Wade could be bigger factor down the stretch

Freshman forward <b>Lorrenzo Wade</b> has played in all but three of No. 12 Louisville's games this season. The three games he's missed -Stanford, Kentucky and Cincinnati - arguably came against the Cardinals toughest opponents to date. But with his improved play of late, Wade could develop into a bigger factor down the stretch.

Freshman forward Lorenzo Wade has played in all but three of No. 12 Louisville's games this season. The three games he's missed -Stanford, Kentucky and Cincinnati - arguably came against the Cardinals toughest opponents to date.

However, since being a spectator during the Cardinals 69-66 win over the Bearcats two weeks ago in Cincinnati, the 6 foot 6 Wade has played perhaps his best basketball of the season. Wade, averaging 5.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.1 minutes this season, has scored 20 points and grabbed 13 boards in the Cardinals past three games. It's for that reason, in addition to displaying better practice habits, that Wade has started to inspire the confidence of the man on the U of L bench who doles out the playing time.

"I'm very confident in Lorrenzo Wade right now," said Pitino. "He's really working hard in practice and he's really improving. He's made tremendous strides and I like the way he's playing right now."

It's easy to understand why Wade only averages a shade over 11-minutes per game, despite his improving and obvious talent, especially when one considers the man penciled into the starting lineup at Wade's small forward position.

"Lorrenzo's biggest problem is Francisco Garcia," Pitino explained. "No matter what [Lorrenzo] does or how good he plays he can't beat Francisco Garcia [out of playing time]."

However, the talented rookie who played at Hargrave Military Academy last year has started to challenge Garcia more consistently during practice - a fact, according to Pitino, that will likely lead to increased playing time for Wade, even in the big games.

"He's getting after Francisco in practice and not backing down and he will play more steady minutes - at the right times - then he's been getting," added Pitino.

For his part, Wade expresses no problem with his current role playing, and learning, behind Garcia.

"Francisco is getting ready for the next level and I want to help him succeed," said Wade. "So everyday in practice I have to push him like guys are going to do in the future. And it's better for me [going against him] because I get a challenge every single day."

After having discussions with Pitino about his practice habits, Wade hopes his enhanced efforts during the Cardinals' workouts will reap positive results.

"I've been trying to practice a little bit harder and we've had a couple of conversations about it," Wade said. "Hopefully it's paying off."

Wade, who had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists against Marquette Wednesday night, admitted he often coasted through practices early in the season.

"I had a tendency at first to be a little lax at times just because I'd never really had to assert myself on the basketball court 100-percent of the time," Wade said. "I had a lot to learn [such as] treating every play like it's my last play. The biggest change for me [this year] is just working hard at all times."

For now, he will continue to spell Garcia off the bench, though his playing time should come at more regular intervals than it has earlier in the season. And that seems to be fine with the athletic Wade.

"I feel like my time will come eventually," Wade said. "Right now there are other guys who have been here longer and are more experienced."


Cardinal Authority Top Stories