Inside Cardinal Basketball: Weekly notebook

The University of Louisville won its third national basketball championship in April and will be a top five-team heading into next season. Cardinal Authority will keep you updated on all the happenings with the team throughout the year. Here's the latest edition of the U of L basketball notebook:

PITINO TALKS ABOUT MANGOK

One of the biggest questions heading into the next basketball season for the University of Louisville is the ability of freshman Mangok Mathiang.

The 6-foot-10, 200-pound Mathiang was a late addition to the U of L roster last August and wasn't ale to play as a freshman. But he spent the entire season with the Cardinals and was able to practice with the team.

"Mangok is sort of like a 6-foot-10 version of Otis George," Pitino said, referring to the former U of L player. "He's a shot blocker, a terrific athlete and a runner. He's a little more offensively talented that Otis George.

"He's the quickest guy on the team, including the guards."

Pitino said Mathiang is "not going to start," but noted that he will be able "help us out," during the next season.

"He's not as talented as Gorgui (Dieng), but he's only a freshman also," Pitino said.

Mathiang is a native of Sudan but lived in Melbourne, Australia for several years before moving to the U.S. to play his final two seasons of high school ball.

HARRELL IMPRESSED WITH TEAMMATES

Pitino said he has been impressed with the newcomers to the team, noting that Chris Jones and Terry Rozier are "very, very good."

Another member of the team, sophomore Montrezl Harrell, has been impressed with the newcomers especially the point guard Jones.

"Chris Jones really fits our system," Harrell said. "He's a really good player."

Harrell, who is in the Czech Republic playing with the U.S. U19 national team, said he has also been impressed with Russ Smith's transformation into a senior leader. Pitino has said Smith needed to step up as a leader.

"Russ has picked up the leadership role," Harrell said. "He's a veteran guy and he's picked up his role as a leader with a lot of the young guys. We've all come back and we're working hard. We don't want (the success) to stop."

NEW ASSISTANT ADJUSTING TO LIFE AS A CARD

New University of Louisville assistant basketball coach Mike Balado is ready to hit the road recruiting next week with his new team.

Balado said he's been "getting my calls answered more often," now that he's working for Rick Pitino at Louisville.

And he's also excited about the first month and a half on the job.

"It's been awesome," he said. "Nothing but positive so far. It funny because I almost walk around here and just don't want to screw anything up.

"They've been to two straight final fours, I'm just taking the lead. I'll fall in line because whatever coach is doing has been working. But at the same time it's been fun to see how we keep moving forward towards the next year."

Balado said during the time the coaches have been able to work with the players in June that it's been "great to see to work ethic."

"Coach has sent the message to us and to the guys that we can't get complacent," Balado said. "There's been a lot of hard work."

WORKING FOR ANOTHER PITINO

Balado came to U of L after a season of working with U of L coach Rick Pitino's son, Richard, at Florida International.

Balado said he "learned a lot" from the younger Pitino and noted the staff was very familiar with the U of L team because they scouted the Cardinals before they played them in December and watched as many games as they could.

The new U of L assistant also noted his "excitement" for working under Pitino, who has sent a lot of coaches into the head coaching ranks.

"I was hanging by the small branch of the Pitino tree," Balado said with a laugh. "And now I am hugging the trunk. It's exciting for me.

"There's nobody better to be around. He touches so many aspects of life. To be around him on an everyday basis, just to be around him and watch it, I'm just lucky and excited. I'm lucky to be around him."


Cardinal Authority Top Stories