Louisville Pregame Quotes

As part of NCAA Tournament procedures, all teams take part in a media interview session the day before playing. Stanford's first round opponent, Louisville, took the podium Wednesday to answer questions on playing in Rupp Arena, injuries, NCAA experience and the strategy to beat Stanford on Thursday. Rick Pitino and four players, including David Padgett, fielded questions.

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino

Opening statement:

"We're very excited to be back in the NCAA Tournament.  For every student-athlete and every person who has been involved in college basketball, this is it.  It's a fun time of year, where the upsets come into play, Cinderellas are formed and people are trying to win a Championship.  This has just gotten so big, and the excitement is just so grand, that it is fun for everybody involved.  We are very much thrilled to be a part of it."

On missing the NCAA Tournament last season:

"It wasn't very hard - we weren't a very good basketball team last year.  We were fine playing in the NIT because we knew after the Final Four we were going to lose some players.  We were entering a new conference in the Big East, and we knew we just weren't that talented.  We knew that we didn't have that talent level to transition into the Big East.  It wasn't really difficult.  You don't complain about what you don't have; you just do whatever you have to get back into it.  That's what our guys have done this year."

On playing in Rupp Arena, home of rival Kentucky:

"You guys are making such a big deal out of this.  To me that is bizarre.  Ohio State will have the big home court advantage.  We don't concentrate on people in the stands.  We don't count people.  We've played our best basketball this year on the road.  Our best games were on the road.  Now, if you are playing at UK, there's 24,000 people and you have 10 fans.  Or if you're at Louisville, there's 19,500 and no fans.  I can ensure you that if we beat Stanford, it won't be because of the fans.  And I can ensure you that if Stanford beats us, it won't be because they didn't have any fans.  This is the NCAA Tournament; you know the game of basketball.  It is such a non-factor to me.  Also when I was coaching at Providence in the first round of the 1987 NCAA Tournament on UAB's home court, that was the last year of [opening round games at home].  It was close at halftime, but we won by 28.  So, the fans didn't matter too much for either of the teams.  That's what it is all about.  It's about execution."

Senior guard Brandon Jenkins

On returning to the NCAA Tournament as a senior:

"It is a great feeling to be here.  As seniors we are trying to get it through to the younger guys that this is the best time of their lives.  We're trying to let them know how great it feels to make it to the Final Four.  And that's what we're trying to do again this year."

On comparing this team to the 2005 Final Four team:

"It's tough to compare.  Our team this year is very unselfish.  Our Final Four team had a lot of experience on the court and the bench.  This year we have a great pass game and we're able to put a lot of pressure on the ball."

On playing in Rupp Arena:

"We're not very focused on that.  We know we'll have fans here in Lexington.  Our main focus is trying to beat Stanford."

Redshirt junior forward/center David Padgett

On returning to the NCAA tournament and the health of the team:

"This is hands down the best time of the year.  All those double days of practice were worth it.  It's the best time of the year because we were all very determined to get back to the Tournament after not making it last year.  Juan [Palacios] and Terrence Williams are both playing well.  I haven't asked the specifics about injuries, but everybody is healthy and should be able to play tomorrow."

On playing at Rupp Arena:

"We've tried not to pay much attention to that.  There are seven other teams playing here, and they all have fans, too.  It should be a great atmosphere for everyone.  Obviously we're closer than anyone, but this is a huge building and everyone is going to have fans.  We are just focused on beating Stanford."

Comparing this team to the 2005 Final Four team:

"Terrence Williams is really starting to be a true playmaker for this team.  The big difference is we're younger, but I think we're just as talented.  Hopefully we'll play well here and get back to the Final Four."

On Stanford trying to slow down the game:

"That is what makes the NCAA Tournament so fun.  We want to try and get them to do what we want, and they want to do the same.  We just need to stick to what we do best, and I am sure they will do the same.  That's what makes this so fun."

On the team overcoming adversity:

"It really shows how tough our team is, especially mentally.  Guys just stuck together and hung in there.  We were able to take the first step to a National Championship, which of course is getting here in the NCAA Tournament - which a lot of people didn't think we would do.  All of our hard work paid off, and our confidence is high coming into the Tournament."

On the match-up with Stanford big men, Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez:

"They're good, but we can't try anything special that may get us away from our gameplan.  They are such a huge presence everywhere on the court, but if we do what we want to do, we should be fine.  The entire team has height, and is fundamentally sound, which reminds me of a Big East team, so it should be similar for us."

Sophomore forward Terrence Williams

On his groin injury:

"It's hurting, especially when I run.  I play 150 percent all the time, so it just brings me down to 100 percent now.  I'm just getting massages in off days - loosening it up - so it's feeling good.  Hopefully going through work outs and practices here, nothing happens so I can play to my potential."

On being the home team in Lexington:

"It feels strange, but we can't focus on it.  The home team loses all the time, so it doesn't matter really.  If UK fans get tickets and boo or cheer, we just have to play basketball, stay focused and can't focus on the crowd."

On the experience of playing in the NCAA Tournament:

"I think the nerves and everything will be out of us by gametime and we'll be fine.  We need to keep our patience, do what the coaches say and execute the gameplan.  If we rebound hard, shoot well and out-hustle them - the things we typically do to teams - then we should be fine."

Freshman guard Edgar Sosa

On the advantage of being in Lexington:

"We're preparing as if it's a road game, but we know the fans should be with us.  We also know that the fans aren't out there scoring, rebounding or defending for us, so we can't focus on it too much."

On the gameplan against Stanford:

"Coach [Pitino] told us he wants this to be a ping-pong game.  They have tall guys who may get tired faster, so we want to make them run, rather than slow it down and play to their advantage.  We have enough depth to run, and hopefully our stamina is higher than theirs if it comes down to the last couple minutes."

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