Pitino frets over lack of backcourt depth

ATLANTA - With Kevin Ware not available for the Final Four game against Wichita State, there's been a lot of talk about the depth in the backcourt for the University of Louisville. Cardinal Authority takes a look at the Cardinals' depth.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was joking with walk-on guard Tim Henderson on Friday at the Georgia Dome.

Henderson and the Cardinals were stretching before a short open practice and Pitino reminded him of a recent game when he out the junior in the contest.

"I told him to get in and he tripped on his towel and fell," Pitino said with a laugh. "So, I've told him no towels and no warm up pants (on Saturday).

"He has to be ready to play and he will be. He just can't get nervous."

Henderson will be forced into some action in the NCAA Tournament Final Four game against Wichita State and Pitino is fretting a bit over his depth in the backcourt after Kevin Ware's broken leg in last week's game against Duke.

Ware was a key reserve, spelling both Peyton Siva and Russ Smith in the back court. Now, the Cardinals must go with Henderson, who has averaged just 3.5 minutes a game this season.

"We had a great rotation," Pitino said. "Obviously, when you press and run as much as we do, it becomes a great concern when you don't have a substitiue. We substitute every game and give those guys breaks.

"Now, we can't change our style of play because we won't have a chance to win, so now we have to play a walk-on. He's got to do the best he can."

Pitino and his assistant coaches have talked about other options, including using Luke Hancock as a backup to the two guards and possibly even playing Wayne Blackshear at the two-guard spot on defense is there's foul trouble.

"We'll have to do a few different things," assistant coach Kevin Keatts said. "But the good thing about this team is everybody knows their role and they play it. We'll have some guys step up and do what we need them to do."

Ware had been playing his best ball as of late. He was getting to the basket, creating havoc for opponents on defense and handling the ball in some tough situations, including the Big East final against Syracuse.

"Kevin is a big part of this team," sophomore Chane Behanan said. "We are losing a lot from him but we are all just going to have to step up.

"Peyton will have to play more minutes, Russ will play more minutes. Kevin's are big shoes to fill and it's going to be challenging."

Henderson, a former Christian Academy standout, said he wasn't sure what his role would be but was "ready to do whatever I can to help the team."

"It's not just about me or anybody else," Henderson said. "Now that we lost Kevin, we all just have to do our parts. We all have to come together."

Blackshear added: "One player goes down, the rest step up."

Pitino said it's tough to ask a walk-on who hasn't played a lot to do it in a Final Four situation but noted Henderson, "is more than capable."

" We can't alter our style because we're not going to win if we do that," Pitino said. "So what I told the players, Tim will step up and he'll give us some minutes, but the rest of you have to play better. Every single guy has to give us more because Tim is not going to be Kevin. He'll do a good job, he'll play as hard as he can play and give us a good body, but he's not Kevin Ware.

"So we just have to get more out of the other guys; they all have to do it."


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