The Cardinals are coming off a disappointing 21-13 campaign that ended in the NIT semifinals, but have a new look this season with a talented four man freshman class ready to take the court. Three of those freshmen – 6'9 Derrick Caracter, 6'2 Edgar Sosa and 6'2 Jerry Smith, will start tonight, according to Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
Caracter, Sosa and Smith starred in Louisville's intra-squad scrimmage last Friday. In leading their team to victory, Caracter finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Sosa scored 23 points and Smith 15. 6'9 freshman Earl Clark also had 13 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
"We're a work in progress," Pitino said. "What I'm getting right now is really good effort and great enthusiasm from the guys. They make a lot of mistakes because they're so young, but that's normal."
Louisville hasn't played Georgetown since 1972, Denny Crum's first season at U of L. The Tigers, who beat Asbury 75-55 on Saturday, boast a roster full of Division I transfers. They also return three starters from last year's 26-8 squad, including their top two leading scorers, 6'9 Mark Surgalski and 6'6 Brian Silverhorn.
"We're really looking forward to this game," Pitino said. "I think we're playing against a really competitive team. They have seven Division I transfers and ten players returning. So they're a real good basketball team and that's what we'd like to face right now."
Though his team enters the season without the high expectations nationally, Pitino has been happy with his team's work ethic and progress during the preseason.
"I'm very pleased with our basketball team," Pitino said. "They're guys that really work hard and they're eager to learn and get better. And we are getting better."
Louisville fans, except for the select few who saw Friday's scrimmage, will also get their first chance to see Caracter in a Cardinal uniform. Caracter has dropped 45 pounds since arriving at U of L last summer and has been a willing student for Pitino.
"He has a lot to prove, but he wants to make it – and he will make it," Pitino said. "He's nowhere near where I want him to be, but he's given me 100 percent."
exhibition against Georgetown.
EXHIBITION NOTES: David Padgett will not play in tonight's exhibition game against Georgetown. Though the 6'11 junior center played six minutes in the Cardinals Red-White intra-squad scrimmage, Rick Pitino doesn't want to risk injury by playing him tonight.
"We have decided not to play David Padgett in this scrimmage," Pitino wrote on his website, RickPitino.com. "If he were driving to the basket, our guys would get out of the way, not knock him down, and wouldn't take the charge on him because they know David is not 100%. That may not happen in a game situation. Since he is progressing well and only about two weeks away from more significant action, why chance him injuring another part of his body? We'll keep David out for this one and..get Derek Caracter more minutes."
Pitino said Padgett is going 35-40 percent of the time during practice and hopes he'll be back to about 80-90 percent next week. "He's made a remarkable recovery and we're very optimistic," said Pitino.
"Our injuries were not severe," Pitino said. "Juan missed a couple of days of practice but is back. Terrance Farley did not miss practice; he just had a big lump on his head. With Andre it's a continual condition we must deal with in the spasms and the cramps, but he is fine and back to practice."
Senior guard Brandon Jenkins won't play tonight, but he's making strides to return to action very soon.
"He's light jogging and going through all of our shooting drills," Pitino said. "Brandon is not having any pain. I don't know if he'll be ready for the first game, but it won't be far removed."
Pitino also said fans would see a new playing floor at Freedom Hall tonight.