That decision comes on the heels of Louisville's first loss of the season Tuesday night at home against Drexel 52-46. Though Rakeem Buckles, Mike Marra, Terrence Jennings, Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles were listed as starters in the pregame media notes, Pitino said those five won't all be in the starting lineup against the Bulldogs. While Pitino didn't talk specifics, Buckles definitely won't start because of a concussion sustained in the loss against Drexel.
"I'm hoping this is the lineup we'll go with for a while, the one I'll go with tomorrow," Pitino said, though he didn't mention specific changes. "Even if we lose tomorrow I'm going to stick with it."
Even before Drexel dominated Louisville on the glass, out-rebounding the Cardinals by 20, Pitino believed his team was just 'average' in the rebounding department. Drexel also was successful slowing the pace against Louisville, something the Cardinals didn't respond well to.
"They took the air out of the basketball," Pitino said. "Both teams shot poorly due to good defense. We did not turn it over, they did. But anytime you manipulate the clock, then manipulate it again through a rebound it's certainly a good style of play and they mastered it. And they were more experienced down the stretch making plays than we were."
"I'm happy with the team's attitude," Pitino said. "They continue to work hard. There's a lot of upside with certain players to get better and we'll make those improvements. We're entering a period where there is unlimited [practice] time."
Pitino wasn't happy with how center Terrence Jennings and small forward Mike Marra attacked the glass against Drexel. Jennings grabbed just two rebounds in the game, while Marra had zero.
"It's very difficult to gauge this team, but I think I have a handle on it," Pitino said. "I think TJ has had the opportunity to show what he can do on the backboard. I think the Drexel game was the first time [we] went up against power players and our interior people got dominated on the glass."
Gardner-Webb, 6-7 this season, had a week to prepare for Louisville after falling to Arizona State 71-48 December 11. Saturday's game will be the 10th straight road game for Gardner-Webb, which starts four players 6-foot-3 or smaller. Gardner-Webb's biggest starter, 6-6 Stefon Johnson, leads the team with a 9.3 scoring average and also is second on the team with 5.3 rebounds.
"They'll run about six-seven pick and rolls every possession, so we've got to be ready for that," Pitino said. "They're a well-coached, well-drilled team."
Pitino said he won't be surprised if Gardner-Webb tries to slow the game down like Drexel did against the Cardinals Tuesday night.
"I just want to see us make improvement in certain areas in this basketball game, that we can play slow as well as fast," Pitino said. "We've played spectacular fast-break basketball this year. In all the games we haven't looked good, whether it was Jackson State or Drexel, taking the air out of the basketball hasn't helped us."
"We've got to be ready for all styles of play," Pitino added.