Brian Johnson: I was ready to play

Louisville's Brian Johnson described his double-double performance against Clemson on Monday night as his best outing of the year. Read what else Johnson, as well as Taquan Dean and Brandon Jenkins, had to say following the Cardinals 74-68 win in the second round of the NIT...

Junior guard Brandon Jenkins scored 10 points and handed out two assists in Louisville's 20th win of the season.

On the Freedom Hall crowds for the NIT:

"I know that we have good loyal fans and we appreciate them. They are bringing us what we need as we try to get to Madison Square Gardens."

Did it take the team a few days to get excited for the NIT?

"I think it took a couple guys after we didn't make the regular tournament kind of want to call it quits, but everyone thought of Taquan…we want him to leave on a good note, not a bad note losing to Pittsburgh. Everybody came to realize that we are really playing for Taquan. Everybody else will be here next year."

On the play of Brian Johnson against Clemson:

"He played hard. His knee was hurting, but he said that he was going to leave it all out there on the court and he gave us 13 rebounds. He played real big for us in the middle."

The tournament format doesn't allow for much rest, how is the team responding to the schedule?

"Everybody is doing good. Coach is getting guys in and out of practice, so I think everybody is holding up pretty good. We're still looking sharp and we are still bringing hard in practice and that's what we have to keep doing."

Taquan Dean poured in 20 points in the Cardinals 74-68 win over Clemson. The senior now has 1,602 career points - good for 14th all-time.

How important is an NIT Championship to this team?

"It's not for me. It's for the years to come. It's a spring board into next year. Look at Memphis – they played well in it (last year) and this year they are playing good basketball, so it's not for me, it's for the future."

On the Freedom Hall crowd:

"I love this crowd. These are the fans that really can't get the tickets (during the regular season) and they have the opportunity to be here and they are giving us their all. They are definitely our sixth man."

"Now if we get a packed house with the same type of crowd it would be a lot better, but they were definitely a factor. Shooting foul shots down the stretch and there were guys going crazy behind the backboard and it worked for us."

Redshirt freshman Brian Johnson turned in a double-double performance against Clemson, scoring 13 points to go along with 13 rebounds.

Do ever get discouraged over your injury situation?

"I'm human and anybody is going to get discouraged a little bit, but I just talk to my family, teammates, coaches and friends and they are the ones that help me out. Thanks to them I still have a positive attitude."

On playing in the NIT:

"We look at it now that we are trying to win a championship. We know it's not the Final Four, but it's the next best thing. It's real important because we want to finish the season off in a positive way and work towards next year."

On his double-double performance against Clemson:

"My knee was good and I was just ready to play today. (Brandon Jenkins) is my roommate and we always talk before games. He said that I had to come out there and play hard, so that's what I did."

"This is the best game that I've had all year. I think everything is going pretty good with my knee."


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