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What Chris Mack, Louisville Players Said After 82-70 Loss vs. Notre Dame

Read what the head coach of the Cardinals, guard Jarrod West and forward/center Malik Williams said after their loss vs. the Fighting Irish:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With Russ Smith in town for his jersey retirement, the Louisville men's basketball program failed to get the job done, suffering a second half collapse against Notre Dame to fall 82-70 Saturday.

Here's what head coach Chris Mack, guard Jarrod West and forward/center Malik Williams had to say following the loss:

Head Coach Chris Mack

(Opening Statement)

“Give all credit to Notre Dame, as good as an offensive team as we have played all year. They have the ability to shoot the ball from every position on the floor almost at all times. (Paul) Atkinson played a little over 20 minutes and he is the only guy who is not a threat. And when I say threat, I mean not a threat from the three-point line. We are not going to outscore anybody. I think in the first half, with the way we chart, I think we had four times where we stopped Notre Dame three possessions in a row. I think we have a goal of seven and we were stuck on four for the first 14 minutes of the second half. We are not going to win a game against Notre Dame playing both halves the way that we did. We made four or five off-the-dribble threes, tough shots. We have to be better communicating when things are happening on the floor whether that is guys processing quicker so that they can let their teammate know through communication that a switch is coming, that a screen is coming. We have some guys that have to figure that out faster. We have some guys who have to figure out how to be louder so that we don’t have two players stuck on the ball and a wide open Notre Dame player sitting on the three point line. They are a challenge to guard. They have some guys who can shoot the ball at a very high level. It was a tough matchup to say the least. We couldn’t play Sydney (Curry) in the second half. He tweaked his ankle, so Malik (Williams) got gassed. We have a quick turnaround and we have to be ready for Virginia on Monday night.

(About ND shooting)

“Again, it comes down to miscommunication, to not being loud enough. Two guys sticking on the ball and all of a sudden when the ball is thrown to the open player just completely selling out and going right around you. They were able to finish around the rim. We have some guys who have to be able to guard their challenge better in those close out situations. Like most teams who have played Notre Dame when they go to their ball screen continuity, we chose to switch those screens, hedging and getting too stuck on the ball. It opens a tough can of worms like it did in the first four or five minutes of the game. We knew that. Going to the switching, now you have your bigs on the perimeter players driving the ball. They put their big guys close to the basket. We gave up a few around the rim because of our lack of size when we switched. They are good. They have high IQ. They recognize those mismatches. We gave up a couple of threes that we ate with our big on of their perimeter player. I have to get them to the point where they don’t relax defensively. You cannot do that against Notre Dame. “

(About the pick and roll)

“I think a lot of that is miscommunication and a lack of communication. The screener’s man has to, number one, call out which direction the screen is coming and, number two, we have to have the ability to switch cleanly. So when the ball handler comes off the screener’s man picks him up and vice versa. We got stuck two on the ball way too often. The screener pops and there is a throwback and whether that leads to a wide open three or a out-of-control closeout that gets driven. There are sometimes when guys drove right around our players. We need a to be way better defensively on the ball. The threat of Notre Dame, in terms of spacing at all five positions is very difficult. Most teams have two or three guys who are high level shooters. They put Nate Laszewski at the five along Hubb and Wesley who are high level shooters. They have the ability to spread a team out and drive more one-on-one situations rather than gap help. We have to be better on the ball if we are to better on the ball if we are to keep the guys from sucking in.”

(On how the team struggled to keep pace with Notre Dame over the last eight minutes)

“We couldn't make shots around the basket. No one is trying to miss them. We’ve got to make two footers and three footers, and we’ve got to be able to do with contact and it’s plagued our team. We don't want to fire up three, after three, we have to get things into the paint, we get the ball in there and we've got to be able to finish through contact, whether it's getting the ball knocked out of our hands or missing a one foot layup, we've got to be able to knock a few points so that the lead doesn't stretch to 10 or 12, but keeps it at four or six and figure out what’s plaguing us on the defensive end. We're getting some shots that quite honestly, we’ve got to put in and knock down.”

(On if Notre Dame’s three-point shots were relatively uncontested or if they were just hitting tough shots)

“A little bit of everything, to go 15 of 23 from the three point line, I don't know if you can pull Notre Dame out of the locker room and (for us to) not even be on the floor and ask them to shoot 23 shots and make 15 of them behind the arc. They got some open looks, there's no doubt about it. I think when we get too stuck on the ball off of the ball screen because of our lack of communication, that kills us. When we get stuck with a big on a ball-handling, perimeter type player, and we play with our hands down because we're trying to keep the ball in front of us and we don't. Hand down, man down, and the ball’s going to go in and that's what happened. There were a couple of opportunities where our five is guarding the ball, and (the ball-handler) just sort of eyes him one on one and shoots over the top of him. That's a challenge when you have your 6’11” kid out on the perimeter. If he's committed too much to the shot, they're going to drive around (him) and you either suck in and help and they kick the ball out, and that's how they play drive-and-kick basketball. We're not the only team that sees it.

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(On the boos from the home fans after the game)

“I'm frustrated too. I appreciate everybody coming tonight, they care deeply. They care deeply. They want Louisville to win, we want Louisville to win. Trust me, we're trying to do everything we can to get better and to improve. Notre Dame is a huge challenge to any team that plays them. On the offensive end, they're really difficult to guard and we didn't do the job for two halves.”

(On the quick turnaround before playing Virginia on Monday)

“We have a quick turnaround. Tomorrow will be a huge prep day to learn their personnel and learn what they do on both ends of the floor. Our coaches know what UVA does through scouting, but our players’ sole focus has been Notre Dame up until right now. So, now it's a matter of, in 48 hours, can we feel a heck of a lot better about ourselves and about the effort that we give against Virginia to come back with a road win?”

(On Sydney Curry’s injury)

“I felt like when Sydney was in there, and then the stretch that I put him in, he just didn't quite look 100%. I felt like he was favoring it a little bit. And again, with all the things that happened on Notre Dame's offensive end of the floor, I thought it would be tough for him and difficult to be effective.”

(On the team’s big shots early in the game, and overall offensive execution)

“Ironically, I thought in the second half, we were getting some better shots around the rim. We certainly made some shots that we probably haven't made all year, but I think that there were some shots that weren't necessarily generated the way that you draw them up on a whiteboard or the way that you practice it. Guys have to be players too. Jared felt it a couple times when they went under his ball screen, haven't really seen that all year, but I want guys to play with confidence and I want guys to be able share the ball, and I didn't think those two things were lacking in the first half. We generated some better offense in the second half and didn't make those shots.”

Guard Jarrod West

Forward/Center Malik Williams

(Photo of Chris Mack: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)

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