Louisville wants to run with Michigan State

Rick Pitino said Louisville wants to run with Michigan State Thursday night in the West Region semifinals in Phoenix, AZ.

Opening Statement
COACH PITINO: We're very excited to be a part of this doubleheader. Obviously the Sweet 16 is very special, because it's two games away from the Final Four. And each bracket keeps mounting, the pressure keeps getting greater. And certainly we're going to be playing a great basketball team. We're very excited to be here.

Just talk about Draymond Green and just the match-up problems he presents in his position.
COACH PITINO: Well, that's just it, his position, I'm not sure what his position is. If they need somebody to run a pick-and-roll, if they need a post up,he posts up. If they need a guy to take a bounce, he does that. He's about the most complete player in college basketball in terms of all phases of the game.

The last time you played Michigan States was that '09 game, where things went wrong for you guys and really well for them. How much have you referenced that, talked about it?
COACH PITINO: We actually haven't because we're so different. We had two lottery picks back then. And it's a totally different team. They're a totally different team. We run totally different things today, so we haven't referenced it at all.

What were the benefits of coming to Phoenix straight from Portland? Does it compare at all to maybe around Christmas when you kind of have all the guys to yourself for a week when they're out of class and everything? Are there big benefits of just keeping them isolated?
COACH PITINO: Well, just fatigue. We played four games in the Big East. So to go home for one day of class, or day and a half of class and then come back, we had the tutors with us, and then to make the trek.

It was a tough trip getting to Portland. It was five-hours-plus. And we had to get over the shock of being sent out West, because we were told that it would never happen because we were hosting -- they would never send us out because we were hosting the first round. So that was misinformation. Then we traveled out. We weren't going to travel across the country and back again. We were able to get a lot of practice, a lot of film work in, did a little bit of rest.

I think in past years you mentioned that this is really when the tournament gets fun. And you also referenced that with each step in the bracket becomes more pressure. Is it different when you get to the Sweet 16, different kind of pressure, different feel and preparations? What changes when you get to this point?
COACH PITINO: Well, the first two games is pressure of getting to this point. Once you get to the Sweet 16, in one sense, for me and this team, it was awesome to see -- we probably had the greatest celebration I've ever seen in Madison Square Garden. You would have thought we won the National Championship when we won the Big East. They were so excited.


Now they get to this point they're so excited. And I'm trying to get them to realize they're just two games away from the Final Four. But I don't try to speak about it too much because this is a group that doesn't have a whole lot of tournament experience.

So I felt that it was so crucial, because of that, to win that Big East tournament, because they needed to get that. And I think it helped us tremendously in getting here.

Now we're going to play one of the best teams in the country, the No. 1 seed, a team that doesn't beat themselves. So we're going to have to be clicking on all cylinders to come away with a victory.

You played so many different styles this year, out of necessity. How much of an advantage is that in the postseason? If you had your way, what kind of pace would you like to see in this game?
COACH PITINO: I don't think we're going to have a choice. A lot of people have watched the St. Louis game you'd say Michigan State didn't have the fast break going and couldn't play at their pace. Well, I use the analogy, we play South Florida, people want us to get them to play fast. You can't do it. In the St. Louis game every time they took a shot, they sent five guys back to defense. They didn't go to the offensive glass. They made Michigan State play slow.

Well, Michigan State is as good a running team as there is in college basketball. And we got our guys to this point by pressing and running, and we're not going to change because the other team may be a little better on the backboard and try to take possessions away. We're going to let them go out there.

We've been having an awesome time, just a lot of fun, and that's what really college basketball is all about this time of year is making sure you have a lot of fun for your guys, so they have a lifetime experience.

So we're going to run with them. They obviously are the better backboard team. But we're going to make it that type of basketball game. So we do not want to play slow against Michigan State.

You mentioned [your son] Richard. How rewarding has it been the last three years having him along your side? What role has Richard played in this NCAA tournament?
COACH PITINO: Well, Richard does 95 percent -- generally the way we break it up is the top assistant will do 60 percent, the next assistant 30, the next assistant do 10. All these guys came in at the same time. And they're foreign to the way we do things. So Richard has had to do 95 percent of all the scouts. It's been difficult on him.

But Richard has had to do a little bit more and it will help him a little bit more next year when Kevin and Wyking do a little bit more. Going into this, if we're lucky enough to beat Michigan State, he'll finally have an easy scout, because he coached at Florida and we've played Marquette twice. It's a tall order to get to that point, because Michigan State is that good.


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