Jan. 28, 2014
Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin
Jan. 28, 2014
On how he is keeping this game from being bigger than it really is:
"For us I want our guys to embrace it. I think you have to remember that these are college kids and they've earned the right to have a big game in a big night. But at the same time, execution is going to decide who wins. For us being mentally tough in a tough environment against a really good team that is going presents a lot of adversity for us. The whole big game atmosphere, it's great. It's what the kids want. This one game I won't have to worry about motivation and making sure my guys are ready to play. Now, they need to understand that Louisville's defense, especially their deflections and pressure, is something that we have not seen yet and we really haven't had anybody come after us defensively. We've had good defensive teams that we'd played against, but nobody plays their style defensively. That would be my biggest concern."
On where Justin Jackson is health wise:
"He's still got the mean face, but has the bad ankle so we'll see in practice today. Hopefully, he can move around and tomorrow we will know more. If he walks in here right now, he will say he is playing. It's like I told his dad last night, if he is at a point where he can't play I may not bring him to the game. Or I may have to put him in the stands (otherwise) he will try to check himself in. That's the kind of guy he is. He was begging to play at halftime during the Temple game, so we'll see. I won't have the answer until probably tomorrow. But it could be until Thursday at shoot around for us and our game practice is at 11 a.m., so it could go that far."
On having 21 turnovers the last time they played Louisville:
"If you play Louisville at Louisville, especially if you turn the ball over, you might as well not travel down I-71. You won't have a chance. It's easier said than done. The way they are shooting the ball in conference play is unbelievable."
On if they are equipped to deal with Louisville's pressure this year:
"Again, you would hope so, but we'll see. Like for Titus (Rubles) it was the first time that he played against them last year and he had a rough night. Some of that was him some of that was maybe myself putting him in bad positions. Obviously, we are showing him that film and hoping to rectified that.
"Our offense is totally different this year than it was last year. The thing about Louisville is if you take more than two dribbles you're in trouble. If you try to keep dribbling that ball they're going to take it from you. So we have a lot of guys that haven't played major minutes against them at the guard position being Ge'Lawn (Guyn) Troy (Caupain) and Kevin (Johnson). Those guys are my biggest concern in this game because they haven't not seen that type of defense and the pressure that Louisville brings consistently. They have great quickness out front with Russ (Smith), (Terry) Rozier and (Chris) Jones is back for them."
On Sean Kilpatrick and Russ Smith being the top two scorers in the conference and what Russ brings to the table:
"I think they are very similar. Obviously, Sean is bigger and Russ is faster, but I think when both of them are at their best their shot selection is great. I think both of them are at their worst when they take too many shots and too many hard shots. Their teams both tend to excel when they are judicious with their shot selection and their all-around offensive game is at its best.
"I think if you look at Louisville that is what has happened to them since the Memphis game. Russ is shooting 61 percent from the three-point line and over 50 percent from the field. That tells you he's not taking Russ-diculous shots he is taking team shots. He is not taking "me" shots and that's the same with Sean.
"When you've got aggressive guys like that - that believe in themselves - it's a ying and yang on how to coach them because you don't want to take their confidence away but at the same time you can't let them go down the path of destruction with their aggressiveness as well."
On Louisville being an excellent defensive team:
"They have been a much improved defensive team (in) their last four or five games. They have gotten to the point where they are changing defenses more and confusing their opponent in the last four of five games. They have been doing it more effectively than they have all season which simulates who they have been the last couple of years. They seem to be more on the same page with what they are doing with their changing from man to zone whether it is possession to possession or whether it's within the possession. They get people standing around and that is what you can't do. If you get confused and then you turn the ball over or you take a horrible shot, they are going to go lay it in. For us, the key offensively is to take care of the ball and get a quality shot that we can rebound. That is an area where we can have success. That is easier said than done, but that is going to be the key to our offense."
On the future of playing Louisville:
"It would be a shame if we never played again. Who knows what the future holds? As far as their immediate future like for next year, we had to move on. We have some things in the works for a lot of quality non-conference games for next year. It is something that I would love to continue to see. I think playing them would make us better."
On if he is assuming they aren't going to play Louisville next year:
"Correct. They added Minnesota. They have Memphis. Like he alluded to (previously), Memphis asked first. Well, why would I ask because we were (all ready) in the same league. There was no need to ask. They were all ready playing Memphis in a non-league game. They had already scheduled that series.
"We will see. I have some ideas with multi-team events where we could each play three home games and then split U.S. Bank Arena or do a home and home like we did with NC State. I would be shocked if we never played again. I wouldn't even go down that road. It will probably be a matter of when."
On where the greatest adjustment will be if Justin doesn't play:
"This year we try to make sure he is in the action whether he is the screener or the post-up guy on every play. Defensively, it eliminates your anchor. As much as SK is a great scorer, Justin is an anchor for our team on both ends. It is going to put a lot of pressure on us. The last part of that is just human capital. We are down to eight scholarship players if he doesn't play with Jamaree Strickland not getting cleared and Jermaine Lawrence still out. You are trying to go play one of the best teams in the country with eight guys on scholarship. That is not an easy thing to do."
On how his relationship with Coach Rick Pitino has evolved:
"For me with him, he is like an older brother. When you know somebody that you can talk to that is going to give you advice solely based on what is in your best interest, it is a luxury. It (also) happens to be a Hall of Fame coach. For him and me, we don't really talk about basketball much unless it is my future. We have talked through job situations a lot.
"We used to play a lot more golf until I got better than him. He got word of that through Kevin Williard. He has conveniently been ducking me for the last few years. We have definitely changed there. I used to be the guy always buying lunch and dinner after the round. It definitely has changed in that regard.
"It has been nice because I am so close to him and (what I mean by that is) that I am able to see him a lot. We have a lot of mutual friends. I am close with his kids. Richard and I are close. His son Ryan, he and I are really close. If I go to Churchill Downs with my father, I sit in his suite. He opens it up for me. It is just a luxury for me. It has been one of the great things that has happened to my life when he opened his world up to me. Hopefully, I can give him a little pain Thursday night."