Clark still in learning mode

Earl Clark, a 6-9 freshman forward, is still in a learning mode early in the 2006-07 season. A former McDonald's All-American, Clark didn't play in Louisville's season-opener. To get on the court this evening against Dayton, Clark knows there's a few things - like defense and rebounding - he'll have to do better.

Earl Clark, one of only two McDonald's All-American's Rick Pitino has recruited to Louisville, didn't get off the bench in the Cardinals season-opener last Saturday against Northwestern State.

Clark, a talented 6-9 forward, was setback by a foot injury that cost him about two weeks of valuable practice time in October. He's still trying to play catch up for the missed time and become a regular part of Pitino's rotation off the bench.

During Louisville's 100-87 victory over Northwestern State, Clark was visibly upset that he didn't get off the bench. When his teammates were up cheering the Cardinals comeback against the Demons in the second half, Clark remained seated on the bench. During timeouts, fellow freshman Derrick Caracter made it a point to encourage his childhood friend and teammate.

Apparently, Clark has seen the light and learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

"It was real fun," Clark said. "I was glad to get out there and I was real anxious Saturday because I didn't get to play. It was something I've never felt before, but it was a good experience for me to sit back and watch to see what I need to work on."

What he needs to improve is his knowledge of Pitino's offensive sets and his rotations on defense.

"(Coach Pitino) basically said that I need to learn what he wants to run more," Clark said. "He said there's no doubt in his mind that I can play but I need to learn where I need to be at, rebound and play defense."

And Clark needs to continue rebounding the ball like he did last Sunday in the exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan. Clark was active on the boards in that contest, pulling down nine rebounds.

"If I don't rebound, I know I can't be out there," Clark said. "So when I'm out there I'm just trying to get rebounds."

The adjustment from high school star to college rookie has also been a difficult one for Clark, though he seems to be making progress these days.

"In high school, basically we'd run one motion and I'd get the ball," Clark said. "When I got here I really struggled. But I'm getting the hang of it now and I'm enjoying things. I've got a lot of room to work on my game."

"College is a lot different than high school. In high school, we'd practice one time a day maybe an hour. Here, it's two a day, your body gets tired and you've got to dig in. But I know it's making me a better player."

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