Inside Cardinal Basketball: Notebook

The University of Louisville finished the regular-season with a 26-5 record and was a co-Big East regular-season champion. The Cardinals are the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament and will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. Cardinal Authority has a notebook of items from the basketball program.

CARDS MOVE UP IN POLLS

After finishing the regular-season at 26-5, the University of Louisville basketball team moved up in the weekly polls.

The Cardinals jumped four spots in the Associated Press poll and are ranked No. 4 behind Gonzaga, Duke and Indiana.

U of L is also ranked No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

On a seven-game winning streak, the Cardinals are also ranked No. 1 by the Sagarin Ratings and No. 3 in the RPI ratings.

The Cardinals have also been bumped up to a projected No. 1 seed by ESPN's Joe Lunardi and USA Today in their respective bracketology reports.

HANCOCK HAS BEEN HOT

After struggling early in the season, junior Luke Hancock has been solid from long range during Big East Conference play.

In fact, Hancock has been sizzling in the past five games.

Hancock, who was 2 of 4 from three-point range against Notre Dame, connected on 12 of 18 three-pointers in the final five regular-season games.

In the 18 Big East Conference games, Hancock hit 32 of 74 (42.3 percent) from three-point range. He's 47 of 127 (37 percent) from three-point range on the season.

"It took me a while with my shoulder, but it feels better all the time," Hancock said. "I just want to do whatever I can to help my team."

A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

The Cardinals will head to New York City for this week's Big East Tournament on Tuesday afternoon with the first game slated for Thursday night.

U of L coach Rick Pitino will be returning to familiar surroundings.

Pitino was born in Manhattan and said he grew up a few blocks from Madison Square Gardens, noting he went to St. Dominic High School.

Pitino served as an assistant with the New York Knicks in the mid-1980s and was the Knicks head coach from 1987-89.

He has taken teams from Kentucky and Louisville to the Gardens and has had success in the building. The Cardinals won last year's tournament.

Pitino said last week, "It's home for me, I still have an apartment there."

CARDS FROM THE NEW YORK AREA

U of L has two players who will be making homecomings, Russ Smith and Kevin Ware along with trainer Fred Hina.

Smith is from Brooklyn and his father, Russ Sr., still has a barber shop in Harlem, while Ware is originally from the Bronx.

Hina was the New York Mets trainer for seven years before he was hired by Pitino as the U of L trainer in 2001.

SIVA STILL CLOSE ON STEALS

U of L senior guard Peyton Siva is now just four steals away from tying Darrell Griffith as the school's all-time steals leader.

Siva had one against Notre Dame and now has 226 for his career. Griffith had 230, while LaBradford Smith is second in school history with 227.

Siva also has 631 career assists and is second behind Smith's 713.

A FEW LEFTOVERS

*The Cardinals have won 26 or more games five times in Pitino's 12 years at the school. U of L now has 56 wins in the past two seasons.

*U of L ended the regular-season 15-1 at home with the lone loss to Syracuse and improved to 23-0 when leading at halftime.

*Russ Smith is 166 of 201 from the free-throw line this season, ranking him third on the school's all-time list of made free throws in a season. Wes Unseld tops the school record books with 177 made in 1967-68.


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