do you think that’s a compliment?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, except that we’re not on steroids. Other than that, I think it’s a definite compliment. Buzz Williams does a marvelous job. He’s one of the great coaches in our country. Rick Pitino, who I have the utmost respect for and admiration, for him to say that is certainly a compliment. I hope that it’s true. I also know that Coach Pitino is probably trying to get his team prepared mentally.
So if we’re ‘Marquette on steroids’ defensively tomorrow, that will give us a great chance.
Q. A lot of great guards here this weekend, a lot of name guards. Let’s hear your case for Malcolm and why he belongs.
COACH MARSHALL: That’s a great question because there are great guards. Trey, AP Player of the Year. Peyton and Russ. We are so fortunate to have Malcolm Armstead. If we don’t have Malcolm Armstead this year, we’re not sitting here talking about the Final Four. Maybe not the NCAA tournament.
Fred Van Vleet has done a great job as a rookie, but he’s been able to morph into this role, 18 minutes a game, something like that. He’s played a lot more in the second half of the season. We don’t go to VCU and win without Malcolm Armstead. My assistant coaches did a wonderful job getting him to come to Wichita State as he chose to leave Oregon.
He is the maestro. He puts everybody in place and makes the basketball plays that you need to make as a quarterback, as your point guard, as your leader on the floor. And he’s gotten better defensively. He’s very, very strong. His body is tough, bulldog strong. He can get in the lane, absorb contact. He’s got that funky way of finishing with that left hand, almost a trick shot sometimes when he penetrates.
What I’m most pleased with is he’s gone out a winner. He’s gone to the NCAA tournament. In his only NCAA tournament appearance, he’s at least a Final Four point guard, and I think he’s going to get a chance to play for a lot of money with his performance in this tournament.
Q. How do you go about handling Louisville in transition?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, they’re very, very fast, athletic, push it extremely hard. What you’ve got to do is not turn the ball over. If we’re turning the ball over and giving them transition opportunities, then we’re not doing what we’re trying to do if we’re taking bad shots and allowing them to get out in transition.
Until we get into the game, I don’t know how much better they are than Ohio State in transition. They could be considerably better. They may not be better at all. But that was Ohio State’s trademark, too. They loved to score in transition.
In that particular case, we were able to keep them out of transition, albeit a few possessions in their comeback.
We set out to make sure that Ohio State had to attack us a halfcourt set defense, and it worked well for us. That’s the goal against Louisville, as well.
Q. I have a question about one of the other Final Four coaches, John Beilein has never been an assistant. Most coaches have. What do you admire about someone’s whose path to this point was only a head coach everywhere?
COACH MARSHALL: Coach Beilein has taken an unusual path. When he was the head coach at Le Moyne in Upstate New York, I was the assistant coach at Randolph‑Macon. My first knowledge of John Beilein, the name John Beilein, he beat me on a prospect from the Washington, D.C. area, and I was so despondent because I wanted that kid, he went to Le Moyne. Andy Beck told was his name.
They were a Division II. Randolph‑Macon was Division II, moving to Division III. I didn’t quite have the caché to offer a scholarship to Andy and he went to Le Moyne. That was the first I knew about Coach Beilein being a good recruiter.
He’s bounced from one level to another level to another level, and he’s done it flawlessly at each step.
I, on the other hand, spent 13 years as an assistant and finally got my opportunity at Winthrop University 15 years ago. I took a little bit different path.
But I admire him for the steps he’s taken. He’s done it without playing, just like myself, as a big‑time Division I player, without a father who’s a coach, without name recognition. He’s had to earn it step by step, and he’s done a great job.
I’ve followed his career as my college Coach Hal Nunally and he were friends.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports