The Cardinals will get ten practices before heading north of the border and the trip should provide positive experience for Rick Pitino's four new freshmen.
"I'm really looking forward to this," Pitino said Wednesday. "The last time I did this was in '96 in Italy and it really helps a team tremendously. Not only the games but the practices. And the fact that we can bring our freshmen is an added bonus."
Of course, Pitino led his last team that took a foreign tour to the national title. While expectations aren't as high for his current team entering the 2006-07 season, Pitino sounded excited about how hard his team worked during the off-season.
"Our guys have worked very hard this spring and summer to get ready for this," Pitino said. "I think all the guys are really excited about it. I'm not sure about the competition, although I hear it's very good. So we'll go into it a little blind. It should be a nice start of the season for us."
"This is by far the best class we've had at U of L, primarily because they put that new rule in where everybody has to go to college," Pitino said. "This is a very talented class. I couldn't tell you in this class who the best one is. I think they're all going to have great careers."
Rick Pitino expects the 2006-07
Louisville team to return to an
up-tempo, pressing style of play.
Sosa, a 6'2 point guard from the Bronx, New York, reminds his new coach of one of the Cardinals past stars.
"Edgar Sosa, I can't believe the similarities to Francisco Garcia in terms of passion and love for the game and attitude," Pitino said. "It's an exciting class and all four will play a lot, especially on this trip."
While Caracter, Sosa and Smith each took summer classes at U of L and have been on campus for the past couple of months, Pitino is still waiting on the 6'9 Clark, a McDonald's All-American selection, to arrive in Louisville.
"He'll probably be coming in tomorrow or the next day," Pitino said.
Pitino also said that 6'11 junior center David Padgett won't practice with the team as it prepares to go to Canada, though he'll likely take part during the individual instruction period. And while Padgett won't play in Canada, Pitino said that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"He's ahead of schedule, but we're going to be very conservative with him and not play him because I really want to get Huffman and Farley ready," Pitino said. "Jonathan has really gotten into the weights this year and I expect big things from Terrance."
Besides Padgett, who is recovering from off-season knee surgery, the Cardinals appear relatively healthy heading into the start of practice next week.
"T-Will pulled a quad muscle (recently), but it's not real serious," Pitino said. "We'll probably have him for the start of practice, and he'll probably be a little rusty. But he had a good summer. Tello's 100 percent and we expect him to have a great year."
With a healthy – and deep - roster, Pitino promises a return to a style that helped establish him as one of the nation's premier college basketball coaches.
"We're a very deep team and we'll be able to play like I've wanted to play," Pitino assured. "We're going to work during these ten days on our press and our up-tempo style. This year will be the most you've seen us pressing and running since I've been here."