Pitino talks Final Four loss

Rick Pitino comments on Louisville's 69-62 defeat to Kentucky in the national semifinals.

Rick Pitino Opening Statement

COACH PITINO: Well, basically what I told the guys was that for Chris and Kyle, it was like preparing for the Olympics, and you just work so hard every single day, gave some extraordinary effort, then at the end you're on the podium and they're playing somebody else's national anthem, but you have a bronze medal around your neck.

When I compared them a few weeks ago to the '87 Providence team, it was in terms of effort and attitude. They made me really, really proud. They battle add great team tonight. We just needed lot of things to go right down the stretch.

We just screwed up a little bit on our offensive execution in the beginning because we were running pick-and-rolls with the four and we were supposed to seal Anthony Davis and we did at the end of the game, and that's when we made our run. We had a little bit of a mishap with Chane not coming up to screen Peyton Siva and he shot the air ball.

But Kentucky is a great basketball team with great effort.

These two guys leave us with a Final Four, another banner goes up in the Louisville gym, and we'll always be remembered by that.

Obviously a disappointment tonight. How do you look at the overall season?

COACH PITINO: Anytime you don't win a national championship and you're playing for one, it's disappointing. When you go home with a bronze medal around your neck, it's not disappointing.

I told the guys, Look, I'm going to Miami tomorrow and I'm celebrating a season where we worked around the clock, around injuries and everything else. If you guys don't celebrate and have good, clean fun, you're fools. Because I think there's only been eight teams that got to the Final Four in the history of the one of the greatest traditions and they did it.

So they're going to celebrate. Kyle will celebrate a little more low-keyed than Chris will, but they're going to celebrate.

What impressed you the most about what Anthony Davis did tonight?

COACH PITINO: Well, the whole team, forgetting about the dunks at the end, because we were desperate, but what I was impressed with, we took away the three, is the way they make 8- to 15-foot shots. That's very impressive.

Anytime you don't know whether a team is better offensively or defensively, you know you got a great basketball team. So Anthony Davis is very impressive because he alters. His length is incredible. Not till the end did Gorgui block him out. That's what you've got to do with him, you've got to block him out to keep him away from the basket.

Rick, did you feel when it got to 49-all, you were getting all those offensive rebounds, you were starting to win the physical battle?

COACH PITINO: Yeah, we came up a little short. We had an open shot for Kyle. We didn't get it. We've never been a great shooting team. So to get to a Final Four, I've always felt, in 2005, we got it with Taquan Dean and Francisco Garcia and Larry O'Bannon. All three guys could knock down the shots. These two could knock it down, but this was not a team of great shooters. They had to win with confusing opponents and old fashion hustle and doing it.

We're only going to get better. You saw a glimpse of Wayne Blackshear who is coming off of shoulder surgery.

What did you think was the most important thing to stop Kentucky to beat them and what did you do to nullify them doing it?

COACH PITINO: We knew they were going to play like starving dogs on the glass. We haven't eaten in a week, and the only food for us is the rebound. We had a very difficult time early. The game early, when we got behind, really hurt us. It took so much incredible energy to get us back in the game, and they gave it.

Our conditioning I think was awesome the whole year. The differences, quite frankly, just Anthony Davis is the No. 1 player picked in the draft. When you're playing against Bill Russell at the pro level, you realize why the Celtics won 11 World Championships. When you see this young man at the collegiate level, you realize why they're so good. Not that their other players aren't, but he's so much of a factor.

Rick, could you comment on Miller, hit the big three, a few big plays in the second half.

COACH PITINO: Yeah, the unfortunate thing, Miller did make that. Wayne is just getting new to the system. He should have been out on him. But you got to give them credit.

The reason we were confident we could win this game was that if we could shoot a good percentage, we thought our pressure would work. But anytime you shoot a low percentage, you don't get it on enough to really wear down an opponent. That's due to their defense.

They're a great defensive team. Every time you come off a screen, they bang you. They know how to handle screens. They got a very mature ballclub.

Whoever wins the Kansas/Ohio State game is going to have to play a helluva game to beat them.

Going back to that 49-49, all of a sudden Kidd-Gilchrist, invisible in the first half because of fouls, took it to the hoop, got a couple free throws. Talk about the impact he made at that time.

COACH PITINO: I didn't think his impact was as great as what you're making it out to. I love him. He's one of my favorite players in college basketball.

We wanted to do three things in this game: control the backboard, take them out of transition. What they do in transition, it doesn't matter, they go in a straight line to the basket. We didn't want to put them to the line. We accomplished the second thing. The third thing we had to do is we had to score to get our press on, and we didn't accomplish that one.

You know, he's projected to be the No. 2 or 3 player in the draft, you expect him to make some good plays. But I don't think he was Anthony Davis or Miller's shot. I think our guys did a very good job on him, but he's a great player and I love him.

This young man had 19 rebounds against us last time, and he didn't have an offensive rebound in the game. There weren't that many because they shot such a high percentage. He did have four rebounds. So it was a pretty good job.


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