In the first game of the Billy Minardi Classic Tuesday night, Louisville coach Rick Pitino opted for junior Brad Gianiny at the point. Pitino played Gianiny 35 minutes against MTSU, while the 5-foot-11 McGee rode the bench.
Gianiny played just three minutes Wednesday night in Louisville's 78-63 win over the College of Charleston. Instead, Pitino gave most of the backcourt minutes to starters Taquan Dean and Brandon Jenkins, who both played more than 30 minutes against the Cougars. When he did substitute against Charleston, though, Pitino called McGee's number. And the rookie responded with his finest performance of the young season.
"I think once you start playing you start to figure out what he wants," McGee said. "He's a difficult man to play for and he demands perfection from you."
McGee scored a career-high 11 points, hitting 4-5 shots from the floor. He also made 3-4 three-pointers, including two during a 21-6 second half run that gave the Cardinals some breathing room.
"Coming from high school I think the three-point shot is really my game," said McGee. "One year I ended up hitting about 140 3's. So the three-point shot is something I really try to focus on. I've been getting up a lot of shots after practice."
McGee played with more control against Charleston, too. He committed just one turnover with two assists in 14 minutes against the Cougars after turning the ball over five times in his last two outings against Middle Tennessee and Kentucky.
"Coach Pitino wants me to take charge," said McGee. "When Taquan, BJ and I are in the game together he wants them to be off the ball and me making plays for them. My job is to get them shots and makes sure the offense is run right."
Despite his accurate shooting against Charleston, McGee said Pitino wants him to continue working to become a complete player at both ends of the floor.
"He gets mad at me for not rebounding and I'm only 5-11," said McGee. "He wants me in there banging with the big guys. He just wants everyone to be complete players."
During the next two weeks, McGee and the rest of his teammates will get a double-dose of Pitino's stringent practice sessions. And while McGee and mates aren't thrilled with the thought of twice daily practices, the freshman said the extra work is beginning to pay off on the court.
"We don't really like them, but we really get better as a team," McGee said. "We're coming together more, and everybody is starting to get used to it. Now the injuries are starting to go away, we're getting more healthy and guys are starting to get more playing time."