PITTSBURGH - Louisville's season found a new low against Pitt, as the Cardinals fell 65-53 at the Panthers to extend their losing streak to three straight.
Here's what head coach Chris Mack and forward/center Malik Williams had to say following the loss:
Head Coach Chris Mack
Obviously, a very disheartening display of basketball today. I take full responsibility for our team just not competing. It is extremely frustrating at this point, but that falls on deaf ears. Until I can figure out what motivates our group, I don't see a lot changing. It's frustrating.
(On if the team is "lost", and if there is maybe a lack of leadership amongst the players)
I'm not pointing fingers. I'm going to point the finger right at me. When you're talking about leadership, it's my team. I'm the coach. We are lost. We're not playing hard enough, we're not playing connected enough. Again, not pointing fingers, we're just not getting the job done. That falls right on my shoulders, and I got to figure out something different. Saying the same things over and over certainly isn't sinking in at this point, and that's my fault if I can't recognize that.
(On if the team was standing around too much on both ends of the court)
I think on the defensive end, our energy and our resilience really starts to lessen when we can't get buckets on the other end. When we can't score. We've addressed that, we've talked about it, That's been a challenge all year. I thought, for the first 12-14 games, we understood that. That if we had challenging times on offense, that we were going to dig in. It didn't matter if we had to win a game 24 to 22. But, right now I see a lot of failure to dig in. Again, 100% my fault. Why that's slipping, I've got to figure it out. That's what I see. I think we changed defenses. We went zone, we went man with the whole premise of trying to keep the ball out of the lane. Obviously (John) Hugley provides such a tough matchup when you're in either defense, because he's so physical. He's the primary focus for them. He stayed on the floor a lot more in the second half, and he hurt us whether we were in zone or man.
(On if they failed to adjust on defense over the course of this game and the previous game vs. NC State)
Going into this game, we certainly had a trap that we had put in, specifically for Hugley that we didn't have in game one, knowing that he was such a force and half number two at Louisville. NC State, they played a lot better. Some of their shots were literally unguardable. But, again, it may be right. I gotta watch the film. I thought we had a good plan coming in. The plan with Pitt is to try to keep them out of the lane. At the end of the day, they scored a lot in the paint. They had 34 points, which is over half their points, in the paint, and that's our primary focus. We're not doing something right.
(On the slow starts the second halves this season)
Just the result. We've had different lineups, we've had different styles of play that we've gone against. I've tried to get them out of halftime earlier, with six and a half or seven minutes, so they have time to warm up. We've gone down to the wire before, where they were ran on the court with three and a half minutes left in the half. Again, trying to figure out what I can do, what we can do, to have better starts to the second half isn't working right now.
(On the status for Sydney Curry, who suffered a sprained ankle in practice earlier this week and did not play at Pitt.)
I was really surprised that we got him as far along as we did. He got hurt on Thursday's practice, which was unfortunate. As well as he played Wednesday night, he was playing equally as well on Thursday in practice. Then he goes down with what I thought at the time was going to be a severe ankle sprain. He was howling in pain, and he said, "coach, I'm gonna be good," and I don't think he meant for the game today. Fortunately, the imaging [on the MRI] was was good. It's just a matter of the swelling and the pain tolerance. He's a tough kid, and he was in shootaround today trying to get going. But I feel like he made, and we made, the right decision to hold him off for a couple days. I don't want that thing to linger as we go into more games.
(On the sense of urgency)
When you're in this position, that's all you do is feel a high sense of urgency. I felt that way when we were 4-0 [in ACC play]. We went down to Tallahassee with the intention on winning. That's been a team that has had our number, and we didn't get it done. Now, we haven't responded in the last couple of games, and it's frustrating. Urgency couldn't be any higher at this point.
(On if he's concerned that the motivation messages aren't getting through)
Very concerned. Very concerned.
(On what he does to combat that)
The only way I know how, just to continue to show film and work, and try to fix what is ailing us on the floor. I think everybody on the team - players, staff, head coach - we gotta take a look in the mirror. We got to figure out like, "do we want to turn it around? Or is this acceptable?" I know the answer for myself, but we will continue to work and continue to coach, and try to get this thing turned around the way that we want it to go.
Forward/Center Malik Williams
(On the lack of ball movement offensively)
I think a few rushed, just going on quick decisions, not really working to get the best shot that we can create for the group. That kind of just goes to the flow of the game. You got to really pick it up on the other end if you want to be successful on the offensive end. It starts with guarding better, but at the end of the day, we just got to work our offense. We understand what we got to do. They weren't doing anything that we haven't seen or anything, or any too difficult. We just got to work the ball more.
(On the mood in the locker room)
As you know, it's tough. To be on such a high horse and to get knocked off, it's hard to bounce back from, but we got to figure it out. I think we're lost right now just as a group, and that's number one thing we got to figure out to get back together. That's just that.
(On how he rallies the team after a rough stretch)
I think it has to start with me, and I think I slipped in that aspect over the last few weeks. Just personally, I feel like I kind of let the guys down, I will say, starting with our last game playing Pitt. I think it starts with me just being an everyday guy, pulling guys along. Let them know that it's not over. We still got to keep the hope alive, keep the fight alive, and we got to fight until that last game. Still got a lot of games left, I believe we got more than half the season to go. It's about not fighting, but I believe it starts with me. I got to be better for our group
(On what he sees to say the team is "lost")
The last three games, I would say. To win four ACC games, and then to lose to two of the teams that we already beat, I believe that that says a lot. But on top of that, just our group. There's locker room things, and locker room talks that we got to have, but we just got to be more together. More all in and bought in.
(On what has slipped defensively for the team)
I'd say the grid, toughness, the want. Teams are going to get better, teams are going to continue to get better. That's how it works. In January, teams play their best ball. I think that's a part of it. Our defense has to grow. We can't guard how we were guarding back in December. Our defense has to get better, and I don't think that we've gotten better. I think we remain the same guys on that end, and that's where the change is. Teams are getting better, we have to grow.
(Photo of Chris Mack: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports)
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