Pitino wants competitive scrimmage to prepare team

University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino is hoping for a competitive Red-White scrimmage this morning to help prepare his team for the season-opening tournament in Hawaii. <p> About 500 tickets remain for this morning's scrimmage that tips at 10 AM in Cardinal Arena.

Rick Pitino hopes to see a competitive Red-White scrimmage this morning that will prepare his team for the stiff competition that lies ahead later this month in Hawaii.

The University of Louisville, which will face Iowa November 22 in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, will play their second intra-squad scrimmage of the preseason at 10 AM.

"We're going to play our last scrimmage [today] and we're hoping it will be a good send off for Maui," Pitino said. "We want a real competitive scrimmage because a lot is at stake. We're looking for a very competitive game to help us get ready to open our season in Hawaii."

The Cardinals, who defeated Kentucky Wesleyan 81-51 last week in the seasons first exhibition game, will unveil a slightly different look today with freshman forward Brian Johnson out for the season because of injury.

Johnson, who will have his third knee surgery in the past six months later this month, is a significant loss for U of L in the frontcourt. At 6-9, Johnson was being counted on to provide depth and rebounding help this season. With Johnson's injury, Pitino finds his frontline especially thin, as just three players, 6-8 Ellis Myles, 6-8 Otis George and 6-8 freshman Juan Palacios possess both the size and talent to contribute around the basket this season.

To compensate, Pitino has devised a Kamikazee like unit, called the "Red Squad," that he will publicly unveil for the first time in today's scrimmage. The Red Squad, comprised of guards Brad Gianiny, Brandon Jenkins and Larry O'Bannon and forwards Perrin Johnson and Otis George, are charged with creating havoc and steals with tenacious pressure defense and relentless enthusiasm.

"At halftime we're going to play an additional five minute scrimmage between the 'Kamikazee's' and the other guys," Pitino explained. "It will be an all out, five minute blood bath."

Pitino said the Red Squad split four scrimmages during practice this week with the regulars, which include Francisco Garcia, Ellis Myles and Taquan Dean. How well the unit plays will almost certainly be one of the focal points for spectators and U of L coaches today.

"We're going to balance the teams after that and see what we come away with," Pitino added. "So it should be an exciting scrimmage."

Pitino also said there are still plenty of available seats left for fans who want to help send off the Cardinals to Maui the right way.

"We have about five hundred tickets left," Pitino said. "This will be a good way for our fans to send us off to Maui and we need their support."

Tickets for the event are $8 and are available for sale at both U of L Ticket Offices, located at Gate 2 of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium or on the third floor of the Swain Student Activities Center.

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