Louisville fans might have been lulled to sleep last Friday watching Delaware State's slow-down offensive style in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament, but that won't be the case Monday night when the Cardinals host the Clemson Tigers.
Louisville advanced to the NIT second round with a 71-54 win over Delaware State last Friday, while Clemson, who finished seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference, knocked off Louisiana Tech 69-53.
"I think it's going to be the direct opposite of the last game," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "Now it's going to look like a ping-pong game. Clemson is a pressing team. They press every bucket, and we're probably going to press them back. So it'll be a very fast paced game. We're going to have to be in great physical shape to play against Clemson."
Pitino said he's hopeful his team will have the services of freshmen Andre McGee and Chad Millard. Both players missed Friday's game against Delaware State because of back problems. The two returned to practice over the weekend.
"We tried practicing Andre and Chad yesterday," Pitino said. "They (went) about 20 percent of practice and we took them out. I'm hoping today they can go about 50 or 60 percent of practice and be ready to play tomorrow."
Senior guard Taqaun Dean said he's looking forward to playing a team that prefers an up-tempo style. Dean said it will be important for his team to come out strong from opening tap.
"They played against North Carolina and Duke and we know they're going to play with a lot of intensity," Dean said. "And we have to match that. We have to be the aggressors from the start of the game.
Louisville set an NIT first round record with more than 14,000 fans for Friday's win over Delaware State. Pitino said it's vital his team receive the same type of support against the Tigers.
"It's going to be a very tough game," he said. "They're a very good basketball team. We've got an opportunity to play a very good ACC team, and our fans should be very excited about that. We're going to need to play great to beat Clemson."
Should Louisville win, they'd advance to the NIT quarterfinals later this week and face the winner of the Houston-Missouri State game.
"This is a springboard for next year," Dean said. "This team is going to win a national championship; I can just see it in them with the guys that are coming back and the recruits that are coming in. Hopefully in the next two years they'll get there.
Pitino expects fast pace against Clemson
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