Earl Clark 'comfortable' with increasing role

University of Louisville freshman Earl Clark, who is averaging 12 points per game this month, tells InsideTheVille.com that he's comfortable with his increasing role...

Following the team's introduction to the sold-out crowd at Freedom Hall on Saturday, freshman Earl Clark took his familiar spot on the bench, but did so for the first time since before the Christmas break with fellow rookie and close friend Derrick Caracter sitting next to him.

"It felt good to have him back out there with me," said Clark following the Cardinals 83-63 win over South Florida. "It's been a long time, but I'm just happy to see him out there playing and smiling."

Clark has received a bump in game minutes the past few weeks and the former McDonald's All-American has responded on both ends of the court. The 6-foot-8 forward has proven to be a threat from beyond the three-point arc, while also not being afraid to mix it up underneath the basket.

Through three games this month, ‘E5' is averaging 12 points per game and has recorded five blocked shots.

"I'm feeling more comfortable out there now," said Clark. "I'm relaxing now when I'm out there playing and I'm following my instincts more."

His ability to score from both inside and out, where he's connecting on 46% of his three-point attempts, has become an advantage for the gifted athlete.

"I think I can get a lot of rebounds and score because I cause some mismatch problems," said Clark. "I'm just out there playing hard, going after the ball and trying to block some shots."

While Louisville is a certain to play in the upcoming Big East Conference tournament, Clark believes that the team's NCAA tournament hopes are still within reach.

"We just have to keep playing hard," he said. "We have a good team with great chemistry and I think that we just have to go out and play hard, listen to coach and execute."

Having an opportunity to play in the post-season, which will begin March 7 at Madison Square Garden, is something that Clark is looking forward to experiencing.

"That will be real big," said Clark. "This is my first year here and everything is just so exciting. Tournament time is always going to be the best times, so I'm really looking forward to it."

Louisville will visit 7th-ranked Pittsburgh tonight at 7:00 p.m.

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