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March 7, 2015

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett
On Mangok Mathiang hitting game winning shot

“I’ll have to take a look at the tape to see if we had anybody getting to him. But we obviously wanted to make it hard for (Terry) Rozier and Montrezl (Harrell). I thought we defended the possession pretty well. There’s always could we switch ball screens? Could we do some things? But with the guys we had on the floor and not going with Anthony, we thought we wanted to clean up the rebound if it’s there. I don’t want to say I expected him to not make it, but I was okay with the way we defended that possession. I don’t know if someone was scrambling to at least bother the shot, but good for him. He stepped up and made a big shot. I don’t think that’s his forte, but he did it in a big setting and that was obviously the nail in the coffin for us.”

Was the baseball pass that sailed out of bounds so that you could call a timeout?
“I can’t give it away now… We had some good action behind it if it would’ve worked, but we also had the option to call the timeout too. We just tried to get a catch. Again I’ll take a look at that, but I think the ball just got away from him. We usually have Justin (Anderson) throwing it ironically. In that setting I thought we could get a catch. We didn’t execute it well to give ourselves a chance. It would have been nice to at least get a shot up at the end. They did the smart thing at the end by missing the free throw with .7 on the clock – we thought they would do that.”

On whether the game was loss due to execution or effort
“I didn’t like how it started defensively. Credit to Louisville. Coach Pitino had them ready. They were cutting so hard offensively, they were all over the glass. Their ball pressure was terrific. The first time we played them at our place I think we had two or three turnovers only. They forced us into some turnovers – some careless ones we made. It was electric in here and they were charged. Their fans were charged and how hard they were cutting, playing, defending – all that. I thought they took it to us. When you’re on the road you have to take the game to them, at least defensively you’ve got to hold in there. I didn’t think we defensively had our sharpest, readiest approach start. We did against Syracuse and it saved us because we were so poor offensively. This time we weren’t ready and from here on out it’s one and done. I told our guys that. You’re in the conference tournament. We can live with this, but you’ve got to be ready from start to finish. A lot of that is credit to the intensity in this building and the intensity on the floor. Those guys were ready. They made it hard for us. I wish we started stronger in this one; defensively especially.”

On Montrezl Harrell
“He plays really inspired at home. He feeds off the crowd and we let him get a few easy ones. I thought we trapped him up… he was real aggressive against our post trap. He just made some of those ‘X factor’ hustle plays. When you talk about winning 50/50 balls or getting the ‘X factor’ plays – they got the majority of them. He ignited them with some of those and made some tough plays. He made some easy ones on breakouts. He’s a good one. There’s no question. I saw that when I was fortunate enough to be an assistant on the USA Team and he can take over games. I thought we were a little better down the stretch on him but he’s a lot to handle.”

On London Perrantes’ second half turnovers
“With him he’s the one who kind of saved us a little bit to start the game making some plays. A couple of those (turnovers) were just off the press. We just threw a couple away we didn’t need to. You know, Malcolm (Brogdon) too. Malcolm was getting the ball knocked out of his hands. Again, they’ve got quick hands. They were swarming but a couple uncharacteristic ones for London. In a tight game like this where you’re fighting, those are those small decisions that are hard to endure and he made some good plays. But, we called – we tried to throw a lob – we were a little far out. It probably wasn’t a great call. We said if it’s there, throw it, if it’s not, I don’t know if we set the screen. I thought maybe we could get something on the back line but they jumped up and got it. So, again, like I said, I think our guys will learn from it, but there weren’t a lot of easy things out there. They contested everything. Again, they were running their match-up and you got to try and get a beat on where you can get your shots.”

On if he’s anxious for Justin Anderson to return
“Yeah, I think definitely. You know it’s just unfortunate he was going to – as everyone knows try and if practices went well, a couple of days before he was going to play – and then obviously what happened to him. But, definitely important for us and we haven’t had him for a while. I can’t tell you when he’s going to come back. We’ll see how he recovers. I’ve heard from different people it could be a week, maybe two weeks. It’s just all how you recove,r but certainly when he’s ready, for us of course, but for him, he’s been patient. He’s had to endure a bit and it’ll certainly be nice to get him back whenever that time is. I hope sooner than later.”

On Anthony Gill hobbling during the second half
“I think he had a, either a knee or he fell and a contusion in his buttocks or in the glute right there and it was kind of – he just looked like he wasn’t moving well. It was tightening up and I just didn’t see it. I watched him and I thought Mike (Tobey) was giving us a good effort. I just made a decision… he couldn’t move as well and get up. One time he came to the ball on the press and I said ‘come and get it’ and it just looked like he was hobbled. And I didn’t want to put him in that spot. I just decided to go with Mike and Darion (Atkins) down the stretch.”

On losing the final regular season game on the road for the second straight season… how meaningful is senior night?
“You play, you want to play well in your last home game heading into that and senior night. Like I said you could feel it. This is my first time here. Is the crowd always like this? Because if it is, my goodness. That’s great. And we’ve got a great setting too. I know Coach Pitino gave praise to our crowd when he came and I’ll do the same because it was live. You could feel it. They played inspired and of course with senior night and them. I don’t know if this put them in the double-bye (in the ACC tournament), I’m not sure if it did. It did? So obviously they backed it up. I wanted our guys to be in the toughest setting. We were going to have to beat them at their best. We had to be at our best and we weren’t quite there for long enough. It’s a valuable lesson so be thankful for what we learned and get ready for ACC tournament.”Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino

Opening statement
“I think we messed up defensively on that last play by running into the screen but our guys did so many good things tonight. I’m really happy we won it would’ve been a really difficult loss because we got 35 deflections, we were eight for eleven on the break, we moved the basketball, and their focus on the scouting report was outstanding. I was so happy Mangok Mathiang made that shot because it was a big lift for our basketball team into playing well. What we tried to do, obviously we didn’t have a lot of time to, was run a lot of motion. We were hoping that Terry could get in the lane, look down low to Montrezl if he couldn’t turn the corner. Mangok was the 64th option. I will say this: Mangok has gone in the gym every night for the last two months. Nobody would play him, not this shot, but nobody would play him in the zone when he would catch the ball right below the foul line, everybody would just back off. I said to him, when he kept driving and turning the ball over, ‘if you cant make a 14 shot son you cant play college basketball at the University of Louisville.’ So he went in with a couple managers and he has worked the past two months. Now he hasn’t taken that shot, but it’s fitting after putting two months and about 1,000 shots. That shot was good from the moment it left his hand. I’m real happy for him because he put in the work.”

On Mathiang taking the final shot
“He had to shoot it. Just like Montrezl (Harrell) had to shoot it at that point. We didn’t have a whole lot of options. We wanted Terry (Rozier) to get in there, Montrezl, one of those guys to shoot it. Wayne (Blackshear) wasn’t having a good night, certainly we didn’t want Quentin (Snider) to shoot it, so we had to get Terry the ball to try and either get the shot or duck in to Montrezl.”

On forcing Virginia into 13 turnovers after forcing just two in the first meeting
“Well, we got our 35 deflections. When you play 59-57 and you have 19 deflections at halftime, you’re going to not only have the lead, but you’re going to be good on the break. We were 8-for-11 on the break. When you get 35 deflections with a 59-57 game, you’re playing good defense.”

On the momentum the win gives heading into the postseason
“We wanted to get this double-bye, and obviously we beat a great team tonight, a well-disciplined, well-coached basketball team. We wanted to do it just by not caring about stats. It was a much prettier game than I anticipated. Both teams were moving the ball well. The first half of the other game, we telegraphed everything we were running. They knew we were going to run a pick-and-roll because we never created movement. Tonight we went across, we went back, we created ball movement, we had reversal. That’s why Quentin got so many good looks. He played really well tonight because he didn’t get beat that much defensively. He took a quantum leap tonight in what we want him to do.”

On the improved ball movement the team showed in the game
“We have a very complex system defensively where we have three different presses and we go man, zone, ball goes to certain spots we go back to man, ball goes back out we go back to zone. All we were doing is confusing our own guys. We were okay with Chris (Jones). Once Quentin had to go in there, it’s too many changes for a freshman to have to come in and play that many minutes. I took out the film of the T-Will (Terrence Willliams) Era, and I showed them exactly what I wanted them to do defensively in this situation. We messed up a few times, but what happens with the way we’re playing is, the forwards have to play the high post. When guard bumps the forward, he doesn’t go low. Wayne, if you remember, played the low post, the center came up and played the high post, Wayne tried to front him and they got over the top. That’s why you don’t do that unless you have Syracuse-type wings.”

On simplifying the defensive scheme
“I just think that guys like Quentin and some of the young guys, they have to think too much. It was very easy for the veterans. They love confusing the opponent. They love the fact that the shot clock is running down and they don’t know what to run. These guys, when we lost Chris, they were just not capable of doing that. A lot of coaches call it dumbing it down. It’s not dumbing it down, it’s just limiting, just giving a few defensive options so they don’t have to think, they can just react. That’s why we got our deflections. One of the reasons why we haven’t been getting our deflections is guys are thinking too much rather than just playing aggressive basketball.”

On Virginia turning the ball over with 2.6 seconds left
“You can still lose a game, and I told our guys, ‘we’re going to get this deflection, and we’re going to get the steal, we are not letting them get a shot off.’ I remember that one other time in my life.”

On his thoughts on going into the ACC tournament
“I’m just thinking about having a beer right now. That’s my only thought process. I’m going out, and I want a beer. I’m not thinking about the future. It’s a one day contract.”

On how big the double-bye is
“It has been a goal, and Hubie Brown told me when I was a young coach with him, sometimes I don’t think you guys realize how good a season this is. What happens, and I totally understand, is you’ve got a school up the street that’s having a phenomenal year, and you all want us to be undefeated like them. I told you going into the season that we’re not as good as the last three years. And I just based it on practice, I wasn’t trying to play it down, but I said we could be very successful. And what Hubie said is just care about one thing: getting the team to reach its potential. And this team has reached its potential, because they’ve gotten better. They’ve tried hard the entire time. They’ve played very well on the road, They got 24 victories. They got a top 4 seed. They’ve handled adversity with grace, and that’s all we wanted. So I’ve been overly pleased with our record. And now, playing at Florida State, playing at Georgia Tech, playing tonight, now we did not play well against Notre Dame, because we did not stick to the game plan, but the last three out of four we did. So I’m real proud of them, the guys have reached their potential. They’re developing into a team like the last few years. Now, can we make a run? All depends on the matchups. If we get a team like Notre Dame, we don’t match up well with them, but Notre Dame is a little bit different than most teams, they play four guards.”

On what Hubie Brown told him
“He said just concern yourself with reaching the team’s potential. Don’t worry about number of wins, don’t worry about what anyone thinks. Just get the team to reach its potential, that’s all you can do as a coaching staff. If you feel the team reach its potential, then come playoff time, you’re going to have a nice run. If you don’t feel you’re reaching your potential, like in the beginning of the year I didn’t think we were very good, because every day in practice on defense, guys are getting to the rim all the time. So in the last two weeks that hasn’t happened.”

On Tony Bennett‘s comment on the great atmosphere in the KFC Yum! Center
“His place and our place are the two best in the ACC in terms of the aesthetics and the facility. We have the best arena in college or pro basketball. And the most amazing thing to me as I look back on this, because I really didn’t think we’d ever come to fruition because there was a major recession going on. It was still built, on-time, under budget, with 35 percent minority working non-union. So it was kind of an incredible thing, incredible feat for our town. And we just had a, tonight was an unbelievable crowd and I was blow away with 21,000 people with that type of weather the other night.”

On if getting the early lead helped dictate tempo in the game
“I thought it would be an ugly game, and it was a well-played game. Few turnovers, great execution by both teams, outstanding defense, good rebounding.”

On Montrezl Harrell and Quentin Snider
“Yes, he (Montrezl Harrell) needed a blow and Jaylen (Johnson ) came in and gave us a good minute. He made a terrific move going to the basket. I have a lot of confidence in Jaylen, and what I told him when I met with every player individually before this game was ‘look, there is going to be a game when Montrezl is going to pick up two fouls and I have a lot of confidence that you can play’. I have to get Shaqquan (Aaron) playing better defense and he is 180 pounds so there is not a lot whole lot I can do with him because he is very light. I was very pleased with Quentin Snider because he didn’t hurt us defensively tonight. If he doesn’t hurt us defensively that is great because he is a very good offensive basketball player. Just think about this kind of game when he is shooting 28 percent from the field and 22 percent from the three in conference play and he looked like he was averaging 22 points a game. He goes into the game and throws blind lobs and he shoots the ball as if he is averaging 20 points a game. That is great confidence and that comes from within. He knows his statistics. In our meeting, I told him, ‘Q, what would you do if one of your point guards was shooting 28 percent from the field and shooting 22 from the three in the conference, what would you do?’ He said, ‘I’d probably sub him out’ that is what he said verbatim. ‘You took a bad shot from the left side against Notre Dame that was challenged. I have the confidence that you can make every single shot in every single offensive play. I don’t ever concern myself with your stats offensively. All I am concerned about is your defense. You have to stop hurting us defensively. Just go out there and play, son, I have all the confidence in the world in you.’ But defensively you have to pick it up and he did.”

How can team carry it forward into ACC
“I don’t think this team ever lacked confidence. What I think they have lacked is the understanding that every game must be played differently. Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech have some similarities, but BC is totally different from everybody else and Virginia Tech is different as is Duke. Virginia is different and Syracuse is totally different. So every game plan offensively and defensively must pay attention to the things that you have to accomplish. I have hurt the team by trying to stay with a complex system. But my hands were untied when Chris Jones left. We were doing a great job for 60 percent of the year confusing people. Now it is time for us to stop confusing our own team. That is why we had to make the changes. I think the guys are very confident in what they are doing right now.”

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