Palacios ready for healthy 2006-07 campaign

Louisville fans lucky enough to get into Friday nights Red-White basketball scrimmage at Cardinal Arena should notice a much improved – and healthy – Juan Palacios.

Louisville fans lucky enough to get into Friday nights Red-White basketball scrimmage should notice a much improved – and healthy – Juan Palacios.

The junior forward struggled through the 2005-06 season with a gimpy ankle that hampered his performance and limited his improvement. Now completely healthy, Palacios is ready for a breakout 2006-07 campaign.

"Now I'm actually able to box out and jump up and get the rebound," Palacios said. "Last year, I'd box out and just hope the rebound would come down to me."

U of L coach Rick Pitino has called Palacios the team's best player repeatedly during the preseason. Though he still has room for improvement, Palacios will be a big factor for the Cardinals this season.

"He's constantly beating players up and down the floor in transition. He's healthy and gaining more from T-Will 's passing. He should have a great junior season," Pitino wrote on his website,, earlier this week.

Though Pitino has heaped plenty of praise on Palacios recently, the Louisville coach hopes to see improvement in a few key areas from his talented forward, including his shooting. Palacios struggled with his shooting during Louisville's 3-game exhibition tour earlier this fall in Canada, making just 11-of-31 shots from the floor, including just 3-10 from the three-point line.

"He needs to live in the gym to bring his shooting to a five-star level," Pitino said. "He must gain balance on his drives to the basket, (and) his low post game will get better with time.

Though he spent a considerable amount of time at small forward in Canada with Brandon Jenkins sidelined with a leg injury, Palacios will likely see a return to his more natural power forward spot this season.

Juan Palacios and Terrence
Williams pose on media day.

"In Canada I played a lot of three, but now in practice I'm playing mostly at four and sometimes at the five," Palacios said.

Earlier this week, the 6'8, 240-pound Palacios was selected to the preseason All-Big East team by league coaches. While the Cardinals were picked to finish sixth in the conference by Big East coaches in New York, Palacios and teammates should be better prepared for life in America's deepest basketball conference after struggling to a 6-10 Big East mark last season.

"I think we can be really good," Palacios said. "We have a lot of depth and everybody on the team can play. We can play the whole game and not get tired. So we have a lot of potential. We just need to have the mentality of a winning team (because) we know what it takes to play in the Big East."

Palacios is also very high on the Cardinals four new additions, point guard Edgar Sosa, power forward Derrick Caracter, small forward Earl Clark and shooting guard Jerry Smith.

"They're very good," he said. "They like to work hard and that's something not many freshmen are used to. They work hard all of the time and they just want to get better."

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