Comments from Louisville coach Rick Pitino and players Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Luke Hancock:
Opening comment from Rick Pitino:
COACH PITINO: Well, last year we played the No.1 RPI schedule in the nation, and this year we played a top‑five schedule. I don’t think we could face a basketball team any better than Wichita State. They are great.
Something different has happened to me this year than ever happened before. In a tournament, I went against three coaches, after watching 10 to 12 films, I just thought they were tremendous. I never really coached against them. Just awesome, awesome coaches.
It’s tough for Wichita State to lose this game tonight because they played great. We had to dig in. Russ had a good night, Russ is our best free throw shooter, but four of our starters had the worst night of the season. We had to win this game with our second unit of Steven Van Treese, Tim Henderson, one of the best sixth men in basketball Luke Hancock, and Montrezl Harrell. The reason our starters played poorly is because Wichita State is that good. So we’re really happy to be playing in the final game.
Q. When you’re behind by 12 points, I know you faced deficits before, but you’re in a game, high‑profile game with a good team, was there concern?
PEYTON SIVA: Well, we weren’t too concerned with it. We know Wichita State is a great team, well‑coached team. Their players are really talented.
We just knew that we had to stick together. Coach P told us we had to continue to go out there and have fun. We’re going to win, we’re going to win. That’s what he kept repeating to us. We believed it. We know we came back from other deficits. He told us to stop hanging our head, he knew this was going to be a dogfight from the beginning.
We made our run late. That’s the trademark of our team. We got to continue to push and push. We made a good run at the end.
RUSS SMITH: Well, I feel like when it went to 12, I looked at it and the time kept going down, people kept getting fouled. It was like, Man. I was actually waiting for our run. And it happened. Luke exploded. That was actually what I was waiting for. Then Chane exploded. Then Peyton made a big layup. Then Tim Henderson. It just kept going and going.
Obviously I knew it wasn’t my night. But I was just so happy to see everyone else contributing for us to win. It was so special. I really can’t put into any words for us.
LUKE HANCOCK: I think they both said it great. You know, we were kind of waiting to make our run. Obviously you’re a little concerned when you’re down 12 in the second half. We just had to stay together, make our run. We tried to turn up our intensity, maybe gamble a little bit more. We made our runs with some key players.
Tim hit those shots, Chane picked it up. It was impressive.
Q. Luke, can you talk about the Zone Busters. Tim said you call yourself that in practice. Who came up with that?
LUKE HANCOCK: I really have no idea where that came from. When we prepare for teams that play zone, both teams run zone. Tim and I, we feel like we’re pretty good shooters. I guess that’s where it came from, just knocking down shots in the zone in practice.
Tim hits shots all the time. It wasn’t shocking for us for him to knock down shots like that. I’m just really happy for him and proud of him.
Q. Luke, you’ve hit big shots in the NCAAs before. Is there a calmness that you have to have in that moment where you know that one shot might tip the scales on the other end?
LUKE HANCOCK: You go out there and play like it’s any other game. You try to have confidence shooting the ball. I just shot it when I was open. I got a bunch of great feeds from Russ and Peyton. It’s all on them for finding me with open looks.
But you just try to play like any other game and shoot it if you’re open.
Q. Rick, can you go into that second unit a little bit more. Seemed like an unlikely lineup on the floor.
COACH PITINO: A lot of times when you pick up a stat sheet, you don’t get the true story. Like Steven Van Treese was the guy setting those great screens to free Luke on those drives, and Gorgui wasn’t doing that. So a lot of times you pick up a stat sheet and say, What did Van Treese contribute? It’s like the hockey assist, he contributed greatly.
When Kevin went down, everybody was asking, the first inclination is to try to play Luke at the 2. We had confidence in Tim. Luke is so profound because he’s got to go against Russ Smith every day. When you do that, you got to guard the best offensive player off the bounce each day, you’re prepared to play in a game like this.
And the players said they weren’t surprised about him making those back‑to‑back threes. They’re being very kind. I was shocked. Not shocked that he made ‘em, just that he had the gumption to take them, then take it again. That’s pretty darn big on this stage. That shows incredible fortitude for a young man that hasn’t played any minutes, to go in and do that. So I’m real proud of him.