AAC media day: Louisville notebook

MEMPHIS – The University of Louisville was picked as the top team in the inaugural American Athletic Conference preseason poll on Wednesday. Cardinal Authority was at the FedEx Forum for the event and has this notebook of items:

Louisville, Memphis WILL CONTINUE TO PLAY

Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner said his team already knows about the intense rivalry with the University of Louisville on the hardwood.

"Oh yeah," Pastner said. "All you had to do was be here last year and see the electricity in this building. It's great for both communities."

The two schools were bitter rivals back in the Metro Conference and also in Conference USA and will now play twice this season in the inaugural American Athletic Conference.

"It's important and it's fun," Pastner said. "Everybody always talks about Carolina and Duke but this rivalry is just as intense, but it just doesn't get the national attention as the Carolina-Duke rivalry does. It's fun."

U of L is headed into the Atlantic Coast Conference next year, while Memphis will stay in the AAC. And the series isn't going away.

"We're going to continue to play them," Pastner said. "I think it's important and I am glad we're going to continue this series. It's good for both of us."

The two schools won't play next season but will resume the series in 2015-16 at the KFC Yum! Center and the following season in the FedEx Forum.

U of L coach Rick Pitino later confirmed the series would continue, noting last year's game at Memphis "was a key game for us in our run."

The Cardinals will host Memphis this season on Jan. 9 and travel to the FedEx Forum on Saturday, March 1.

U of L is 53-34 in the series all-time and has won four in a row.


U of L senior guard Russ Smith faced a lot of questions about the new conference and being the team to beat in the preseason.

"We want to leave our mark, of course," he said of the league.

Smith said the Cardinals would love to win another title and head next season into the ACC as kings of this league as well.

"If it's a good impression they will remember us as a team that won the last two years in the Big East, had a great year in the American and now is going to start a new legacy in the ACC," Smith said. "If we can take care of business how we are supposed to then we are going to be a dynasty to be reckoned with."


U of L senior Luke Hancock still isn't on the floor with his teammates for practice because of issues with his ankle and Achilles.

But Hancock said it was only a matter of time before he's back.

"I feel great," Hancock said.

Hancock said he's shooing and working out on a daily basis, noting he took 500 shots on Tuesday before his trip to Memphis.

"I will tell you this, I am a lot farther a long now than I was this time last year," noting he had a shoulder injury last season. "I feel good. I don't have a game plan. Coach is kind of timing things up so I can have a good year.

"I am just waiting on him and ready to get back out there."

Hancock said "only spent a few hours on crutches," a month or so ago and was surprised when it was out on social media.

"I just had a little tweak and needed a little time off," Hancock said. "I had a long summer and this is kind of the rest I need before a long season."


Louisville and Cincinnati also won't be in the same league after this season and Bearcats' head coach Mick Cronin said he "very much," wants to keep playing.

Pitino said he wasn't sure the schools would continue to play in the future and Cronin said he's going to keep trying.

"There's been talk on my end," Cronin said with a laugh. "But I understand they have some things under contract. We are on different scenarios right now where as I am hunting down big-name opponents and they're in the ACC with so many tough games, not knowing how many times you are going to have to play those teams.

"There's a lot of unknown on Louisville's end but we want to play them if we can. It's always a great challenge."

Cronin coached under Pitino at U of L and is still close friends.

"We have a lot of respect for Cincinnati and Mick is a close friend," Pitino said. "But I don't know right now.

"Memphis asked first, if Mick had asked first it would be Cincinnati on the schedule and not Memphis."


New Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan on preseason favorite U of L in the AAC.

"If I had my absolutely last dollar, I would say Louisville is going to win too," Jordan said. "But that' why you play the games."

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