Pitino promises intense first practice

The Louisville Cardinals won't ease their way into the 2005-06 basketball season when practice officially starts Friday night. In fact, U of L coach Rick Pitino promises an intense 2 1/2 - 3 hour practice that will be open to fans.

Rick Pitino will open the doors to fans for Louisville's first practice Friday night at the Student Activities Center.

Tickets for the practice, which begins at 8 p.m. (Doors open at 7:45), went on sale earlier this week and sold for $50. Those proceeds will be used to benefit the Derek Smith Foundation.

"The reason we're letting the fans in is that we're trying to raise money for the Derek Smith Foundation," Pitino explained. "We're trying to name the practice floor after Derek Smith."

While many programs across the nation will kick off the season with "Midnight Madness" type events - complete with hoopla and fan fare - Friday night, Pitino will put his inexperienced team to work immediately.

"We're going to have a good, hard practice Friday night for two and half or three hours," Pitino said. "So the (freshmen) are going to get a good baptism on Friday."

Those freshmen, six total counting 6-9 redshirt Brian Johnson, will experience first-hand what a Pitino practice is all about.

"It's going to be very intense," Pitino said. "This is not going to be a midnight madness - there will be very little fan fare. This is going to be two and half hours of hard work."

Pitino said he won't hold back just because the fans are watching and listening. So if you've ever wanted to see how Pitino works his magic during practice, tonight will offer an up close and personal glimpse.

"They're (fans) going to see a practice and an intense coaching staff," Pitino promised. "And they're going to see a team under the influence of fatigue perform. So I think the fans will get a big kick out of it.

"It won't be for the faint of heart," Pitino said.

Pitino said his team will practice twice Saturday and Sunday.

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