Injured Cards on the mend

Peyton Siva and Rakeem Buckles won't play Tuesday night against Arkansas State, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino hopes that both players return to practice Thursday.

Peyton Siva and Rakeem Buckles won't play Tuesday night against Arkansas State, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino hopes that both players return to practice Thursday.

Siva, who missed Saturday's win over Butler with a sprained ankle, could return to action Friday against Ohio, Pitino said Monday.

Buckles, recovering from knee surgery, recently resumed individual instructions and might be ready to play within two weeks after returning to practice, according to Pitino.

Louisville vs. Arkansas State
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 22
Time: 7:07 p.m. ET
Site: KFC Yum! Center/Crum Court, Louisville, Ky. (22,000) (21-2, 2 yrs.)
Television: WHAS (Ch. 11 in Louisville) Drew Deener, play-by-play; Bob Valvano, analyst. (also Wazoo)
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) Paul Rogers, play-by-play; Doug Ormay, analyst (SIRIUS/XM Ch. 85)
Series Record: U of L leads 2-0 (2-0 in Louisville)
UL National Ranking: 7th ESPN/USA Today, 7th Associated Press
Satellite Coordinates: SES 2, Transponder C 21, (C-Band; downlink frequency 4120 horizontal; data rate: 40.461 Mb; symbol: 29.27)
Officials: John Gaffney, Gary Prager, Mike Nance
Next U of L Game: Nov. 25 vs. Ohio University, KFC Yum! Center, Global Sports Invitational, 7:07 p.m. ET (WHAS-TV/Wazoo)

About Arkansas State -- Louisville returns to the KFC Yum! Center to start a string of 10 consecutive home games as the Cardinals face Arkansas State on Tuesday. The Red Wolves (1-3) have won one of their three Global Sports Invitational games, falling 62-65 at Lamar on Nov. 11 and 54-69 at Ohio University on Nov. 20 and winning 63-45 over UT Martin on Nov. 17.

Arkansas State returns two starters from its 17-15 team from a year ago which won a share of the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference: junior guard Trey Finn, a preseason All-Sun Belt third team selection; and junior forward Brandon Peterson. Peterson, who is fourth in ASU history in career blocked shots with 97, led ASU on Sunday in its loss to Ohio with 19 points and seven rebounds while Finn added 17 points in the game.

ASU was one of 17 teams in the nation that was undefeated at home last year (13- 0). With head coach John Brady and assistant coach Richard Williams, Arkansas State is the only team in the nation with two coaches on its staff who have led teams to the Final Four. Brady led LSU to the 2006 Final Four, while Williams led Mississippi State to the 1996 Final Four.

UofL has won its two previous meetings against Arkansas State, both played in Louisville: 68-36 on Jan. 17, 1948 and 67-55 on Dec. 4, 2005 in the Colonial Classic.

"He hasn't practiced and he won't look good for a while," Pitino said of Siva, who has missed practice time with a concussion and ankle injury. "We hope that he will come back for the Ohio U. game and practice on Thursday.

"Rak will take his next test on Wednesday and we're hoping that he'll be cleared to practice Thanksgiving. So that will be a big lift. Physically he'll be ready to play, it's the mental part. He does go up and dunk the ball. It's just getting over the fact he does have the brace on his knee."

Pitino said that Jared Swopshire has been playing the best on the team early in the season, and Buckles return will allow the 6'7 forward to slide over to small forward and provide needed depth behind Kyle Kuric, who led the team with 17 points in a 69-53 road victory against Butler.

"That's a great surprise for all of us," Pitino said of Swopshire's outstanding early play. "We didn't know if he was going to play, let alone be one of the best players on the team. That's exciting to us.

"Then Rak comes along and we can move Swop to the three because we have nobody backing up Kyle. As long as the other team doesn't have a real quick (three)-man we can play a little bit more zone and have a Syracuse-type front line with some length…"

Though Wayne Blackshear's time table for return isn't as soon as Siva or Buckles, the talented freshman forward is recovering faster than expected from shoulder surgery.

"Wayne Blackshear is still on the mend and we're trying to keep him of some semblance of shape," said Pitino. "Once he comes out of the sling we'll be able to run him a little bit more. He knows he's going to come back and he's a very fast healer. He's coming around and doing more right now than most people would do at the end of six weeks. It won't take him long to come back, but it's going to take him a while to learn how to play because he hasn't played in seven months."

With Siva still on the mend, Pitino was forced to play Russ Smith at point guard out of necessity against Butler. The sophomore responded with nine points, but committed four turnovers with no assists on Saturday.

"You want your point guard to have four turnovers and no assists? That tells you a little about the story," said Pitino. "But it's good for him in case we do need him to back up Peyton. He just doesn't have the mentality of a point guard. The skills are there to play the point. It's the mentality and that will come."

Louisville begins a 10-game home stretch Tuesday night against Arkansas State. The Red Wolves have won one of three Global Sports Challenge games, besting UT-Martin, while falling to Lamar and Ohio. The Cardinals play Ohio Friday, then host Long Beach State next Monday.

"Arkansas State has been competitive in all their games," said Pitino. "They have a good low-post game and outstanding backcourt play. These next three games will be very difficult for us with the situation we're in not being at full bore."

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