Louisville talks Regional Final loss

Rick Pitino, players discuss 64-52 Elite 8 loss to Michigan State.

BILL BENNER: We will begin with an opening comment from Coach Pitino, then go to the student athletes.

COACH PITINO: Michigan State deserves all the credit. They played great basketball, got every tough rebound down the stretch. We had a very difficult time playing against their man. We wanted to go inside to out, but they're very experienced at the five spot and did some good things. So they deserve all the credit with an outstanding victory.

BILL BENNER: Questions for the student athletes.

Q. Andre, what was Michigan State able to do against your press and your zone that other teams have not been able to do?

Andre McGee: Well, in our press, you know, they were spacing us out. They had great guard play. A couple times they beat us in transition after we made shots.

Our zone, you know, they were able to hit the high post, had a great shooter out there. Their big man could really shoot it. He was a step out force for them that made us rotate to a four man, popping out that tall, hitting threes on us. We couldn't readjust to it as well as we wanted to.

BILL BENNER: Gentlemen, you're dismissed. Thank you.

Questions for Coach Pitino.

Q. What was Michigan State able to do that so few people have been able to do against you guys this year?


COACH PITINO: Well, I think the difference was the first half confidence they got. I think Suton hitting those shots against our zone was very big. You know, he hits the three. He doesn't take a whole lot of them. But I think that was the difference in the first half.

We turned it over two or three more times than we should have. We took a few quick shots, which has been our problem almost in every loss. But hitting that shot was probably the killer two or three times. We had momentum. We let him step out and hit those shots, didn't rotate properly. Then that bucket in transition really hurt us. When Preston missed the free throw, rather than running back, he ran at the ball, they scored in his area of the zone. That hurt. That was a pretty big momentum change for us."

Q. Terrence Williams had a strange line, really strange line. What got into him today? What was he doing?

COACH PITINO: Well, you know, I just think that it was a grind 'em game. They're probably a little bit better at that style. Though we've played slow and won this year, they're probably a little bit better at that style than we are. We couldn't get out on a break as much as we wanted. The tempo was definitely in their favor.Suton was definitely the difference maker in the first half.

Q. I know this is just over, but does this hurt any more than the loss to Carolina last year or when you were at UK and got to this point and couldn't get over, given that you were No. 1 overall?

COACH PITINO: I think it was a great tribute to the guys to win the Big East, to win the Big East tournament and to finish No. 1. I don't think this is the most No. 1 most talented team in the country. I think we're an outstanding basketball team.

So I think to accomplish all of that is great. Now, unfortunately, no matter what happens, only one team is gonna be smiling at the end. There's four teams right now, probably one other team, gonna be smiling to the Final Four. And you come close.

But you look back on it, and you're proud of the accomplishments the guys had. You're disappointed you couldn't go a little further. But you still got to be proud of, you know, 31 wins, finishing No. 1. We're a real good basketball team and we were beat by a better team tonight.

Q. The play of your bench in the first half, especially Preston with 11 points. The start of the second half, it seemed like things started out Louisville's way, three consecutive fouls on Michigan State, how the tide changed after that. Much?

COACH PITINO: I think we lost momentum because we had a couple rebounds. They stripped us. Then we had a layup, we gave the ball away, and they got a layup. Those four point swings where you got the ball, chance to go up, they take it away on a layup. That hurts. That changes momentum when it was in your favor.

Preston did a great job offensively. He didn't make the right rotations defensively, but he did a terrific job on offense.

Q. Was there anything else to T Will, he played 15 minutes in the first half, I think that's the longest time, that five minutes, outside of when he was hurt with his wrist that he sat early in a game.

COACH PITINO: He played 36 minutes in the game.

Q. But in the first half, there was nothing else...

COACH PITINO: Obviously, I was playing Reggie a little bit because I wasn't happy with the way things were going. But it's nobody's fault. We lost to a better basketball team.

Q. To look ahead, you've seen UConn so many times. Can you look ahead to the match of Michigan State and Connecticut?

COACH PITINO: Connecticut's the physically most talented team in the country, from a physical standpoint. I mean, they've the front court size is very imposing. They can play fast, they can play slow. They don't give you anything at the rim. They have a freshman guard who is as fast as any guard in the country. A.J. Price is a senior point guard. They're the most physically dominating basketball team in the country.

That doesn't mean they're better than Carolina, Michigan State, whoever the other team may be, Oklahoma or Villanova. But they're physically the most powerful team in college basketball, 'cause their frontline is massive, experienced, and very experienced in the back court.

Q. Michigan State?

COACH PITINO: Michigan State will play aggressive man to man defense. The problem Michigan State is going to have is they don't you're gonna have to make shots against them because they don't give you good looks.

Q. You said the other night after you looked so good on offense, you talked about different matchups. Do we underestimate how much the defensive end, how much an equalizer playing an aggressive man to man defense can be?

COACH PITINO: You know, our biggest problem going into tonight's game, I told the coaches this before the game, what worried me the most, the last seven games we just got zones and we haven't played against man to man in so long. The three Big East games, Villanova played a little bit of man, Providence was all zone, West Virginia was all zone at West Virginia before that. I think going back to the Marquette game was the last time we've seen man. The whole tournament has been zone for us.

So then you come against a team that plays defense like Pitt, very aggressive at it. I think that was our biggest problem, is the fact that the last six, seven games we probably have had 90% zones. We got very good at going against zones, but that man to man gave us trouble tonight because our inside attack wasn't there. It's been there. They were a little bit more experienced on the inside than we are.


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