U of L basketball: Weekly notebook

Here's a look at a University of Louisville basketball notebook. Cardinal Authority will start to run a U of L basketball notebook each Wednesday morning.

THE MOST IMPROVED PLAYER?

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino challenged senior Wayne Blackshear to step it up after an up-and-down junior campaign.

It appears that Blackshear listened.

In an interview last month, Pitino said Blackshear has "really turned the corner," and one of his teammates said he'd be the most improved player on the roster.

"Wayne Blackshear, for sure," senior guard Chris Jones said. "I think Wayne realized this is his last chance to get to the NBA. He has to play like he can this year.

"Wayne knows what he has to do and he's doing it."

In three years at U of L, Blackshear has started 53 of the 90 games he's played in and averages 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds for his career. As a junior, Blackshear averaged 8.2 points and 3.1 rebounds and hit 39.5 percent from three-point range.

Blackshear has 630 career points at U of L.

JONES' WEIGHT IS 'JUST FINE'

Senior guard Chris Jones struggled with some extra weight for much of the offseason but in a recent interview with Cardinal Authority said it's "just fine."

Jones said he has been back at practice since missing time in the offseason with a stress fracture in his left leg. He said he returned and is less than 175 pounds.

"It makes a difference," Jones said. "I feel like I am back to what I could do when I was in junior college, so that's good. It's a big difference."

Jones was the fourth-leading scorer on the U of L roster last season at 10.2 points a game. He had 96 assists and just 47 turnovers.

A BUSY OCTOBER

It will be a busy October for the U of L hoops team, which began full team practices last Friday and will continue through the month.

The Cardinals will hold media day on Oct. 19 - before the scrimmage that day at 2 p.m. - and then also have a scrimmage on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

U of L's kickoff luncheon will be Oct. 20 at noon at the Marriott Downtown location, but that event is already sold out.

The Cardinals will also participate in the ACC media day on Oct. 29 in Charlotte, N.C., where Pitino, Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell will be available.

YOUNG GUYS GET HIGH PRAISE

Pitino and his staff have seven newcomers on the roster, including former Scott County All-Star Trent Gilbert - a walk-on.

But many questions during the preseason have surrounded around the two foreign big men - Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman. Mahmoud is a 7-foot-1 Egyptian, while Stockman is a 7-2 player who is originally from Norway.

Pitino said it's "very likely" that one of those players will redshirt this season but noted it would be difficult to pick the right one.

At least on current player has high praise for both players.

"They're going to be good," Mangok Mathiang said in a recent interview. "They are both skilled and both work really hard. They'll be good."


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