Pitino's changes produce results

Rick Pitino toyed with his rotation against DePaul, resulting in Louisville's 76-59 win Saturday. InsideTheVille.com breaks down the changes from the Cards win over the Blue Demons.

Rick Pitino shook up his lineup against DePaul, partly due to Kyle Kuric's ankle injury, and the Cardinals responded with their best performance since a win at St. John's two weeks ago in a 76-59 win over the Blue Demons.

Before Saturday's win, No. 15 Louisville had dropped four of five games, including a beat down Tuesday against Providence. That prompted a few changes from Pitino, including these, against DePaul:

- Inserted Russ Smith into the starting lineup at shooting guard, moving Chris Smith to small forward. Russ Smith made major contributions offensively driving to the basket for easy scores and drawing fouls to get to the line. Russ Smith led the Cards with 25 points, while Chris Smith pitched in 20, draining 4-5 three's.

- Played seldom used freshman Zach Price behind Gorgui Dieng instead of junior forward Rakeem Buckles. Price didn't make any major contributions, but his presence allowed Buckles to play his natural power forward position instead of playing out of position at center, where he's struggled this season since coming back from ACL surgery. Buckles responded with 5 points and 5 boards, his best outing since Memphis.

- Moved Kevin Ware to the wing instead of the point, which allowed the talented freshman to use his athleticism to slash to the basket for two first half layups and an offensive tip in.

But those changes didn't result in all positives for Pitino's team. Louisville gave up too many wide open three-pointers (DePaul nailed 10 three-pointers), especially after opening a 14-point second half advantage as DePaul's bigger perimeter players shot over the Cardinals smaller defenders. Louisville also committed too many turnovers (17, six by Siva), miscues that limited potential scoring opportunities. And Pitino's undersized lineup proved vulnerable on the defensive glass, allowing 15 offensive rebounds.

Still, Louisville's win was a much needed morale boost for the struggling Cards. Now, Louisville has to quickly prepare for a tough road game Monday afternoon against No. 24 Marquette. The Cardinals, 2-3 in the Big East, will have an opportunity to even their league record against the Golden Eagles.


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