Louisville sophomore Deng Adel has shown a lot of improvement in recent weeks as the Cardinals prepare for the NCAA Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS - Louisville sophomore Deng Adel has shown a lot of improvement in recent weeks as the Cardinals prepare for the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals will play Jacksonville State on Friday at 2:40 p.m.

The talk prior to the season surrounding University of Louisville sophomore forward Deng Adel centered around how much he had improved and how he could potentially be a guy who left college early for the NBA.

But for much of the season, Adel wasn't living up to that potential.

The 6-foot-7 wing has averaged double figures for much of the season but wasn't playing with a ton of confidence and had his ups and downs once the Cardinals headed into ACC Conference play.

But U of L coach Rick Pitino noted Adel's game took a turn in the last few weeks.

"He's playing great basketball," Pitino said.

Added Mangok Mathiang: "He's played well all season but I think he's more confident now. I think he's been aggressive and he's let his confidence help out. He's doing what he knew he could do now."

In the last eight games, Adel has scored double figures in five. He had a career-high 22 in the win over Syracuse and then had 21 in the loss last week to Duke. Pitino said he's been better because he's been more aggressive.

"I really think on offense I am just running more," Adel said. "I'm attacking the basket more, not settling and just being aggressive. I think it's just me taking the shots that are there, not forcing anything, and trying to get to the line."

But it's more than just being aggressive for Adel.

"My whole approach, I think it changed when I started doing more on defense," he said. "I'm trying to get more involved and trying to be more aggressive but be smarter on defense. I've also been focused on rebounding and that's helped my whole game.

"I think it's really kept me focused more."

Adel, who averages 11.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game, said he thinks there will be some nerves to get over on Friday.

"Yeah, I think it will be because it's the first time," he said. "But at the end of the day it's just another game. I think we just have to come out and look at it as just another game and we'll be fine."


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