Louisville coach Rick Pitino mandated that Caracter get his weight down to 275 pounds and his body fat to 10 percent to play in the scrimmage. So when did Pitino know Caracter would play Friday night?
"When he weighed in at 275 this morning," Pitino said. "He's six pounds away from where we want him to be, but he looks great."
Caracter came to Louisville with plenty of questions about his work ethic. But he's seemingly done everything Pitino has asked him to do since coming to U of L last summer. To play Friday, Caracter even went to rather extraordinary lengths to ensure he met his coach's weight demands.
"I starved myself on Thursday just drinking four bottles of water and trying to make sure my weight was down," Caracter said. "Today I had me a nice little chicken Caesar right after I weighed in."
Caracter was simply unstoppable for the White team in the post Friday night, scoring most of his eight field goals at point blank range. He showed dept moves around the basket, rebounded the ball well, and had a follow slam that had reporters wowing on press row.
"He played great in the post," freshman guard Jerry Smith said.
Though he's ridden him hard about his weight during the preseason, Pitino heaped plenty of praise on Caracter following the scrimmage. "I've driven him pretty hard, but we've got to give him a lot of credit," Pitino said. "He's lost 45 pounds and 12 percent body fat since August. You've got to give it up for him because he's really gotten after it."
Caracter's teammates were also glowing in their reviews of his performance.
"He played great," small forward Terrence Williams said. "He's losing weight rapidly and I think he's going to be in great shape."
"I've seen a big change in him," added childhood friend Earl Clark. "He's more mature and he's working much harder. I think he's got his eyes on the prize."
Caracter admits the dropped weight has helped him play better on the court.
"It's helped a lot," Caracter said. "I was surprised today running up and down the court I just didn't get tired."
After the scrimmage, Caracter weighed in at – amazingly – 271 pounds, down from 318 when he arrived at Louisville. Asked if he could recall the last time he weighed 271, Caracter, whose waist size has gone from a 46-48 to a 38-40, said, "I can't remember, maybe eighth or ninth grade. Coach P told me I could have a long career in the NBA at 265. That's what I want to play at."
Pitino still wants to see improvement from Caracter, who blocked three shots but also had eight turnovers in the game. Often double teamed by the Red squad, Caracter sometimes forced the issue instead of finding the open man.
"Coach said he wants me to work on making sure I hit guys coming off the screen," Caracter said.
Defense is another area Pitino wants Caracter to apply his focus.
"Once he learns to play defense, he's going to be able to do a lot of different things for us," Pitino said.