An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We will get started
with the University of Louisville, Head Coach Rick
Pitino, Student Athletes Russ Smith and Luke
Hancock. Coach we’ll start with you and get your
comments on the evening?
COACH PITINO: We weren’t sharp
defensively tonight and when you’re not sharp
defensively, you need a great offensive
performance and certainly we got that from Russ,
he was brilliant, penetrating, passing, getting in the
lane shooting the ball, he’s done it all his senior
year with everything that you could possibly ask of
a basketball player in terms of — just you know he
deserves to be the — I think he’s made four or five
first team college All-Americans, you saw why
A great story a skinny, scrawny kid from
Brooklyn to a big, strong, tough, 42-point scorer is
an amazing performance.
Q. Rick, Russ had 42 tonight and the
school record is 45. Were you aware of that
when you pulled him out?
COACH PITINO: I was aware afterwards
but, really, it’s more important that he doesn’t get
hurt and we have a chance, than records. He sort
of has enough records right now, and if he did get
to 45 he would never pass the ball the rest of the
year so it’s a good thing he didn’t get the record!
Q. Russ, I know you did some interning
and broadcasting. If you were a reporter what
would you ask yourself and what would your
RUSS SMITH: I would ask myself, what
did I eat before the game, or how did the court feel,
how did I feel in warm-up and I would say I had a
good breakfast this morning, I had a pretty good
pre-game meal, I took a nice nap and that turned
out to be good and as far as the warm-up line that
was great, the rims looked good and I had a little
bounce in my step.
COACH PITINO: (Snoring noise)
Q. What do you eat?
RUSS SMITH: Wow I ate a lot! From
pasta to chicken, to corn, to asparagus.
Q. Coach, somewhat difficult to answer
but if you could a primer for tomorrow if it’s
Cincinnati, if it’s UConn, how it stacks up for
COACH PITINO: You know two very
different teams, one great defensive team, one
great offensive team. One has more offensive
weapons, the other has — they’ve a young man
that can kill you from the foul line using screens, so
two different teams, both outstanding.
You know, I have my feeling who is going
to win, but I’m not going to say. It will be an
exciting time. You know, we didn’t play great
defense tonight for the first time in a long time. We
didn’t get our defensive numbers but offensively
we were brilliant in passing the basketball and
looking for each other and he was just
Q. Russ, this time a year ago you were
deliberating whether you were going to go pro,
you made a difficult decision. Have you had
any second thoughts about that? Having gone
through this, becoming an All-American and
having another shot at the Final Four what’s
your perspective on that decision now?
RUSS SMITH: Honestly, it never was
about, you know, just being nervous about coming
back. It was more so was it the right decision at
the time, last year. Because I didn’t want to make
March 14, 2014
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Louisvillie – 03 14 14 2
a bad decision and come back. But as far as my
game itself, my teammates, the love was there. I
was always going to put the work in. I go to the
gym every night and whatever I need to improve
on and Coach insists on I try to do it.
As far as a player I have tremendous
confidence in myself to get better. Returning back
for my senior year I wasn’t nervous about
performing because I knew I could perform, and
I’m really happy with the decision I made. I’ve
made a lot of connections, I got a chance to intern,
I got a chance to do football games and just be a
college student for the final time, hangout with my
teammates, finish the year out with my guys I
came in with, finish the year out with Coach P. And
plus meet new freshman, Terry and Anton, they’re
great guys and I’m happy I returned for my senior
Q. Coach, are you surprised that this
game got away from Houston the way it did
considering your team had your way with them
during the season and because of the upset?
COACH PITINO: I thought Houston had a
very good game plane they pushed the pace
before we could set up our pressure. Guys like
Luke and Russ are very clever basketball players,
even Russ stole a page out of Luke tonight with a
ball fake and a shot and made all three free
throws. They’re very smart basketball team, great
defensively, but Houston — we’re playing very good
basketball right now, our last four games have
been terrific so we’re playing very good basketball
and we’ve had an outstanding February, playing
well in March and that’s what you wanna do. We
know we will have our hands full tomorrow with
The great thing about these guys is they
play every team with great respect and that’s why
they haven’t been upset this year because the
teams they lost to are all good opponents and they
play Houston as if they’re UCLA. They play
Rutgers as if they’re Kentucky. That’s a great
quality to have, great quality.
Q. Luke, you’ve seen Russ a lot
throughout your career. I’m curious how you
would describe the performance tonight. As
well as you guys are playing how much fun is it
to be on the court with the style of ball you
LUKE HANCOCK: You can’t describe
Russ’s game, it’s “Russdiculous”. The way he
moves and the way he gets to the places he does
on the floor and the shots he gets for himself and
for his teammates is unbelievable. Being able to
play with a guy like that makes my job easier,
makes our team run smoother. Sometimes he
does some crazy things and sometimes it works,
sometimes it doesn’t but that’s Russ, we love his
It’s nice to be on a roll a little bit right now.
We know, like Coach said, we’re looking at every
team like they’re one of the best in the country and
we need to win. We’re trying to be hungry and
preparing for everybody like they’re the best.
Q. Talk about during the run in the first
half you had, like, three offensive rebounds off
missed free-throws, I think you guys got 8
points off that?
COACH PITINO: Believe it or not, we
probably have worked harder on that in the past
two weeks than any other fundamental in the
game. We have a technique we’re using, and
Luke got two of them, somebody else got 1.
LUKE HANCOCK: It was 3, I had 3.
COACH PITINO: Excuse me! We worked
very hard at that and we’re excited about it.
You know, the other thing that you look at
with these guys is how much they’re willing to pass
to each other. That’s what makes a good offensive
basketball team because we have a high assist
total. Since I’ve been at Louisville I can’t tell you
the — I think it is, but nobody has told me for the
points scored the lowest total of turnovers I’ve had
as a Coach in terms of the points we’re generating
so that’s good passing, very good fundamentals by
the guys. We don’t turn it over very much. And
Ralph Willard who really talked me into taking
Russ said this the other day, and I had an
argument with him, he said “Russ will be a much
better pro than a college player” and I wasn’t
arguing he wasn’t going to be a good pro, I said,
“Ralph how can he — he’s having a first-team
All-American season, how is that possible?” And
he said I’m telling you, he’s a scout for OKC, “Russ
Smith is going to be a great pro because he’s
unguardable, and now he’s learned to pass, he
finds open people.” Senior night he decided
because he was playing strictly to point he was
going to get his teammates shots and had 13
assists. He’s a great steal person. He plays with
an upbeat attitude all the time.
I don’t know if Ralph is going to be right visit our archives at asapsports.com
Louisvillie – 03 14 14 3
because I don’t know if you could have a better
senior year or better career than Russ Smith has
Q. Coach, fourth consecutive
conference tournament championship game
what are your thoughts?
COACH PITINO: We’re excited about it.
We talk about it all season long, about winning the
regular season, winning the conference
tournament and going on for a successful
It’s very important to us. When you play
for a championship, you need to do everything
humanly possible to get it and the guys are
preparing to get it. We know we’re going to go
against, either UConn or Cincinnati, two great
teams, been ranked all year. We have our hands
full but I have a lot of confidence that our
guys — this championship is very important to
Q. Coach, as far as preparing for the
postseason, whether it’s this tournament or the
next one, does title defense become a part of
your Lexicon when you’re talking to these guys
or is last year forgotten?
COACH PITINO: It’s a different team but I
tell them, look at how much fun we had last year
and we want to experience that again.
I know they’re going to give me
extraordinary effort but like anything else, anything
can happen in this tournament. We passed the
“eye” test in terms of the way the guys are playing,
we pass the eye test. If I watch Wisconsin or
Florida or Michigan, they all pass the eye test.
There are so many teams this year that pass that
eye test that are really, really good. It’s going to be
a fun tournament. There will be some 1 seeds, but
I don’t think you can — between 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds
I don’t think you’re going to find too much
difference in any of them.
Q. Russ, you passed three places on
the Louisville all-time scoring list tonight.
You’re now No. 5. How do you think you will be
regarded? What is your legacy?
RUSS SMITH: When I first came to
school, Coach P. used to always say that to the
guys, what is going to be your legacy here? I took
as a challenge, not individually but as far as team
work. I wanted to win as much games as possible.
I wanted to get a championship. I never
experienced that in high school, not in AAU, I
never played an intricate role on a team that won a
championship. So I made it a personal goal to
play a role on a championship team and I have
succeeded in many ways and I’m just thankful that
I play for a coach that has a hunger and drive to
win that you won’t find nowhere else. I’m thankful
for my teammates because they buy into the
system. When you buy into a system that’s been
successful, you’re going to always be successful. I
personally took that challenge to buy into a system,
listen, pay attention and get better as a player so
I’m extremely happy where I’m at.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we appreciate
your time. Thank you very much.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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Houston – 03 14 14 1
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by the
University of Houston head coach, James Dickey,
student athletes, Danuel House and TaShawn
COACH DICKEY: I’m certainly
disappointed for our team and for our seniors that
we didn’t have a chance to advance. I want to
congratulate Louisville, they played an outstanding
game. Rick’s got a heck of a team. Russ
played — he was terrific tonight. We had trouble
containing him. He had big shots. Not to take
anything away from what they do because this is
the way they play, they create opportunities off
turnovers, and off second-chance points and they
did that, they got 54 tonight. In the first half I
thought there was critical plays, there was 8 points
off free-throw box outs, Russ hit two three’s and
Hancock got a foul on an offensive rebound and
made two free throws. So you can’t help them and
they’re good enough that you don’t have to.
They made it tough on us, defensively they
were a little more physical than we were, and we
just never could — once we got behind in double
digits, we could never make a run at them.
Q. Danuel, could you talk about trying
to contain Smith in the open floor and then
when he’s got the 3-point shot going as well?
DANUEL HOUSE: Our goal was to try to
stop him before he gets a head full of steam.
Certainly he got a head full of steam. As a good
player should, he knocked down the three ball and
once that got going we started falling for the head
fake and not guarding the way we were capable of
guarding and we just let him get going.
COACH DICKEY: I thought he was very
balanced. He attacked well in the open floor, he’s
great off ball screens. You know, he gets 42
points on 22 shots, he gets to the free-throw line.
We were talking back in the holding area about
getting to the free-throw line. He gets to the
free-throw line ten times. He got his three going as
you mentioned, but he is so terrific at driving the
ball and making good decisions with it and really
did a good job offensively, great speed with the
Q. Coach, you think you guys have
done enough to get a postseason invite
COACH DICKEY: We hope so. As I told
our guys, we are going to go home and hope that
we get an opportunity to continue to play. I’ve got
two great young players here that they’re going to
be special for many years to come. We’ve got a
locker room full of guys that are dejected that
would like to continue to play.
We have been inconsistent. We had some
guys injured during the year, that’s not an excuse,
that was a fact that happened, some guys got hurt.
I know the guys would like to continue to play.
We’re certainly disappointed we didn’t have a
chance to get to the championship game but we
got beat by an outstanding team. I will say this
about our league. We’re going to get five teams in
and I think all of them will do great in the NCAA
Tournament. They all deserve to be there. We
hope we get a chance to play somewhere, and we
look forward — we played pretty well the last three
weeks and I think our team has gotten better. Our
guys know how to play and anytime you can play
in postseason I think it gives you a boost and helps
you toward next year.
Q. Coach, how do you see the
American Conference with the former
conference you were in, in intensity, not to say
March 14, 2014
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Houston – 03 14 14 2
COACH DICKEY: Conference USA was a
great league and they had some wonderful teams
and they did a good job. When you look at the
American Conference it’s certainly a step up. It’s a
step up in terms of talent and in competition. I
know there was a lot of talk about the teams at the
top and the other five, but everyone had to play ten
games against top-20 teams all year, five teams
that are going to be in there. We were fortunate to
have some big wins during the year, just weren’t as
consistent as we needed to be.
But I think this league is terrific and I think
that will be validated over the next three weeks in
the tournament. I think you’re going to see The
American do extremely well in the NCAA
Tournament. They will be well battle tested.
Q. As you say, there are five possibly
six. How do you see Houston in the next
couple of years?
COACH DICKEY: Well, we want to make
a jump and be a top-25 program, be in the NCAA
Tournament. That’s been the goal since I’ve been
there and we’ve been fortunate to get some special
guys, two of them sitting to my left. They want to
help that program and certainly they have
aspirations and will play at the next level in time
and we want that for them, but in the meantime, we
certainly want to be a quality program that is in the
top-25, and get a chance to participate in the
Q. Coach, at what point did you sense
this game was getting away from your team?
COACH DICKEY: Well, when we got in
foul trouble in the first half, and we had TaShawn
on the bench much of the first half and Danuel was
having to play a lot of minutes I talked with him
about that when I took him out in the second half.
He had to play a lot of minutes for us. We were
not as efficient offensively and defensively. The
biggest disappointment I thought was on our
execution, like on the free-throws, because you
can’t help a team and I thought we did that.
It caused us to play a little bit faster. We
probably didn’t have the confidence in our offense
as well as we did when we had our starters in
there. When we got behind in double figures,
that’s one of the things that they do well. When
they get you down they try to pound on ya and
they’re good at it.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we appreciate
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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