Post-Game Quotes: Louisville-Notre Dame

Post-game quotes from Rick Pitino and Terrence Jennings after Louisville's 83-77 Big East Tournament semifinal win over Notre Dame Friday night.

Louisville Post-Game Quotes

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.


(Getty)
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 roll 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 Walker 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.


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