Lorenzo Wade a freshman no more

<B>Lorenzo Wade</b> has seen his minutes increase lately, including a 16 minute outing at Memphis on Saturday, and the freshman from Las Vegas realizes that his time to play a vital role has arrived.

On Saturday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, with visiting rival Louisville trailing the Tigers 39-33 with just 8:04 remaining in the contest, freshman Lorenzo Wade fueled a run that would propel the No.11 Cardinals into the lead.

After Taqaun Dean chopped away 5 points of an 11-point Memphis lead, Wade broke free for an uncontested dunk to cut the Tigers advantage to 39-35. Less than a minute later, Wade drained a crucial three-pointer to pull U of L within 39-38.

As the regular season winds down, the Las Vegas native realizes that those type of moments will occur more often and that the time has come for him to convert those opportunities.

"I'm seeing the floor a little bit more in crucial situations," said Wade, who saw 16 minutes of action in the Cardinals 53-44 win. "I'm trying to provide more defensive intensity when I'm out there. Whatever else happens is great, but I'm thinking defense first when I'm out there."

At this time of the season, you often hear coaches state that their first-year players are no longer freshmen on the basketball floor. With Wade providing crucial offensive production, as well as his rapidly improving defensive play, the 6-foot-6, swingman now finds himself in that transition.

"I'm trying to advance from being a freshman to a sophomore right now," said Wade. "It's a tough process, but it's starting to come along."

When he calmly drained the three-pointer with 7:21 left in the game at Memphis, Wade gave the impression to those in attendance, as well as the millions that were watching ESPN's spotlight game of the day, that he already had the confidence of a sophomore.

"My confidence was never low," explained Wade. "I've always been a pretty confident person. I just need to show up more when on the court."

Show up he did, just as he does prior to all of the Cards games. As pregame introductions are being made Wade can usually be found in the middle of the team huddle working overtime to pump up his teammates.

"My role there is just to get the guys hyped up," explained Wade. "I try to get them ready for the game. If you weren't ready for the game, you will be after that. Hopefully everytime I do that it gets us all ready to go out there and take care of business."

Wade is also learning by watching one of the team's leaders, Taquan Dean, continue to give his all, even as he struggles with mononucleosis.

"Taquan is a machine," Wade said. "With everything that he is going through to still go out there and give everything that he does. I would like to be like that one day."

Desite winning four straight and thirteen of their last fourteen games, Wade is quick to point out that the team needs to remain focused on returning to the type of play that lifted the Cardinals into the nation's top offensive scoring squad.

"We need to keep building momentum and get back to where we were," Wade said. "Not only just winning games, but it is a little more fun when you are blowing teams out. We need to get back to that point. We need to build up our momentum going into the NCAA tournament, so we can go as far as possible...hopefully it'll be the Final Four."

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