The good news is that the Louisville basketball team survived the preseason schedule unscathed without any major injuries. The worrisome news was the Cards' poor shooting effort Wednesday evening during their 65-46 win over Bellarmine. Coach Rick Pitino's team hit just one three-point attempt in the exhibition at the KFC Yum Center. Instead, the Cards used their decided height advantage and scored in transition to wear down coach Scotty Davenport's Knights.
Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino - Post-Game Reaction:
"The two exhibition games were very difficult for us. This game more so because we were basically chasing around five guards. It is great practice for the defense, but it takes a lot out of you. It really affected our offense. Luke Hancock had no legs, and a lot of our guys were really off. From a defensive standpoint, it was great playing against them because we had to guard on the perimeter. Most of the night, we did a good job switching. We broke down when we got a little tired and we stopped talking. Our defense was good, and that is what we are trying to build on. I really do think our poor outside shooting was a product of rushing and having tired legs from chasing them around. Most of the night, we did a good job of chasing them around."
On whether the rebounding was a product of chasing Bellarmine players and being out of position
"What happens when you take a bunch of jump shots, you have long rebounds. You have to chase it down from the three and go get the basketball. That was probably the biggest disappointment, not the shooting. We know we are not a good three point shooting team, but the long rebounds are what killed us. When you hold a team t0 19 percent shooting in the first and 34 percent in the second and you give them second looks, you are shooting yourself in the foot."
On being able to play without Peyton Siva in the game
"Yeah, we can play without Peyton (Siva) certainly. We have to get Luke Hancock in shape to play. Although it is not a fast-paced game when you play Bellarmine, you have to guard like seven or eight different cuts going down the floor. From a defensive practice standpoint, it was great. Of all the things we saw Bellarmine do tonight, we will see Manhattan do. All of our games are on T.V., so any weakness we have they will attack."
On how much better they can be defensively because of the team's flexibility to switch on screens
"I thought our bigs did a good job of containing that. I think Wayne (Blackshear) and Russ (Smith) did a bad job of talking and switching. Eventually, that will come. Overall, the defense was decent."
On whether Montrezl Harrell rebound total was a product of not trying hard or being out of position
"Remember, Montrezl was not going to rebound because he is guarding a six-footer all the way out by the 3-point line. That was not the problem tonight. It was really the guards not rebounding well. They should all have five or six rebounds in the game, and they didn't. The biggest disappointment was the high-low passes. All the passes were at eye level and you can never be short, you always have to be long on those passes."
On what positives can be taken away from tonight
"We will know on Sunday when we play Manhattan. I don't put a whole lot of stock in this game or the Pikeville game. You are not going to see 6-11 guys chasing 6-1 guys. We are going to have to handle the pressure from Manhattan. They are going to play exactly how we will in terms of pressure and changing defenses. It will be a much better test of how we play. I think tonight, all of our switching and all our movement on defense tired us out offense. It affected our offense and that's why we were short on a lot of our shots, especially a guy like Luke Hancock."
On Kevin Ware's play tonight
"I thought Kevin played well. I don't think he is a 3-point shooter. Reminds me of a young man I coached at Kentucky named Rodrick Rhodes. He was a great slasher, rebounder, passer and great defender. What does he try to do every time? He would shoot threes. I just don't think that is Kevin's game. I think if he was wide open or the shot clock is running down, by all means take the shot. You can't shoot an elevated shot like he shoots from the three-point line, or you will shoot a line drive. He has to learn to jump less and have more arch on his shot. I thought he did ok. He was pressing too much with his shooting and he will get better."
On whether the 19 3-point attempts was a product of tired legs and settling
"I think besides Luke (Hancock) at the 3-point line, we don't have a bunch of really great shooters. I think Kevin (Ware) is a great mid-range shooter. Wayne Blackshear is nowhere close to where he needs to be. He is coming off double shoulder surgery and being inactive for 18 months. Even though he looked good in the one game of the Final Four, he is just now starting to play basketball consistently again. We are going to be very patient with him. I thought Russ (Smith) had been playing great. Russ let his offense affect how he played (tonight), and that is a trait of a freshman and not a junior."