Inside Cardinal basketball: Media day notes

The University of Louisville basketball team is finished with two of its three Red-White scrimmages and has held media day. Here are a few notes from the Cardinals' program heading into the week before the opening exhibition game.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER ON THE TEAM

During media day on Sunday, Cardinal Authority asked each returning player on the roster to name the Most Improved Player on the squad.

While several players named a couple of guys, including Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan, sophomore guard Kevin Ware was the only player that didn't name Kevin Ware as the player that sticks out the most as far as improvement.

"No question, Kevin," Stephan Van Treese said. "He's really improved his all-around around game. He's shooting it so much better."

Junior center Gorgui Dieng said felt like, "Kevin is just so much better. He has to be the most improved on our team."

Ware said it was nice to receive the compliments from his teammates but noted "I still have a lot of work to do and am working hard."

For the record, Ware said he would have a hard time picking between Siva and Behanan for the most improved on the roster.

RUSSDICULOUS FINISHES SECOND

Junior guard Russ Smith had a solid showing in the second scrimmage, scoring 20 points in a losing cause for the White team.

It came a day after the Rick Pitino-horse named after Smith – Russdiculous – finished second in his first career start at Santa Anita. The 2-year-old colt is trained by Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill.

Smith said he didn't get to watch the race but "heard he finished second and looked pretty good."

Walk-on Michael Baffour, who is considered one of Smith's best friends, said the guard thinks "it's pretty neat to have a horse named after him."

Baffour said he's hoping one day Pitino will name a horse after him and call it his nickname – Dark Slime.

"That would be amazing," Smith said. "Dark Slime is amazing. If my horse finishes second to Dark Slime's then I would be OK."

Pitino also has horses named Gorgui and Siva.

Siva had a three furlong workout at Churchill Downs on Saturday but has never raced, while Gorgui worked on Oct. 11 at Saratoga. The horse named after Dieng worked three tenths of a seconds faster than Siva's.

PITINO'S ASSESSMENT AFTER TWO SCRIMMAGES

U of L coach Rick Pitino has been pleased with practice so far but after two scrimmages said his team isn't close to its potential.

The highly-ranked Cardinals turned it over 48 times in the second Red-White scrimmage and still haven't shot the ball all that well.

"We're a work in progress and nowhere near where we need to be," Pitino said. "We have to work on fundamentals. We're not a good fundamental team.

"We have a lot of good players, but just have to teach a lot of different things to a lot of people and that's the fun p[art about being a coach ."

Mick Cronin FINALLY GETS A VISIT

The last time Cincinnati had to play at Louisville, the Cardinals were still playing in Freedom Hall. Two years in a row, U of L played the Bearcats on the road.

And Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, a former Pitino assistant coach, said he doesn't let his former boss forget. He knows the scheduling issue is one that ticks off Pitino, who notes Cincinnati is a tough place to play.

"I told coach, we're finally at Louisville," Cronin said. "I haven't seen the Yum! Center. I told him I was going to have come to a concert to see the place."

The Cardinals host Cincinnati on March 4.

CARDS ADD ANOTHER PLAYER TO THE ROSTER

U of L now has four walk-ons this season after the addition of former Manual High School guard Jordan Bond.

The 6-foot-1 Bond is the son of former U of L starting point guard Phil Bond and averaged 5.4 points a game at Manual as a senior.

The younger Bond said he was "living a dream," and noted Pitino asked for players to try and walk-on and he went through a try out period.

"When I first got here, he said this doesn't mean you are on the team," Bond said. "But one day coach (Wyking) Jones pulled me aside and said I was part of the team. It's been really exciting for me."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Pitino talking about playing Manhattan and former assistant coach Steve Masiello in the first game of the season.

"We're not going to run any offense at all in any of the scrimmages until Manhattan College," Pitino said. "I'm going to teach that son-of-a gun Stevie Mass that he shouldn't have scheduled that first game."


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