Hancock struggles to get out of 'slump'

Coming off a shoulder injury, University of Louisville junior Luke Hancock has struggled shooting the ball in the first two games of the season. Hancock and U of L coach Rick Pitino talked about his efforts after Thursday's Samford win.

Junior transfer Luke Hancock was expected to be the best shooter on the University of Louisville basketball roster this season.

But it's been a struggle for Hancock in the first two games.

The former George Mason standout has started both games for the Cardinals but is now just 4 of 22 shooting after a 1-for-12 performance in an 80-54 win over Samford on Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center.

"I missed shots," Hancock said. "But we won by 30 points. I am pretty happy. I need to get in the gym tomorrow, come a little earlier next time. I did everything the way I should have warming up and we won by 30, so I'm happy.

"I have no idea what I shot or how many points I scored. Coach (Rick Pitino) said I played better on defense, which is what I was trying for. I didn't want to get my head ripped off for not playing good defense."

Hancock was 1 of 10 from three-point range but did have four points, six rebounds and one assist in 19 minutes. He's 3 of 19 on three's in two games.

"I told him, just keep shooting," Pitino said. "The question was 100 percent on the money, he was hoping his shots were going in and that's what happens. I think right now the way to go with some of his struggles... Like Russ (Smith) who was void of an assist tonight, but Russ will play that position at the beginning of the year. Heading to the Atlantis Tournament, we will go with Russ and Peyton (Siva) in the backcourt, and Wayne (Blackshear) at the small forward spot.

"We will look at the combinations because it is obvious what you are asking, (Hancock) is pressing and the crowd was hoping he would make it. It happens. There are 22,000 people, you are coming off double shoulder surgery, and you are pressing to make shots. It is almost like a hitter in a slump. You are dying to make contact and you will get out of it in a game, and you will be out of it for good."

Hancock sat out last season after his transfer from George Mason and did have surgery on both shoulders. He was just medically cleared to play basketball a few days before the start of practice in October.

Hancock said his shoulder "feels fine," but he's just struggling from the field. The crowd did give a loud moan when he missed his final three-point shot and later when he missed a free throw. Russ Smith then got the crowd going on Hancock's second free-throw attempt, which he made a drew a loud ovation.

"I missed some today that I feel will go in tomorrow," Hancock said. "I know I can shoot. I just need to get used to playing here again. It's been a long time since I have been out in that fast-paced environment.

"It's going to take me a little time to get back. I just missed shots. But I feel like I could go in the gym right now and make 30 in a row."

Senior point guard Peyton Siva – a team leader – said the rest of his teammates haven't and won't lose any confidence in Hancock.

"H just needs to continue to shoot," Siva said. "He missed a couple, so he didn't want to keep shooting it. But he just came off a shoulder injury and he'll get back into it. He'll be fine for us."

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