A week from opening the season against UT Martin, Louisville is dealing with several key injuries. Starting point guard Peyton Siva, and key reserves Wayne Blackshear, Mike Marra, Rakeem Buckles and Stephen Van Treese won't play against Bellarmine, the defending Division II national champions.
"It's been a tough couple weeks," Pitino said. "We thought last year ran the gamut of injuries, but we have probably surpassed that. In the last week or so we've been practicing at 6:15 (a.m.) and back again in the afternoon. It's been a very difficult few weeks, starting with Wayne Blackshear's injury."The 6'5 Blackshear suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder last Friday and was proclaimed out for the season. However, the 6'5 freshman guard/forward had surgery Monday and could return to action this season.
"He had successful shoulder surgery and we expect him to be back in 6-8 weeks," Pitino said. "Peyton Siva has been out all week with a concussion. He will not play against Bellarmine. The good news is Elijah Justice will get a chance to play 30-32 minutes.
"Stephen Van Treese is still not back. He will probably return next week. Rakeem Buckles will probably come back in 2-3 weeks and start working out with the team. Jared Swopshire is not near 100 percent yet, but he will get a lot of playing time (against Bellarmine). Mike Marra has not played in a week because of a back injury."
"We've had a devastating ten days, but we hope to get healthy in the very near future," said Pitino.
Even without all the injuries, Bellarmine figured to be a tough test. The Knights, coached by former Louisville assistant Scotty Davenport, trailed Duke by only five at halftime, before falling 87-62 last weekend on the road.
"It's been a very stressful situation in practice," said Pitino. "But we know we're going to get healthy sooner or later. We want to get through this exhibition game and concentrate on Tennessee-Martin. This will be a very difficult exhibition game because of the way they play. But it will be very good for us."
"They're a little bit different in that they don't have a post-up game," Pitino said of Bellarmine. "They put five guys on the perimeter. It will be very difficult for Gorgui Dieng, almost impossible for Zach Price, to be in this game because they basically play with five perimeter people.
"They pick you apart with 3-point shooting and back-cuts and ball fakes. They're an outstanding passing team, one of better passing teams I've seen. It'll be good for our guys defensively."