Louisville basketball: NCAA Notebook

SEATTLE – The University of Louisville basketball team arrived in Seattle for the NCAA Tournament opening round on Wednesday. The Cardinals will practice and meet with the media on Thursday and then face UC-Irvine on Friday at 4:10 p.m. ET. Here’s Cardinal Authority’s first-day notebook from the road.

SNIDER SHOWING IMPROVMENT

Louisville freshman Quentin Snider was forced into a tough situation when senior Chris Jones was dismissed from the team. But the former Kentucky Mr. Basketball from Ballard High School has been up to the test.

Snider has started six games this season and has become a major contributor for the Cardinals since the loss of Jones.

”I feel like I am getting better,” Snider said. “I’m learning and I’ve made some mistakes but I think I’m getting better every game.”

U of L coach Rick Pitino also believes Snider has been showing improvement, noting he’s one of three guys on the team that gives “100 percent effort every day in practice,” throughout the season.

”Quentin is playing good basketball,” Pitino said. “I think he’s getting the most out of his opportunity and making other people better. He’s improving.”

Snider has just 26 turnovers in 438 minutes this season, averaging 3.2 points and 1.5 assists a game. He has 38 points, 17 assists and 14 turnovers in the five games the Cardinals have played since Jones was dismissed.

”I just need to keep getting better,” Snider said.

TIME FOR LEVITCH?

Pitino said the Cardinals’ staff is likely to call on sophomore walk-on David Levitch for some minutes in the early rounds of the NCAA.

UC-Irvine is expected to pack in a 2-3 zone against the Cardinals and Pitino said the former North Oldham star is probably going to be needed.

”I may have to use David because we’re going to see some zones,” Pitino said. “He’s very good at penetrating zones, hitting some shots, so we may use him.”

Levitch is averaging 5.5 minutes in 17 games this season. He has scored 24 points on 4 of 10 from three-point range, while hitting 12 of 17 free throws.

The last significant minutes he played came on Feb. 18 when he logged 16 minutes in the loss to Syracuse. He hit two free throws.

FACING THE BIG MAN

U of L will have to play against the tallest player in college basketball when they face UC-Irvine and 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye.

Ndiaye has only played in 14 games this season because of two foot injuries, but is averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. He has 22 blocked shots after blocking a school and Big West single-season record 122 last season.

”Well, if he gets it close to the basket he’s going to score obviously,” Pitino said. “With his size, he can probably dunk without jumping and he’s fairly mobile. He doesn’t play a lot of minutes but they have a 7-2 guy that backs him up.

”So they have a lot of size.”

Ioannis Dimakopoulous is the backup center at 7-2, 257 pounds. Ndiaye is listed by UC-Irvine as 300 pounds.

OFFENSE IMPROVING FOR CARDS?

U of L has shot 50 percent of better in a half 11 times over the last 14 games, including 51.9 percent in the first half against North Carolina last week.

But the problem against the Tar Heels was just 22.2 percent in the second half.

The Cardinals have shot 47 percent or better from the field 13 times, while netting more than 50 percent of their shots on seven occasions.

”We’re playing good ball,” Pitino said. “We just need to eliminate a few mistakes and not take as many challenged shots.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Pitino talking about sophomore Terry Rozier and how he needed to take fewer challenged shots and pass the ball more inside:

”I told him he has to pass the ball more inside instead of – he takes D-Wade to a new level because he falls down like D-Wade, too.”



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