“Weird game. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but some way somehow I have to figure out a way to do a better job coaching on the defensive end of the floor. I’ve always taken great pride that we can do some things there. They really shot the ball well, they played well. If Kevin [Stallings] gets that kind of concentration and that kind of effort and that kind of focus they are going to have a nice run. They have had some close games and then they’ve had two blowouts. They were really a good team tonight. We did enough to hang in there, enough to keep a little lead. Down the stretch we missed a lot of free throws that we haven’t done this year so I think that was good for us, to be honest with you, to put ourselves in that position. Hopefully we’ll make a bunch of them the next time.
“They’ve been averaging eight threes a game and they made 13 tonight. The problem in playing them for us is we don’t want to take away some of our offensive power on the backboards. I think it was 20-6 points on offensive rebounds. If you keep Kennedy [Meeks] and Isaiah [Hicks] in there to keep those kinds of things happening it also means they have to go out and chase and they have to play [Michael] Young out at the 3-point line or [Jamel] Artis out at the 3-point line or Cameron Johnson at the 3-point line. I like the way they took what we were trying to do at the end of the game. Use one foul that we had left and then foul so that they didn’t have a chance to shoot three and make them go to the line. I have a great deal of confidence in Kennedy taking the ball out of bounds and getting it in, so I like that part. Again, we need to make those free throws but that’s the first time we have been in that situation this year and I think it’ll help us next time.”
What were some of the issues defensively?
“Just getting up on the shooter. If Kennedy is standing out there and Michael Young is three feet behind the 3-point line, Kennedy Meeks is not comfortable… I think Michael Young made two in a row, and it was Isaiah and Kennedy both times, so that’s uncomfortable for them. They really did some nice things. They ran the weave about three or four times and then they set a screen on the ball so it took up a little clock and it also moved us a lot on defense. And then they posted up Artis against Nate one time… 13-for-29, 45 percent for them from the 3-point line, that’s hard to handle but we have to do it and we are going to face a little bit of the same thing the next game because Notre Dame shoots a bunch of threes. Some way, somehow I have to get smarter and we’ve got to do a better job.”
On Joel Berry bouncing back after Miami game:
“He internalizes it so much; he gets so mad at himself. I walked out today at pre-game and Coach Robinson said something to him and he smiled, and I said ‘Good God, what’s your name? Did I hear Coach call you Joel Berry? Because the guy that showed up on Saturday was not Joel Berry,’ and I thought we had some alien that climbed up his body. I think it was Joel at pregame and shoot-around today and I know he made three in the first half and 5-9 from the 3-point line.”
How much of a difference does Theo Pinson make, especially on the defensive end?
“Well, it would have helped to have had a bigger guy, for example, at the end of the game on Artis instead of Nate, so that would have been Theo. The other thing that Theo does is he gets in the middle against a zone. Saturday we didn’t have anybody get in the middle that’s a playmaker. I said the other night on the show that Theo was 18-2 – actually one of the stat sheets says he’s 20 assists and two turnovers, so he’s a playmaker. It would help to have him in the middle. I’m hoping we’ll get him back - I don’t want to put a timetable on it. He’s got a rolled ankle. You saw him walk in, he’s out of a boot. They’re going to start working him some tomorrow. He’s not going to play on Saturday because I think that’s too quick a turnaround. Joel Berry’s ankle was not nearly as severe a turn and he missed two games, so we’re not going to have him for a while but we’d like to get him back.”
Making the decision to foul in the final 10 seconds, is that something you would normally do or was that based on how well Pitt was shooting the ball?
“It’s always judged or [up for] debate, but I believe that if you can get it to around five seconds, you should foul and make them shoot a 1-and-1. A lot of it is me having so much confidence in Kennedy taking the ball out of bounds. We had a foul to waste and I wanted him to take a little longer. We made them get it in and I said when they dribbled to the 10-second line, let’s foul, so that’s the foul we had to waste. And then we wanted to foul again. I started to call a timeout, but I had a veteran team out there and I didn’t call a timeout because Kevin didn’t have any.
“And so I got the word to everybody on the team that we were going to foul, so Justin fouled to put him on the line. We’ve talked about it in our practices before. I think if you can get it to six or five, and anything below that for sure, I think your chances of winning are drastically higher if you foul and just give them a chance to shoot a 1-and-1 and not tie it up with a three. And then you’ve got to have confidence that you’re going to get the ball inbounds and you’ve got to have confidence that your guys are going to make free throws. We didn’t make as many tonight as I wanted to.”
On reunion with Kevin Stallings:
“He’s part of my family… I had it as good as you can have. Think of this, I’m going to Kansas, this is pretty doggone good. I’ve never been a head coach, but I have Jerry Green, Kevin Stallings, Mark Turgeon, and Steve Robinson. That’s pretty good. They were my security blanket and I would trust Kevin Stallings with my life.”