Louisville ready for Arizona

Arizona is set to face Louisville on Friday and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino had plenty to say on Thursday.

Arizona is set to face Louisville on Friday and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino had plenty to say on Thursday.

Much has been made about the fact that both teams press and it should be an up and down game.

It's almost identical," Pitino said of the press. "It's the closest I've ever seen two teams in the type of pressure they apply. Even our zone and their zone, plays it like a 1-1-3, gets after it, treats more like man-to-man than a zone. They do one thing different: they bring their center out to the corner sometimes.

"But it's almost identical of what we're trying to accomplish. They have a lightning-quick point guard, who is playing fabulous basketball. Great with his hands. Great in the open court. Shoots it terrific. He causes a lot of havoc on defense. Very good shot blocker in the back. Defensively we're very similar. Offensively we're probably different."

Many feel that Arizona barely got in the tournament, but Pitino has seen a very skilled team when looking at the tape.

"I think it takes time for any adjustments. And they had, obviously, a coaching change, started to play differently, different concepts put in," he said. "So it just takes time for the team to get cohesive, even though they're a veteran ballclub in some areas. They peaked at the right time. They have outstanding talent. Three of their young men, certainly you can't forget Horne, any of their young players.

"They're as good as anybody in the country in terms of being draft picks. Outstanding point guard. Outstanding five men. Budinger, seems like he's been around college basketball for a long, long time because he's been so brilliant. They have outstanding talent. We know that. Now they understand what their coaches are teaching them concept-wise offensively and defensively. They're a very dangerous opponent. But to be honest with you, as I look at the other 15 teams in the Sweet 16, I think everybody would have the same comment about the people they're playing."

Of course, Pitino could not escape the belief that some have that he will be at Arizona next season.

"To be honest with you, I'm glad that I'm not living on the West Coast because I haven't heard any of that," he said. "I heard a little bit more about Boston University wanting me back where I started. But I'm hoping they settle for my son (laughter)."

That was not the end of it, however, as Pitino was once again asked.

I wouldn't answer any question about any other job because it would be disrespectful to the University of Louisville. You know, any time you hear a player stand up here and say, I'm not going pro, I'm coming back, he's gone. Any time a coach says he's not interested in a job, he's dead interested in a job.

So, you know, I don't mislead you. All I can tell you is for eight years I've given every ounce I've had to the University of Louisville. I will continue to do that. I can poke fun and make all the jokes in the world, but there's no truth. Anybody today can go on a message board. Anybody today can put anything out there they want - truth or untruth. All I can tell you is that I've lived and died with Louisville for eight years. I've heard it about Kentucky and Billy G.

While he never denied anything, Pitino said he has only thought about one job since being at Louisville.

"The only job I can be honest with you, the only job I've thought about for a 24 higher period since I've been at the University of Louisville was Providence college last year. I sat down, the athletic director at the University of Louisville is one of my closest friends. I sat down with him, I said, Because of the personal things I went through at Providence, I wanted to sit down and talk with them about the job to see if I did want to come back because of personal reasons that were very deep to me.

"I sat down with them, talked to them bit, and realized Louisville was the place for me. Outside of that, for eight years, I haven't thought about any job except the University of Louisville, and that's answering you the honest way."

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