(Photo of Chris Mack: Rob Kinnen/USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky, - Playing two games in three days against teams from the Sunshine State, the Louisville men's basketball program suffered back-to-back losses against Miami and Florida State.
Next up for the Cardinals (9-3, 4-2 ACC), they will hope to break their two-game skid and host the Duke Blue Devils. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 at 4:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.
Before the Cardinals face the Blue Devils, head coach Chris Mack and sophomore forward Quinn Slazinski took time to meet with the media. They discussed their upcoming matchup against Duke, how practice has been after the Florida State game, their slow starts and the urgency required to fix them, and more.
Below is the transcript from their press conference as well as the video:
Head Coach Chris Mack
(On if he feels like his team has a better understanding of the urgency and toughness required to win)
I'd hope so. I mean, we've talked about it a lot, this isn't just a conversation that we've had for the last two days. My bigger thing is being able to execute those details, and play with that type of toughness, as I like to call it, throughout the entire 40 minutes. We have to, at some point, figure out how to start better. We just do. Let's hope that tomorrow brings about a better start. But having said that, we get off to a start where it's - we're down 10-2, we still have to figure it out. Just like it happened against Virginia Tech, doesn't mean the game is over by any means. It's a long game, but it'd be certainly nice to get off to a much better start than we have these last few games.
(On what he looks for in his team at a beginning of a game: scouting report, energy, effort, all of the above)
I think it's all those things. I think it's certainly attention to detail. You've gone over a game plan on both ends of the floor, and your ability to be really locked in from the very beginning, play with toughness, and not having those breakdowns, if you will, to start a game. I mean, it's really, really important. Again, we have a lot of newcomers to the table, and it's not always going to be easy or play out the way you would like. Again, we've got to be more consistent over the entire 40 minutes, rather than just talk about the first three or four minutes of the game.
(On what has played into Louisville's recent poor three-point shooting)
I think if you would watch the tape after a game, or DVR, whatever you do - if you even want to watch it a second time. We take pretty good shots. It's not like we're firing with guys in our faces. Now, I've talked a little bit before about the context of our shot, you know, have we already taken maybe a couple quick threes that didn't work out the right way, or maybe we turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions. If that's the case, then we have to work the clock a little more, we have to try to break the defense down. Get a couple of ball reversals and try to really earn a good shot. Not to say that we don't want to earn a good shot every time down the floor, but I would say it's more context issues than it is bad shot selection. If you watched our tape, you'd see exactly that. We take some good shots sometimes, and they don't hit the rim at times
(On if he's seen the urgency in practice with his players)
I think so. We still make way too many mistakes. Repetitive mistakes, which is a sign of youth. Generally, older guys don't continue to make the same mistakes over and over. That means our habits aren't ingrained, aren't instinctual yet. That's what makes an experienced guy, experienced. He understands that. We're still trying to ingrain habits with freshmen and sophomores. I think our urgency, and our competitiveness and practice, has been good. Our execution at times hasn't been great. We have to play with a ton of effort and energy, and try to clean those other things up.
(On how much of practice has consisted of drills that emphasize wanting the ball more)
It's hard to answer that question, because I don't know what Quinn really means in terms of wanting the ball more. We do a lot of blockout drills, we do you know drills that require a little bit of physicality, so maybe that's what he's referring to. Again, I just sort of stick to what I said before, in that we're trying to get there. We've got some inexperienced guys that we're trying to get experience as quick as we can.
(On his impressions of Duke)
I think they're extremely talented. I think they're a different team with Jalen Johnson being back. I think that was really evident between the Virginia Tech game and the Pittsburgh game. Had he been able to stay on the floor, and not fouled out, the result may have been different. I don't want to discredit Pittsburgh, because I thought they played extremely hard. But I think Duke's very, very talented. They're learning, a lot like us. They have some unique players in different positions. Matthew Hurt, one of the leading scorers in our league, doesn't do it very conventionally. That's a big challenge for our team. Jalen Johnson for them at times will play a point center. He can play the five, he's big enough to. He plays like a point guard, he's skilled enough to. I got a lot of respect for Goldwire, who I think is one of the top defensive players in the league, single handedly can disrupt a team on the offensive end with his presence. DJ Steward, a kid we recruited, can really shoot the ball. They've got a collection of really good players, and they're improving. Just like we hope to.
(On if Charles Minlend has made any progress since rejoining the lineup)
Yeah, I think he's definitely further along than he was at Wake Forest. So I'd like to be able to play Charles, and we got to see how effective he is. I think he's getting more and more effective in practice, so I'd like to think as we continue to move forward - we don't play again until the following Saturday - that he'll be even further along. But my intention is to get him in the game tomorrow. I'm hopeful that he's able to add to our team and continue to grow this role.
Forward Quinn Slazinski
(On the cut below his left eye)
This was during the Miami game. It was kind of towards the end of the game, I think it was around two minutes left. There was just a loose ball, and I dove on the floor. Their big seven-footer, I kind of met his knee. So his knee kind of took me out. I had blurry vision, so I was like calling - I was like 'I think my contact fell out', and then right when I dabbed right there, it was just kind of a mess. I was subbed out really quickly, they glued it up as quick as they can, and I try to finish the game.
(On if he sees a correlation between the way they practice before games and the slowest starts are)
Well yeah, you can always look back, of course, after a loss - you just kind of try to figure out what you could have done better. We have a really young team that just, truthfully, doesn't know what it - and I'm not talking down on anyone on our team - we haven't been here before, the new guys on the team. So we really don't know what it takes, and there's no off games in the ACC. Every night is a big time matchup with big time players, and we learned that the hard way. But it's time to flip the page, and we have a storied coach coming in the building tomorrow, and it's time to go take care of Duke.
(On if practice has gotten tougher since their game vs. FSU)
I think this week, we had an unbelievable week of practice. It was just - Coach Mack preaches competitiveness. It's something that takes zero skill, it's just how bad you want to win and how bad you want it. We did a lot of drills during practice that was just solely based on who wants it more, and the losing team having to run until their tongues fall out. It really shows what kind of player you are, what kind of team you are. Life happens, stuff happens, it's how you turn the page. This week, we've been doing nothing but competition - going at each other, and I think it's definitely helped us. I think tomorrow we'll be well prepared just because I think we've had a really good week of practice.
(On if he's enjoyed the tough practices)
Yeah, man. It's the best. Those are the best practices. I'm competing, going against your friends, and it brings out toughness. I think our team needs that going forward.
(On what he's seen from Duke this season)
I haven't seen too much, other than just player personnel and just kind of what they run. I haven't really got to sit down and watch all these college basketball games like I did in high school. But both teams having lost their last two games, and we have two Hall of Fame coaches going against each other, it's gonna be a big game. It's a big statement game. I know Coach K's isn't gonna let their team lose three, and Coach Mack isn't gonna let us lose three, so it's going to be a dogfight. It's a well-coached team, it's a young team. Forget the record. It's a crazy time, they have good players and we're going to prepare from today and tomorrow, and try to, of course, have a better start and carry that throughout the game.
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