Pitino promises shorter rotation against FDU

Louisville coach Rick Pitino wants to shortern his rotation tonight when his Cardinals (9-1) take on Fairleigh Dickinson (5-5). Pitino said he'd like to cut his rotation down to nine players before his team heads into Big East Conference play next week.

For the first ten games of the 2005-06 season, Louisville coach Rick Pitino generously doled out playing time. That generosity is about to end.

With the start of Big East Conference play next week, Pitino said Tuesday that he's going to change his approach to substitutions against Fairleigh Dickinson Wednesday night.

"In this game, we're going to get down to a shorter rotation," Pitino said. "We're not going to be concerned about getting anybody experience anymore. We've got two games before the Big East starts and we're going to get down to our normal rotation."

The starting lineup appears set with Terrence Williams and Juan Palacios at forward, Taquan Dean and Brandon Jenkins at guard and David Padgett at center. Freshmen Brian Johnson and Andre McGee figure to make the cut, as does junior point guard Brad Gianiny. Beyond those eight, it's anybody's guess who else will crack Pitino's tightened rotation.

"I'd like to get down to nine players," said Pitino. "I think nine players would be a good rotation."

The Cardinals are coming off what at first glance appeared to be a poor performance Saturday against Detroit. Louisville won that game 56-48, and Pitino said that both he and the players initially felt bad about that performance. Upon further review, though, Pitino sounded rather upbeat about his squad's performance against the Titans.

"The players were very disappointed with their performance in the locker room, and so was I," Pitino said. "But after watching the film, we really didn't play that poorly. We did make some (defense) rotation mistakes that led to three-point shots."

Pitino credited Detroit's ability to control the tempo of the game, and admitted that his substitution patterns helped keep the score close throughout.

"Sometimes in that type of game because I'm trying to get playing experience for freshmen, I sort of dictate the runs a little bit by my substitution patterns," Pitino said.

If Pitino stays true to his word tonight, FDU might not be as fortunate as Detroit. That's probably a good thing because Fairleigh Dickinson made the NCAA Tournament last year, and they're favored to repeat in the Northeast Conference again this season.

"They played Illinois in the first round of the NCAA and the game was tied at halftime," Pitino said. "They've got great size, they've got the ability to go one-on-one, and they've got a power forward that can step out and shoot the three."

The Knights enter tonight's game riding a two-game losing streak, dropping close decisions to Drexel and St. Peter's last week. 6-9 Gordon Klaiber, arguably the best player in the NEC, leads FDU in scoring with 13.5 points per game. Two other Knights, guard Chad Timberlake (11.6), and forward Andre Harris (10), average double figures.

"The Fairleigh Dickinson's, the Akron's, the Detroit's, they can all play," Pitino said. "If you don't bring your ‘A' game, you're going to lose. All these teams can play, and we know that."

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