Dean pulls himself out of the starting lineup

Taquan Dean, the University of Louisville's all-Big East senior guard, won't be in the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Cardinals open the 2005-06 season against Bellarmine. But he's not injured, not in Rick Pitino's doghouse or playing poorly.

Taquan Dean, the University of Louisville's all-Big East senior guard, won't be in the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Cardinals open the 2005-06 season against Bellarmine.

But fear not Cardinal fans, Dean's not injured, he isn't in Rick Pitino's doghouse, and he's not playing bad. In fact, the 6-foot-3 Dean might be playing the best basketball of his life.

Here's the deal. Dean, the team's co-captain, voluntarily surrendered his starting spot against Scott Davenport's Knights for the betterment of Pitino's young and inexperienced team. In Dean's place, freshmen Andre McGee and Terrence Williams will get a chance to start and gain valuable experience.

"Our weakness is our freshmen don't get it defensively," Pitino said Tuesday afternoon. "Taquan, T-Will and Andre are playing well, and B.J. (Brandon Jenkins) is playing terrific.

"I was talking to Taquan today and he asked ‘who are you going to start Coach?" said Pitino. "And I said ‘I can't decide between T-Will and Andre because normally it would be based on defensive assignments."

"So Taquan said, ‘these guys don't get what we're trying to teach, so don't start me because I'm going to start every game and be the go-to guy. Let's show the (freshmen) how meaningless starting is and that all that matters is winning."

Pitino's reaction?

"I was taken aback and blown away by it," he said. "But it doesn't surprise me because he's been that way since the first day he arrived here. This is the most leadership he's shown, and obviously, he's going to play the most minutes."

Dean's message to the freshmen is simple, winning, not individual accolades, is all that matters.

"I just want to show the young guys there's no "I" in team," Dean explained. "This is not Taquan Dean and the Cardinals, this is the Louisville Cardinals. It's showing them that there's no ego, it's all about winning and playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back."

Dean said his gesture is also a reward for how hard his new teammates have worked preparing for the upcoming season.

"It's also a reward for going through the conditioning," said Dean.


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