Louisville - Washington Post Game Comments

Q:Rick can you talk about just personal satisfaction getting back to this point the tournament after eight years?

COACH PITINO: "I think it's college basketball. The best thing about it, I like pro ball because I like the Knicks. It's a good life but it's pro ball is just about winning and losing. Pat Riley said it best it's winning and misery. College basketball has so many other things you can be happy about. You see it right next to me with these two young guys. I see them flourish so much as people and players. Getting back here and we sat around in a conference meet every year we say how many wins do you think we can get if we play our tails off. Our staff was really down when we answered the question because Dante left Sabastian left and then the biggest kill was Brian Johnson going to be out for the year. We were all envisioning having a vision of this deep team was going to be out standing with so many different defenses. We said okay, we are going to change thing as round we just got to be really smart from an execution standpoint and our halfcourt game. I think our half court offense has made us this year and then obviously the zone has gotten us over the hump. We don't have too many subs. This is about as rewarding I think Providence and this team have been the two most rewarding experiences of my coaching life because of all the adversity we've to go through from day one. So that is the great thing with college basketball. There are so many rewards outside of the actual win.

Q: How important was slowing the tempo midway through the first half?

COACH PITINO: Well we wanted to slow it on the made bucket but we want to attack on a miss. We wanted to create where they are a terrific deny and help team. We wanted to get them forced to help on drives and then get our shooters in the corners. So we worked very hard this week on that because they help very quick. We wanted to get our shooters into play. We did. We had three goals in this game. We felt rebounding, the three-point line and turnovers were going to be the three biggest factor the reason we got out to such a terrible start we turned the ball over early on. For us, we shoot ourselves in the foot because we shoot the ball so well.

Q. Coach, you were talking about the next game on Saturday. I was wondering if you could touch on if you play West Virginia and if you play Texas Tech?

COACH PITINO: You know, I've never thought about a future opponent I never looked at tape of a future opponent except the next opponent the assistant coaches do that. Then we go to work all night I just don't believe in that I'm very superstitious when it comes to that. I don't know who is better. I have seen tech Texas a few times on TV. I've not seen West Virginia. I know they're extremely well coached. I told our team tonight you've had a tough road you got to beat Louisiana-Lafayette with a senior team. Then you had to beat Georgia Tech. Now you have got to beat Washington number one seed and I remember it so well. We were at sixth seat getting ready to play mighty Georgetown who beat us by 28 and 30 the last two games of the season. We thought we were dealt a bad hand. What he means by the front of the jersey is everybody can play today. So it doesn't matter. We take no one lightly, We're a very humble group. We respect everyone. We've great respect for Washington and everybody we are going to play against. We have to play a big game to win it. The most important thing is Taquan Dean somehow comes out of this ankle sprain. If he doesn't we've got our work really cut out for us.

Q. The preparation for this game did you literally see it executed tonight and when Washington had a chance to get a little control you refused to give it?

COACH PITINO: Well we're a veteran team we said all along that Washington goes out begins a lot of people and if you if we just run our stuff and stay with it we'll get back in the game. You know, a lot of times we don't get a lot of credit. I don't want to mention it to much but we are a terrific driving team. We are terrific at that we go to the line a lot and we drive well we dish obviously we get a lot of credit for our shooting. We're tremendous as driving the ball because we're all so unselfish nobody real estate notices that to much but that is what has made us this year.

Q: You've mentioned a couple of different things that were potential set backs the defections of players to the NBA, an injury that cost you a player for a season, you know, illnesses, disappointments. What does it say about your club the way that they have come through all of those things to be here?

COACH PITINO: I think it says they're great, you know, because it's we look at sometimes we just look at talent and we know how important character is. But quite frankly, on paper Larry O'Bannon has had such a phenomenal year he has improved so much that he is a totally different player than the other three years. Ellis Myles was coming off a major knee operation where he didn't play at all in the beginning of the year. He was way out of shape he's had a great year. Otis is playing with a stress fracture. Tate Joe is a very talented and humble freshman. He's from another country you didn't really see that he has never been pampered. We have so much character that's why we have been so good this year and so I'm real proud of that it is kept me on board what I thought of character all my life and character wins.

Q. You guys came out, was it a case of nerves still that was going on and then how important was it I was watching you keeping your demeanor to get the guys kind of settled down?

COACH PITINO: We have been through it all year. We've had so many tough games this year we go to Birmingham. You've to take care of that first assault to teams like Washington who deny ever pass and get after you Birmingham we go to Memphis the largest crowd. Every place we've gone into this year it's been hell for us we said every time out relax it's now 15 minute game it's now a seven-minute game and we've never panicked one time. We only played one bad game the whole year and that was Memphis at home. Outside of that we played terrific basketball the whole year.

Q. What did you do as far as the two-three zone extending it to deny Tre Simmons and Nate Robinson?

COACH PITINO: It's a buffing zone season that I stole from Jim Boeheim a few years ago. We extended a little bit more and pressured the ball hard you don't have any shot blocking which hurts a little bit. We try to not to give up the middle drive. We knew they were going to attack the middle zone. We we felt that was okay we just didn't want to give up the three. They're as good a shooting team as us. We had to win that battle. And if we were going to give up some inside play, so be it, but we were not going to give up the three.

Q. Taquan when he went down I thought it might have been a camp I'm hearing you say sprain now then he went back engine was that from your standpoint a half you would have preferred not to have to throw him back in there but you kept putting him back in there?

COACH PITINO: "Well as you know, with a sprain for the next few minutes you can play on it you can run on it and then it ballons up. I'm really concerned that he won't go on Saturday if he can go certainly he will give it. Francisco is right he is the tough kid we've all been around but you worry now about this. We had no choice. We knew it he wasn't going to hurt his ankle in that situation any worse.

Q. First four minutes of the ballgame your team picks up first four fouls what were you telling the refs or what was you're feeling at that point?

COACH PITINO: "They were all good calls. We fouled the jump shooter you know, the only question I had I thought he walked before one of the fouls. We were fouling them you don't want to foul a jump shooter never mind a three point shooter but you got to cut your guys slack. When draw a line saying don't give up a three they are going to challenge it you've got to cut them some slack when that happens.

Q. Early on Otis kind of took out Jones on a screen in mid court I don't know if you thought that set a attorney but it seems like you won a physical battle is that true in your mind?

COACH PITINO: "When they went zone, they had a good little run there against the zone and then he then that definitely Otis did some things tonight quite frankly I haven't seen the confidence he had in himself to make passes and make shots that was a new dimension I just hope he doesn't thing now he's Francisco the next game I just hope he appreciates that night but he did your right that was a big play.

Q. The game seemed to swing when Robinson picked up his third foul the first half. Can you talk a little bit you guys weren't consciously trying to foul him it kind of worked out and really changed its scheme?

COACH PITINO: "Well, one of the things you've got to break down every game they play. I think when they played Oregon they fouled 50-some times in the game. One of the things we wanted to do was create motion, drive it. We usually work the post inside to out and split it and do things they don't let you go in the post at all totally front it. We wanted to drive it try and go to foul and get the dishes and our guys from an offensive standpoint. We were really spent, but that is my fault as a coach because I played the guys too many minutes but they did a great job we'll take it easy tomorrow.

Louisville Junior Francisco Garcia
Louisville Senior Larry O'Bannon

Q. Larry, as far as the seeding goes and beating Washington here, do you feel that tonight you guys get a little bit of vindication today for the way you were feeling on selection Sunday about the seeding being too low?

Larry O'Bannon: That's not something we really think about. Coach tells us that the name on the front of the jersey doesn't really matter. You got to go out there and play the game of basketball whether you are a one seed or an eight seed. I mean each game you just go out there and play and go out there and execute that's what we did today.

Q. Francisco, after their two leading scorers went to the bench you sort of took over the game offensively, can you talk about that stretch, where you hit the two threes back-to-back and the scoring run you guys had at the end of the first half?

Francisco Garcia: I think it went to us all. I saw a couple of openings the first time I didn't shoot the ball and the coach said when I am open to shoot the ball. I took a couple of easy shots and I just took them.

Q. Francisco, given what we saw at the end with Taquan (Dean) lying around. You roomed with him on the road, can you give us any idea what it takes for him to play right now given the mono and given how he feels?

Francisco Garcia: I mean Taquan is a tough kid. He's going to play no matter what. He's going to have a broken leg, he's going to limp around on the court. I mean he's going to play through everything, you know, coach will tell you and Larry will tell you, he's one of the toughest kids that I have been around.

Q. Larry, everybody touches the ball is that pretty much the character of this team, the personality of this team, unselfish play?

Larry O'Bannon: Definitely from day one that's what we preach, team balance and unselfishness, to always make the extra pass to your teammates. That's our team motto. And when we go out there and play, that is what we show.

Q. Larry, you guy's zone seemed to really harass them, could you sense frustration on their part starting midway through that first half?

Larry O'Bannon: Not really. I mean we don't really have time too really pick-up things like that. I mean they made a couple of runs because our hands were inactive on defense we weren't active. I think when we started getting deflections, that's when we started getting our runs and started getting lay-ups. When our hands weren't active they made a couple of threes but when we took a time out and got our hands active, that is when we made our runs.

Q. Larry with all the injuries you all have had and losing the two signees to the NBA and losing Brian Johnson for the year. You were able to get 32 wins and were able to get this far do you feel that this team has overachieved any?

LARRY O'BONNON: I wouldn't say overachieved. I mean from day one, we have circled on the board the national championship. That was our ultimate go goal but we broke it down into many goals, the first goal was to win the conference regular season title. Then after that, we wanted to conquer the conference tournament title and then ultimate goal was to win the national championship. So, I mean we just out there achieving our goals I wouldn't say that we are overachieving. I wouldn't say that.

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar

Opening Statement:
COACH ROMAR: You know, I read Paul Hewitt's comments - head coach of Georgia Tech - after their game against Louisville and how he talked about how good of a team Louisville was and that they were a better team. He was very impressed. Well, I would echo those comments. We were very impressed with Louisville. They are a very good basketball team. They went out and did what was needed to win this ballgame...very impressive game, I thought by Louisville. But at the same time, we didn't get it done tonight, but I could not tell you how proud I am of our guys? And I know coaches say that at the last game of the year. But, you know, not a whole lot of people have believed in these guys the last couple of years. They continued to work and work and work and do things right to where we got to this point where we're here before you. We would have liked to have gone further obviously, but there's no finger pointing here on our guys. They gave every ounce of effort that they had.

(On how Louisville played.) COACH ROMAR: The closest thing I think this year that we saw was in the PAC 10 conference tournament championship and (Arizona's) Salim Stoudamire went to work in the first half but it was pretty much him. Tonight, Francisco Garcia got going - he was probably the main guy - but yet as a unit they were all in sync and they were all in a rhythm. Francisco got away from us a couple of times. He hit some tough shots, but that's how they played. Will mentioned about the way they played with driving and kicking. That's something that I know I talked to people about. It is difficult to prepare for. Guy's going in for a lay up and you converge and they do a great job of spacing out the flanker areas and the guys get those threes. The first half when they got in that rhythm it kind of coincided with Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons both getting in foul trouble. The way that they were playing, I don't know if it would have mattered at that point because they were playing very, very good basketball.

Q. Lorenzo, this game did swing when Nate (Robinson) picked up his third foul. What was your thought process putting him back in when you guys were still in front?

COACH ROMAR: The thought process at that point was not unlike...we had been in that position before, where Nate had picked up a foul and we had played him. For periods of time, our guys have done a great job compensating for someone who is out with foul trouble, and we have been able to get through at other times...at Oregon, there were a lot of fouls being called. We had a lot of guys in foul trouble and lot of guys stepped-up and we were able to make it through. Nate is obviously an emotional leader. He was ready to play tonight. Obviously, he wanted to win this game as much as anyone. It just didn't work out when he went down. Like I said it, coincided with them going on a run as well.

Q. When you look at (Louisville's) balance tonight and everybody is making shots, how do you slow this team down? Where is the weak link that you see offensively?

COACH ROMAR: The weak link would be if they are not hitting there threes, you know, but I'm sure many teams...They have won 31 games. I'm sure 31 times teams have said the same thing...If they don't hit the three. The quote was given out by (Georgia Tech's) Wil Bynum, "If they are hitting their threes...They are hard to deal with." We wanted to look at some zone to threw them off their rhythm. That's a team that's tough to guard against and they are playing the zone quite a bit now. They are able to pretty much remain fresh throughout the game. You look at the stat sheet, they really played six guys and yet we have depth and we played a lot of guys. But Coach Pitino - I heard his comments at the end - he said maybe they got a little worn at the end but for the most part they continued to make shots.

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