March 17, 2013
Obviously, it's a real special night for University of Louisville. The final minute of play, first thing I thought of is what an incredible group of guys I'm coaching. Then I thought how happy I was for my family, and then immediately I thought of Dave Gavitt and what he formed, and all of us in some way or another flourish because of Dave Gavitt.
This was a special, special night. First half, I had to jump our guys pretty hard at halftime because we were ... our defense wasn't great because our offense is quick shooting, and we're not a quick shooting team. So we are putting ourselves in a hole by not moving the basketball working high low. Gorgui was the facilitator of the game because, when we got the ball high, Montrezl with his length, he has a tremendous wing span, could obviously do much more than Chane Behanan and taking a step and going up.
Peyton Siva now goes in a class with Patrick Ewing. Just a tremendous game for this young man. I told the assistant coach before, Peyton hadn't played well against Syracuse. I guarantee he plays well tonight. Very few young men in this business that I've coached is like him.
I'm really, really excited. Very sentimental about what happened tonight. Tremendous grip by our guys because in the first half we were shooting ourselves in the foot, and for a veteran team, we shouldn't have done that. To go out in the second half and score 56 points off good offense, and our defense came because of the good offense.
Rick, I know last year when you guys won, you cut down the nets. You didn't tonight. Any specific reason why.
You know, not particularly. I just thought we had four goals going into this year. One was to win the regular season, and we shared it with great teams. Two was to win this championship. Three was to get a very high seed. And four was to win a National Championship.
Now, we don't presume at all that we can get there. We just wanted to savor, if we ever do get there, that one moment.
Rick, in all your times coaching college games, have you ever seen a game swing like that with defensive pressure?
Well, in order to get that type of defensive pressure, where you're conditioning, where all that hustle is a factor, you have to take good shots, and we took good shots in the second half. It was untypical of Peyton and Luke taking some of the shots.
Like I said at halftime, we were down 16 to Memphis on the road in a hostile crowd. This was not as hostile, but this was a road game tonight. I was trying to find red, and we found about 1,500, 2,000. But to play like this, I had all the confidence in the world.
Peyton said, you doubt us. I said, I didn't doubt you. I really didn't. But I had to wake you guys up. Wake you guys up. If I swear they would have heard a lot of cuss words. Thank God I don't swear.
Coach, Coach Boeheim said that when they were up by 15, that's when you really put the pressure on. If the score was a little lower, would it have been the same?
We just got after it more, trapped more, but because we were taking so many outside jump shots, we couldn't get the press on. Press is only a factor.
First half we shot such a low ... we shot 26 percent with half of those not being good shots. And then the second half we started working the high post and going high low, and then it opened up the corners, and then we started getting our pressure on. You can only press on a make. That was the key, offense to good defense.
Coach, could you talk about the play of Montrezl. When you were down 16, he got that basket and tried to get the crowd and everybody else with his hands.
You know, I'm always telling the guys stories. It's like I put them on my knees and tell them stories all the time.
I was telling them a story about at Providence, we're going, can't beat Georgetown, we beat them at the buzzer, and there I stood with John Thompson, ready to go at it with him, and I pointed at his naval, and I said, look out, big guy. Then they just wasted us senior night by 30, in the Garden by 30. And I said to the guys, don't worry about it. We're never going to see Georgetown again. We're playing great.
Then of all things, who do we face? Georgetown in Louisville. As I told them the story, you know, the most unlikely hero, Delray Brooks and Billy Donovan were carrying us. The most unlikely hero, Darryl Wright a man off the bench wins the MVP of the whole region. You never know in college basketball who's going to step up, and tonight Kevin Ware, and in the tournament Stephan Van Treese, and tonight he takes over the backboard, takes over the game, and Peyton and Gorgui allows him to do it with great passing.
That's the beauty of college basketball. You can pretty much pencil in LeBron or Dwyane Wade or somebody in the pros. But in college basketball, you never know, and tonight this young man gave us a tremendous lift.
Rick, you said something about in all of the final fours you've been to, you really felt confident, and some others not so much. Where are you confident here?
I had seven or eight first round NBA draft choices. So you should be confident. But I'm humble enough at my age to understand that Duke and Missouri had great runs last year, great teams, and they lost in the first round.
I'm not overly confident in anything except just taking care of each practice and each game. That's what I want these guys to do is get better. If it happens, it happens for this basketball team. I know one thing. You're not going to find 13 nicer young men.
Even when we lost in the first round three years ago, I've had the greatest time of my life coaching these guys. Not for a long time. They listen to every word you say, yes, sir, yes, sir, yes, sir. It's just an incredible experience to coach these guys.
Rick, I'm not a psychologist, but has this week been as emotional as I think it has been for you with Jack Curran and this being the last
I think for Jim (Boeheim), me, Jay Wright texted me tonight and said, hey, good luck. It's only fitting that you and Jim are in the finals. I really appreciated that. It's very sentimental.
Jim and I both know ... we hope we can coach as long as we can coach, but we're never going to do with in the Big East. To come back like that tonight, it shows tremendous heart. I'm really excited for them they can be part of basketball history. I'm really happy the basketball history took place in Madison Square Garden. And I'm really excited we can do it in Dave Gavitt's memory and now Jack Curran for Russ Smith.
Coach, with ten straight wins, is this enough to be the ones in the NCAA Tournament?
I would say probably. It's not a big deal. I would say we're going to be the Number 1 seed of the number ones, but if not, it's no big deal.
Last year we had the number one toughest schedule in the nation, this year we're top ten. Won a lot of games, won two Big East championships. So probably, but it really is not a big deal for us. We'll let the committee decide on those things.
Coach, how did you get down? Was it something you could pinpoint to Syracuse? We were just taking bad shots. I think ... you need length to play against Syracuse. That's where this young man came in. You've got Gorgui and him. And then we made a lot of mistakes by Southerland. We needed to stop any attempts by Southerland, and we didn't switch out properly.
I think by not walking through today, and we got them off their feet because we were pressing a lot, it may have been a mistake by me ... But I think just good offense led to good defense. Poor offense led to poor defense.
How do you prepare for the NCAAs with that, with this experience?
We're going to go over the film. We watch a lot of film, and we're going to go over the film and show the guys some of the mistakes. We try to confuse, create total chaos, and but we got to do it in a smart way, and we did it in a very smart way offensively and defensively in the second half. That's a lot of points to score against Syracuse.
Coach, tonight in the awards ceremony, Peyton Siva's name was mentioned with Big East royalty in terms of Patrick Ewing, and I saw your face. Your eyes got wide when that was said. This kind of performance in New York, what can you say about that?
I don't know ... why I was so startled, I didn't know only two players had ever won that. So for him to get it, this is a young man that is really, really special. Really special.
When I said about ... it was interesting what I said about Billy Donovan and him being the two best people I ever met in my life, ever coached, when I yell at him, I go home and feel terrible. That bothers me that I do that. So every time I get on him, I walk away, and I feel bad about it.
So I'm going to still do it though.
Peyton Siva: Probably will.
Pitino: It's really special, though. If anybody deserves it, it's him. It's an incredible thing. We had a senior night that was so amazing because I started coaching in Hawaii, where every recruit that came in got little leis and everything. And all of a sudden, Peyton gives a speech to the crowd, and 36 Samoans come onto the court with leis for the whole team. I've never seen that in my life.
For me working in Hawaii and seeing that again and the love the Samoan give, brought me back to 1974.
Siva: Big family.
Pitino: Incredible. Incredible. Thank you very much for the coverage. We appreciate it.
Peyton, second year in a row you guys played great in New York. You won ten in a row. To head into the NCAA Tournament the way you guys are playing right now means what?
I mean, we have a lot to work on, as you saw in the first half. We didn't really communicate well on the defensive end. We have a lot of things to improve on, but I think for the most part our guys really bought in the second half of playing defense and not allowing our offense to affect us.
For us to come back from down 16 really meant a lot and really meant that it showed a lot of heart for the team. For Montrezl really to step up like he did today, just means, like Coach P said, someone on our team will step up big.
That's the thing about this team. We don't need a lot of points from me or a lot of points from Russ. On any given night, it can be somebody has a big night. That's what Coach P has been pressing. It really showed tonight for Montrezl going out there and knocking down all of his shots.
Peyton, you looked a little pleasantly surprised maybe with the MVP. Was that the case, and what did it mean to get done against Syracuse?
To be honest, I didn't think I would get the MVP. I wasn't really focused on it. I just wanted to get the win. Syracuse has been my Kryptonite for the last couple of years, and I didn't think we'd play them again.
Coach had the confidence to leave me in the game this time, and I didn't want to let him down. My shots weren't falling, so I tried to attack, and Montrezl finished a lot of my assists. Even though I get hit a lot on defense, I just want to point out to Coach P, I got a block tonight.
Coach Pitino: Thanks for pointing that out.
Peyton, can you describe how Louisville, the strategy and the way that the press gets applied, and can you also describe what you see in the other team when you guys are feeling it?
Our press is pretty much like controlled chaos. Russ, when he got in the game, he kept telling us, we're going to press. We're going to press. We're just going to run and trap, run and trap, and Coach P is like, no, you've got to do it in a smart way. For a minute there, we were running around the court with our head cut off and got a couple of steals.
For the most part, we tried to pressure their guards. Michael Carter Williams did an excellent job handling the pressure, but at the end we tried to wear him down, wear him down. And it took effect later in the game. They were hot in three point shooting in the first half, second half not so much, and that was really big for us.
Peyton, to follow that, what was the moment in the second half when you knew your defense was in their heads?
I think at one point in the game, we had two or three steals or turnovers right off the back, and we scored off of those three possessions. For a team, everybody really stepped up at that point. Luke, you know, he really showed his energized self. Russ is always energized. Even Montrezl was running back and getting blocked shots.
For us to really battle like that, it really shows a lot. We've got to continue that momentum and continue to play that way.
I wonder if you could share with us, you were very exuberant out there, what were the emotions you were feeling, and did you anticipate you could have a role in tonight's game?
I came in the game just being prepared for whatever coach needed me to do. When I got on the floor, I just wanted to help guys with a big lift. I was going all over the place, trying to get rebounds, either offense or defense.
These guys looked for me, and I just tried to finish for them. I just came out hard and played my heart out.
Coach Pitino: By the way, your free throws looked great. Even the ones you missed looked great.
Harrell: Thanks, coach.