Louisville head coach Rick Pitino made a quick appearance on Terry Meiners’ radio show yesterday afternoon to update the fan base on the team, expectations and the upcoming red-white scrimmages. Here are some highlights and you can listen to the entire interview below. As always, the following notes are paraphrased.
– On the upcoming red-white scrimmage: “This will be a great test, I expect a very competitive game with two balanced teams. When you have Chane Behanan, Russ Smith and Luke Hancock running on the second team, you know you’ll keep this thing close and get a great match-up.”
– On guys fighting for starting roles: “I don’t think things will get contentious, I’m more concerned with them fighting for wins each night. The competition amongst each other will only help them in the end.”
– On whether the passing (a self-reported weakness) has improved over the last few weeks: “Aside from Chris and Peyton, we didn’t have a single player with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. We had the lowest field goal % of any team to go to a Final Four in 50 years. Some people attribute that to poor shooting, but in my eyes it was more about poor passing. And when you play fast, poor passing will kill your shooting %. We’re working very hard to correct this because we want to play fast and reduce turnovers.”
– On Russ playing fast: “I don’t think he can play any faster, so we would just almost rather him shoot the ball before he turns it over!”
– On what he expects from Peyton Siva: “Well, he’s going to be an All-American in some publications so he’s going to get some notoriety. We’re working very hard on his shooting, but the one thing he has to learn is better confidence. That if he goes 0-5, to keep shooting. You know, the great thing about Russ is that he can go 0-11 and he’s not even thinking about a slump or not shooting anymore. With Peyton, sometimes if he misses a shot or makes a turnover, he gets down on himself.”
– On the front court: “Well, on Saturday you’ll see Gorgui at center, either Montrezl or Angel at the 4, Wayne at the 3 and then Kevin Ware and Peyton. That’s the starting line-up right now. Second team should be Hancock, Chane, Russ, either Mangok or Zack at center and probably Stephan Van Treese. We’re not 100% on that second team, but those players will likely be the ones we go with to start.”
– On how you keep the team grounded when they’re preseason #1 or #2: “My speech going into the Big East tournament last year, I just kept talking about focus. Focus on the prize. Last year they keyed on the prize and focused, which is how they made that run to the Final Four. We knew the season was on the line and every game really, really meant something to the guys. But this year I’m preaching Humility. You can’t listen to the outside distractions. If they stay humble and hungry, I have no doubts that they’ll have a great season. I tell them this almost every day during our workout’s and 1-on-1 sessions. If we lose our humility, we’ll just be an average or bad team.”