Louisville - 81
Marquette – 56
An Interview With:
COACH PITINO: Well, we played great defense tonight and highly, highly intelligent offense of sharing the basketball and hitting the open man. We're a pretty good basketball team even though we're small when we contain the backboard.
Our bad games because we are small is what the other team offensively rebounds because we give them second shots and tonight we didn't do that. We're proud of the guys, I worry about the double bye sometimes not be prepared but our guys have been terrific and Preston shows his multitalented play because he's been getting about 5, 6, 7 assists a game. We've been using him as the back up point and you can see tonight he had 7 assists, 1 turnover playing 31 minutes of play. He's a great leader for our team and we're proud of his effort as well as the other guys.
Q. I think it's 5 out of 66 games you've held your opponents under 50 points, is this the best stretch of defense you've played all year?
COACH PITINO: We played well at West Virginia in a tough environment and in this league we've won some flukes, Marquette played us well at home and we lost a fluke the other night being up with 19 seconds but it was a great learning lesson for our players to handle those situations and it's a fun group to coach, not since 1987 have I had this much fun coaching a basketball team.
Q. Rick, what in particular worried you about the double bye and why were you able to overcome it tonight?
COACH PITINO: I just like to play a little bit rather than sitting I think we did an intelligent thing, we didn't come until late Wednesday so we treated it just like a road game, and we didn't need to rest. We've had so many injuries this year, we had Gorgui Dieng missed a month, we had guys miss a minimum of 10 days to two weeks so I feel the more we play the better we'll get and I don't think any coach is a big proponent of the double bye. We wanted to have one bye and we got voted down.
Q. Would you elaborate on why you say this is the most enjoyment you've had since 1987 coaching a team?
COACH PITINO: In this day and age everybody uses cliches that sound nice but they're not necessarily true about playing for the name on the front of your chest and not playing for the name on the back of your chest. This team epitomizes that. They absolutely do not care about themselves and I think Preston starts from your best player and filters down. All of these guys care about winning, and when you get that type of attitude and it's been a long time as I've seen the players be as disappointed as the coaching staff and these guys take it just as hard as we do.
Q. Rick, talk about the first half, the lift the bench gave with Marra's 3 pointers and Van Treese coming in and doing well?
COACH PITINO: He did a good job. I think offensive assists have made our offense better. Here is a young man who didn't understand a pick and roll and now he's mastered it to where he's great at it and he's one that used the screen but he's now become a point guard what is great for his future.
These guys are learning and getting better and I think passing is the key we've knocked just a few percentage points behind Pittsburgh in assists and it's been that way all season so good passing leading to good percentages.
Q. Last time you played them you had to come back from behind to beat Marquette, what was the difference in the two games?
PRESTON KNOWLES: There was a reason why we were behind so we made up our minds we were going to come out and be the aggressive team and not be flat.
Q. Coach, the Big East was at its height in 1987 and it's back to it's prominence. Talk about the significance of this year for the conference.
COACH PITINO: It's much more difficult now than it was back then because back then from a preparation standpoint you knew exactly the way Rollie Massimino was going to play and the way Carnesecca was going to play and the way John Thompson was going to play, so preparation wasn't a key. With this league it's so mentally taxing because these coaches are so outstanding in what they do.
You know, Mick Cronin had a tremendous year as a coach. Buzz is one of the best young coaches in the nation and his teams always bring it. They always play hard. Villanova is in a slump now but I know they'll come back because they're a big time character team so that's the most difficult thing you play against West Virginia and Cincinnati. If you don't strap it on you're going to get whipped physically and back then it was easier because you knew the most exciting thing was the sweater Lou was going to wear or the coat that John was it's very difficult I'm happy we got John Beilein out of league.
Q. This is starting to feel like a walk down memory lane but in '87 does Billy Donovan and Ben Hansbrough, do you see any similarities there?
COACH PITINO: Hansbrough is a deeper shooter, Billy the Kid was quicker with the ball. Their toughness is the same. He truly did deserve to be one of the premiere guards he's going to have an outstanding NBA career, he has a good first step, he runs the pick and roll really well.
There are similarities in how they dish it at teammates, very unselfish group, Notre Dame, they're all 28 and 29 this year.
Q. It's safe to say you and Mike Brey had good things to say here tonight after the games, what do you make of the match up tomorrow?
COACH PITINO: We were disappointed we lost last time because we had the ball and didn't score and it was an overtime loss but you've got to give them credit they outplayed us in overtime. I told these guys before the game than not since 1996 did I walk into a place and feel as confident as this. In '96 I had a reason to feel confident. I had eight pros. But the way these guys play with the sacrifices and the dedication, we know with we're not going to be flat, we know we could lose but we know we're not going to be flat from a standpoint and you know your team is going to bring it and Notre Dame is tough, they're skilled, they put on a passing clinic each night, but we're a good passing team as well, it will be a good match up.
Q. Preston, if you could, Mike gave you 6 of 103 point shooting off the bench. Can you talk about what a difference that made in the game because at that time when he started to get hot, offense was staggering, he came in, hit some threes, and then the rest of the team started hitting, can you talk about that?
PRESTON KNOWLES: He made a big difference tonight, if he and Cal come out tonight, Mike might come in, Chris might come in and hit, and I think it's been great to see him come in and do well. That's our team, we always pass the ball great. If the man is open they're going to shoot it but tonight Mike had the hot hand so I'm glad he had it.
THE MODERATOR: Louisville, thank you.
An Interview With:
Q. How much were the legs a factor tonight three straight games, three straight nights?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think that's hard to quantify. I think it's easy to justify but I think it's hard to quantify.
I thought Louisville was great. Anytime a team scores 50% of their points from the 3 point line it's probably going to be a long night. I thought we were okay at times in the first half and I thought we were really bad in the second half. But to play the 14th ranked team in the country who has had five days off who has been studying us live since we got here to say that the reason they beat us the way they did was because we had no legs I think is a soft answer. I don't think we've been soft since we've been here so I don't want to leave here with a soft response.
Q. Buzz, the Big East can provide so many highs and lows, you have to be the leader through it all. What do you say to your group after tonight?
COACH WILLIAMS: We were 6 and 7 after we played St. John's at home so we were five games remaining, three at home, two on the road. We won three of those five over a 10 day period and excuse me, we won three in a row over a 10 day period and then we lost two in a row to finish the season over a seven day period so we finished 9 and 9. You could argue that according to the media all we had to do was win one of those last two, and then we came here. We landed in New York not knowing conclusively what it is we had to do. I thought we played well against Providence, and then, you know, the people that still thought that we had work to do, whether that was true or not, I thought our guys responded last night.
When you think about the last 23 days of our guys' lives, emotionally, mentally and physically, there have been a roller coaster of up's and down's and I thought through it all at the very end they answered the bell and I thought that their character was revealed and that's what I said in the locker room, we're one of 37 teams that will have their name announced as an at large team on Sunday and this previous Sunday we were practicing at 10:00 in the morning doing things we did on the first day of practice not knowing where we would be playing or if our name would be announced so I think that speaks to all of the guys that are in the locker room, our players, assistants, managers, support staff, because I think it's been a hard grind over the last 23 days.
Q. You guys gave up 37 three's here and you include the Seton Hall game. How important is that going to be for you to shore that up?
COACH WILLIAMS: If you don't guard the ball teams are going to shoot open sides. When you play major teams they're going to have guys that can make three's. We didn't guard the ball well tonight. We didn't guard the ball well against Seton Hall. I know entering tonight, teams shot 31% from two's and 44% from three's. And 44 is a little too high and 31 is good enough to continue to play. So we need to be able to guard the ball so that the ball handler doesn't force help, which allows for open shots.
Jimmy, you guys had only seven assists tonight. Were you guys too individually oriented on the offense or was that just what a cause of Louisville's tough defense tonight?
JIMMY BUTLER: I think we weren't being selfish but we at times thought if I made that shot or he made that shot then it would start a run and things like that and we got away from looking for the open man, making that extra pass and that led to the seven assists.
How is it to go through the grind of the 18 game season knowing top to bottom you're playing in the toughest conference in the country?
JIMMY BUTLER: It feels good to know that we were a decent team in the best conference in the country. I think we work hard and at the end of the day like Buzz said we get our name called on Sunday and that's a dream that everybody has had on my team since we were little and it's a relief we won't have to worry about that too much longer.
Chris, zero shots in 18 minutes, he's not a go to guy offensively but he's been doing things in the post is that more on him not demanding the ball, Louisville's zone or what?
COACH WILLIAMS: I would say a combination of all of it. Chris has done a good job of sealing his man and being in a position to get a deep catch. Our guys are much more comfortable throwing it to him inside. I thought too many possessions, we played free throw lines and extended above and against a zone. You can't do that which is why Chris didn't shoot a shot, which is why we only had 7 assists, partly why we had 12 turnovers.
So a multitude of reasons but all of our post guys need to get touches whether or not that turns into a field goal attempt is dependent upon how they're playing the post but it's a collection of all those things.
Since both of you have been hear you haven't been able to make that deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Were you looking to take anything out of this conference tournament that could help you in the Big Dance?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think we've been pretty good in New York. We haven't been great but I think we've held our own. During Jimmy's tenure entering tonight he was 5 2 in his tenure at Marquette and each year has had a different scenario. In Jimmy's first year we were 10 2 and Dominic James broke his foot. We started out the second year for him, 2 and 5 and went on to win 9 of 11 but both of those years we arrived in New York knowing that we were a NCAA Tournament team. In year number three it was the worst Big East record that Marquette has ever had in Big East play we finished 500 and he came here not knowing where we would be the next week and we won two and got blitzed in the second half tonight but what we accomplished while here, 5 3, that's probably a little above average. You always want to recruit, coach, live, to try to put yourself in a position to win a championship.
Not just to go 5 3, but to win a championship. Each of those years there is a story behind it. I think Jimmy has been a big part of it since he's been here and as he just mentioned in his last answer, for three consecutive years he will win a ring for going to the NCAA Tournament, and, you know, he has a losing record as do I, in the NCAA Tournament so hopefully we can play past the first weekend and he can have a winning record as a collegiate player in postseason, very few guys do that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.