(Photo of Carlik Jones, Dre Davis : Scott Utterback/Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Powered by double-doubles from Carlik Jones & Samuell Williamson, Louisville extended their undefeated run in conference play with a 77-65 win over Wake Forest.
Next up for the Cardinals (9-1, 4-0 ACC), they will travel to Coral Gables, Fla. and take on the Miami Hurricanes. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST on the ACC Network.
Before the Cardinals face the Hurricanes, head coach Chris Mack and freshman forward Dre Davis took time to meet with the media. They discussed their upcoming matchup against Miami, provided some injury updates, where the team is and what they want to improve, and more.
Below is the transcript from their press conference as well as the video:
Head Coach Chris Mack
(On where he would like to see his team more disciplined defensively)
I don't know if there's been one area that's been glaring. I think different games present different challenges. I don't think there's necessarily a common theme. I know against Wake Forest, we had struggles with our post defense. Which in other games, it hasn't been an issue. I thought we did a great job against Virginia Tech, but we let our guard down against Wake Forest. With a young team, communication is always something that we're going to try to improve on and get better at. I think our team does a pretty good job, especially given our age when it comes to communicating on the court and helping each other defensively. But I don't think you've ever "arrived", if that makes sense. Whether it's communication on a ball screen where the screener slips, you don't want to get stuck with two players on the basketball, and now one free man. There are a lot of different areas that you know need to get addressed each and every game, and each and every game presents different challenges. Just the intensity and the consistency in our effort, that's something that we want to continue all throughout the year.
(On if he thinks the team is where they need to be at this point in the season, as if Charles Minlend will play vs. Miami)
I don't necessarily have an expectation of where we should be, especially during the pandemic. We just come to practice with the intention of getting better, and trying to improve, and obviously focusing on our next opponent, whoever that is. We've had a few glitches in the schedule with teams not being able to play because of COVID, and we're not the only one. We were well aware that was going to be an issue throughout (the season). As I said the other night, Charles is the guy that we got to continue to try to get minutes for. He's got to earn in practice, he's got to show that he's closer to form than closer to injury, and he understands that. Ao every time we have an opportunity to practice, we get to put eyes on him and feel like we can assess where he is and if we feel like he can help our team, and he'll be out there.
(On Samuell Williamson's quick turnaround following a one-on-one discussion)
I think you should be able to have that type of conversation with every player on your team. Just being forthright and honest with the player, where you feel like he's not living up to capability level. Sam cares greatly about how he plays. I think more than any guy in our program, he's in the gym on his own more than any guy. The amount of work that he puts in, he deserves success. But deserving and earning it are two different things. I was really happy to see him really play hard, as we talked about after the Virginia Tech game. I thought he ran the floor, I thought he was engaged on both ends, he didn't concentrate fully just on the offensive end and try to get things happening for him. I thought he was engaged defensively, and such that if you get lost in the game trying to play hard, execute the things that the coaches are preaching going into a game, generally good things can happen for you. Sometimes he takes a little bit too much between the ears and thinks almost too much. It's just, let's just play with ton of energy, and play with confidence and know that your coach has a lot of confidence in you, because I do. It was great to see him bounce back.
(On Aidan Igiehon's injury)
So he injured his groin. It's been a little bit of ongoing issue, it gets aggravated. He was sprinting in a drill, and it just really started to bother him. I think he'll be out for one to two weeks from practice, and obviously that'll prevent him from playing in games.
(On if he has cut back on set plays as a result of changing defenses)
Yeah, we've been less set play oriented this year. The pandemic is part of it. I think that we have two high level guards that can push the ball, and make plays off the bounce. So we've been a little less set play heavy this year, which is a good thing. Again, we want to play with a little bit more pace. It was hard early on with so many games in such a short period of time with a few guys being out, but that's how we want to play. Set plays, we've got to be able to execute when we run them. Wake Forest did change a lot of - not necessarily defenses, but the way they play ball screens. It's a little bit up to our our guards to understand that, and that's something that we work on with them all the time before and after practice, during practice, changing angles, understanding what you're looking for. Dave (Johnson) and Carlik (Jones) I thought handled it pretty well, depending on different coverages that Wake Forest gave us. When they went zone, I think the easiest thing to say the other night is, 'hey we didn't handle it well in the beginning'. But if you really watch each possession, we got great shots. Handling it well and making a shot are two different things. We weren't frazzled, we got a wide open three in the corner by Josh Nickelberry, we got a wide open three from the top of the key by Carlik Jones. There was one errant possession where we didn't do as well, but other than that, we got some really good looks. That's all you can ask, and then you got if you missed those looks, you got to try to do a better job on the offensive glass.
(On the challenge of playing three games in six days)
I think that it's a challenge. I think every team in the league at some point has this type of challenge. I don't like the times. I think it's ridiculous. I don't know how many extra viewers they're going to get an 8pm game versus playing us at noon. I think the ACC made a mistake when they did that, but you know we'll play the game. We're not going to make excuses. Hell, college guys are up two and three in the morning usually anyway, right? It's guys like me that have a tendency to fall asleep in the second half. Although some fans probably feel I do fall asleep in the second half.
(On the overall health of the team)
We're getting there. I think any team, during the course of the season, is going to have bumps and bruises, and you don't feel 100% going into practice. I know Quinn Slaznski got banged up the other night in his shin, prevented him from practice yesterday and then today as well, but should be good to go for the game. But that stuff happens, and you just got to get through it. I mean, we're in a lot better place today than we were in late November, I can tell you that.
(On if Miami's injuries impact his scouting report)
Not really. I think that if - the two players that you're talking about are (Kameron) McGusty and (Chris) Lykes. If we had never played against them before, or I've never seen them, or staff had never seen him, maybe they were a transfer, or junior college player, or a McDonald's kid coming off an injury that we hadn't seen him like Sharife Cooper at Auburn, then it might be different. But we know who Chris Lykes is. He's a magician with the ball, he's quick, he can score it, McGusty's really really good. He's got good size for a perimeter player. If those guys play, we're well aware - it doesn't really change a whole lot of how they play, it's not all of a sudden like they have a run game and they've been a pass oriented team leading up to it. It doesn't change a whole lot, obviously, though they'd have a lot more talent on the floor.
Forward Dre Davis
(On what they need to do to be more consistent on the defensive end and defend without fouling as much)
Like you said, we got to continue to be able to stay aggressive on defense without fouling. It'll be huge for us going into this Miami game, knowing the team is very aggressive getting to the rim. Being able to be aggressive on defense without fouling will be huge for us. To stay in constant communication with each other on the floor, and all our guys are just playing with high energy.
(On why they have been able to do so well on the road)
Like I said, just continue building confidence in our team. Obviously we're young, but being able to get these wins shows that we can continue to do this. So there's something that we want to build on, continue to get better and continue to build on this to really, like I say build confidence. I think our preparation into the games are focused on level of energy coming into the games. They have really helped us be able to get these road kills, and that's something that we got to continue to do.
(On what they could significantly improve upon to be in the conversation for March and April)
One thing we can improve on is being aggressive on defense without fouling. Obviously, we got in foul trouble early against Wake Forest, so being able to cut that out, I think that will help us improve dramatically throughout the rest of the season. On the other hand though, we are becoming a better defensive team. I think that could be one of our strongest weapons going forward. Continue to be aggressive on defense without fouling, communication, getting stops out and continue to play faster. I think we played a lot faster against Wake Forest. Getting the ball out and running, I felt that that helped us get on a lot of runs late in the game. Continue to play fast, play defense without fouling, those are the two big things that can help us moving forward.
(On what Samuell Williamson's big game vs. Wake Forest and what he brings to the team)
Yeah, Sam had a huge game. I think this is one of the Sam's better games this year. Obviously, having a double-double is huge. Having a weapon like ho, down on the floor, it's hard as far as for teams to stop. Plus he's a guy that can do multiple things. As you see, he can score from the outside, score from the inside, also going to do dirty work and get rebounds. Having a threat like that down on the court makes it harder for us to be guarded, makes the harder for us to give up points on the other end, as well as hit the glass. He's a huge part of this team, he's leading this team as far as winning, and we need this moving forward.
(On who has emerged as being the most vocal)
I think it's different guys, different days. Obviously, it starts with the captains Carlik (Jones) and Malik (Williams). They do a good job of that, David (Johnson) does a good job of that, rallying us together. Like I said, it's different guys. Sometimes it can be Sam, sometimes it can be Quinn. I think we have a lot of different guys, a lot of different characters, that can help with that. It's not always one person or just that one person brings out the group. It's just different for different days. Anybody can step up at any moment.
(On if he is becoming more vocal)
I found myself worrying about that earlier on in the season. I think now as the season goes on, I'm learning more, I'm getting more comfortable out there. I can start to be a better voice to be able to help other people out, help other guys out now. I know exactly what I'm doing defensively, I know the system now. So I think I can start to be able to be a better voice on the court.
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