University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino talked to the media on Thursday about Sunday's game, which Pitino termed "very special."
And for a couple of reasons.
The game is part of the 13th annual Billy Minardi Classic and will put the No. 4 Cardinals (8-0) against UNC Wilimington and first-year head coach Kevin Keatts, who spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at U of L.
"It's always a special time of year when the Billy Minardi Classic rolls around," Pitino said. "And it's especially special with Kevin Keatts coming back. he shared a lot of great memories with us and was part of a national championship team. It will be fun.
"It's always a very special game and we have a lot of family and friends coming in."
The Cardinals will be trying to go 17-1 in December over the last three years, while the Cardinals are 15-1 all-time in the Billy Minardi Classic.
The 6 p.m. game on Sunday will be honoring Pitino's brother-in-law - Billy Minardi - who passed away in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Pitino said Keatts "will get the job done," at UNC Wilmington and noted the Seahawks are 3-2 this season already with just one home game. The Seahawks will be playing their first game since Dec. 3 when they decked St. Andrews 105-47.
"I think (Keatts) gonna take his biggest jump next year," he said. "This year he's playing 17 road games. He can do nothing about that. But he's doing it the right way. He's done a very smart thing by gathering transfers. Kevin's gonna do a good job.
"He's one of the best assistants I've had."
Pitino also noted sophomore Mangok Mathiang is "not all the way back," despite his solid play on Tuesday in the win over Indiana from an ankle injury.
"We did not expect to play him," Pitino said. "But he gave us effort."
Pitino also said freshman Shaqquan Aaron, who will be eligible on Dec. 20 at Western Kentucky, needs to "do a better job now of paying attention."
"I'm just not sure how much he can help us right now," Pitino said.