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BIG EAST CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 15, 2013


Rick Pitino

Peyton Siva

Russ Smith


NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

LOUISVILLE テや禿つ 69
NOTRE DAME テや禿つ 57


COACH PITINO:テつ It's very exciting to be in another final game, especially the last year of existence in the Big East.テつ So we're very excited.テつ The young man here that really has a sore calf, and I was just driving him, driving him, telling him it didn't hurt, didn't hurt, there's nothing wrong with you.
I know he didn't believe it, but he played through it.テつ So I'm real proud of him.テつ He had a great game.テつ Luke's given us a big lift offensively.
We did a lot of great things.テつ Made them shoot a low percentage in the second half.テつ And even the shots from three, the two bank shots from three would have been an even lower percentage.テつ Great defense in the second.
If we were a little‑‑ I would say, we worked really, really hard last night, very hard.テつ It wasn't a great performance, but it was a very good performance to get into the finals.

Q.テつ Coach, can you talk about the lift that Van Treese gave you.テつ Have you played Van Treese and Gorgui in the same line?
COACH PITINO:テつ Probably not too much in games.テつ We do it all the time in practice.テつ Steven is the best rebounder on the team.テつ He gets people shots.テつ He's a great screener.テつ He had five rebounds in ten minutes, so per minute play, he's the best rebounder.テつ I just have a lot of confidence in him right now because he gets a lot of loose shots, and these guys have a lot of confidence in him, which is more important than me, because they know what he can do.

Q.テつ Last year, Rick, you weren't supposed to be in the Big East Tournament finals, so to speak.テつ You were sort of a lower seed.テつ This year you're sort of expected.テつ Which is harder?
COACH PITINO:テつ I just told Andy that Syracuse is in the same boat.テつ We walked in here losing 4 out of 6, and everyone said they're not playing good basketball.テつ They're not playing good basketball.テつ With us, it's a little different.テつ We weren't healthy until the Big East Tournament.
So all of a sudden, the tournament turns you around.テつ You see it like with Vanderbilt right now in the SEC, they're playing great ball.テつ Sometimes tournaments bail you out.テつ Syracuse goes right now from not being able to make a shot to on fire just because the belief in the tournament.
And we know because we faced it four years ago, maybe it was longer now, we're going to play a road game tomorrow.テつ We know that.テつ But that being said, it's so exciting to be in the Big East final.テつ Whether expected or not, we had to perform.テつ We had a Notre Dame game, according to some of the tweets that were coming out, that we had to be ready.テつ So we knew that.
These guys read it, not me.テつ They told me.

Q.テつ You held them to 12 of 31 from 2‑point range.テつ How good was your defense?
COACH PITINO:テつ I just felt we were at a couple of bad places at one time, and Peyton Siva kept bailing us out one rotation after another.テつ He's just an incredible player.
I sometimes don't give him too much of a break because I have so much confidence in him in every phase of the game.テつ Once in a while, he wants to catch a break and wants Russ to get it up, and I'm all over him saying, are you going to be the point guard or not?テつ He's trying to cop a blow for one second, and I won't even let him do it.テつ That's how much of an ass I am.

Q.テつ Rick, in the scope of history, Peyton is now the all time leader in steals at Louisville.テつ What does that mean for the school?
COACH PITINO:テつ When you realize the talent we've had at Louisville, one of the greatest traditions in all of college basketball‑‑ it's one of the top seven traditions‑‑ that's saying something because they had so many great athletes, so many great players.
I say this, I keep repeating it over and over and over.テつ The two greatest people I've ever coached in my life were Billy Donovan and Peyton Siva, just as people, and then you match the fact that they were both great point guards.テつ So I've been very, very lucky to have coached Billy, and now I'm very lucky to coach Peyton.
I didn't know you got that record, so congratulations.テつ Let's see if he can do a little better tomorrow.

Q.テつ Peyton, can you describe what it's like to be that good at stealing the ball for us that don't have any idea.
PEYTON SIVA:テつ In all honesty, it wasn't‑‑ I just made the right spots at the right time.テつ More of the pressure from Russ and Gorgui and them trapping, and I just made the right rotations from watching film and know to get to the baseline of some place and getting to the right spot in our press.
Those people kept telling me not to back up and keep running aggressive, and that's what I try to do.テつ The ball just came to me tonight.テつ It's as easy as that.

Q.テつ Peyton, it's four title games in five years for Louisville and your third title game.テつ I know that everyone's been nostalgic and everything, but like why do you guys kind of own this tournament now?
PEYTON SIVA:テつ I hope we own it tomorrow.テつ I think around this time of year Coach really pushes us to become‑‑ bring our game up to a higher level.テつ Throughout the year, we're still trying to figure out our defenses, and we're still trying to figure out our offenses and still trying to figure out our defenses.テつ Coach P around this time, we work so hard and condition so much that these three days are just like three days of practice.
We're used to it.テつ We're used to running.テつ We're used to getting up and down.テつ I just think that this style and the way the tournaments are played, Coach P is really great at coaching us throughout it.テつ A lot of teams wants to slow it down, and he wants to push the pace.
That's what he's been great these last three years, and I'm just grateful to play for him.

Q.テつ For both players, what is it like for us who don't know, what is it like to step out on that court and the arena that bills itself as the world's most famous arena.テつ How do you respond to that energy, when it comes to the tournament, on this court in this arena?
RUSS SMITH:テつ This is my first time playing, but just being‑‑ I experienced it last year as a redshirt, and it's just an unbelievable feeling to be out there and the crowd and the history of Madison Square Garden.テつ It's pretty unbelievable.テつ For this to be the last tournament of the Big East as it really is, as the power basketball conference that it is, it's pretty special.
PEYTON SIVA:テつ For me, it's great.テつ Playing in Madison Square Garden, I love the atmosphere, especially since Coach P loves this place so much, we try to win every game for him.
The court is new this year.テつ It wasn't like last year.テつ So we noticed that right away.テつ It's just a great feeling.テつ You love the atmosphere.テつ You love the new arena, a lot of it is refurnished, and you just love playing in it.

Q.テつ Coach, you talked all year about Luke getting the shoulder.テつ The last few games, he's 16 for 26, and they all seem to come at a crucial time.
COACH PITINO:テつ He's a cool customer when it comes to being on the court.テつ It says something when you name someone captain and he never plays in uniform.テつ That shows how much confidence you have in him.
He had one of the worst shoulder injuries that Fred has ever seen because he tore everything.テつ Basically he played three months of the season, I used to tell him, Luke raise your hands when you block out and stop blocking out with your arms, and he said, I can't.テつ Fred said, there's no player he ever coached in the organization that could play as quickly as Luke played.
He said, by mid‑February he'll feel good.テつ Probably now after 20 minutes of warmup, he's no longer in pain, and he can lift his arms up.テつ He's a great player.テつ I knew when I watched film on him at George Mason, but he learned to play defense now.
When I asked Jim Larranaga, I said, tell me about Luke.テつ If you need someone to take something under pressure, he's your man.テつ If you need someone to take a shot at the end of the game, he's your man.テつ If you need someone to grab a rebound, he's your man.テつ I said, what about defense?テつ He said, he's not your man.
But he's really improved his defense.テつ It's come a long way.

Q.テつ Coaches have different philosophies about how to address a conference tournament, and I read somewhere recently that you felt this conference tournament is a good prep for the NCAA.テつ What is it about this tournament that does it for you?
COACH PITINO:テつ I felt this way at the SEC as well.テつ Different coaches have different strategies and some like to rest.テつ We're a well conditioned team.テつ What I love about these tournaments and I did it at Kentucky as well when I coached there is that you get three days to really prepare.テつ It gets the guys to understand film and watch it in a very condensed period of time.テつ When you play Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, you guys are used to focusing and being in high pressure situations.
So for us, I think it's great preparation for the NCAA.テつ I always wanted to win the conference tournament at the end of the year, peak at the right time because your guys feel great about themselves when they get on the bus and go home.

Q.テつ Notre Dame's the only team that beat you the last month and a half.テつ Is there anything special about this game?テつ And then when they cut it to seven with 1:30, was that a sense of deja vu from last time?
PEYTON SIVA:テつ Notre Dame is a great team.テつ Led by two great guards, probably the most underrated backcourt in the nation.テつ It was definitely tough playing against them.テつ They match up so well against us.
This is my third time out of six or seven that we haven't went into overtime.テつ To really get into them and beat them today is really something special.
I know a lot of those guys.テつ We went to camp together.テつ It's kind of great just to have the bragging rights for summer because I won't have to play them again.

Q.テつ Coach, how fitting is it that it's going to be you and Boeheim in the finals of the final Big East Tournament?
COACH PITINO:テつ I'm happy for Jim because his team was going the wrong way, and now he can‑‑ I don't know how many more years‑‑ he asked me the other day, he said, are you going to retire soon?テつ I said, I don't know why Jim would ask me that.テつ He's asking me that.テつ And then my wife grabbed him in a restaurant and said, Jim, are you going to retire?テつ He said, no, Rick needs to retire.テつ His children are all grown up.テつ Mine are young.テつ I have to coach 10 or 12 more years.
I'm happy for him.テつ He's a great guy.テつ He's like most coaches.テつ When you lose, we're not real nice to you, not nice to your dog, to anybody.テつ But he's a great guy, he really is.
I have the cutest story about him that I'll never forget because his first assistant coach, and I never forget this as long as I live because you've seen him when he gets upset.テつ Well, we won the Carrier Classic.テつ We won it.テつ And Marty Burns had a great night.テつ We beat Michigan State, Judd Heathcoat was the coach.
He went ballistic on this writer Rob Lowen (phonetic), as he went through the media room because he knew Rob really well.テつ He used to work for a media newspaper.テつ And he took a stat sheet and threw it at his head and said MVP‑‑ because he found out Rob voted for the other guy.テつ You voted for Ervin Magic Johnson and he threw the thing.テつ How could you possibly do that over Marty Burns?
Years went by, and I kept thinking when I was in the pros, looking at Ervin Magic Johnson, I don't know how he could vote for him over Marty Burns.テつ But that's just me.
I love Jim.テつ He's loyal to his guys at Syracuse.テつ We're happy for him that he's in the finals, and we're excited to be in the finals.

Q.テつ Rick, you talked about Russ' performance.
COACH PITINO:テつ Russ can be very frustrating at times, but that being said, you've got to give him his latitude because he's such a great player.テつ Russ is‑‑ I think Russ is actually going to be a very good NBA player because‑‑ you know, the NBA is really a 15‑second shot clock.テつ I know now they went to 8 seconds in the backcourt, 16 seconds with the shot clock.
So you don't have a lot of continuity.テつ You don't have a lot of ball reversal.テつ You've got to create for either yourselves or your teammates with a 16‑second shot clock.テつ That's why Russ offensively as well as defensively does it.テつ Peyton does it at both ends of the floor.テつ That's why these guys are going to have a great future going forward.
So Russ can‑‑ he'll take a bad shot.テつ I don't get really upset at Russ' bad shots.テつ I get upset when he screws up defensively.テつ That's what bothers me.テつ It's mostly off the ball or a scouting assignment, but I let him have his latitude offensively.テつ Great scores.テつ You've got to give him one or two bad shots and just got to tell him to settle down.テつ So he's a great player.
JOHN PAQUETTE:テつ Louisville, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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