Pitino: Louisville must play faster

Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away and the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner. Rick Pitino's top priority leading up to next month's Big Dance? Injecting more pace into Louisville's stagnating offense.

Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away and the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner. Rick Pitino's top priority leading up to next month's Big Dance? Injecting more pace into Louisville's sluggish offense.

On seven occasions this season, Pitino's team has scored 60 points or less, including a 57-54 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. Fortunately, the Cardinals have won four of those seven games, thanks in large part to a defense that ranks fourth in the nation in field goal percentage.

But if Louisville is going to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, Pitino knows his team needs to improve offensively. His plan to do that? Get his team playing at a faster tempo.

"I think we're playing too much half court basketball," Pitino said after Louisville's win over the Panthers. "If you play that way you're going to have droughts..they're going to have droughts. We've got to run more it's as simple as that. It's our fault because we're not pushing the pace enough."


Can Peyton Siva lead a faster-paced Louisville attack into the post-season?
Time is running short for Pitino to solve his teams offensive shortcomings. The Cardinals have just two games remaining before heading to New York for the Big East Tournament next week. South Florida, which likes to slow down the pace and beat Cincinnati 45-44 on Sunday, visits the Yum! Center Wednesday. Between now and then, Pitino says his team will focus in practice to up the tempo.

"When you're walking it up and getting it into sets the other team knows what you're going to run," Pitino said. "If you walk the ball up the court they have time to choreograph their defense. If you sprint the ball up the floor, even if you don't get the fast break, it's difficult for them to know what you're running because they're moving. And that's what we've got to get back to and we'll start working on that tomorrow."

Turnovers and inconsistent free throw shooting have also plagued Louisville's offense this season. Sunday against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals committed 14 turnovers -11 before halftime - and missed ten of 28 foul shots, including two missed front ends in the final :41 seconds.

Pitino also believes the Cardinals needs to hit the boards harder, particularly on the offensive end. While Louisville missed 27 shots against Pittsburgh, the Cards grabbed only seven offensive rebounds. The problem? Starting point guard Peyton Siva had as many offensive boards as starting center Gorgui Dieng and forward Kyle Kuric - two. Power forward Chane Behanan grabbed only two offensive rebounds.

"We weren't doing the job on the glass," Pitino said.

Though his team has struggled at times to generate points, Pitino hopes his team's experience playing close, low scoring contests will serve them well in the post-season. Still, the goal, says Pitino, is to play faster and get on the fast break 22-25 times a game. To do that, Pitino may employ more full court pressure, which he used successfully against the Panthers, down the stretch.

"Maybe all these half court games will help us because of that one game in the tournament that you have to play that way," Pitino said. We've played this [way] so much this year, but we've got to get away from it. The only way to get away from it is pressing. I feel more confident now in Kevin Ware and Russ (Smith), they come in, they pressure. As soon as we get Wayne, it will help us even more."


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