UofL Basketball Record Book Update Pre-Sweet 16


-Louisville Basketball extended their team record for Steals to 396.  The Cards set the team single-season mark last season at 353.

-Louisville’s Record for Wins in a Season is 33.  Currently the Cards have 31 W’s for the 2012-13 season and will tie the school record with a trip to the Final Four.

Russ Smith

-Smith is now 43rd All-Time in Scoring for the Louisville Cardinals with 1151 points.  Russdiculous passed Charles Jones, Juan Palacios, Tony Williams, Cornelius Holden, and Larry O’Bannon against Colorado State.

-Russ’ 2012-13 season is now the 5th Highest Scoring Season in Louisville history with 664 points.  Against CSU Russ passed Wes Unseld’s 1967-68 season, and Jim Price’s 1971-72 season.

-Russ needs 24 made Field Goals to enter the Top 10 of Louisville’s Made Field Goals in a single season.

-During the Colorado State game Russ passed Bobby Brown (’51-’52), Darrell Griffith (’78-’79), and Jim Price (’71-’72) for Season Field Goal Attempts.  Russ is now 6th All-Time in Season Field Goal Attempts with 497 this season.

-Russ set the Single-Season Free Throws Made mark earlier this season.  Russ extended that mark with 194 made Free Throws against Colorado State.

-Smith also moved up the list of Single-Season Free Throw Attempts to 4th.  Russ passed Bud Olsen (’61-’62) & Charlie Tyra (’56-’57) against Colorado State.

-Russ needs just 5 steals to enter Louisville’s Top 10 Career Steals List.  Smith currently has 178 takeaways for his career.

-Russ set Louisville’s Single Season Mark (#1) for Steals in 2011-12 with 87.  This year Russ is in the Top 10 again with 78 steals, 8th best in a single-season at UofL.

Peyton Siva

-Siva is now 41st All-Time in Scoring For the Louisville Cardinals with 1170 points.  Peyton passed Felton Spencer & Bobby Brown against Colorado State.

-Peyton Siva currently 2nd All-Time for Career Assists with 662.  Siva trails LaBradford Smith who has 713 for his career. Peyton will need to play 4 additional games and get 51 assists (12.75 assists) to tie.  An unlikely result.

-Siva CAN, however, still set the Single Season Mark for Assists.  Currently Siva’s 2012-13 season is 2nd All-Time with 213 assists.  Siva passed his 2011-12 total of 211 against Colorado State and needs just 13 additional assists to tie LaBradford Smith’s 1989-90 season of 226. Siva has 3 of Louisville’s 6 best seasons dishing the rock.

-Peyton set the single season mark for Career Steals earlier this year.  Siva extended that mark against Colorado State to 246.

-Siva’s 2012-13 season is currently the 7th best Steal season in Cardinal history with 82 All-Time.

-Peyton Siva is 5th All-Time in Career Games Played with 140. Siva passed Tony Kimbro against Colorado State and is currently tied with Edgar Sosa & Terrence Williams.

Gorgui Dieng

-Gorgui is 46 rebounds from entering the Cards’ Career Rebounding Top 16. Gorgui has 767 career rebounds.

-Gorgui’s 2012-13 season passed Felton Spencer’s 1989-90 season for Single Season Blocks against Colorado State.  Gorgui currently has 70 blocks this season after 128 in 2011-12 setting the #1 Single-Season mark for the Cards.

-Gorgui needs 181 points for 1000 points for his career.


Louisville Advances to Sweet 16 over Colorado State 82-56

#1 Rebounding Team in the Country. Check. Light Bench. Check. A red hot Russ Smith. Check. LeBron James tweet. Check.

Just about everything went right for the Cards on Saturday afternoon in Lexington’s Rupp Arena.  So much so that by the end calling the famed home of the Kentucky Wildcats, “Russ Arena” was a commonly accepted moniker.  Louisville dispatched the Rams early in the 1st half with a tremendous effort from the diminutive guard affectionately known as “Russdiculous”.  Maybe out of high school he was someone no one wanted to recruit.  Maybe he almost transferred after his freshman year.  But Russ Smith is having a historic season for the Cards and caught fire in the first half.  Russ Smith finished with 27 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a turnover. Smith was on fire so much during the 1st half that LeBron James actually tweeted about Russdiculous.

Colorado State struggled bringing the ball up the floor. The Cards used Smith, Siva, and Kevin Ware to apply pressure on Dorian Green and after a 10-second count in the backcourt and several other close calls CSU coach Larry Eustachy elected to bring Ram Center Colton Iverson into the back court to help the Rams bring the ball up the floor.  When Colorado State had to do that, they killed their rebounding advantage by asking Iverson who is 6-10, 261 to use much more energy than usual. Iverson said after the game that the Cards, “Outworked Us.”

Gorgui Dieng said in a very joyous Cardinal post-game locker room, “I thought they were all tired.” Colorado State’s bench options did not help against a team that is famous for bringing pressure and trying to mentally and physically tire their opponents.

Rupp Arena was a sea of Red during the 2-day event to open the NCAA Tournament.  Louisville should expect the same when the Cards travel to Indianapolis to face the Oregon Ducks in the Sweet 16 inside Lucas Oil Stadiumon Friday. Game times are not yet announced.

Transcript: Pitino, Russ, and Wayne Post-Game Colorado State

THE MODERATOR:  All right, ladies and gentlemen, we have Louisville with us.  We’ll ask the head coach to give an open sustainings.  We have Wayne Blackshear and Russ Smith with us.  We’ll be able to dismiss them a little bit earlier and continue with the coach.

Coach, go ahead, thanks.

COACH PITINO:  I think one of the reasons we played one our best games of the season is how much we — how much respect and focus we had for Colorado State.  We really thought, and I thought these guys haven’t been around as long as me, is this was the toughest second round opponent that I’ve ever coached.  I thought this was a great basketball team.  They pass great, they cut great.  Obviously the number one rebounding team in the country.  They shoot it great with range, and he’s one of the most underrated coaches in our game.  I mean, those of us who know him, and I’ve competed against him before, know he’s an outstanding coach.  We’ve beat a great team tonight.

We probably can’t play any better, but I think it was all due to the fact of the amount of respect we had for them.  Because we made it a goal tonight that our press had — more than anything else, I said our press can’t be what it was the other night with all those traps.  Our press had to be a fatigue factor and it also — our ball containment was the key because that’s the way they rebound.  They drive by you, they force you to help and then overpower you with rebounding.

Our guys were magnificent tonight.  Wayne had by far one of his best defensive games.  And Russ, what can I say?  I said to the young lady outside who is doing the game, I said Coach Curran is smiling right now.  He’s so proud of Russ Smith.  He’s gone from a very good scorer to a great basketball player at both ends of the floor, and I’m not sure I would ever thought when I recruited him I could say that.

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.  We’ll open it up for questions for Wayne Blackshear and Russ Smith.

Q.  Russ, what is it about Rupp Arena for you?  I think 27 points a game in three games here.

RUSS SMITH:  Oh, man, I really don’t know, and I just play hard no matter what venue I’m at, and some venues you just get lucky and shots go in, but I’m not — I won’t give the credit to Rupp Arena.

I work really hard.  Lot of the games here that I did play here were big games, you know, we had Kentucky here awhile ago, that was a big game, the first round the opener of the NCAA Tournament, and now this game.  And for big games, I like to really prepare myself and try and have a good game.

Q.  Were you aware of the “Russ Arena” twitter  account that came up and the chant of “Russ Arena” as you were making those last free throws.

RUSS SMITH:  Somebody told me yesterday in the media thing that this is Russ Arena or something.  I actually didn’t hear the chant, and I didn’t really know too much of it.  And I kind of lost — I lost track of it during the game, once the game started.  There has been people telling me.  I’m not going to act like nobody said anything, but I was aware of it.

Q.  Question for Russ, you guys are just all over the court with your press.  Can you describe the energy level you have, how you’re able to keep it up and how tired you guys are after a game?

RUSS SMITH:  Well, if Coach is not tired, then we can’t be tired.  We get all our energy and fearlessness from Coach.  He drives us every day, and, you know, we let him down, we feel like we’re letting all of us down, each other, the whole Louisville, our staff and trainers.  We just go out there, play with tremendous effort and that will come from our coach.

THE MODERATOR:  Wayne, do you have anything to add to that?

WAYNE BLACKSHEAR:  We’re used to it.  We do it every day in practice.  We’re used to guarding each other in that type of style of play.  We just get out there every day.

Q.  Russ, could you do you feel Coach Curran smiling on you?

RUSS SMITH:  Man, I feel it all over, and every time before a game I go out there and say, Coach wants me to do all the right things.  Coach Curran and Coach P, those guys have been a great influence in my life, and in high school I just remember Coach telling me, when you get to this level, you have to really focus because you have trouble focusing, and Coach P has done a tremendous job with me.

Q.  For each player, what is it like, what do you see in the other team when the press is working?  What — how would you characterize what’s happened, what you see happening to them?

WAYNE BLACKSHEAR:  Well, you know, we start to see a lot of fatigue in them and we feed off of that, and by us playing that type of style, it just give us more energy and just want to get out there even more.

RUSS SMITH:  What I see is, I’ve seen a lot of things, I mean, from being down 17 and pressing going off.  I’ve seen teams come back, and when teams get tired, all I see is just them trying to not get tired and make a run and I try to dig in some more.  Because I know if they’re tired and exhausted, they’re going to try and fight through to do whatever they can to win and I have to — I feel like it’s my duty, along with the team’s duty, to all get together and make sure that that doesn’t happen, keep the pressure on and just keep rolling.  We don’t want to relax when we’re pressuring.

Q.  Either player, Coach Pitino just said that you’ve just played the best you can play.  Do you take that as a challenge?  Can you really play better next week?

RUSS SMITH:  I do whatever I can on the court, you know, and sometimes it’s not of the best, but I give an A effort.  The only thing I can do is give an A effort out there.  If things happen where I overmatch this effort, then it will happen.

But from this point on, all I do is just try to play hard and do whatever I can for our team to get a victory.  I’ve learned since being at the University of Louisville nothing matters but winning and when you win, you become a winner.  So winning has been the only thing that’s been driving me to play well.

THE MODERATOR:  Wayne, anything to add?

WAYNE BLACKSHEAR:  Just going off of what Russ said.  We just get after it.  Whatever Coach tell us to do, we take it on as a challenge.  Like tonight we knew they was the best rebounding team in the country.  We wanted to take on that challenge as a team, and as you see it on the stat sheet, everybody chipped in today, three, four rebounds, it was from everybody.

Q.  Coach, how important has Stephan Van Treese been to not only the team’s recent success but Gorgui’s success?

COACH PITINO:  I think ever since we started playing Stephan Van Treese we’ve grown immensely as a basketball team.  I think I told you a month ago I don’t think I was doing a good job with Gorgui, although he had better stats but he wasn’t as well rested to play.  In yesterday’s practice, I didn’t even have Gorgui practice.  I had him do some conditioning and post moves and just have Stephan Van Treese and Zach play.  These guys are not only superbly conditioned, a lot of time you see it, you see these guys working so hard, where sometimes where it’s most noticeable, like the steals were a little off tonight, we had 13, but where it’s most noticed is on the other team’s free throws.

We’ve seen some great free throw shooting teams shoot way below their percentage.  One of the things we’re excited about tonight, we told our guys the fact that Colt Iverson is having to come up every time like that, for a big guy that takes a lot out of you and it gets him not as sharp on the back boards.  So obviously that helps us a little bit.

THE MODERATOR:  Quickly, anything further for either Russ or Wayne first of all?  Anything else for the student-athletes?  All right.  Thanks guys.  Congratulations.

We’ll continue with Coach Pitino and start back over here.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned that maybe you guys can’t play any better.  Do you believe that?

COACH PITINO:  We can play much better, but I said this was the best we have played so far because at both ends of the floor.  I mean, we can — there’s definitely things, like Kevin Ware played great tonight, he really did, five assists, no turnovers.  We held them — the reason they are such a great rebounding team is they constantly create a lot of motion, then they beat you off the bounce, they force you to help, and then you’ve got guards trying to rebound against bigs.

We did a great job tonight of getting them to the baseline and containing them and the what we call closing down the window.  It took their offensive rebounding out of play.  I mean, y’all know what a great rebounder Hornung is.  He averages 9.2 rebounds a game.  He had one tonight.

We not only did a great job of ball containment, we were brilliant in all phases of the game.  Steals were 11-0.  We out rebounded the best rebounding team in the country.  We held them to four assists, and most important thing is we contested every shot.  We ran our offense great.  But we can definitely get better and improve.

But this is the best we have played, because I thought they were a great team.  I mean, our whole staff, we’re a positive staff, but you could just see in it all our face is.  We were sick about this game, we really were.  We thought they were great.  Then when we had the lead at halftime, we watched last night New Mexico State at New Mexico State and Pitt, they were down 18 and took them to overtime.  The press had a lot of merits tonight in terms of fatigue.

Q.  Coach, you often talk about deflections.  It’s not an official statistic, but I hear you and other coaches citing it.  Could you talk about why it’s so meaningful, why it tells the story of your team, and if there’s anything to the technique to it beyond just aggressiveness and energy?

COACH PITINO:  Every Coach has a thing that they look at.  Many years ago, 1985 I worked for — I had two years of being with one of the greatest basketball minds, it felt like it was ten years working with him, ten years of knowledge, that is, Hubie Brown.  And I had — I started it at Boston University, a deflection chart.  Hubie is a stat man.  He loved it.  He said put in it and do it.

I started keeping it in the pro game at that time at that time, if you got 35 deflections, you’re going to win 95 percent of your games if they don’t shoot an inordinate number of 3s and make them.  Then we did it in college, and we have shattered all of that, like tonight we had 45.  The other night we had — I’ve had — my Kentucky teams that were great in ’96 and ’97 didn’t get this amount of deflections.

We may not have the pros that those teams had, but our intensity is incredible.  That is the basis, it’s a barometer for measuring pressure on the basketball.  What it is, is five categories:  One is just having active hands and getting a piece of ball; two is steal; three is a back tip; four is a loose ball recovery; and five is a blocked shot.

It measures the pressure on your basketball.  Oftentimes, especially in the pros, if you have 8 to 10 deflections — I’ll never forget this as long as I live because we had Bernard King and some great players on the Knicks.  I was working for Hubie.  I only had like small window of time at halftime.  I put the deflections and we only had 8 deflections at halftime.  We were down 18.

What I did was, I didn’t want to because I was a young guy and I was hanging out with the players at that time.  Back then we would — coaches would hang with the players.  I put on the board Ray Williams, two deflections, Louis Orr, 3 deflections and it added up to 8.  So just to show our guys, but I only put the ones positives, like six guys had none.

So I went and said, all right, guys, we got to do a better job now, now we only got 8 deflections.  Here are the guys that have their deflections now, let’s pick it up.

That went on to the next thing.  I hear this booming voice in the back of the room.  Wait a second, where the F are the other guys?  He started killing everybody that didn’t have a deflection.  From that point on, I started laughing because everybody at that point didn’t want their name on that board with a deflection because Hubie said, put every name on the board.  I want to see who has the deflection at halftime.

From that point on, it was a true measurement of pressure on the basketball and a funny moment for me.

Q.  Kevin Ware seems to really give you guys a spark off the bench, especially late in the year.  What kind of impact has he had to add to your depth?

COACH PITINO:  We moved him to point in practice.  We were playing Tim Henderson at the point.  Every since we moved him at the point, he has improved immensely even though he’ll play 2 and 1, but I’ve seen his growth tremendously as soon as we started playing him at the point, more confident with pick and rolls, more confident creating passes.  He had five assists; and no turnovers.

He, like Van Treese and Montrezl Harrell, those are three pretty darn good guys coming in off the bench.  Not to mention the fact that he’s every bit as good on defense and rebounding as the other guys.

Q.  Two questions for you:  One, have you ramped up the defensive pressure more as this season has gone along; and, two, what moved you to hug Russ Smith after the pass to Siva?

COACH PITINO:  I’m so proud of that young man.  I told him, Russ, we have a lot in common.  I said I averaged 32 points a game in high school and you averaged 32 points a game in high school.  Both of our teams were 15 and 13 and never did anything.  So, you scored a lot of points, I scored a lot of points, and we were basically not winners.  I said, so when you come here, you’ve got to learn to guard, you’ve got to learn to score, make people better, but, more important, you and I got to become winners because we didn’t win in high school.

He looked at me and said, yeah, Coach, I really do want to win.  Then I said you got to learn how to be a basketball player at both ends.  His freshman year he was a nervous breakdown waiting to happen for any coach, assistant, and head coach.  And then his sophomore year you could see him growing and maturing and getting better and points weren’t the focal point of his life.

I can tell you, he knew all about Russ Arena.  I can tell you that right now.  He’s also gained humility.  I don’t think — I’ve been proud of a lot of guys at BU, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville.  I don’t think I could be any more proud of a young man.  He wouldn’t play a stitch of defense, wouldn’t pass the ball, didn’t really understand the game, and he’s grown to I think right now top three players in all of college basketball, and I think y’all sitting here would not be surprised by that statement.

Q.  This stage of your career when you see a team go out and play like that, particularly on the journey you’re on this month, how satisfying is that?  How meaningful?  Is it a little different than maybe it used to be?

COACH PITINO:  It is, because I think I mentioned this the other day, three years ago I said, you know what, I’m coaching four individual instructions every morning, 42 minutes and getting a workout at lunch.  I coached eight years in the pros.  You know what, maybe it’s time to move on.

It’s been nice, been great career, really appreciate, it and I’m going out to Seattle taking red eyes back in recruiting.  Don’t get sick over this.  I coached a team that got knocked out in the first round.  I had so much fun.  I had a blast.  I heard Larry talking about his kids.  These guys have driven me to have so much fun like Russ right after the game, he grabs me and says, Coach, I don’t know if you noticed at the end of game, did you see me shaking with the ball and very many people could guard me, very few people could guard me?

I said, no, I really wasn’t focused in on that, Russ.  When did that happen?

He said, oh, you missed it, Coach.

He has just a naive way about him and all the guys, Peyton Siva, the last three years, hell, I don’t want to have step away.  If I can keep recruiting guys like this, I want to coach until 70 and beyond because I’ve had such a blast and to see guys work that hard inside just fills you up, really does.  That’s not easy to do what they do.  I don’t think in my best day as an athlete I could have done half of what these guys do in the course of a game.  So, it’s really amazing what they do on the court.

Q.  Coach, your goals are still out there so probably not the best time to be reflective, but Coach Eustachy said this was one of the best teams he’s ever gone up against.  Would you consider this one of the best teams you’ve ever had?

COACH PITINO:  I don’t think from a talent standpoint it may not even be in my top five.  But in terms of execution, intensity, a will to win, it’s up there.  You know, I don’t think this is going to be who’s who in the lottery draft, but that’s not why we play the game.  We don’t play the game for the lottery draft.  We play the game for Louisville and then our guys move on and they’re very successful people in and out of basketball.

I have a young man, Tavo Placio, unbelievable kid, unbelievable player for us.  Played in the Final Four.  Over there making great money over in Spain.  He’s bilingual, two passports.  That’s what we’re all about.  We stayed up all night for three nights watching film.  Our respect level for Colorado State is off the charts.  That was as good a second round game as I’ve seen.  Only one other time did it rival that we you had played Tom Davis at Iowa and reminded me of this, but we had great respect for them.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned that Russ is one of the top three players in the country.  Of the All American teams that have been announced so far, he hasn’t made the first or second team.  Do you have any sense of why he’s so underappreciated Nationally?

COACH PITINO:  Well, I don’t pick the team.  I’m just telling you my opinion.  I could see how he couldn’t make a team because — you really have to see him.  You see him now and you really have a great appreciation for the way he plays defensively, the way — just think of the conditioning of this young man.  He picks up full court, he’s always looking for a steal, off the ball he’s denying, then he’s running pick and rolls, then he’s cutting, then he’s scoring.  You know what type of shape you have to be in to play like Peyton Siva and Russ Smith do?

So I don’t think it’s any slight to Russ.  I just think he’s a great basketball player.  I’m fortunate enough to coach him.  He’s going to be a really good NBA player because defensively and offensively with a 24-second clock and what I call today an 18-second shot clock, that’s what the pros are all about, a guy like Russ Smith is really hell.

Q.  Coach, you guys are a team that focuses a lot on the ball pressure and your defense, and tonight your offense was really clicking.  Obviously you got the 27 from Russ smith.  When the offense is clicking like this and you put up an 82-point performance, is there any other team in the country that can beat you guys?

COACH PITINO:  Yeah, there’s a lot of teams.  St. Louis, Oregon.  Anybody can beat anybody on a given night.  Look, you looked — I was kidding with my son who — Richard who coaches at FIU.  I said, Georgetown is in for a war tomorrow with Florida Gulf Coast. They’re a very good basketball team.

He said, I know that.

That’s Florida Gulf Coast.  I don’t know how long they’ve had a basketball program.  They just beat Georgetown.

So, we could get beat by anybody in the country, we really could.  But like tonight we focused very hard on their defense and how we can score.  Like on a pick and rolls, they go under.  So we set every pick and roll a good body on the low side and then rolled so we could get a foul line jump shot.  We ran our offense to get a back screen pick and roll.  We did a lot of great things on offense.  Our guys are really focused, and if you’re really focused, you have a chance of winning with what we have.

But, I’ve been in this game a long time.  Any given night somebody can get — look, we thought we had the same type of team, not as talented physically, three years ago and Preston Auls broke his foot.  So anything can happen in a ballgame, certainly, and we’re getting down now to the Sweet 16 and you’ll have 16 great teams.  Y’all see how strong the Atlantic 10 is and none of us would have said that going into it, but look at this.  I mean Atlantic 10 is one of the premiere conferences in basketball.

THE MODERATOR:  Any other questions?

COACH PITINO:  Will be for another week until football breaks it all up again.


Q.  Coach, how do you get your team conditioned that well?  Is there some secret?

COACH PITINO:  Well, one of the things you can’t do is, you can’t tire them out.  So, we have it systematically where we start out practicing, we have our 42 minutes of individual instruction and by the end of the year, that goes to 28.  Our practices go from 220, 225, to an hour 45.  We don’t break in practice.  The most we break, even for correction, is 20 seconds.  So we’re always competing.

We don’t — it’s counterproductive for a well-conditioned team to wear their legs out and, and I’m very conscious of that.  I did that to all my BU teams, and not until I coached in the pros did I realize how important it was to have fresh legs and I learned a lot from the NBA, good and bad.

THE MODERATOR:  We’ve got time for one or two more.

Q.  Coach, you said before the game that you didn’t necessarily want to play Colorado State in this game because it was kind of a bad matchup, and now looking ahead to Oregon and St. Louis, is there either one of those that you would rather face?

COACH PITINO:  Well, if St. Louis wins, it really helped us for the St. Louis game.  They’re also extremely well coached and they play great basketball.  For the Oregon, there’s more up and down like Missouri.  So, it prepared us, but either way we’re going the play a great team.

We all know that Oregon was probably — you know, lot of people say, oh, they were miss-seeded.  That’s after the fact, after they’re playing great.  Nobody said they were seeded incorrectly before they played a game.  They just pointed out who they lost to.  It’s very easy all those experts on TV to say it now, you know, but — so the seeding did a great job and the people did a great job, because they just look at data.  Then somebody comes ups and say, boy, LaSalle did deserve to make it, yeah, after they beat some people, it’s easy to say that.  That’s why hindsight is 20/20.

THE MODERATOR:  We have one over here.

Q.  Coach I saw Brad Stevens come out to congratulate you.  What did that mean to you?

COACH PITINO:  I love Brad.  I think he’s one of the classiest young people in our game.  Also one of the great young coaches in our game.  They’re a lot of great ones.  Lot of Larry Eustachys out there, not that he’s young, he’s not young, but lot of great coaches out there that don’t get talked about quite often.

But Brad is as good as it gets at any age.  He could be 50 today and he would be great.  Fortunately for him, he’s not.  There’s a lot of young great coaches out there.  You know, you saw Florida Gulf Coast, Andy.  Somebody said to me the other day, Georgetown got knocked out again.  I can tell you this:  It just happens.  There’s not rhyme or reason.

John Thompson III is as good a basketball coach as I’ve gone against in my lifetime.  I remember them saying that about Lute Olsen back in the early years, he was losing to Santa Clara or somebody in first and second rounds.  Then all of a sudden, he wins the national championship and he’s going far.

It just happens.  You get on these cycles up and down and it happens.  He may go to three straight Elites 8 he and two Final Fours.  Everything happens in cycles for some reason.  There’s a lot of great coaches out there, but if you’re like Larry and me and get those high character guys that play so hard every night, then you consider yourself a lucky man.

THE MODERATOR:  One more question.

Q.  Rick, what does it say to you about this team that the only team that’s come within double digits of you since the Notre Dame five overtime game was the game at Syracuse.  Everything else has been ten or more points?

COACH PITINO:  Well, we learned a lot from that five overtime loss.  We watched the whole game, and I said, guys, you broke down mentally.  You took bad shots.  They made some incredible shots, but you weren’t exactly up on them.  I said, so take this loss and make it a goal that you’re going to win the next seven.  But learn from it.  If you don’t learn — we rather learn our mistakes through winning, but we lost of that five overtime, we gave Notre Dame the credit, and then I said, let’s win our 7, let’s win other Big East and move forward, and let’s just not make the same mistake again.

So, I think they’re extremely focused on the scouting report.  If you ask me what’s been the biggest improvement in the second half of the season to this basketball team, is how much they pay attention to the strengths and weakness he’s their opposition.

Our team was ready to play Colorado State because of the amount of respect they had for every guy at every position.  I put a challenge to them, look, the press may not get the steals and traps tonight, can you out rebound them?  Can you out rebound them?  Can you create more than ten steals against a team that only turns it over ten times?  And they just lifted themselves up to the occasion and got the job done.  Unique bunch of young men.

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

COACH PITINO:  Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

PREVIEW: Louisville vs. Colorado State in Round of 32

Well we certainly have some storylines here.  Louisville vs. Colorado State.  Tom Jurich came from Colorado State to Louisville.  Larry Eustachy (Colorado State’s Head Coach) played high school with Tom Jurich.  Tom Jurich nearly hired Eustachy to replace Denny Crum and was his 2nd choice if Rick Pitino had declined.

I’ve been to Ft. Collins, CO.  It was back in 2002 when the Cards traveled to face the Rams in Football. It was a great game, the Cards lost by 3.  I remember the stadium being at the bottom of a huge mountain, getting half dollars for change, and that they actually had a ‘live’ Ram to go along with their human mascot.  I really enjoyed the trip.  It was a LATE game and we got lost leaving (this was a pre-GPS time) and almost ended up in Wyoming. But in terms of basketball, this is a TOUGH game. Colorado State is the #1 Rebounding team in the nation with a rebound rate of 58.7% of all available rebounds.

As it happens I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to find a reason to NOT like Colorado State.  Their program, their people, everything about them is really a great example of college athletics.  Pierce Hornung is a BEAST.  Just 6-5 averages over 9 rebounds a game.  I interviewed him last season at the KFC Yum! Center and I came away really impressed with him as a person and then watching his game it was clear that he is a workhorse.  Hornung is a problem todoay for the Cards.

Also Colton Iverson vs. Gorgui Dieng is a HUGE match-up today.  Iverson at 6-10, 261 lbs is a MOUNTAIN of a person.  Colorado State does a lot inside and Gorgui is going to have his hands full today.  He’ll need help, and because of the Rams depth I expect Rick Pitino to keep fresh bodies running at Hornung, Iverson, and forward Greg Smith all game.  I also got to know Smith a little in Louisville last season…….another great person.  I really didn’t want to play Colorado State in this tournament, it’s a match-up problem and their locker room is full of likable guys. Unlike Missouri. The sentiment was shared by the trio of Louisville assistants Richardson, Keatts, and Jones last Thursday night/early Friday morning and then confirmed at Friday’s Press Conference with Rick Pitino.  Colorado State is a problem.

Larry Eustachy has done great work during his career. I think his most impressive work to date was at Iowa State before Eustachy went into the wrong side of the public when it was confirmed that he was suffering from alcoholism.  Eustachy will be 10 years sober this April and he has done a fantastic job of turning his life around and building basketball programs.  Eustachy left Southern Miss after an 8-year stint in fantastic shape to take over this very good Colorado program.  They are hard-nosed, just like their coach.

Today much of the focus is going to be on rebounding.  And it should be.  The Rams are the #1 team in the nation in Rebound Rate and Chane Behanan hasn’t bothered hitting the glass for about 8 games.  Still the Cards have been winning.  I’m going to keep a close eye on the early interior rotation.  I think Stephan Van Tresse will be a HUGE factor in this game and I think Montrezl Harrell’s recent play might see Pitino move towards him early on too.  Rick Pitino needs ACTIVE rebounders.  Colorado State’s front court isn’t overly athletic….but they are RELENTLESS.  They will pursue the ball underneath the floor, and Louisville MUST match that effort or fall victim like Missouri who was out-matched on the glass 36-18.

One of the reasons why Colorado State is so tough to beat, is evidenced in THIS column.  I’ve spent this entire time talking Colorado St’s front court & coach and haven’t mentioned their back court yet.  But Dorian Green is an outstanding college guard & Wes Eikmeier can stroke it from outside.  Peyton Siva & Russ Smith are probably the best Guard Combo in the NCAA, but the Cards will need Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear, and Kevin Ware to help fill the void.  Colorado State has some depth at guard, not much at forward & Center.

Larry Eustachy told his wife when the tournament started to “Get Some Extra Money out of the ATM, we are going to be here for awhile.”  Eustachy is confident in his team even leading up to facing the #1 Overall Seed in the NCAA Tournament 80 miles from their home.  That’s scary and should tell you that we are going to be in for a battle. Buckle up. It is win or go home time.

Team Stats

Louisville Colorado State
Strength of Schedule 5th 36th
Points Per Game 73.6 (31st) 72.3 (53rd)
Avg Scoring Margin +15.6 (4th) +8.7 (35th)
Field Goal % 44.5% (93rd) 44.3% (105th)
Rebound Rate 52.6% (60th) 58.7% (1st)
Blocks Per Game 4.2 (78th) 1.8 (326th)
Steals Per Game 10.7 (2nd) 4.6 (330th)
Assists Per Game 15.0 (26th) 12.8 (145th)
Turnovers Per Game 12.6 (112th) 10.7 (10th)
Team Fouls Per Game 17.7 (179th) 17.0 (109th)
2-point FG% 49.5% (85th) 48.4% (136th)
3-point FG% 33.1 (208th) 33.4% (191st)
Free Throw % 71.1% (117th) 70.9% (126th)
Opponent Shooting % 38.8% (16th) 41.8% (114th)
Opponent 2-point FG% 42.7% (27th) 46.6% (135th)
Opponent 3-point FG% 31.2% (49th) 33.9% (172nd)
Opponent Block Per Game 3.5 (187th) 3.3 (141st)
Opponent Steals Per Game 5.8 (65th) 5.0 (11th)

Player for Player Stats

Louisville Colorado State
Peyton Siva Dorian Green
6-0, 185, Sr. 6-2, 192, Sr.
Minutes 31.4 32.6
Points 10 12.8
Field Goal % 41.20% 42.50%
3-point % 31.40% 35.00%
FT % 86.30% 77.70%
Rebounds 2.3 2.6
Assists 5.9 3.8
Steals 2.2 0.8
Blocks 0.1 0.1
Turnovers 2.7 1.8
Fouls 2.7 1.7
Russ Smith Wes Eikmeier
6-1, 165, Jr. 6-3, 168, Sr.
Minutes 29.9 31.3
Points 18.1 12.7
Field Goal % 40.80% 37.60%
3-point % 33.30% 35.90%
FT % 82.80% 90.20%
Rebounds 3.6 1.7
Assists 3 2.2
Steals 2 0.6
Blocks 0 0.1
Turnovers 2.6 1.5
Fouls 2.5 2.7
Wayne Blackshear Pierce Hornung
6-5, 230, Soph 6-5, 210, Sr.
Minutes 20.4 31.1
Points 8 8.7
Field Goal % 41.50% 54.10%
3-point % 32.00% 40.00%
FT % 69.80% 64.10%
Rebounds 3.2 9.2
Assists 0.7 2.3
Steals 0.8 1.3
Blocks 0.3 0.5
Turnovers 0.7 1.3
Fouls 2.4 2.4
Chane Behanan Greg Smith
6-6, 250, Soph 6-6, 221, Sr.
Minutes 26.5 25.2
Points 9.9 11.1
Field Goal % 50.20% 46.40%
3-point % 9.10% 37.50%
FT % 52.50% 68.60%
Rebounds 6.6 5.3
Assists 1.1 1.1
Steals 1.5 0.4
Blocks 0.5 0.4
Turnovers 1.7 1.7
Fouls 1.7 2.4
Gorgui Dieng Colton Iverson
6-11, 245, Jr. 6-10, 261, Sr.
Minutes 31.7 29.7
Points 10 14.7
Field Goal % 49.80% 59.90%
3-point % 0.00% 0.00%
FT % 69.00% 58.90%
Rebounds 9.9 9.8
Assists 2.1 1.3
Steals 1.3 0.6
Blocks 2.5 0.7
Turnovers 1.8 2
Fouls 2.4 2.5
Montrezl Harrell Jon Octeus
6-8, 235, Fr. 6-4, 170, Soph.
Minutes 16.5 19.3
Points 5.7 4.5
Field Goal % 55.80% 35.40%
3-point % 0.00% 21.20%
FT % 50.90% 80.30%
Rebounds 3.7 2.5
Assists 0.2 1.3
Steals 0.6 0.4
Blocks 0.7 0.1
Turnovers 0.6 1
Fouls 1.3 2.2
Luke Hancock Daniel Bejarano
6-6, 200, Jr. 6-4, 202, Soph
Minutes 22.3 22.1
Points 7.5 6.1
Field Goal % 39.80% 37.90%
3-point % 37.40% 30.50%
FT % 75.80% 69.70%
Rebounds 2.8 5.5
Assists 1.4 1
Steals 1 0.6
Blocks 0 0.1
Turnovers 1.1 0.8
Fouls 1.9 2
Stephan Van Treese
6-9, 245, Jr.
Minutes 11.2
Points 1.8
Field Goal % 65.70%
3-point % 0.00%
FT % 66.70%
Rebounds 3.2
Assists 0.3
Steals 0.5
Blocks 0.3
Turnovers 0.4
Fouls 1.1
Kevin Ware
6-2, 175, Soph
Minutes 16.7
Points 4.4
Field Goal % 43.60%
3-point % 40.00%
FT % 63.60%
Rebounds 1.8
Assists 0.8
Steals 1.1
Blocks 0.1
Turnovers 1.1
Fouls 1.7

Player Interviews

Friday Transcript: Louisville, Pitino, Siva, & Hancock

THE MODERATOR:  We’ll get started with Peyton Siva and Luke Hancock.

Q.  Who does Colorado State kind of compare to that you guys have already played?  And do you feel like, you know, coaches talk about the different styles in the Big East.  Is there a comparable Big East team that you can kind of say we’ve played this style that Colorado State plays before and we’re ready for it?

LUKE HANCOCK:  If I had to say some teams, I would say like a combination of Pitt and Notre Dame, very physical, very tough team.  They run a lot of motion and they don’t have set plays very much.  They run a lot of motion offense.  So it’s really hard to guard them and they’re very physical inside.  They’re a great rebounding team.  So I think, I think Pitt and Notre Dame.

Q.  Peyton, when you look at CSU’s guards, Jon Octeus, Dorian Green, Wes Eikmeier, look at them at the perimeter, how do you feel like you and the rest of the guards at Louisville stack up against them?

PEYTON SIVA:  I think they’re great guards and playing really well right now.  Obviously leading their team in scoring or whatnot.  You know, we saw yesterday the game against Missouri, they handled Missouri really well.  They didn’t turn the ball over.  They knocked down some key 3s there.  They’re well under control.  They’re great guards and they play within the system.  They move the ball really well and shoot it well.  Tomorrow should be a good matchup.  We look forward to playing against them.

Q.  I sort of like each one of you guys to give your take on this, but you guys look like a very loose team.  You did at your open practice and even during the game, you know, I saw y’all all through the Big East.

I’m not suggesting that a team should be tight, but is there such a thing as too loose?  Are you guys — you know, are you guys in a good place, you know, should you be more concerned?

PEYTON SIVA:  There’s never too loose with Coach P.  We go out there and try to have fun and just go out there and play our game.  I think with Coach P, he doesn’t like us to be uptight.  Doesn’t like us to, you know, really stress out about a lot, tells us to go out there and play hard defense.  That’s all he asks.  Go out there and play good defense and hustle.  Offensive end, just tells us to go play.  Told us not to worry about it.  If you get too tight — he likes us to go out there and run.  He doesn’t like us to, you know, hold the ball and, you know, be too cautious of anything.  He likes us to go out there and play our game, play the way we know how to play, and especially around tournament time, he doesn’t want us to hold the ball, continue to push it even further.

LUKE HANCOCK:  I think you should see practice.  Practice is — there’s no joking around.  It’s all about business.  I think there’s a time and place when you act a little looser, and we had practice that morning before our shoot-around here, and we used that to get shots up and kind of be around the fans for a little bit.  But, you know, I think there’s a time and place, and I think Coach P is very good about having us focused at the right times.

Q.  Peyton, the steals that you guys had last night, how do you work on something like that?  Is it just something that you and Russ in particular have a natural ability to, are there drills, and can you kind of go through the anatomy of what it’s like when you’re stealing the ball in.

PEYTON SIVA:  We watch a lot of film and we try to make the right reads.  Coach kept telling us yesterday we need to get off the ball steals.  Russ is one of the best point — one of the best guards in the nation at stealing on the ball, and Coach wanted him to make concerted effort to get off the ball steals.

Yesterday I think he did both.  That’s what he instills.  For me, it’s getting in the right place in the right time.  And Luke had a couple of steals himself, but we took them away.  You know, he made the right rotations in the right place.  Me and Russ kind of stole it from him.  It’s a team effort.  You know, somehow me and Russ ends up coming up with them.  For the most part, I think it’s a team effort.  I think five, six people on our team had one steal.  It’s a team effort right there.  Just the way we play defense in practice.

Q.  Peyton, if could you just elaborate a little bit on that.  All the pressure that you put on them with your defense takes a lot of energy, I think, out of them.  Where do you guys get the energy in your tank, and do you have enough in there to continue to do this every game in the tournament?

PEYTON SIVA:  It’s tough, but, you know, we put in a lot of effort in the off-season to get our conditioning up and throughout the year.  We practice hard and we practice — we think a game’s much easier to practice for us because how hard we go in practice.

But for the most part, we just pride ourself on conditioning, pride ourself on defense.  That’s what Coach P stresses about, he stresses about defense.  He’s not worried about the offense.  He’s wants us to play good defense.  As long as we play good defense, the rest will come.

Q.  Guys, more pressure talk.  Could you just talk about the role deflections play in what you guys so.  Is there a breaking point, can you see teams reach a breaking point when you’re deflecting and stealing and turning those into points in transition, when they’re kind of tired and they’ve had enough?

LUKE HANCOCK:  Usually in games there’s like kind of a point usually in the second half where we kind of wear teams down, but a lot of great teams are here and sometimes it doesn’t happen.  Sometimes we just try to continue our pressure the entire game and hope we get steals and deflections.  You know, we have a set number every game we try to get to, and, you know, it’s just always a goal to have active hands and try to tip passes, and we’re always in passing lanes trying to get steals.

PEYTON SIVA:  We have a thing that we chart deflections.  Other teams chart in the paint, some are offensive rebounds.  For our philosophy, Coach P’s philosophy is we get a certain amount of deflections, we feel that we’re in a capable place of winning the game.  For us, we try to get as many deflections as we can.  Slow down the movement of passing.  That’s really been our key for this year, and we just continue to keep our pressure up.

Colorado State, they’re a good passing and moving team.  We got to continue to play our game, continue on slowing down the ball and focus on that.

Q.  Luke, you almost can’t avoid seeing basketball these few days on TV.  Even though you’re in it, do you like to watch other games and what have you thought so far if you have?

LUKE HANCOCK:  Well, I think we constantly have the TV on watching basketball and watching other teams play.  Not even really teams that we can matchup with, just any basketball.  We’re kind of junkies.  I think everybody on the team is always sitting back and watching games.  There’s been a lot of impressive teams.  The field is pretty surprising so far just how close some games have been and other games have been complete blowouts.  Just been kind interesting to watch every team.

THE MODERATOR:  Peyton, any thoughts?

PEYTON SIVA:  I hate that the basketball is on right now because it bothers my nap time.  I can’t sleep with the basketball game on because I’m constantly checking the score, who is playing, who is winning, who is winning?  I’m constantly up all the time.  Especially with these late games at 9:50 at night, you stay up all night watching these games.  It messes up your guys’ schedules like mine.

It’s fun to watch other guards and other teams play.  I just love learning from other teams and what they can do.  Yesterday against — we got a chance to watch Phil Pressey from Missouri and Colorado State, and Green, the point guard.  They battled against each other.  They lit it up yesterday.  It was a fun experience to watch.

Q.  You talked about what teams Colorado State compares to, but what concerns you about them?  What do you guys need to go in and stop in order to win tomorrow?

PEYTON SIVA:  They’re the number one rebounding team in the nation.  Yesterday I think at one point, Colton Iverson had 14 rebounds, Missouri had 11 as a team.  So we have to do a better job of in the glass.  Our forwards didn’t really rebound the ball that well.  The guards didn’t get back and rebound that well yesterday.  We have to do a conservative effort to get on the glass and protect the glass and try to keep them off the glass.  They’re a great team, they are well coached.  They match up well with some of the Big East teams, but we haven’t faced a team like this that rebounds with such tenacity.  We’ve got to come in ready to play.

THE MODERATOR:  Time for a couple more questions.  Anyone else?

Q.  Luke, can you just talk about the role the crowd played last night and what type of boost that give you guys, particularly with how hard you play and how much you guys rely on your energy?

LUKE HANCOCK:  It’s fun having the fans here.  You know, every team is going to be a little more successful, I guess, when the home crowd is kind of yelling for them and getting them going.  You know, it’s just good to have the fans.  We’re going to play hard either way.  Doesn’t really affect us too much.  Just nice that they’re here.  It’s nice that we’re an hour and ten minutes away from Louisville.

THE MODERATOR:  Peyton, anything to add?

PEYTON SIVA:  Very happy our crowd was here and give us big support and lift.  They cheered us when things were going right, they picked us up when things were going wrong.  They definitely play a big advantage for us.  They help us out.  But, you know, we got to go out there and play.  We know we’re not always going to have our fans there where we go, but it’s great to see them there and for them to have our backs.

THE MODERATOR:  Anything else for Peyton or Luke?  All right.  Thank you very much, fellas.  Good luck.

We have Louisville Head Coach, Rick Pitino.

Q.  Coach, just very generally, what concerns you about Colorado State?

COACH PITINO:  I have a lot of concerns, but the obvious one that sticks out is they have five seniors who are all very good.  They’re the Number 1 rebounding team in the nation.  Missouri was Number 3 last night and they beat them 42 to 19 on the backboard.  So, they have great experience, outstanding talent, extremely well coached.

They do it all.  They pass, they shoot.  They do everything fundamentally almost perfect in the way they penetrate the interior bounce pass.  We’re going to have to play awfully well to come away with a victory.

Q.  Coach, you guys are one of the best scoring defenses in the country.  Colorado State one of the fewest turnovers.  How do you keep that from canceling each other out and try and dominate like you did last night?

COACH PITINO:  Last night that team was a trapping running team, we’re a trapping running team.  We had much more talent than them and we were deeper.  After the first round is over, all the talent, as you all witnessed, times have changed.  There’s no longer difference between the 12 and a 5 or — now it’s all the same once you get by the first round.

I said it going into this that a 16 could possibly beat a 1, and it will happen because the landscape of college basketball has changed so dramatically that there’s no difference.  Even though we are the Number 1 of Number 1 seeds, we can have a war with Colorado State every time we play them.

It’s anybody’s ballgame.  It’s which team wins.  You have two contrasting styles this time around and they only average 10 turnovers, we force a lot.  Who knows until the — the ball is thrown up what’s going to happen?

Q.  Rick, your teams have pressed and trapped as far back as I can remember.  I’m wondering at what point in your career did you decide that that would be sort of a signature part of your defense and why did you decide that?

COACH PITINO:  Well, I was very fortunate to become a head coach at 24 years of age and I really wasn’t ready to be to be a head coach at that time.  So I was in my own laboratory outside of Leslie Vissor, she was the only sportscaster back then who would cover me, I was at Boston University.  She was the low lady on the totem pole at that point with the Boston Globe.  So her assignment was to cover the lowest teams in Boston.

So I could basically make all the mistakes I wanted to and no one noticed.  I was continuing tinkering with the full court press, changing it, working at it.  For the five years the at BU, I came up with a style of play that I stuck with from that point on.

Q.  Rick, the team seems very loose when we saw them in open practice, on the bench yesterday.  Is the team too loose?  Is there such a thing as too loose?

COACH PITINO:  I don’t think they’re loose.  I think we’re having a great deal of fun, but we — it started almost three years ago, even when we lost in the first round, we had a great deal of fun.  And I made up my mind and I watched the documentary, as I’m sure all you watched, with Jimmy V the other night, and I made up my mind three, four years ago when for the first time in my life, I thought about maybe packing it in and doing something else three years ago.

I said, you know what, I’m not going to do that.  I’m going coach as long as I can coach, but I’m going to make one big change.  We’re going to work — continue to work just as hard as we’ve ever worked, if not more, but we’re going to have a blast doing it, have a great time doing it.

I made up my mind three years ago to make sure we were caught between the lines but we have a lot of fun away from the lines.  It’s worked very well.  It’s a good formula.  Hard work and fun together, and last night it a little bit more, we had a big lead.  I think if we were in the Gonzaga-type game, you wouldn’t see that many smiles.  Just the way the game was being played.

Q.  Coach, how valuable is Colton Iverson to what Colorado State does?

COACH PITINO:  Well, you know, I remember him I believe it was Minnesota, I remember him.  I was very impressed with him there, because I followed Tubby being an associate of mine.  I was very impressed with him back then.  Now he’s really enhanced his game to where he’s an outstanding passer.  Goes over each shoulder.  Tremendous rebounder.  He’ll probably be a very good NBA basketball player because he’s doing so many different things.

You don’t often see a small forward average 9.2 rebounds per game, either.  He’s very, very talented, very good passer.  Does it all.  With the exception of possibly shoot free throws with a high percentage, he has every other facet to his game.

You know, it’s not often — the beginning of the tournament, I picked out like 8 or 9 teams that I thought were really dangerous.  They — Colorado State was one.  St. Louis.  Oregon as a 12 seed.  I looked at Davidson.  I know them extremely well.  So there were about — LaSalle I thought was a very dangerous team.  There’s about 8, 9 of them people wouldn’t recognize, but were very dangerous.  And Colorado State, because of five seniors, Number 1 rebounding margin team in the country.  I know Larry is a terrific coach.  They have all the ingredients to be a great basketball team, and they are.  Even their losses — they’ve never been blown out.  They fight teams on the road in some tough places to the end of the game.

Q.  Rick, you had a lot of great defensive pressure teams.  Is this team getting to be among those best you’ve had and why have they become so good as being disruptive with their number of deflections?

COACH PITINO:  I’ve never had 67 deflections in my life.  I think that was because of the type of team we were playing that they’re a trapping team, we’re a trapping team.  One of the interesting things is we apparently set the record for most steals in the NCAA and we broke the 1987 Billy Donovan team of providence, that record.  I sent Billy the Kid a text that said, sorry, you no longer have that record.

Q.  Rick, you’ve mentioned execution a lot when we’re talking about this team, especially the last several weeks.  How important is that against a team like Colorado State is execution?

COACH PITINO:  It’s crucial, because when they only average ten turnovers, but the most important thing and I probably have to make a change or two, definitely maybe one tomorrow into the game, not that starting lineups matter that much, but I probably got to get a little more rebounding into my team starting out the game tomorrow so to make sure we don’t get too far behind.

I may make a change tomorrow.  I’m going to sleep on it, watch a little more film before I decide.  But execution is really important, especially in the beginning of this game that we don’t get killed on the backboard.

Q.  Rick, you just to follow up on your point before that the landscape has changed so much, there’s not that much of a chasm between 2 and 15.  How did that happen?  The talent —

COACH PITINO:  It’s happened by the one and dones.  As you go back in college basketball you all remember watching Kareem for his college career, watching Bill Walton for his college career, watching all those great Carolina teams for their college careers, then they started leaving after three years, then two years, now you have the one and done.

Today, a Colorado State or a Davidson could have an advantage over the teams that have guys go early and you see it.  So, right now when do you see five seniors who are all very good start on a basketball team?  That’s what Colorado State has.  That’s what Davidson has.  You see the teams that are major college basketball teams, but they don’t necessarily recruit or get the one-and-done-type deal are probably better.  So that’s the landscape has changed because of that.

Now, you know, last year Kentucky won it all with one of the best teams I’ve seen in quite some time, but they had a great senior in Miller, they had Lamb.  They had Jones.  They had upperclassmen to go with that.  So, it all depends on the mixture of your team.

So the culture has changed because of the dynamics of putting together a team, and, you know, I have a young man, Gorgui Dieng, who will test the waters right now.  He’s a junior.  That’s okay.  I had him for three years.  I’ve been very fortunate.

Q.  You mentioned that Colorado State is one of your dangerous teams.  When you see them potentially as one of your opponents, is that something that kind of excites you or something that you don’t want to see?

COACH PITINO:  If I had my druthers, no.

Q.  Secondly, make a case for why your team should be on — if another coach is making a list of dangerous teams.

COACH PITINO:  I was rooting for Missouri last night.  Why?  Because Missouri plays a certain style, up and down, and it’s a better fit for us.  But that doesn’t mean that — I’m sure Colorado State has said, well, Louisville may not be the best fit for us, either.  It works both ways.

That being said, the way I look at dangerous team and I put that list together, it’s based on how many upperclassmen do they have that have stayed together and how much talent do they have?  You have a lot of upperclassmen, but they may not be that good.  This team is very talented as well as being seniors.

So, that’s — I always look at talent and experience coming together, and Colorado State has both.

Q.  If another coach was making up his list of dangerous teams, what do you think would scare him — or not scare him but earn your team a spot on the dangerous list?

COACH PITINO:  You know, I think obviously if you have a great backcourt, that’s crucial.  They have all the parts.  They’ve got great shooters on the perimeter and great rebounders.  I think a backcourt really helps.  Last night the reason we played so well was the play of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, they played great.  We didn’t necessarily get great play from a lot of people.  Those two guys, Stephen Van Treese, all three of those guys were outstanding.

Q.  For a team like Colorado State that doesn’t run a lot of set plays, how difficult is that going to be to kind of maybe simulate in practice and get your players to be able to defend?

COACH PITINO:  That’s a great question, because when you play against the Notre Dames and Colorado States that run a lot of pure motion, and pure motion is very difficult, you have to have smart players who are triple-threat people, pass, catch and shoot, and you don’t get a whole lot of teams like that.

This is a team that can do that.  So you can’t choreograph your defense to stop certain options ins one day because they run more freelance motion.  So it is more difficult than the team that runs patterned sets and you can prepare for.  They are very difficult to prepare for.

Q.  Rick, can you give us a little history on the evolution of the lineup you used against Notre Dame with Gorgui and Stephan on the floor at the same time and just — a lot of us were anticipating we may see that again given the rebounding matchup tomorrow.  What does that give you and why have you been reluctant to use it otherwise?

COACH PITINO:  Well, Stephan is the best rebounder on the team, so obviously you figure they’re going to be on the court together tomorrow.  So, he is the best rebounder.  The reluctance — it hasn’t been reluctance.  Here’s the danger of it.  If one of them gets in foul trouble, you know, you’re limited at the backup center spot.  Now I’m going to have to play Zach Price, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s just foul trouble is the only thing I’m concerned about is having them.

In this type of game, I may not have a choice.  I mean, I may have to worry about that down the road because obviously Montrezl and Chane have not been putting up good rebounding numbers.

THE MODERATOR:  We have four, five minutes left.  Next question, please.

Q.  Rick, in Hartford when you guys beat UConn, after the game you sort of cited a stat that said when the game is within five points, Boatwright and Napier take 87 percent of the shots.  It shows that there was some statistical analysis that was done.  Can you describe the role of number crunching for you and your staff in prepping for a game?

COACH PITINO:  Well, the dynamics change, like yesterday we had four or five statistical things that we thought we could reach based on the way North Carolina A&T will play.  Tomorrow we’ll have four or five numbers that we must reach in order to beat Colorado State.

If Colorado State dominates the glass and we don’t — there’s not a disparity in turnovers, they win this game.  They have better perimeter shooting, they are better backcourt people.  So we’ve got to win certain things tomorrow or their style is going to win.

So it depends on who we’re playing.  There’s four, five key points in every single basketball game that we have to win four out of five categories to come away with a victory.  We’ll have that for Colorado State, and if we were lucky enough to advance, it would probably be very similar to if St. Louis won to that type.  It would be different if Oregon won.

Q.  When we were growing up, the only conference that had a conference tournament was the ACC.  Now everybody has them.  Yours can be just brutal.  Seems like it hasn’t bothered you guys this year, it’s energized.  Do you like the conference tournament?  It can hurt, it can help.  Do you like them?

COACH PITINO:  I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions we have.  Coaches are saying when the conference tournaments first started that it wears a team out.  With the TV timeouts today, it’s impossible to be tired, really is.  Now, you saw the way Russ and Peyton played last night.  They weren’t tired at all.  They had a great practice today.

TV timeouts are so long and it’s just — the reason I love to win the tournament is, you got three days or the year before we had four days back to back.  In a 24-hour span, you have to get your guys to focus on the game plan and they have to really concentrate on it and it really helps you come NCAA time when you’re playing a Thursday/Saturday or a Friday/Sunday with very little prep time.  I helps when you play the those three days in a row.  It’s like a dress rehearsal for the real thing.  I love it.  We put great emphasis on that because it really helps your team.

THE MODERATOR:  Time for perhaps two more.

Q.  Coach, I know how much basketball you watch during the season and I know the preparation.  Yesterday and today, do you get to watch a whole lot of others or is it just mostly preparation, and what specifically do you think about like a Harvard, the upset last night kind of thing, and the upsets that do happen on the first couple of days?

COACH PITINO:  Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t think it was an upset, that’s one.  I really didn’t think.  I thought Harvard would play them tough.  I thought they would be in the game.  You know, yesterday I thought Pittsburgh was going to have a very difficult time with Wichita State.  I thought Marquette would have a difficult time with Davidson.  I knew Temple would play well against NC State today.

Now, if Southern would have beaten Gonzaga, that was a upset.  I really don’t think — everybody is saying that Oregon got — the committee got the seeding wrong with Oregon.  They didn’t get it wrong.  Everybody is just really, really close.  You really have — I was watching something today, it’s easier to hit the lottery than it is to pick a perfect bracket, the percentage-wise.  It really is.

Right now I’ve looked at certain games that I picked somebody else, who did you like?  I like six games I see from a style standpoint and I’m coaching a long time.  You can’t pick these games from 2 to 15.  They’re really, really close.  Harvard is every bit as good.  We’re the Number 1 of Number 1 seeds.  If we played Harvard ten times, we may win six and they may win four.  And we’re the Number 1 of Number 1 seeds.  We’re very close in terms of talent.

Now, there comes a team every now and then where a Duke, us, Carolina, may have four first round draft choices on it, plus they have a great attitude, plus they’re in the upper class, and then you may have a dominant basketball team like a Kentucky had last year.  But there’s very few of those teams that come long.

THE MODERATOR:  I think we got time for one more quick one.

Q.  Rick, follow up on the rebounding question, what was it about the Notre Dame matchup that caused you to play Gorgui and Stephan at the same time?  Why did you wait until then?

COACH PITINO:  Well, we felt — we were playing a lot of zone in that game, and when you play a lot of zone, you can get away with that in terms of foul situations.  You’ve got to be very careful of foul situations, but Stephan also is not going to score many points.  He’s not going to get a lot of points.  He’s going to get it off follow-up dunks.  He’s not going to get it off his jump shot.  If you need points — the thing about Stephan that doesn’t get recorded in statistics, his screening frees up so many people to get points, and you saw that in the Bahamas when Gorgui went down, we don’t lose a whole lot.  We played Duke to the wire and we played really well because of that.

So, even parts of the Missouri game.  We don’t lose a whole lot with Stephan in the game, we’re just not going to get points.

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you, Coach Pitino.  Good luck.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Transcript Friday: Colorado State, Larry Eustachy, Dorian Green, & Pierce Hornung

THE MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, those of you joining us live here in the Lexington, Kentucky, rep arena, we have the Colorado State University Rams.  Our student-athletes, Dorian Green, wears number 22, and number 4, Pierce Hornung.

Q.  Pierce, selection showed you knew if you beat Missouri you’d have to play No. 1 seed.  Really didn’t think about that at that time.  Now that’s a reality, where are the emotions going through your guys right now in this preparation?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  You know, I think we’re just preparing for it like we prepare for every game this season.  You know, in this tournament there’s no gimme games no matter who you play, you know.  So, you know, you got to beat the best in this tournament because the best teams in the country are here.  We got a tough challenge tomorrow, and we’re just going to prepare like we prepared for every game.

Q.  Dorian, I just kind of want to get your perspective.  They got some good guards in Peyton Siva, Russ Smith.  How do you feel you guys match up against them?

DORIAN GREEN:  We’re confident in ourselves and our abilities.  They’re two really good players.  We’re up for the challenge, and, you know, this is what we came to do, this is what we love to do, and so it’s going to be fun to compete against those two, but they’re really talented, two really good guards.  So us as a backcourt, we’re really looking forward to the challenge.

Q.  Speaking of the guards, the pressure that they put on, how tough is it to simulate in practice, and then how you kind of get yourself through the immense pressure you guys are going to be under?

DORIAN GREEN:  Well, I think we’re going to go through it today — I think for us just got to be disciplined in our press break and run to it perfection every single time and be are crisp with it.  Knowing they’re going to get deflections and pressuring and coming up with steals.  We can’t turn the ball over, I think, and give them easy opportunities.  It comes down to just all five guys being sharp in our press breaking and run with it perfection and being really crisp every single time.

Q.  Either of you guys, how much did you know about your Coach’s sort of back story when he came?  Did you have any trepidation?  What does it mean to you be part of what he called last it night, his personal comeback?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  We knew a little bit.  What we focused on when we heard that Coach was coming to coming to CSU was the success he’s had everywhere he’s been.  You can’t argue with success, and that’s what we looked at.  You know, he was very up-front and honest from the get-go about his past, but all we cared about is the fact that he’s a great coach and early on we bought into what he was telling us and knew that what he was telling us, what he was coaching us, was the right way to play basketball.

DORIAN GREEN:  Yeah, just like Pierce said:  Coach has won every single place he’s been at.  The proof is in what he’s done.  It was easy for us to buy into Coach and our coaching staff and, like I said it’s been a great fit for us.  It’s just been perfect.

Q.  Dorian, Coach Pitino said if you guys dominate the glass again like you did last night and Louisville doesn’t have its usual huge edge in turnovers that you guys will have a good chance to win.  Is that the formula that you guys think will be able to pull off the upset?

DORIAN GREEN:  Our formula is the same for us every single game.  We’re not changing anything.  I think what we need to do is we got to rebound.  That’s what we’ve preached from day one.  So I think that for us to do the same thing that we’ve done every single game and aim to do every single game.  We definitely can’t turn the ball over and let them get easy buckets in transition.  Hang the pressure and just being aggressive, attack, and going and getting the missed shots will be huge.  For us, it’s the same game plan we’ve had for the majority of the year.  We have to do it the best we’ve done so far.

Q.  Is there a defense that you think compares anywhere close to this Louisville pressure that you guys have faced?

DORIAN GREEN:  I think when Lon Kruger was at UNVL, kind of similar to the run and jump to Pressey for 40 minutes.  That’s the closest that we’ve seen from a Louisville — it might be a little different.  I don’t really know, but we’ve had some experience with that against Coach Kruger when he was at UNLV.  Something similar to that.

Q.  For each of you, if you guys win this game, will you consider it an upset or do you expect to win?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  You know, we’re going into this game expecting to win.  You know, you’re not going to be successful in this tournament any other way.  So, we got a bunch of guys that are confident in ourselves and our abilities, and so that’s the mentality you have to go into any game if you expect to win.

DORIAN GREEN:  Like Pierce said, we’re a confident team, but we also understand our opponent.  We respect our opponent, but we feel like we’re one of the best teams in the country and we believe in ourselves.  If we play well, we know that we can beat anybody in the country.  We just have to go out there and do it.  It’s a great challenge for us.  We understand what kind team they are and what they bring to the table.  So, like I said, we’re up for the challenge and it’s going to be a dogfight for 40 minutes.

Q.  You won your first NCAA Tournament game in 24 years, first post season game for you guys.  Do you feel like the season has been a success now, or do you guys still have to do more?

DORIAN GREEN:  It’s hard the say right now.  We want to keep playing, so right now we’re in the moment.  We’ll look back on that in five, ten years or whatever, but we still feel like we’ve got a lot of basketball to play, and to do that, we’ve got to come out and beat Louisville tomorrow.

Yeah, we’ve done something that we’ve never done, but now we need to build on it.  We can’t be happy or complacent that we’ve won one game.  We expected to win against Missouri.  Now it’s just to continue that and not get complacent with where we’re at right now.

THE MODERATOR:  Anything else to add, Pierce, on that?


Q.  For either of you, you guys talk about the magnitude of this game for the program and where it is for you guys in your personal careers.

PIERCE HORNUNG:  It would be a huge win.  Any win in the NCAA Tournament is huge.  Like I said, every one’s a great team.  Great teams — you got to be a great team to be in this tournament — so, you know, to get any win.  But Louisville is a great team and we know that and, yeah, it would be a tremendous win.  But like Dorian said, we got a lot — we think we’ve got a lot of basketball left to play.

Q.  Dorian, last night you were saying that this coach brought just the ingredient that you needed.  Can you just elaborate on that, what was that ingredient, what did he bring in?

DORIAN GREEN:  Coach brings, you know, a big sense of toughness, both physically and mentally.  So they push us from day one to be tougher, to win games on the road.  We were pretty poor on the road last year, and so we’ve made strides to turn that around this year, and I think just defensively we’re way better than we were last year.

Obviously rebounding the ball, you know, we’re one of the best in the country at doing that and Coach brings out defense and rebounding and just the sense of toughness.  It’s made us way better than we were last year.

Q.  Could you guys just talk about the evolution of Jon Octeus over the course of the season and how much better is he now than at the start?

DORIAN GREEN:  Jon has been huge for us.  We don’t win a lot of games that we’ve won without him.  That could be said about him, Gerson, DB, Joe, everybody on our team has a role.  And so our guys off the bench have been great with their energy and their support and just their attitudes.  And so Jon has gotten better every single game.  I think it’s just come with the experience, and he provides us with a lot of, you know, energy, great lift, and defensively he’s been great rebounding.  So you can’t say enough about him and those guys off the bench.  They don’t get as much credit as they deserve because we don’t win a lot of our games without them and what they brought to the table and just the way they play.  Starting with him and everybody else, they’re huge to the success of our team.

THE MODERATOR:  Pierce, any thoughts?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  Yeah.  Their attitude on the bench has been great this year.  It’s a tough role not knowing how much you’re going to play game in and game out, but to have the attitude to when your name is called to go in there and provide great minutes off the bench, I can’t say enough about them.

Jon, he’s just done a great job when Dorian was hurt, stepping in and playing huge.  He’s a great defender.  A lot of games this year, he shut down the other guy’s better perimeter player.  Especially with Jesse Carr not being able to play this year and Jon stepping into that role, he’s just done a tremendous job.

Q.  Everybody wants to rebound.  You guys obviously do it better than most.  Is it a mentality, do you do drills, how did this come to be?

DORIAN GREEN:  Coach has talked about rebounding since he has been here, since he got the job and how he’s going to make us one of the best rebounding teams in the country.  Coach always says you get what you put into it.  You know, we take a lot of pride in rebounding.  We do drills every single day about rebounding and blocking out and just being more physical.

It comes with — now it’s just natural to us, I think to the point where we’re done it so much in practice, we’re used to it.  We can always do better.  It’s a mentality and just our approach to it and just putting a lot of thought into what we’re doing.  You got to ask Pierce because he’s the one doing most of the rebounding.

PIERCE HORNUNG:  Yeah.  I’d say — I imagine we practice it as much, if not more, than everyone in the country.  It’s what Coach emphasizes, what we spend the majority of our practice on, and I think what you emphasize in practice what you get in the games.  And so I think just as a team, the drills we do and the way we practice, is really conducive to getting that on the floor.

Q.  For you Pierce, is offensive rebounding a different skill altogether from defensive rebounding?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  I’d say so.  Defense is blocking out and keeping your guy off the glass.  Offense is just getting your shoulder by and being relentless and having that mentality to just go after it every single time.  The discipline when that shot goes up get your shoulder by and put yourself in a good position to get the rebound, I think it is a different skill.

Q.  Do y’all question what the NCAA Tournament selection committee has against you?  Last year they send you to Louisville, you’re playing against Murray and you had all those Kentucky fans in there, pulling against you.  Now you’re in Lexington playing against Louisville.  Do you kind of embrace the environment you’re going to be walking into tomorrow?

DORIAN GREEN:  It is what it is.  It’s out of our control. We can’t pick where we’re going to be seeded.  We can have our own opinions about it.  That was over with Sunday when we were the second team that was — the second game that was showed.

For us, I think it’s a great atmosphere.  You know, that’s what you want in college basketball is a packed house and everybody rooting against you.  So it’s going to be a great environment and a great atmosphere, something we have to kind of relish and want to be successful in.  That’s what college basketball is all about, and it’s a great opportunity and a great challenge for us to play Louisville in Kentucky.

THE MODERATOR:  Pierce, any thoughts from you?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  Yeah.  I mean, I think our schedule this season playing in the Mountain West, there was a lot of big venues, big packed venues and we’re used to it.  We’re used to seeing a sea of red.  You go to the Pitt in Albuquerque, you go to Thomas Mack, that’s all it is, just a sea of red.  We watched the game last night before.  It was a sea of red, that’s for sure.  What a great opportunity to come back to Kentucky and get another chance to prove ourselves in this tournament.  We love being out here.

THE MODERATOR:  Have time for one or two more questions for the student-athletes.  Anyone else?

Q.  Having a veteran like Coach Eustachy, how does that help prepare you guys for facing a Number 1 team?  He’s been against a lot top five programs himself?

DORIAN GREEN:  Coach has been here and done it.  His experience and his knowledge is key, and, you know, having somebody that’s leading you, that’s been through it is great for us.  For us, we just have to listen to what he says and follow his lead and then apply it to our game.

And so Coach’s experience has been great.  He’s been in this situation a lot, and he’s done this before.  So for us to feed off him and take what he has to say and to apply it into our game and just be ready to play Louisville.

THE MODERATOR:  One back here.  One more after this one.

Q.  Pierce, the couple days off that Coach gave you guys after the Mountain West tournament really seemed to rejuvenate you guys.  Now you have to turn around pretty quickly and play tomorrow.  How are you guys feeling physically entering tomorrow’s game?

PIERCE HORNUNG:  We feel great.  We get a day off in between, use this day to heal up a little bit, Dorian is more healthy, and you can see he was limping little bit during the game yesterday, but, we’ll take the opportunity today and rehash some things and we’ll be fresh tomorrow.  We’ll be ready to go, you know.  It’s tough not to have the adrenaline to get up and go on for the NCAA Tournament.  We’ll be ready as a team.

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Time for one more question.  All right.  Thank you, Pierce, thank you, Dorian.  Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

Ladies and gentlemen, those of you joining us here live in Lexington, Kentucky, at Rupp Arena, thank you.  And those joining us via satellite, this is our final media session of the afternoon Head Coach Larry Eustachy, Colorado State University Rams.

Q.  Larry, because of the number of bids your conference got and its previous post season history, there was going to be a lot of attention to how Mountain West teams did this year.  After yesterday you were the only team that had a good day, so to speak, in your league.  Is it fair to measure a league based on what individual members do in this tournament?

COACH EUSTACHY:  I don’t think it’s fair, but I think it’s reality.  I just think that’s what it is, you know.  You’re judged by — I mean, look at New Mexico, they won the league, won the tournament, and now in a lot of fans’ eyes, they had a bad year.  And it’s not fair, but it’s again reality.  That’s what it is.

Q.  Given your relationship with Tom Jurich and the fact that seems like there was at least some chance you could have ended up being Louisville’s coach at one point, what is this, as you called it last night, the fact that you’re on this step of your personal comeback and this is where you are and who you’re playing, what does that mean to you and does it mean something extra?

COACH EUSTACHY:  I saw Tom and I saw Mark, his son, who now works in the department and — Tom and I went to high school together.  So to say it isn’t special or different, it’s unique and it’s fun, you know.  No added pressure or less pressure, it’s just — it’s fun.  I have a lot of respect for Rick.  Nobody is playing better in the country than Louisville and we welcome it.  We welcome it.

So, it’s got a little twist to it, yeah, it does.  That’s kind of neat.

Q.  Larry, just what’s Colton Iverson meant to your team this year and how would you judge the development he’s made during the course of this season?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Well, he’s as improved a player that we’ve had and one of the most improved that I’ve had in my career.  If we were in December, we’d start working on him facing up and shooting the 12, 15 footer, which he can really make right now, but he just — he’s just not real confident with it.

If you see him get in that position 12 feet from the basket, he immediately turns his back and starts to work a guy down.  I think that’s what NBA player, coaches are going to be surprised.  They mess around, you been there in practice, he shoots 3s in practice and makes them.

So he’s got — there’s just another level that he can take it at.  But, you don’t — it’s all because of him.  His improvement has been as good as anybody on this team, and it’s because you do not find a guy that big that is playing because he likes to play.  It’s rare.  They usually play because they’re that tall.  He would play if he was 5-11.  So he likes working at it and likes to compete.

That’s what bothers me so much is when he’s eliminated with these touch fouls and — whether they’re fouls or not, he’s not been able to enjoy a full performance in a long time because he’s always seems to be hindered by fouls.

Q.  Coach, how difficult is it to prepare for the pressure that Louisville is going show you guys and what has made them so full in getting the deflections doing everything that they do to such a high level?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Obviously you’re at best at what you practice.  So, if they practice that way, probably more than anybody in the country, I would imagine, this is an educated guess, you know, they — not a lot of teams chart deflections, and they — that’s important to them.  I think it’s a different way to play.

You know, we can’t be on our heels or we’ll have no chance.  There’s just so many turnovers we can’t have and then we eliminate ourselves because the turnover, they keep it in play and they convert almost 40 percent of them.  So, we have to be strong with the ball and, you know, from an officiating standpoint, you know, they grab, they reach and it becomes so common, you know, and I have no problem with it, but we just have to be men and be strong with it and not let them jar loose from us because we’re going to get it for 40 minutes.  And I think we’re prepared for it, but we’ll see.

Q.  One of your guys in the locker room said that this is a team of castoffs and misfits and that he said it’s written in the stars that a guy who had sort of been through what you have and scratched his way back would come to them and be — become their leader.

Is that how you feel?  Is this a team of kindred spirits?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Well, you know, like I said, I think, yesterday, my dad sold cars and I wasn’t — I got cut from a Division II team in college.  So, I’ve played about every role on a team, and I think that’s helped me in coaching.  I haven’t had a golden path, you know, I had to wait tables to be a GA starting at Mississippi State.  So I get these guys, I get — and they get me.  I haven’t had just, like I say, a yellow brick road to success, even if I’ve had any success, I have to be judged by others.

But, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I said it yesterday, at difficult jobs.  I’ve never been at the best job in a certain league.  So, we’ve got a bunch of guys that have faced adversity and kind of all come together, and it would be disappointing if we don’t leave our best on the court, whether it’s a win or a loss.  But we expect to win.

Q.  Coach, is there any message you can give your guys to get them ready and prepared for a Number 1 team?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Well, yeah, I think it’s opportunity.  When are you ever going to get this opportunity again.  You couldn’t ask for anything better.  You know, everybody was all upset when we were at the Sunday for the announcements of the brackets, and I thought it was perfect, you know, because we’re playing a great Missouri team.  And if we could get through that, we get to play the best team in the country.  If you’re competitive, that’s what you want to do, you want to go against the best and see where you stack up.

So, it was a great draw.  As it turned out, we won and now we’ll have no excuses.  We get to go toe to toe with the best team in the country.  And I don’t think we’ll back down.  I just hope we don’t get caught up in — we’re not a great play-making team.  We’re not a great passing team.  So, it’s not a good matchup for us that way.  We’re going to have to play above ourselves in that area as far as taking care of the ball and play making to get it done.

Q.  It’s obvious, Coach, why Louisville would get your attention when the brackets came out.  Coach Pitino was just out here a few minutes ago.  He said Colorado State got his attention when the brackets came out and that he considered you one of about eight teams that he thought was very dangerous in the tournament this year.  Do you believe that?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Well, I think we’re a team that the way we play, you know, I’ve said this from day one, that we’re built for this type of play, this tournament play, you know.  If we’re playing right, which we didn’t a lot last night, we’re getting back, we’re protecting the basket, we’re limiting teams to one shot, we’re not giving up easy shots, we’re coming down, we’re not taking bad shots, we’re not turning it over, hopefully.

So I think we’re hard to play against, you know, in my opinion, and that’s why we play that way.  It’s the hardest way to play.  Louisville plays the whole floor and so do we.  We play — that’s how big the court is, let’s play the whole thing, whether it’s a loose ball going to the corner or whether they’re trying to trap us.

So, I think both teams play differently but at the same level of effort, and that’s a compliment to our guys.

Q.  Larry, as a follow-up to that, do you have a list of dangerous teams and would Louisville qualify for it?

COACH EUSTACHY:  You know, I don’t.  I’m not like Seth Greenberg.  I thought it was an omen for us when it was NCIS marathon yesterday, because I don’t watch college basketball and I really don’t know — I couldn’t tell you who started for Louisville until this morning or who the players were.

So, you know, when I’m done coaching, I try to channel my energy into different things.  I really mean that.  NCIS is my favorite show.  It’s changed from Law and Order.  When that was on, I told my wife, this is an omen.

Now, Seth Greenberg, who is a great friend, married a girl from my high school, he loves it.  He could tell you — he could talk about it forever, like eight teams, he would go to 16.  He would know all about it.  I’m just different.  I’m just not — not different, it’s not my way.  I don’t know.  I do know that this is capped as the best team in the country and we love challenges and we’ve been underrated all year as far as picked 5th in a lot of magazines and could have won the league.  We welcome it.

Q.  Larry, I just wanted to ask you a follow-up with Iverson.  Given that he was limited to 25 minutes because of the foul issues, what can you say about the fact that he still pulled down 13 rebounds in that limited time?

COACH EUSTACHY:  That’s who he is.  Like I say — he will play in the NBA for as long as wants to.  What I loved about it, he didn’t get frustrated.  He was getting to the point.  He’s got a temper and he couldn’t — he can lose it, but that’s what you love about him.  You don’t want to wind him up.  You want to wind him down.  You got to wind down Colton every now and then.

I thought he handled the adversity of the fouling really well and in that limited — I didn’t think he played that many minutes, but 13 rebounds.  If he plays the whole game, in theory, he gets 20-plus, so very impressive.

Q.  Going back to the turnovers, Coach, you guys have been one of the best teams in the country at not giving it away.  Has that just been a result of having experienced guys like Dorian and Wes have the ball in their hands?

COACH EUSTACHY:  See, I didn’t know that, I really — I don’t even know my own team in some areas stat wise.  I know we emphasize it and we ran — we get in shape through turnovers.  Early in the year, every time we turn it over, we run a 30-second line drill.  So that’s the way we get in shape.  We make an emphasis of it.

Possessions, that’s why we’re so big into rebounding, those are possessions.  So, that’s great to hear, but I think we’re going to get tested beyond our — beyond what we’ve ever seen all year long, and we have to get our game on to this court and try to take them out of their game.  So, it’s pretty simple.

Q.  Last night were you telling us about some high profile people that you’ve had the benefit of being around, like Jerry Sloan and Merlon Olsen.  When did you cross paths with them and what qualities do you see in them that help you?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Well, Merlin Olsen played at Utah State and I coached at Utah State, so I had the absolutely honor and pleasure of getting to know him a little bit.  He would talk about, you know, the Fearsome Foursome and how — and I grew up in L.A. and the smog — and how they would go through the preseason and three-a-days and how he’d go down to one knee and close his eyes and think about Logan, Utah, and fly fishing and that was the only way he got through the grueling practices.  That’s when you couldn’t have water.  You weren’t allowed to have water during — can you imagine that?

He only missed three games from junior high to his final career.

Jerry Sloan, you know, I got to know him again in Utah when he was an assistant for Frank Layden.  I’ll never forget.  He said, the body can take a lot of pain, it’s just how much can you take, you know, how much can you really give it, how much can you handle.  And he was the ultimate, wasn’t he, of it?

So, you know, I study guys like that.  They’re special and their stories.  I told the guys you know, do you know who Merlin Olsen is?  Our guys looked at each other like, so?

I told Pierce Hornung, your dad played football.  See if he’s ever heard of Merlin Olsen.  He got an earful from his dad.  His dad was quite upset he didn’t know who Merlin was.  We’re getting a little old.  I’ve been around great people like that.  It’s been kind of neat.

THE MODERATOR:  On or two more, anybody else?

Q.  Could you just talk about what Jon Octeus and his evolution over the course of season, how much better he is now.

COACH EUSTACHY:  We’re not sitting here if it’s not for Jon.  The best play we’ve had all year was when he stayed down and just — and put his long arms up and actually took the ball from Pressey last night.  Jesse car goes down and we’re in a lot of trouble if we don’t have Jon.  So, Jon — Jon snatched the opportunity with Jesse going down.  And I think we have — like Joe would be the same way had Wes gone down.  I think Joe is in the same category.  Gerson would be the same way if Colt had gone down.  They’re all in the same category.

Jon just has had the opportunity.  Without opportunity, you couldn’t have the situation that he’s been in, but he’s priceless.  He’s just a sophomore.  He’s going to be special for us.  Like I say, everybody thinks we’re going to fall off the map next year.  I don’t think so.  I think we’re going to be pretty good.


Q.  Will you watch the NCAA Tournament tonight or the NCIS marathon?

COACH EUSTACHY:  Is it on?  (Laughter).  I’ll watch the NCIS marathon.  Honestly, I will.  I’m not — on my mother’s grave, I will watch it.  I just — that’s just who I am.  So, Gibbs is my guy, Gibbs, okay?

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

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