Louisville Basketball Media Day: The Rick Report

This is NOT the NFL, but, as with all recent years of the Pitino Regime, I feel compelled to begin with an injury report.

They are aplenty.

Imagine our surprise.

Buckles ACL situation still hasn’t healed enough to allow him to start individual instruction. That’s 2-3 weeks away. Best case scenario is he’ll be ready by conference play . . . maybe.

Stephan Van Treese has a tear of a tendon in the patella. He’s been sitting out for four weeks and is several weeks away from returning to practice. He’s had some sort of blood therapy, PRP, he mentioned, where platelets are injected into the area to foster healing. (The good news. “I’ve been shooting free throws. I worked this summer with the Pacers’ shooting coach, Billy Keller.”)

Russ Smith has a thigh bruise, and is sitting out practice.

Bullet Justice just returned to practice.

Jared Swopshire, while practicing full time, “is nowhere near where he was, not nearly the player he was,” according to Pitino. Ah, such encouragement. Pitino was quick to point out that Swop, despite his two years of eligibility, is “a senior.” Meaning, he’s George Goode at the end of this season. To his inexplicable credit, Swopshire is taking this dismissal in stride. “I love U of L. But I’m attacking this year as a senior year even though I have two years of eligibility.”

* * * * *

Despite being listed as only 6-7, Angel Nunez is the tallest player on the team after Dieng and Price. After being signed, it was expected that Nunez would be redshirted.

Pitino: “He won’t redshirt. He’ll have to play power forward. Somehow he needs to gain 15 pounds in the next month.” And, oh yes, he is — all together now — “not nearly ready to play.”

* * * * *

When asked if Gorgui Dieng, who was still very raw at the end of last season, is ready to assume an important role designated for him this year, Pitino said, “We need to get 30 minutes a game from him. He needs to learn when to block shots? How to stay on his feet? He’ll need help from better wing defense.”

The coach said Gorgui is “the one guy we can’t replace. The major key is keeping him out of foul trouble.”

“Zach Price is trying, but” — all together now — “he’s not ready to play at this leve . . . but we’ll use him.”

Price, who moved to Louisville from Cleveland with his mom and dad, for his senior year of high school, is an articulate fellow. Asked how practice is, compared to what he expected, the back up center said, “10 times more intense.”

He listed his areas of improvement as “running the court” and “increasing my stamina.”

* * * * *

Chris Smith discounted the suggestion that he’ll be the back up point guard.

Over the summer, he worked on “conditioning and ball handling.

“I was overweight for my ability. Now I can run faster and jump higher.”

* * * * *

Asked about Wayne Blackshear, the “star” of the recruiting class, Pitino said, “I’ve never seen him play as a collegian. Today is his first practice. Both shoulders have healed. He will scrimmage Wednesday night.”

The coach, of course, provided the stat we all were breathlessly awaiting, “Blackshear reduced his body fat from 17% to 8%.”

* * * * *

Extolling the work ethic of frosh power forward Chane Behanan, Pitino said, “he’s a quick learner, and fundamentals away from being a great basketball player.”

* * * * *

Asked if he was enjoying coaching more as his career is winding down, Rick Pitino agreed, citing three reasons.

“The throw back attitude of last year’s team and this one.

“I want to enjoy the Big East now. It’s special.

“I feel more passion, because I understand the window on my career is closing.”

When asked about the importance of the post season, Pitino prevaricated, “It’s important to Siva.”

* * * * *

Unlike last year’s media day, when the press was allowed the privilege of watching the afternoon’s entire practice, this season we were asked to leave after 15 minutes of preliminary drills, when the team started working on specific plays for Pikeville.

– Seedy K

2 Comments

  1. fred
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    First, if I were Swopshire, I think I would be tempted to tell Louisville “thank you very much” and take my eligibility elsewhere. This kid was a starter and now he’s a scrub. Also, I don’t understand a) why are they always banged up and b) why do they stay that way. I know Buckles injury was serious but this a young,strong, otherwise health athlete and he was hurt nine months ago. Swopshire has been over a year. They weren’t in car wrecks. I’m beginning to wonder about why the training staff can’t get these guys back on the floor. Next, one day you’re a top recruit and the next, you’re not ready to play. One day you’re not ready to play because you’re so raw and next thing you know, we need you for 30 minutes.Why is Blackshear so out of shape?Did the NCAA bar him from running and lifting? I understand “basketball shape” but that will take a month?? I don’t get it anymore. I don’t get any of it. There’s no excitement anymore. It’s all injury reports and low expectations.

  2. bob
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Louisville had a red/white game and our “greatest coach that ever was or ever will be” had a 40 minute intense pratice before the game and then demanded that the players cross the mid court line in three seconds or less.
    Is it any wonder that we always have players hurt. When you are tired you get hurt.
    What does this get us as team, i have not seen a game where we were in so much better condition than the other team that we won the game. If we had a coach that was worth a darn, much less 3.8 million, he would be talking about free throw shooting not percent body fat.

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