Pitino learns about team in Bahamas

Louisville's trip to the Bahamas might not have provided great competition for the Cardinals, but Rick Pitino learned a lot about what his team needs to work on to get ready for the upcoming season.

Louisville's trip to the Bahamas might not have provided great competition for the Cardinals, but Rick Pitino learned a lot about what his team needs to work on to get ready for the upcoming season.

Fresh off last week's Caribbean excursion, where Louisville handily defeated the Commonwealth Giants and Real Deal Shockers, Pitino told a group of reporters Thursday night at the Cardinal Caravan on the riverfront that his team will benefit from the extra practice sessions leading up to their trip to the Bahamas.

"Spending time with our new coaches and players was worth the price of admission for us," Pitino said. "The basketball wasn't great, although we got a lot out of practice. When you win by 50 and 60 points you don't get a lot out of it. But I had a chance to see what we need to work on, which is the most important thing."

Pitino's players will officially report to campus this weekend for the start of the fall semester, which begins Monday. That includes McDonald's All-American shooting guard Wayne Blackshear and Top 100 combo guard Kevin Ware, who weren't part of the team in the Bahamas.

Rick Pitino said Gorgui Dieng is ready to make an impact this season.
Despite a published report last month in the Chicago Tribune, Pitino said Blackshear didn't need to complete summer courses to become eligible to play this season.

"Wayne was ready to go without summer school," Pitino said. "His thing was his shoulder. Wayne didn't need summer school, he was just doing it to take the courses. I think he's ready to go. We'll give him a physical on Sunday and see how he's doing."

Pitino believes Blackshear and Ware, who Pitino said did need to complete summer school to play this season, will improve Louisville's length on the perimeter.

"Any time you press and play aggressive man or zone length is a valuable weapon, and he gives length," Pitino said. "(Our opponent) can't see the post, can't see the inside of a zone or see over your traps if you have length. And both Kevin and Wayne give us great length, along with Gorgui [Dieng] and Chane [Behanan]. We've got a lot of long basketball players that are really going to help us put in our style of play."

Though Ware is a natural wing guard, Pitino hopes the 6'4 standout from Conyers, Ga., will be able to spell junior Peyton Siva at point guard this season.

"Kevin is going to have to play a little bit out of position because I don't think he's a natural point (guard)," said Pitino. "But we're going to play him some at the point, even though he's a natural two and three. He's a type of athlete like T-Will is. We need him to play some back up point and if he can his length would be a tremendous asset to our basketball team."

Pitino also expects forward Jared Swopshire to return to action soon. Swopshire, who missed last season with a groin injury, didn't play in the Bahamas last week.

"I'm hoping in the next two weeks he goes 100 percent," Pitino said.

It also appears sophomore Russ Smith found a permanent home at shooting guard in the Bahamas. Smith led Louisville in scoring during the Red-White scrimmage and scored a team-high 22 points against the Real Deal Shockers.

"Russ was a move we didn't want to make putting him at the two guard, but after seeing him there it's where he belongs," Pitino said. "He can get up more shots per second played than anyone I've ever coached."

Zach Price, a 6'10 freshman center from J-town, also surprised Pitino with his play last week. Pitino said Louisville needs Price to play major minutes behind sophomore starting center Gorgui Dieng this season.

"I was impressed with Zach," Pitino said. "Zach did some things that surprised me. He is crucial because Gorgui is going to get in foul trouble. It's imperative that he gives us 12-15 good minutes per game. We're going to spend the next two month getting him ready for that. I do think he can do it. He's smart, physical and he's got the body."

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