Cards meet media

Louisville's Peyton Siva, Chris Smith, Chane Behanan, Kyle Kuric and Gorgui Dieng met with the media in New Orleans Thursday to discuss Saturday's Final Four match up against Kentucky.

Junior Guard Peyton Siva

On run in post-season and differences between post and regular season:

"I first want to thank God for getting us here and keeping us healthy. We are grateful for the opportunity to play in the Final Four. A big thing for this team was everyone getting healthy at the right time. This run has been very special to all of us. We have never been here (Final Four) before, we have never gotten out of the first round before. Our defense has been the key."

On the road to Final Four:

"It still hasn't hit me that we are here. It was tough at mid-season because everyone got hurt. Now everyone is coming together, gaining that confidence and getting healthy at the right time. Getting Kevin [Ware] and Wayne [Blackshear] back was huge for our team. It's great to have those guys back."

On the importance of ‘Player Only Meeting':

"We talked about our team chemistry and getting everyone on the same page. It's about putting individual goals aside and playing towards our team goals."

On maintaining aggressiveness while limiting fouling:

"I have to stay away from the stupid fouls. Trying to stay aggressive, move my feet, contain the ball and stay away from those types of fouls. I had to learn to pick my spots, to not go for home runs all the time and just try and hit singles."

On his relationship with Kentucky's Terrence Jones:

"I'm known Terrence since the 4th Grade. I talk to him a lot. He is a real good guy, a real good friend and a great person."

Senior Guard Chris Smith

On how far they have come over the last eight games and how head coach Rick Pitino contributed to that:

?"Coach [Pitino] pretty much put a fire under us by telling us that it can be either your legacy of getting knocked out in the first round of each tournament or you can have great success and be remembered."

On what coach Pitino said to the team after the Syracuse game:

"He pretty much told us the ball is in our court. Everybody is healthy so we have no excuses and we can make our own dreams come true."


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On the rivalry between the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville:

"This rivalry is very intense. After the game in December, it was just really hectic when we came back to the city. People were kind of looking down on us for losing. But right now, I would say this is probably the most amped up Final Four game in college basketball history."

On how much of a turning point the win over Seton Hall was in the first round of the Big East tournament:

?"The turning point in the Big East [tournament] pretty much hit us when the ball tipped off for Seton Hall. Everybody had the mindset of going in and winning each game. Each game one-by-one was a new starting point for us."

On if there is something to be said for getting on a roll at the end of the season:

"The Big East tournament is the toughest tournament in America. If you can win that tournament, you will have success and a good chance of going pretty far in the NCAA tournament because the physicality and the preparation required for each game in our league."

Freshman Forward Chane Behanan

On is there a difference between other cities and New Orleans during the tournament:

"Oh yes. First we went to Portland, which was cool, not everyone's style for weather though. Arizona was worse, but now we are in New Orleans. It's a little humid but we are glad we are here."

On saying they are the best team in the country earlier in the season:

?"I don't regret saying it. At the time we were on a roll and undefeated. A lot was going through my mind, and I thought the way we were playing and the performances from Peyton Siva at the time, we could have made a run. Peyton picked up his game at the right time, and I think we all feed off Peyton. Coach Rick Pitino brought it up to me one time, and we dropped it right there. Thanks for reminding me, now I'm going to tell him that I don't regret saying it right after this."


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On the difference between Coach Pitino and Coach Calipari:

"They were pretty much the same and told me the same things. They both said that if I work hard, I will earn what I put into it. They are both Italian. They both are tremendous coaches and passionate about what they do. They are very experienced and love to win."

On the rivalry between Louisville and Kentucky, specifically on the senior citizen dialysis story:

"Yes! I actually read about that on Facebook. It is a crazy world. That's just immature of them to let a basketball game force them to fight. Someone asked me if we let the hype get to our team, and I just think that is so immature. I think it's crazy that we let a game make us fight. As a player we shouldn't let it get to our teams. Outside of basketball I am cool with all those guys. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and I grew up playing AAU together. I love those guys like if they were on my team, but on the basketball court, it changes."

On when he realized the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry:

"Before I decided to come to Louisville, I knew about the rivalry."

Sophomore Center Gorgui Dieng:

On facing Kentucky's Anthony Davis for the first time:

"He is a great basketball player. He's long and athletic. We didn't play against each other much the first time (in Lexington) because he was in foul trouble in the first half and I was in foul trouble in the second."

On is the matchup with Davis the most important matchup on the floor?


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"This game is important at every position. It's not about me and Anthony Davis. It's about everybody, it's about both teams. We understand how important this game is and we understand how we lost to them when we played them in December. It was a game that we lost on their home court."

On if Davis has a good game, can Louisville still win:

"Yes. It isn't about me, it's about the team first. We're just going to come out and play, but this game is not going to be easy. We're going to try to come out and do the little things – win the loose balls, try to take charges and try to play better defense. Whoever plays better defense will win this game."

On your development as a player and playing in the Final Four:

"I can't thank Coach P (Pitino) enough. He changed my whole mentality towards basketball. He wanted me to change my body first because I wasn't strong enough to play center, but he changed my whole body and I gained a lot of weight. He said it was all going to start with defense, don't worry about offense, just keep playing defense."

Senior Forward Kyle Kuric:

On the rivalry:

"It makes it a little bit bigger for the state. Fans get into it a lot more than they usually would. It's just another game for us, and we're going to look at it like that and play hard as we would in any other game. We've got to stay focused and weather the storm that's going to happen. Once we do that and stay with our game plan, we'll be fine."

"The first week of practice in which you have to prepare for the game is when you start to really understand it and grasp how intense it is. Practice elevates to a new level."

On shooting in a dome:

"My freshman year we played at Lucas Oil Stadium and we've played in the Carrier Dome, but neither is like the stage they have here. The depth perception is a little bit different and it's really hard to judge, but once you get out there, get warmed up and get shots, it's not that big of a deal."

On his last game against Kentucky:

"I could care less if I had two points again as long as we win. I hadn't been shadowed like that all year. No one did that to me to that extent the rest of the season. They were denying the entire corner and the entire wing. Again, the most frustrating part was that we lost."

On the playing for Rick Pitino:

"Coming in you hear all the stories about guys getting yelled at, but it doesn't actually sink in until you're the guy at practice getting yelled at. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but he's trying to help you and isn't just yelling for no reason. I've learned a lot from him and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

On the probability of making the Final Four:

"We started off 12-0 then lost five of our next seven. Then we had a pretty stretch, but we kind of got into a slump at the end of the season. Our main focus became the Big East tournament. Once we started winning and playing the way we were, I don't think anybody thought it was impossible. After the Providence game we had a players-only meeting, aired some things out and started focusing on the right things."


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