Memphis post game comments

Post game comments from U of L head coach Rick Pitino and players Luke Whitehead, Marvin Stone and Taquan Dean following the Cardinals 78-75 victory over Memphis.

Rick Pitino opening statement:

"It was a very exciting basketball game. This conference, in a very short span of time, in terms of the talent level and the competitive level, has taken off. Everybody is surprised about Saint Louis and [Alabama] Birmingham, but we're not. This conference is really, really good and potentially it's going to be great, because not only are these guys in this conference, like the person I coached against today, not only outstanding coaches, premier coaches in the game, but they can flat out recruit. So it's going to get better and better for this conference and we're excited about the victory. We played great team defense tonight and that's all we talked about tonight, defense wins championships and nothing else. The guys did a wonderful job in playing defense and Marvin Stone's presence, we go from a team shooting a high percentage to a team shooting a low percentage. What he gives us doesn't show up in the stat sheet. He's a big son of a gun and he bothers everybody and he changes shots and he's a terrific young man. So we're very excited to have him back. I'm very proud of the University of Louisville and the efforts they put in to put Marvin back on the floor. I'm proud of our President and Tom Jurich. Unfortunately we had to spend more money than you could imagine to investigate and to make sure of what's going on. I'm very, very proud of our school. It's very special to me that they investigated and they had to investigate so there weren't a lot of people saying, 'you got to put him on the floor.' You got to put him on the floor after you uncover every stone to believe you're right. So we're excited to have Marvin back."

Q: Marvin, talk about your first game back, what was it like? In terms of your emotional level and your stamina level?

Marvin Stone: "It was fun and it was great being back on the floor. My teammates were looking for me really, trying to energize me and like coach said, it was a great win. We played D and we played together. That's what it's all about."

Q: Taquan, you missed your first seven shots and then you stepped up and hit that big three. What was going through your mind on that last possession?

Taquan Dean: "I give that shot to coach because he gives me the confidence. Even though I was 1 for 8, I still knew that I had one in me and it was an open shot and he told me to shoot it, so I just shot it."

Q: Luke, can you talk about Grice? You defended him really well and he still knocks down those three's. What was going through your mind then?

Luke Whitehead: "He was shooting them from way out there. Coach Pitino warned me from ahead of time that he was a great shooter and he showed me that tonight. That he really was. We just had to play as a team and try to play team defense and everybody guards everybody out there. He was shooting them from way out. Some of the shots he was shooting I had my hand in his face and coach was telling don't worry about, it's good defense. Sometimes people are hot out there and I'm just glad we came out with a victory today."

Q: What time did you find out today and what has it been like the last several days?

Marvin Stone: "Actually, I found out this morning when we went through walk-through. I was happy, but wasn't sure, because yesterday I thought I was playing and I didn't get to play, so it was like a dream come true. Again, my teammates were great for me, they really pulled me through this."

Q: Talk about how you planned to stop Chris Massie.

Marvin Stone: "Basically we wanted to double. He's a good player and we knew that coming in, so we really wanted to take him out of the game. We thought that if we could take him out of the game that we could win the game, so we played extra team defense on him and on the other players. Again, we just played together and that's why we won."

Q: How much was rebounding a point of emphasis?

Luke Whitehead: "Last game when we played Memphis they just totally dominated us on the glass and coach let us know that, that was one of the major reasons why they beat us last time, so we really focused on it real hard in practice and we all knew that we had to rebound together, one through five, everybody has to grabs boards. I think that's why we came out with a victory tonight."

Q: Marvin, did you feel like there was added pressure, or did you take it just like another ballgame?

Marvin Stone: "Right before the ballgame Coach Pitino came and talked me and told me, just let the game come to you and try and play defense and rebound and we're going to okay and we're going to win, so that's what I tried to do."

Q: Luke, talk about when Reece went out and what it was like playing the last four minutes without him.

Luke Whitehead: "When Reece fouled out it was a big deal to us. We're not used to playing without him, but Coach Pitino pointed the fact out to us that next year we're going to have to play without him all season, so we might as well get used to that now. We feel like we are a well rounded team and we just stayed focused and come out with a victory."

Q: Was it hard to get into an offensive flow because of the high number of fouls?

Luke Whitehead: "There was a lot of fouls, but after the Cincinnati it game it didn't seem like it was that many. We were ready to play and I don't think that the foul calls took us out of the game or anything like that. We were just focused on rebounding and defense tonight, so that wasn't really a big factor."

Q: Coach you guys have had somewhat of a rollercoaster season and you talked about a dream becoming a nightmare and then becoming a dream. Is this a watershed moment for you guys?

Coach Pitino: "Really it wasn't in terms of winning and losing a dream to a nightmare, because I knew from day one that we were going to take our lumps in February, just because of the respect that we have for our competitors. What was a nightmare was the injury to Ellis Myles and then this no time left to practice and you go from a low post offense, inside to out, to no low post and you have to change your whole scheme and then to go back. To tell you the truth, I'm just flat out exhausted from it all. You have to understand that you stay up all night trying to develop a game plan and then you wake up and it's not there. It's been difficult, but the only thing that matters is the young man and the team. This game is for young people. I can't tell you how many times I felt just as bad as I could feel, because no senior night and it's his last hoorah. So many things have gone wrong in his life and I can share in all those sentiments that he's going through, from tragedies in his personal life to not realizing his potential on the court, not taking care of business in other areas and now this is his last shot, so we're happy to have him back. I have to tell you this, and I mean this very sincerely, he is a wonderful young man. He says two words to you, 'yes sir' and 'no sir.' That's all he says. He's on time. He's a loveable young man and I'm just happy for him that he's back and the team of course."

Q: Massie and Barron combined to go for 0 for 12. With only one day to prepare, what did you feel you had to do to stop them from hurting you like they did last time?

Coach Pitino: "There's two things from the last game and you have to learn your lessons when you lose. The lessons that we try to just drum into our guys is that if we rebound the basketball, we got a shot at beating anyone. The speach I tried to give to the team before the game was Luke Whitehead. I said, look, he's a terrific young man and I want him to have a great senior year, but if Luke doesn't understand that he's an undersized power forward, John [Calipari] coached one years ago at UMass in Lou Roe, and I said Luke, if you don't rebound and start playing like a power forward, you will sit your entire senior year and never play. I said, you work on your small forward skills in practice and in individual instruction and you take your minutes where they come. I used the analogy of Jamal Mashburn, he was a center, who in high school didn't shoot past 12 feet and he came away from the basket each year and developed his game, but he did it in practice. I said, Luke, if you don't rebound the ball, you can't play for us here at Louisville. That was three games ago and since then he's been a rebounding demon. If we rebound the ball, we could lose, but we get a shot at winning."

Q: Coach you play mostly man-to-man defense, but you played a lot of zone when Massie was in the game.

Coach Pitino: "We didn't play one second of zone the whole night."

Q: It was looking a lot like a zone there on the top, with the way they were switching.

Coach Pitino: "Let me say this. What you're looking at is a trap down scheme and you're zoning out in terms of principle, but as far as playing a 2-3 or 3-2, you people are going to give credit for our big guys and they did a wonderful job, they certainly did, of trapping, but it's the other three guys rotating properly. If one guy does not rotate properly and let you quickly come out of traps, they will kill you with three's. All it is, is a trap down screen off the low post and they executed it perfectly. So you're right in terms that we're zoning out, but it's not a zone like a 2-3 or 3-2."

Q: It worked, with both their big men going 0 for 12 from the field.

Coach Pitino: "Again, we've got great respect. 0 for 12, but we didn't give them a good look. Played great low post defense, but it was a team effort defensively and all five guys were part of a string that was moving together."

Q: What did you think about Taquan's last shot?

Coach Pitino: "I thought they made a great defensive play trapping Bryant Northern like that in that situation. They came up with it and wouldn't allow us to make a play and that's why I always believe that defense wins out and you call a timeout and these guys on the other sidelines are so talented, they no every play, they watch every film and they adjust it and they trap it and they never let you run the play that you practice. Your chances to get in the open court and in my life as a coach, I don't know how many years as a head coach, maybe twenty, I've only called a timeout one time to set up that wonderful shot by Sean Woods that was picture perfect and off the backboard over a guy and outside of that I never believed in calling a timeout because the defense always wins out. We had to make a lucky shot there so Taquan had the gumption to take that shot. Remember, that's his only field goal of the game, but that's the only way you're going to get a three, is in transition, when everybody is unsure of what's going to happen. The guys executed a transition play perfectly and Taquan showed tremendous gumption in taking that shot."


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