Cards need more production from Palacios

Louisville's Juan Palacios has been up and down all season long. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino wants his 6-8 sophomore to drop a few extra pounds he picked up while out with injury, and hopes that will help his production on the court. He'd also like to see the versatile Palacios take his game inside more often.

If Louisville is to reach its potential this season, Juan Palacios must step up his play.

A starting forward on last years Final Four team, the 6-8 Palacios has been up and down this season. That's not totally unexpected after the sophomore from Medillian, Colombia missed five months of action on the court after injuring his ankle early last summer.

That injury unquestionably has set back Palacios. He appears a step slower than before the injury, doesn't jump quite as high, and he's lost some of the aggressiveness that made him a force as a freshman.

"He's tentative because he thinks he's going to get his shot blocked," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "He's lost some of his quickness and hops due to his injury. He'll probably struggle most of his junior year."

Pitino said Friday that he wants Palacios to drop 6 or 7 pounds to help him improve his quickness and jumping ability around the basket. He also said he wants the 250-pound Palacios to take his game inside the paint more instead of hoisting three-pointers.

"He's got to develop a low-post game," Pitino said. "Tello can't just rely on his outside jump shot."

When his jumper is falling, Palacios is a dangerous offensive threat. Last weekend against Miami, Palacios hit four three's. Not coincidentally, Louisville beat the Hurricanes 58-43. His jumper wasn't falling Thursday night against Villanova, though. Palacios missed all four of his three-point attempts, and scored just 5 points in 33 minutes. Not coincidentally, Louisville lost 76-67 to the Wildcats.

If the Cardinals are to find a way to win Saturday night on the road against Providence, you can bet Palacios will have to contribute more than he did in Louisville's Big East opener.

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