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.
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