Pitino, Cal talk Showdown

Rick Pitino and John Calipari discussed Saturday's Final Four match up between Louisville and Kentucky Monday afternoon during the Final Four coaches teleconference. What did the two coaches say about preparing for the epic showdown in New Orleans? InsideTheVille.com has the scoop.

Rick Pitino

On changes in Kentucky's play:

"When you have young players they mature and get better. They understand their defensive assignments better.  They have improved as the year has gone on as you expect. They are not only a lethal offensive team, but they are equally as potent on defense. They are as good as it gets in all phases of the game."

On Louisville's defense:

"Our defense is really predicated on who we're playing. We try to choreograph our defense to who we're playing and what their strengths are. It's not a steady diet of one thing."

"We struggle in certain areas defensively. I think Chane Behanan struggles because he's a freshman. He struggled in that game against Florida, but at the end when we needed stops he played great defense during that eight minute span.  What we try to do more than anything defensively is protect Gorgui. When Gorgui leaves the game we are not as good a basketball team.  I'm sure Kentucky would say the say thing with Davis."

On handling the hype playing Kentucky:

"These guys are very humble and do everything they can do to win a game.  They have a job to do. But on the other hand fun is a major aspect of the Final Four.  So you've got to let the guys have some fun as well as work. That's what the Final Four experience is about."

On the first game with Kentucky:

"We played the first game basically without Chane Behanan.  They have improved and we have improved.  Obviously, both of us will take a look at the game and see what was successful and what we have to improve on. It's something you have to stay with what you plan on doing, prepare for the next three of four days and be ready with your game-plan to play it on Saturday."

On keys to winning a national championship:

"If there is a common denominator more than anything else you have to be ready for the pressure of the game.  It's about we have to do this, and we have to do that. The focal point is it has to be as a team, you can't do it by yourself. You have to focus on doing everything you can to help your team win.

The only learning experience is just make sure you get used to the Dome. That's really important.  I think it is the depth perception and it's something you have to get used to.  It's the wide open space. Fortunately, we have played at Syracuse and we've seen it before."

On Michael Gilchrist:

"He's one of my favorite players to watch because he plays so hard. He was spectacular in our game the last time we played them. He's going to be a terrific player for many years to come."

On winning with less talented teams in the NCAA Tournament:

"We're a talented ball club.  You can't get to a Final Four without being a talented ball club. We may not have as much talent in some areas as certain teams, but we have young talent in Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear and Gorgui Dieng that is really going to develop.  But they're not there yet.  The great thing about March Madness is the best team will win 90 percent of the time.  But anybody can win in a one game scenario.  In one game anything can happen. Talent is not always the reason you win or lose on the way to the Final Four."

On dealing with injury issues:

"The problem is it seemed like everything was always disrupted.  It was pure joy in terms of coaching this team, but the disruptions were a nightmare.  It was a distraction in terms of being organized.  We couldn't get organized in practice this year."

On Dieng's development:

"African kids are a pure joy to coach because of their humility and eagerness to learn the game. I love teaching them. I also have another foreign player, Russ Smith. He's not from a foreign country, he's from a foreign planet. So I enjoy coaching him as well."

On rewarding season:

"When you're a team trying to survive to make the tournament you don't think about the end of the road.  To get to the Final Four…..is such an incredible experience.  It's very rewarding. When you love a team as much as I've loved this team the last two years it's great to see a team get the fruits of their labor."

On not being satisfied with getting to Final Four:

"My pre-game speech before the Florida game I was trying to build their confidence. I told them I knew they were going to win the game and I told them I just want one thing from them that they're not satisfied with getting there. And that was the last words I said to them before we went out. Now, that we're here let's not be satisfied because a championship is at stake and you only get so many runs at a championship."

On the pedigree of Final Four teams:

"Without question there are four schools you would put in Top 10 traditions of all-time.  It is four programs that have tremendous interest in the game of basketball.  It is basketball royalty.  In Kentucky with three million people it is special to have two teams in the Final Four."

On preparing for the Wildcats:

"Nobody is giving us much of a shot, but we believe we can win.  Certainly, Our respect for Kentucky is off the charts. We played them once before and we thought they were a great team in December and we think they are a better team now. We understand we have to play the type of game Villanova played against Georgetown. We can't make a whole lot of mistakes to beat Kentucky and that's what we're hoping to do.  I wish we had three weeks to prepare. It's not just preparing your defense, you also have to prepare your offense."

John Calipari

On Louisville's improvement side first game:

"They are in a nice mode right now about playing the way they have to play to win. They're defending that way, I think they're playing offense that way. They are a much better team. I think we're better too. When I look at them I just say 'wow.' They play very aggressive.  They're doing all the things they need to do to put themselves in position to win. They did it in the Big East Tournament. And they walked right into this tournament and did the same thing. Louisville has terrific players and they are playing as good as anybody right now."

On UofL's defense:

"Their zone defense and how they're playing it and the adjustments they make they kind of morph it into who they're playing and they do a good job of that.  There are times they throw the press on and it rattles some cages. They pressed us here and it rattled us.  We weren't ready for that at that time of the year. They are terrific defensively. They play really hard and they are physical. They are a really good team."

On Anthony Davis' knee:

"I haven't seen him today, but I would imagine he's fine."

On Kentucky:

"All I'm trying to do is I want them playing their best.  If that's not good enough we'll live with the results. We weren't at our best against UConn last year and I don't know why. We played okay, but we had been playing lights out against Carolina and Ohio State.  This team has been steady all year.  I feel good going in. They play hard, but they don't get rattled.  They also understand that everybody is going to give us their best shot and they have prepared that way."

On Doron Lamb:

"He's been fine, but I want him to be special. If he consistently plays he's as good as any guard in the country. But he missed foul shots the last game that I haven't seen him miss. I'm challenging him because when he plays with a high motor he's as good as any guard in the country. When he doesn't he gets pushed around and looses balls."

On challenges facing Louisville:

"They'll shoot the three and it's a challenge because they'll shoot 20-25 threes and if they're making them it will be a long night.  They do a great job with pick and rolls with Siva, who I think is an outstanding player.  And their post-game with Dieng and Bohanan has really changed things. They'll go in the post and they'll rebound the ball. It's going to be a hard game for us."

On possible overconfidence:

"What you hope is they understand...we're worried about us playing well.  That's all I'm trying to do.  We've got a basketball game this weekend and that's all we're worrying about.  They want to make a big deal about rivalry. You know what, not this time of year. It doesn't matter. It matters to fans but we're not worried about that. We just worry about playing our best and playing a terrific basketball team. It's going to be a hard challenge. This stuff will be won or lost on the basketball court. You can throw talent out the window because everyone is talented now. Who wants it the most? Who's going to execute? Who's going to be efficient on offense and defense? You're going to have to have a good team playing well to win."

On Final Four pedigree:

"It should be outstanding.  Whether you're talking Ohio State, Kansas, Louisville or us. Everyone deserves to be here and has had good seasons. It's not best of seven, you've got one game. If you have a bad game you go home. That's what makes this tournament unique."

On Michael Gilchrist:

"He's like a middle linebacker coming at you.  He's really fast.  He's a terrific free throw shooter.  He's a good enough three-point shooter that you have to guard him.  He is unselfish offensively.  That's what makes him unique."

On coaching lottery picks:

"It's starts in the recruiting process.  We don't promise they'll start, how many minutes, how many shots. It's a challenge here, it's not for everybody. They've got to really trust that you have their best interests at heart.  This is a players first program. You have to let them know that if they sacrifice we all gain. They know it's about the players.  At the end of the day they buy in and they have to make it about the team first and not themselves. That's why they are unselfish and get in a defensive stance. They've all bought in."

On role of coaching to win the Final Four:

"It's important but at the end of the day the players are going to win the game. Let me say this about our talent. We're the most efficient team in the country. We also lead the nation in field goal percentage defense. We lead the nation in blocked shots. We're in the Top 10 in rebound margin. It's not just they're talented, they're a good team. They play together. I'm going to try to get them to play their best."

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