Atlantic Coast Conference Operation Basketball

Wednesday October 26, 2016

Rick Pitino

Louisville Cardinals

RICK PITINO: Every single day they're just a pleasure to be around.

Q. A couple years ago you alluded to the fact that when you join a new league there was kind of a feeling-out process. After two years, what are your impressions? What have you learned about your fellow competitors in the ACC?
RICK PITINO: Well, it's a mega conference. The coaching is outstanding. The players are outstanding. The organizations of each university is first-class, and it reminds me of the Big East in many respects because it's so competitive, not only on the court but in recruiting, and it's only going to get better. There are some programs that have been rebuilding. They're getting their athletes in, and certainly it does remind me of the Big East when we got 11 bids that one year. That's how competitive it is.

You have a team like Pittsburgh, who I think is one of the best teams in the country, and they're not even picked in the top half of the league, and I think they've got an outstanding ballclub.

Q. When continue said that you had told them that this team reminds you of the '96, '97 Kentucky team. What are some of the things that remind you of that team?
RICK PITINO: Well, I didn't actually say that. I showed them a film of the LSU-Kentucky game where we scored 86 points in one half, and I said, we're going to try to play like this, and I said, we don't have that type of talent. That's one of the best teams in the history of college basketball. I was not trying to compare that team to this team. I said, but I want to play this style of basketball, and I showed them the passing the ball movement, the way they would play defense, and that's what I was alluding to more than -- they do not remind me of the '96 team.

I wish they did. I'd like to coach that team again.

Q. Last week the NCAA came out with its findings; what did you think of that? And you said that the team has moved on. Are you putting that behind you, as well?
RICK PITINO: I am. I'm still very disappointed in what went on, especially for an athlete I had such high regard of.

But the NCAA acted very professional. I'm a real big believer in the NCAA rules. I think you have to have it so everybody is on the same level playing field. None of us want an advantage over someone else, so I'm a big believer in the rules.

Whether or not -- you know, what happens with these things is you hire people, and we did, who worked for the NCAA, so to guide us and give us wisdom of what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say, and both attorneys that worked with us did a great job in guiding us along to do the right things at that time, because sometimes you don't know what's right or wrong in that case.

Q. Can you just talk, Quentin said you guys were using a 20-second shot clock in practice, and he said early on it was a tough new style, they would get some shot-clock violations. Has it gotten better, and he seemed to think you guys were playing faster?
RICK PITINO: Well, we used a 24-second clock. I did it last year, as well, for full-court basketball, and in the half court we use a 20-second shot clock. Just trying to get them to understand how many times you can pass the basketball in that period of time. If you ever watch the San Antonio Spurs, they'll make seven, eight passes in a span of eight or nine seconds. I want our guys to realize that there's plenty of time to pass the basketball, and that's what we're trying to create.

And the starting group is doing it fabulous. The second unit, there's a big disparity. Obviously we played a game the other night, and it was 116-80. I expected it to be much more competitive than that, but it wasn't, because the guys on the first unit understand passing, and the second unit does not.

Q. You talked a little bit about the recruiting, Syracuse, that zone. What do you see from them, and just the potential that they're going to be a little bit faster with the full court pacing because they're going to be deeper? Can you talk about recruiting those players and what that defense you think is going to be like playing against this year?
RICK PITINO: Well, Syracuse last year had an astonishing season. You know, you need some breaks to go to a Final Four certainly, and they got a few breaks along the way. But they earned those breaks, and now they have much more talent, experience, they're deeper, and Jim has said that this is one of his better teams in the last five or six seasons. We have to play them twice along with Pitt, Virginia, and Notre Dame. Notre Dame is playing South Dakota State, North Dakota, and California Poly, I think, twice, while the rest of us are playing -- I always say there's a -- I'm kidding with Mike Brey that there's a Catholic conspiracy that he gets an opportunity to do things that we don't.

But it's really highly competitive. I don't care who you play in this league. That's why I joke, but I'm not complaining because you pick your poison. Would you rather play Duke twice, North Carolina twice, or Pitt twice or Syracuse twice, Notre Dame twice? This is going to be, I think, a 10-, 11-bid league this year. There are no breaks. There never was in the Big East. There's not going to be in the ACC. Each team is superbly coached with great players, so you pick your poison. I know it's -- with the schedule we're going to play this year, non-conference, just opening up with Evansville wins 25 games, and then you have William & Mary who wins 23, 24 games, Long Beach State, then you have to play Purdue, the Battle of Atlantis, Indiana, Kentucky, and the teams I just mentioned. So it'll be nice to be -- to play that type of schedule, but this team better be ready for it because it's one of the toughest schedules I've faced there as a head coach.

Syracuse, playing them twice, it'll just be an interesting thing to try and go against, because their zone will be great this year with the length that they have.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-10-26 18:18:00 GMT

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