March 11, 2011
Notre Dame: 77
An Interview With:
COACH PITINO: We had a big treat, President Clinton came by and said hi and my guys were in shock. We're all big fans of him and we're so happy he is a big basketball fan from Razorback times and I remember in '96 getting a call from him right before or afterwards and I made the blunder of saying yeah, I'm sure this is Mr. Clinton, and I didn't believe it. It was. I made a fool of myself.
Real proud of our effort tonight because we didn't play good basketball, especially in the first half. We came out of our zone too early, went to man to man and they picked us apart. In the second half I said you guys get one shot at winning this game, you've got to take their legs out from under them and it will pay off at the end but you've got to do it without fouling in the full court you've got to deny 'em, press 'em, and in the end if we make our come back, they won't have their legs, and all of the guys did a great job, we were in serious foul trouble, we weren't playing good basketball and we overcame all of that to get a victory so I'm real proud of our team.
Q. What about your offensive strategy, looked like the 6, 7 minutes all you did was drive the lane, basically?
COACH PITINO: We felt we could get good things by taking it to the goal.
If we didn't get what we wanted. They had to leave him and he could go to work and we ran a variety of three or four different sets that ended up in a pick and role and we were going to take them off the pick and role and try to create and what Peyton went out he was playing really, really well. I'm happy that about a month ago we started playing Preston at the point because it paid huge dividends.
Q. Rick, what were you able to do to take Ben Hansbrough off his game?
COACH PITINO: They're extremely well coached as y'all know. I'm not telling you anything new. But the one weakness they may have is is if you can wear 'em out. If you can go to the body for 11, 12 rounds maybe you'll get 'em at the end.
That's our only strategy because we couldn't defend them. First game around we just tried to outscore them and we almost did it at Notre Dame, it was an overtime game.
When it came to this overtime they fired the first bullets, I said we've got to fire the first bullets in overtime.
Q. Coach, how much of Kemba have you gotten to see during this tournament, how are you going to defend him
COACH PITINO: We've played 'em twice so we know him very well, we know the Connecticut team very well. I think the mistake we've often made is trying to stop one key guy and have other people beat you. He's smart enough to do that. These games are so exciting. It's almost tougher than the tournament. But that being said it prepares you very well for the tournament. We have a deep bench and we play a lot of people. We know it will be a very good game. At their place it was double overtime but we will be ready for them if we get in before the three.
Q. Rick, I think it was the St. John's game where you didn't have Terrence which I think now makes it so that everyone on your team you didn't have at some point. If I would have told you then that you would be playing tomorrow night, what would you have said?
COACH PITINO: My best friend Ralph Willard said to me before the season, he said when do you think Swop will come back and I said I'm worried he won't come back and he said you just hired a high school coach he has no experience recruiting, you're not going to need me that much, make me the oppose guy, teach him how to recruit for a year, I want you to stay positive, but you're going to go through hell this year and have a difficult time.
I sat there motionless. I said you're kidding, right and he said no. Do you think we can be a good team? And I said who knows? We don't have one player back but it will be all right and he said no, it's going to be a tough year. From that point I knew he was right in terms of what we had coming back but you can never evaluate one of the toughest things to evaluate is heart, attitude and all those things, all we see is jump shot, athleticism, when we go we don't see all that, but I haven't coach a team with this much heart and how they battle back.
I am surprised and I'm happy for these guys, they paid the price. I'm doing very little, they paid the price.
Q. The resiliency of this team, the biggest deficit at halftime this year. Are you still learning about this team, about the size of their heart?
COACH PITINO: A little bit. I feel like I've I didn't play a second, I feel like I've been beat up all over the place. I could never jump as high as Calhoun did the other night, I could never get up that high. These guys they not only surprise me but like I knew Preston was absolutely dead. He had nothing left, he was out of gas, he couldn't breathe and I said lift up and look at me and I said I'm hearing ever word you say, Coach, I'm dead. " And he came through at the end and made big time shots and played great defense and after he was pressing the guy after the full court stuff, I couldn't fathom that.
Q. Terrence you had 4 fouls in the second half, and Peyton fouled out, how do you build that run to come back?
TERRENCE JENNINGS: I'm proud of my guys. We showed a lot of heart today. I told my guys to stay together and I'm going to hit the glass as hard as I can and that's what we did tonight, put ourselves in a position to win the game.
COACH PITINO: One thing with Terrence, you know what is shocking? He used to be a Florida State field goal kicker, wide left, wide right on the free throw and now our guys, they start not to lineup, they don't even go in there to get offensive rebounds because they think he is the best foul shooter in the game now and he tells 'em, "don't go to the line I'm making them" he's out of his mind but he's making them.
Q. Coach, how do you like being in the final game for the second time in three years?
COACH PITINO: I think it's great. We thought we had a very good team last time around we ended up No. 1 of the No. 1 seed, so kind of expected if we played well we would be there. In the first half tonight we didn't expect to be playing Connecticut for a third time, but we came away with it. We're excited about it, we look forward to the challenge and we're really, really excited about the potential of winning a Big East championship with the league being this tough because Connecticut was probably picked 10th; is that correct? We were picked 8th, tied with Marquette and the two of us are meeting. I think the coaches probably vote standings, so it's quite a feat for these guys.
Q. Rick, you described taking the legs out from Notre Dame in the second half. You're going to be facing a team tomorrow that has played four game in four days already. Do you envision employing something similar with a team that's put that much mileage on it?
COACH PITINO: We were lucky enough last time around in the championship to play Syracuse when it went five overtimes, and we pressed them. The problem is although they've played four games, we're exhausted. We're tired. We had to work about as hard as a basketball team can work tonight. The only good thing, the silver lining is they were all in foul trouble so they had to rest in the game. But we're a tired ball club, we're going to get in at 1 or 2:00 and we've got to prepare for them so normally we would have a big edge on that, but they are resilient. Kemba does a great job, their freshmen are terrific. We know what we have to do to win but we will have to be ready. It's going to be a hell of a game but I don't think it's going to be because he this don't have legs, it's going to be a matter of will and heart not necessarily the physical stature of the players.
THE MODERATOR: Louisville, thank you.
Louisville – 83
Notre Dame – 77
An Interview With:
COACH BREY: Really disappointed. We wanted to try and get Saturday night here. We've never been to Saturday night. Take our hat off to Louisville, they played well especially in the second half, get the pressure on us, second shots hurt us. Tried some man, tried some zone, and we probably couldn't get into a very good offensive rhythm, their defense was very good.
Having said that we had some great looks down the stretch. We didn't make 'em and they got us. But we invested a lot here so it's kind of a crushing below. I'm glad we have a couple of days to get our legs under us.
Q. Scott, what do you think, first half you guys were rolling like you've been rolling in the quarters, second half went out from under you, what happened?
SCOTT MARTIN: I think you have to credit them that they went to the offensive glass and that's where they kinda hurt us in the second half. They got some put backs and tip ins and that hurt us down the stretch.
Q. Once Siva fouled out you had to feel that their penetration wasn't going to be as great as it had been?
COACH BREY: You think you're in good position. Preston Knowles did a great job taking over. You get caught helping out on too many shooters, you get caught I would rather twos go in, but their second shots, 23 offensive rebounds. You're not going to overcome that. You're just not going to. That hurt us.
We had the last shot to win the game, we defended great and had a chance to win a game in regulation and missed a tough one.
Q. Mike, Ben is as good a shooter as there is in this league he missed two free throws with 4 minutes to go and one shot in overtime, physically is he okay?
COACH BREY: Physically he's okay. I think it's a perfect example of a guy who almost wanted it too much tonight. He has wanted it so much for his group. That's why we got to the position we got the in the regular season. I just think he wants it so much I just want to get him mean back and calm him down a little bit before we play in the next one.
I think everybody is probably a little fatigued right now, these guys have played a lot of minutes and luckily get a chance to recover but I think it was an emotional investment by him wanting it so bad for your group that you can tie yourselves up in knots sometimes and he did that at times when he was younger in his career. He hasn't done that he did it in Orlando a little bit. And I took him out of the game in the first half because he was just a little frazzled but he's in the reason we're in the position, he's driven us and we got to get him rest and get him going again.
Q. Scott, you scored a career high tonight, was this you stepping up at the end of the season or did you have an idea the team might need your 21 more than usually?
SCOTT MARTIN: I don't think it was anything unusual. I got some jumpers in the beginning of the game, knocked it down and I got some balls tipped to me. I don't think it was a different mind set or anything. It was an opportunity scoring and I'm happy I knock some down but didn't hit enough.
Q. Mike, you mentioned that you thought Ben wanted it too much tonight. Is there a possibility that he got this out of his system before the next one?
COACH BREY: I think it's a great learning experience. There is no question about it as we get into the next one. What an atmosphere in there tonight.
You talk about poise and everything but it's hard to talk about that when those guys are out there playing in it.
When we've stalled offensively in the past like we did at times he's jump started us, so you got to live with him jump starting us, it wasn't productive tonight.
Q. Tim, you guys talked about investing into Saturday night. What is the feeling now? How do you move forward?
TIM HENDERSON: Obviously we are disappointed that we weren't able to move on, it's something that we worked hard at all week and pushed for. Like Coach said he'll use it as a learning experience and we'll go on and hopefully we have bigger and better things ahead.
Q. Mike you talked about wanting Scott to play confident moving forward, do you think he is peaking now?
COACH BREY: Number 1, he feels physically great the last month and I thought tonight a look in his eye was yet another step up and it comes at a great time as we head forward into the next one on that stage. This has been building for about a month and I think it started with feeling great physically.
Q. Did you get away from what you wanted to do offensively?
COACH BREY: Their zone bothered us at times. They took us out of a flow a little bit. You know, Tyrone Nash not being in the game we couldn't we got low post touches and with him in foul trouble we lost that continuity, and I would have to give Louisville credit for messing our rhythm up.