Blackshear getting 'better and better'

Louisville sophomore Wayne Blackshear's recent play has many wondering if the former McDonald's All-American has overcome the lengthy process of recovering from multiple shoulder injuries.

When the final horn sounded at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville this past Saturday night, the 4th-ranked Louisville Cardinals left the court with another convincing win, this one coming against in-state rival Western Kentucky. Sophomore Wayne Blackshear's stat line was impressive. The forward played for 31 minutes, totaling 17 points and 8 rebounds, with no turnovers.

"I think Wayne did a really good job on the backboard, as well as offensively," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino following Saturday's win.

That effort followed a similar performance a few days earlier against FIU, when he scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in Louisville's 79-55 win.

"He's getting better and better," said Pitino.

These are types of numbers that outside observers have been expecting from Blackshear from the moment that he announced his decision to play for Louisville on Christmas Day 2009. However, since that decision, Blackshear has suffered injuries to both shoulders and he was sidelined for the majority of his freshman season while undergoing rehab.

"I think that fans and alike, don't understand what double shoulder surgery is all about," Pitino continued. "Fortunately, because I've been in this business for so long, I know what this injury can be like, two injuries, it just takes time and patience. Even close friends and family members of his didn't understand it, but they do now. You have to do it the right way or a person will lose his confidence."

As the season began, Blackshear's confidence appeared to have been shaken, but not to the point of becoming overly hesitant. While his determination remained, he struggled to find his rhythm at either end of the court.

"I just feel more comfortable out there and I think that starts in practice," Blackshear said on Saturday night. "I've been practicing very well and now I'm bringing it over into the game."

The recent performances has upped his season scoring average to 10 points an outing. He has connected on 36% of his three-point attempts, including 7-of-14 in the last two outings.

"I was out there getting to the right places, getting deflections, grabbing rebounds and scoring points, so I think I'm getting back to my old self," he said.

With the annual rivalry game against Kentucky on Saturday and a daunting Big East schedule looming, Blackshear's ‘old self' is exactly what this Louisville team needs to continue its impressive start to the 2012-13 season.

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