Louisville, making its 41st NCAA Tournament appearance, opens play against the Anteaters of UC Irvine tomorrow in Seattle. Both teams took to the court in an open practice and spoke to the media. Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell spoke about their careers and how excited they were for their last tournament experience. Coach P once again made the point he was glad to be out of town to start their tourney run. The C-J’s Jeff Greer has you covered with the entire press conference transcript HERE. (Below is a snippet from each)
Q. Montrezl, when you play against a guy who is 7’6″, what do you try to do and how important is it to try to get him to get fouls?
MONTREZL HARRELL: We been watching a lot of film and we know and we seen that he gets a lot of offensive foul calls with pushing off. So, we just try to make sure that we’re going to get in the front early and do our work early on. We see that his condition is not nowhere near where ours is, so we’re going to make him run a lot. We’re a pressing team. We’re going to make sure that he plays with the way we get up and down the floor.
Q. Wayne, what are the things that a player who has been through the tournament multiple times all the way to the championship game would know that a first-time player would not know?
WAYNE BLACKSHEAR: That’s a good question. Just knowing your team’s personnel. I think that’s key. The past teams that we have been on, I think we really focus in on our players’ tendencies and what they like to do, and we try to just take it away.
Q. How much is fouling or getting fouls on Mamadou part of your game plan, or do you just assume that your conditioning will wear him down?
COACH PITINO: Well, he doesn’t — I don’t think that we’re too concerned about that because he doesn’t play a lot of minutes. They have three centers at 7’6″, 7’1″, and 6’10”. So they have got people to back him up. What we are concerned about is just what I talked about earlier. If you’re not a great three-point shooting team, that’s okay.
We haven’t had a bad loss all season. The most important thing is that when you’re not a great shooting team is that you defend the three. So there’s not a great — there’s not great disparity with — for years with the three-point shot all I tried to do was go, you know, it’s 21 to like 6 in our favor because we’re always great three-point shooting team. So now it’s imperative that we defend the three. That’s what we hope to do with Irvine more than anything else is defend the three.
— UL Flying Card (@ULFlyingCard) March 19, 2015
Pitino is as relaxed as he’s been all season long. He mentioned that Trez was able to get a lot of rest and that he worked closely with Jaylen Johnson in practice before departing. Could that mean that Johnson is looking at significant minutes tomorrow? Before the UC Irvine match-up was announced, Pitino said that he needed to get more offense from the 5 spot. That means putting Trez there as there are no other offensive options. He alluded to Irvine’s multiple big men as a reason not to potentially start Johnson, but looking at how the Cards have struggled offensively in the front court, what’s to lose to play him some?
Cards on the floor in Seattle pic.twitter.com/zCs9TQdkV6
— Jody Demling (@jdemling) March 19, 2015