The Cards may have had an entire locker room full of players with the cold, but it wasn’t enough for the Ducks to stop the University of Louisville’s Men’s basketball run. Peyton Siva also played just 5 minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul early in the first and the Cards still handled the Ducks going into halftime with a 45-31 lead. Louisville went on several runs during the game and endured a slow Oregon crawl back into the game late in the second half. The Cards were able to close the door and advance to the Elite 8 with a 77-69 victory.
Stay tuned to this page as I bring you post-game video, transcripts and a full preview of the Duke/Michigan State match-up for a chance to go to the Final Four.
Pitino Post-Game Transcript
THE MODERATOR: University of Louisville has joined us in the press conference area. And we’ll take an opening statement from Coach Pitino, and then we’ll go to the student‑athletes.
COACH PITINO: I sort of had to prod our guys the entire night. Unfortunately, Russ has infected our entire team with a ridiculous cold, and all our guys are really sick. And it took a lot out of us because Oregon’s so good. When Peyton got in foul trouble, Russ had to play way too many minutes, and everybody’s coughing and hacking at every timeout.
We just had to get our guys through it, and hopefully we’ll get better. The only problem is on every timeout Russ is hacking in our faces. Every 30 seconds, just like this. So keep your distance and you’ll all have pneumonia by the morning, like Gorgui and me.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student‑athletes, please.
Q. For Russ, first of all, do you have a rebuttal to that? Second of all, did you see anything on the tapes that made you think you can drive past their big men in terms of your speed?
RUSS SMITH: What Coach said is right on cue. I’m terribly sick. I just kept coughing. But we go through scouting a lot, and I talk to Coach a lot about where can I find any gaps or where can I look good on the court, what could I do to help the team win.
And Coach always gives me the answers, and I just try to go out there and just find any gaps and any spaces I can to create shots for myself and my teammates.
Q. Russ, is there ever a time you don’t think you can get to the rim?
RUSS SMITH: I don’t know, honestly. When I’m on the court, I just see little spaces and I try to get to that spot before another defender does. And if I can beat them to the spot before they slide, that’s how I create some contact.
And I always try and create contact, because I feel like if I get to the free throw line, that’s the highest percentage shot that I can have, and that’s particularly my main goal.
Q. Russ, can you talk about Kevin Ware and the lift he gave you, especially in the first half when Peyton was in foul trouble?
RUSS SMITH: I mean, Kevin plays so hard and he just wants to do good, contribute, and he was very focused before the game. I spoke with him, and he was just telling me how well he’s going to do.
I mean, he was so overconfident today, and I’m so happy for him. His lift was just big, and for Peyton to go out and Kevin Ware to step up like that, that just goes to show you how deep we are.
Q. Russ, can you just define how terribly sick you ‑‑ define “terribly sick” and how did you manage to play through it?
RUSS SMITH: Well, I wouldn’t say I’m terribly sick, because there’s like people more terribly sick than me. But I was pretty sick where it affected my conditioning to a point.
But Coach been telling me to fight through it, fight through it, dig in. My teammates as well. I mean, I’m not the only one. There’s been a few. Peyton’s got a cold, Chane’s got a cold, and we’re fighting through it and just do whatever we can to get a win.
Q. Russ, during the National Anthem you’re standing with your hands on your hips and you’re staring at Oregon instead of the flag. What was going through your mind at that point? Were you trying to make a statement?
RUSS SMITH: Oh, man, honestly, I was daydreaming. Then I just turned around and said, oh, then I looked at the flag.
But normally, when we do the Pledge of Allegiance or the American Anthem, I like ‑‑ we face the team. So I just got caught up in something I shouldn’t have been caught up in. I was daydreaming. I apologize.
Q. For Russ, the three games that you’ve had in this tournament, scoring‑wise, how can you describe ‑‑ how does it feel when you’re on the court right now? How do you describe what you’ve been able to do defensively in the three games in the tournament?
RUSS SMITH: Well, to be honest, we have great bigs and great forwards who are able to get the rebound and outlet it quick to me. So when I’m able to get in transition, I think that’s when I’m at my best.
But, overall, it’s really a team effort. They’re like finding me in transition, coming off screens and throwing me like on point passes where I can create.
So a lot of times it’s not the actual scorer, it’s the person setting the guy up for it. And I’m getting great outlet passes, great curl passes, great passes fading off screens. I think we’re just doing a tremendous job just trying to win it, doing whatever you can to win.
Q. Gorgui, this one’s for you. Just the last two weeks, you guys have played against good rebounding teams, Colorado State and today Arsalan Kazemi had a couple of very big rebounding performances. Was that kind of a point of emphasis to keep the guys off the boards and concentrate in on that?
GORGUI DIENG: Yeah, coming to this game, we knew rebounding would a big factor in this game. We just try to keep them off the glass and try to dominate the glass.
But I think we did a good job as a team rebounding, everybody getting to the glass and rebounding the ball.
Q. For Gorgui, can you talk a little bit about what Russ said about the outlet pass? And are you always looking up first as soon as you get the ball to see if he or Siva are taking off down court?
GORGUI DIENG: Oh, Russ, like he’s a great basketball player, so anytime we struggle, anytime we grab the ball, he’s the first one I’m looking on the floor. Sometimes, like when I’m on the floor talking, I’m always like, Give him the ball, because once he got the ball in his hand, he’s going to score, get a foul or both.
So he’s doing a great job in this basketball team, and I think we really need him, so we throw him a good pass. And he’s just a good basketball player. We just need to give him credit.
THE MODERATOR: Fellas, thank you. See you tomorrow.
For Coach Pitino right here.
Q. Peyton was telling us that you’ve called Russ a poor man’s Allen Iverson. I was curious what prompted you to say that, why you make that comparison.
COACH PITINO: You know, sometimes I don’t ‑‑ I spent eight years in the pros, and I don’t read a whole lot what goes on. I look at Chad Ford’s list, and I don’t see Russ Smith, I don’t see him on the All‑America teams. Truly, I’ve been coaching a long time, I’m baffled, just baffled, because it wasn’t like he’s no Johnny‑come‑lately. He carried us on his back to a Final Four last year.
And Allen Iverson was so good at the pro level because it’s tough in the pros because you really have a 16‑second shot clock, and now Allen always had the ball with five seconds to go and he had to create.
And that’s what Russ does. Russ is in some difficult situation ‑‑ we didn’t have it tonight. We really were ‑‑ and it’s a tribute to Oregon. Oregon’s a great basketball team, one of the best we have played. They’re about as well coached as any coach I’ve seen. They’re really, really a well‑drilled, coached team.
And we were short of gas tonight without Russ Smith. We couldn’t win. We shot 61 percent in the first half. Our defense was porous at best, and that’s carried us.
So Russ, I mean, as the next pro guy, I look at him and say colleges today is much more physical than the pros. When you watch the pros today, they go right away, hand check or anything like that. And Russ is able to get to the foul line, get a shot off, make the play, turn around and guard. I’d have him in the top twelve in the draft because of the way his game transcends to the next level.
I’m very happy that everybody’s missing the boat because I’ll have him for another year. But I really, I really can’t believe what I’m reading sometimes of this kid, because he’s ‑‑ to me, I thought he was a runaway Player of the Year. Runaway. And that’s no knock on the other guys, because they’re great too.
Q. Coach, everybody’s talking about Russ Smith. But that was a career high for Kevin Ware. And Coach Altman talked about how his shot in the second half ended a run that they were having. So could you talk a little bit about Kevin Ware?
COACH PITINO: He was terrific tonight. We played him at point guard. Peyton didn’t have it tonight. He’s been sick. I try to tell our guys. Guys, we don’t have it tonight, it’s obvious. We’re winning with offense, and that’s great, but we’ve got to start digging in and getting stops.
We did at the end. We had a good run and they immediately came back and made big plays. But Kevin gave us a big lift. Every time we needed a bucket, he got it for us. Gorgui did a great job.
We’ve been a great defensive team ‑‑ not a good one, a great one ‑‑ all season. Tonight their quickness was so good, all it did was wear us out defensively. But we had Russ Smith and Kevin really bailed us out of some good situations that could have gone either way. We never let them come back, because we kept attacking offense.
The first time ‑‑ our offense has really grown in the last few weeks. We’re shooting an amazing percentage, which we didn’t do all season. That’s why we’re in the Elite Eight.
Q. Rick, can you just kind of expound on Kevin at the point? How valuable is it to have that maybe in December? Would you have even thought to have him at point guard in a situation like that?
COACH PITINO: Well, I think he’s learned how to run. He was one of the poorest I’ve coached at running a pick and roll. He always went too wide. He never ran his men into the screen. He always looked to pull up a mid‑range jump shot rather than take the guy to the rim. When we moved him to point, he got much more work at probing the lane and attacking the rim. And you see how long he is.
And he’s gotten so much better at the pick and roll. Where he’s got to improve is defending the point guard. He gets on the side of the man too much. Tonight he did that. But he gave us a tremendous lift because Peyton was in foul trouble, wasn’t playing too well, and gave us a big lift.
THE MODERATOR: That’s it. Thanks, Rick. See you tomorrow.
COACH PITINO: Thank you.
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