Cardinal Authority has five takeaways from Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino's news conference previewing the Cardinals' first exhibition game on Thursday night against Kentucky Wesleyan.
The game is slated to tip at 7:02 p.m.
1. Mathiang expected to play: Louisville senior center Mangok Mathiang has been sidelined with a foot injury since last December but is now expected back in the lineup at some point in the first exhibition game.
U of L coach Rick Pitino, who had been hoping to get Mathiang back by the end of the month, said on Wednesday that his co-captain would play against the Panthers and is "close" to being 100 percent.
"He hasn't played basketball - competitively - in a long time, so I think he'll be a little tight and that's even though he's a veteran," Pitino said. "He's almost about 85-90 percent back."
Mathiang averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 10 games before his injury last season.
2. Will see mainly man-to-man defense: Pitino has said in the preseason that fans will see a new style this season. He said again on Wednesday that the offense would be motion and the defense would be man-to-man.
Pitino said "nobody will believe it," but the Cardinals will play 90 percent man-to-man defense.
And he noted that the defense won't confuse anyone like the matchup zone.
"I don't mean that in a negative sense," he said. "We're just going to come after you hard. You're going to know how we're coming after you."
3. Mitchell at point guard? Quentin Snider is the starting point guard for the Cardinals but Pitino said he's been working Donovan Mitchell some as the backup to Snider.
Pitino said he has also used Tony Hicks but noted Mitchell has been great in the role.
"He's been terrific," Pitino said.
4. No Loyola Marymount? Pitino has told his team he wants them to play fast like his 1996 team at Kentucky.
Pitino wants the Cardinals to run and shoot faster than any team he's had at U of L, noting he's showed the team the first half of the game when his then UK team scored 86 points in a half.
"We're not going to score 86 in a half," Pitino said. "I don't think we're going to have trouble scoring points."
He added: "I don't want to be Loyola Marymount, but I really want to speed up the tempo."
5. Wesleyan a good test: Pitino said Kentucky Wesleyan has a bunch of players back, along with some talented newcomers, and noted they will be a good measuring stick for the Cardinals.
"Our guys are ready to play someone else," Pitino said.
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