Starters cruise to easy scrimmage victory

Louisville's starters, led by Gorgui Dieng and Kyle Kuric, helped the Red cruise to an easy 105-60 win over the White in the Cardinals final intrasquad scrimmage before Wednesday's exhibition against Pikeville.

With Louisville's first exhibition game against Pikeville on Wednesday, Rick Pitino played starters Peyton Siva, Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng together in the Cardinals final public intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night at the KFC Yum! Center.

The result was a lopsided, 105-60, win for the Red team.

Afterward, Pitino singled out Dieng and Kuric, who combined for 42 points and 29 rebounds. Dieng was highly impressive, finishing with 23 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. Kuric made 5 of 9 three-pointers to finish with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.

"We had to give the first unit a chance to work together to get ready for Pikeville and they did a good job," Pitino said. "They played against a team that was not playing very good defense so it's very difficult to tell….

"But I thought Gorgui played a very good game staying out of foul trouble. That's one thing we have been emphasizing. I thought that Kyle and Gorgui stood out. They understood what we were trying to do offensively and defensively and did some very nice things. Those two played the best on the team."

A major focus for Dieng was staying out of foul trouble after committing nine fouls in UofL's first scrimmage. Pitino said his team needs 32-33 minutes per game from the 6'11 sophomore because there's a drop-off in production at center when he's not on the court. Dieng committed four fouls in 33 minutes Saturday night.

"He did it tonight, knowing when to stay on his feet and when to leave his feet," Pitino said. "If someone's making a move in the low-post he's got to move his feet and know when to stay on the ground."

Chane Behanan was the leading scorer with 32 points, but Pitino wasn't pleased that the 6'7, 258-pound freshman power forward grabbed just six rebounds in 36 minutes. Behanan, though, showed a diverse inside-outside offensive game, making 13 of 22 shots, including 4 of 9 three-pointers.

"He didn't play like a power forward," Pitino said. "People will look at the stat sheet tomorrow and think he played a really good game because he had 32 points. But this was probably the weakest he's played. He didn't have an offensive rebound, he didn't have an assist and he played on the perimeter too much. That's what he did in high school."

Pitino wants Behanan to take his game inside more often where he can draw fouls and out-muscle opponents for easy baskets.

"We think he's a gigantic body inside who is almost impossible to stop," said Pitino. "He should go to the free throw line 10 to 12 times a game and he was 2 of 3 tonight. That tells you he didn't play like a power forward. The good thing is he's very talented and skilled. He can go away from the basket and we want him to, but he didn't take advantage of the fact that Jared Swopshire couldn't (guard) him inside."

Peyton Siva showed he's an improved shooter from outside, connecting on 3 of 6 three's. Louisville's junior point guard finished with 23 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds. He also committed nine turnovers while playing most of the game.

Freshman center Zach Price led the White team with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Russ Smith added 12 points and was the only other White team member to score in double figures. Louisville played without juniors Rakeem Buckles, Stephen Van Treese and freshman Wayne Blackshear.

"What we thought was a strength (depth) coming into the season has turned into a major weakness," Pitino said. "But (depth) will be a strength in a month. We will get Rak back in two months. We'll get Stephan Van Treese back in two weeks. And then we'll get another young man (Wayne Blackshear) on Monday. It (depth) will certainly get better this week and in two weeks our veterans will be back."

Buckles, a 6'8 forward, had off-season knee surgery after tearing his ACL last February.

"He's probably two weeks away from doing individual instruction, six weeks away from practicing and two months away from actually playing on the court," Pitino said.

So where does Pitino think his Cards stand heading into the first exhibition of the season?

"It's very tough to tell because we're not at full strength," Pitino said. "I've been impressed with Peyton, Gorgui and Kyle. They've played good basketball and been consistent. Our running game is good. Our unselfishness is good. We shoot the ball well. But until you really play good competition it's tough to tell."

Blackshear, who is expected to be fully cleared to play this season by the NCAA on Monday, is expected to take part in the team's Media Day activities Monday afternoon. Asked what Blackshear's addition will mean for his team, Pitino responded with words of caution.

"Understand this, this young man hasn't touched a basketball in six months," Pitino said. "So he's not going to be the player we saw in high school. He's going to need two weeks just to get in shape then he's going to need another month to get back to get back to the level of basketball that he once was. We probably won't see the player we saw in high school until December or January."

Blackshear, who averaged 32 points and 15 rebounds last season, injured his shoulder last spring during practice for the McDonald's All-American game and had corrective surgery.

"We'll get him in good shape in two weeks," added Pitino. "To his credit he has gone from 17 percent body fat to 8 (percent). So he's worked on his body real hard. He's going to give us a great dimension."

Chris Smith had 4 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Jared Swopshire added 6 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Marra made only 1 of 10 three's, 1 of 12 overall and scored five points. Angel Nunez had 9 points and 11 rebounds, while Elisha Justice had 6 points and 4 assists. Luke Hancock scored just 3 points but grabbed 5 rebounds. Mark Jackson scored four points.

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