Stephan Van Treese could celebrate his return from a knee injury by immediately moving into the starting lineup, and if so, it would be even more special to him. That's because No. 8/7 Louisville (2-0) will be playing in Van Treese's hometown of Indianapolis when it meets Butler (1-1) Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock in venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse.
UofL coach Rick Pitino was vague about his plans for a starting lineup during his press conference Thursday afternoon, but did say that the 6-foot-8 junior forward/center is ready to play after missing about six weeks of practice and the first two games due to a torn pateller tendon in his knee.
"I think he'll contribute an awful lot," Pitino said. "He was ready to come back a week ago, but we wanted to make sure he's 100 percent strength-wise so when he stepped into practice it was just a matter of getting the feel of basketball. He's ready to play, and he could even start this game."
Looking at the starting lineup on the game notes prepared by sports information director Kenny Klein that included the same five players who started the first two games, Pitino said: "I can tell you right now that what you see here is not the starting lineup. I can assure you of that."
Van Treese, who played at Lawrence North High School, acted as if he had already gotten the word that he would start. "It's kind of surprising," he said. "I'm excited. I love Hinkle Fieldhouse, I've probably played there 8-10 times. It's my favorite place to play and I can't wait to get out there."
Van Treese says his knee feels good and that he feels "in pretty good shape." Unfortunately, the same can't be said of starting point guard Peyton Siva, whom Pitino says is doubtful for the Butler game and beyond due to a sprained ankle suffered during Monday's practice. While not ruling him out, Pitino said Siva could also miss Tuesday's home game against Arkansas State.
"We're not sure about Siva," Pitino said. "It's a guessing game with injuries, but unless he practices (Friday) and makes a big recovery, we don't expect him to play. Who we're going to use in his place, I have no idea right now. We've been trying all different things to see which one would possibly work for us."
Siva's absence would seemingly leave the point guard duties to a trio of sophomores -- Elisha Justice, and Tim Henderson -- any of whom would have their hands full with Butler's outstanding senior guard Ronald Nored.
"Whoever you put in for him isn't going to be as effective, offensively or defensively," Pitino said, adding that he's likely to use an assortment of combinations and strategies. "I think this is the type of game you throw a lot of things against the wall and hope the right thing sticks."
Last season, UofL rolled over then-No. 16 Butler 88-73 in the dedication game of the new KFC Yum! Center. The Bulldogs went on to make their second straight appearance in the national championship game, losing to Connecticut, but they have gotten off to a slow start this season and are unranked.
Butler lost an exhibition game at home to Division II Northern State, 53-50, then fell at Evansville, 80-77, in overtime in its season-opener before beating Chattanooga 57-46 Tuesday night.
"Last year we had them scouted really well," UofL forward Kyle Kuric said. "We were ready to play them, we knew what they were going to do and we played a very good game. I'm sure they have another good team and we'll have to lock down on them."