Pitino talks Louisville hoops to open season

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino spoke with the media on Thursday to open the season. The Cardinals have been practicing since last week and Pitino updated the media on a wide range of topics, including injuries and newcomers.

Chris Jones is back, Akoy Agau and Jaylen Johnson are coming back and the University of Louisville basketball team is in full go practice mode.

Those are a few other topics were discussed by U of L head coach Rick Pitino on Thursday as the Hall of Famer held a news conference to kick off the season.

Pitino started with a player update, including the note that senior point guard Chris Jones has been back for about a month. He had been sidelines by a stress fracture in his shin.

"Chris has been back for a month," Pitino said. "Akoy and Jaylen have just now come back within the week.

Agau missed time after sports hernia surgery, while the 6-foot-9 freshman Johnson missed summer workouts while waiting for the NCAA to clear him and then had tendinitis in his thigh that has slowed him since he arrived on campus.

"He hasn't practiced a day since he's been here," Pitino said of Johnson.

Pitino said he's really excited about his "brand new team," because the Cardinals will return a solid starting five and have some depth.

He expects Jones and Terry Rozier in the backcourt, with Wayne Blackshear at the three and Montrezl Harrell and Mangok Mathiang in the frontcourt.

"The good news is that we have a starting five that's terrific, really understands the culture, and they're obviously doing a very good job of developing it through the bench," he said. "The bench right now is the thing that needs to come up.

"We have built a culture the last three years, a winning culture."

Pitino said he's excited about his freshman class but doesn't expect a lot of game time from 7-footers Matz Stockman or Anas Mahmoud.

"I don't think (they'll play)," Pitino said. "I don't expect either one of them to play, but not because they won't develop. . . . It just takes big guys much longer than it takes guards. It just takes time."

He said he has seen great improvement in Chinanu Onuaku and notes that Shaqquan Aaron and Quentin Snider have bright futures with the Cardinals.

Pitino also said Montrezl Harrell "has added a lot to his game."

The Cardinals will make their first public appearance on Oct. 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. on the two annual Red-White scrimmages at the KFC Yum! Center.

"(The scrimmages) will tell us an awful a lot," he said. "You'll be able to judge and I will be able to judge and we'll know more about this basketball team."

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