The Cardinals won two of three games last week in Las Vegas, defeating UNLV and Old Dominion. Louisville's 64-53 win over ODU last Saturday in the consolation of the Las Vegas Invitational marked the fifth Cardinals fifth games in little more than a week.
"Miami (OH) is an extremely difficult team to play against," Pitino said. "I just watched one of the most bazaar basketball games in Miami-Dayton. (Miami) went out to a 20-2 lead and with 1:02 left they were up eight and they lose in regulation at home. They dominated the game for 39 minutes and wound up losing."
five game this year.
The Red Hawks, one of the favorites in the Mid American Conference, have played teams tough this season. They prefer to slow the pace, play tough defense and limit their opponent's offensive possessions. It's a difficult formula to contend.
"Miami has played a very difficult schedule," Pitino said. "They had USC beat on the road. They beat Xavier who blew out Indiana. They are an excellent ball club. They don't turn the ball over much. They are a ball control team. In 37 straight games nobody has scored more than 70 points against them. They have a heck of a team and we have our work cut out for us."
Though Louisville will have a decided height advantage inside with 6'9 center Derrick Caracter and 6'9 forward Earl Clark, Miami (OH) will challenge the Cardinals with a stingy interior defense designed to take away their opponent's inside game.
"They're good defensively," Pitino said. "They don't let you have the interior. They choke down the paint."
Pitino's keys against Miami (OH): Defend the perimeter, hit the defensive board and take good shots on offense.
"We have to stop the three. We can't give them second shots because they will run another 25 seconds off the shot clock. So blocking out is a big element," said Pitino. "Then we have to take good shots because it's a possession game and (we) have to make sure every shot counts."
"The biggest concern we have right now is our lack of fundamentals," Pitino said. "We're not a fundamentally sound ball club. When we lost Padgett and Palacios we lost our two most fundamentally sound players. That's what we've been trying to work on this week – getting guys to block out, getting guys talking in transition and (to) understand spacing. Our guys are struggling a little bit with it because we're young."
"I liked our toughness at UNLV when the crowd was in a frenzy and they took the lead. We didn't wilt. We came back and went on a great run and won the ball game. And that's the makings of a good basketball team because they were mentally tough," he said. "With the exception of our transition defense against BYU we played a good ball game that night. Against Old Dominion both teams were exhausted and we were just mentally tough enough to get that W."
GAME FACTS - No. 10 Louisville (4-1) vs. Miami (Ohio) (3-2)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1
Time: 2 p.m. ET TV: WHAS-TV (Channel 11 in Louisville) will televise the game with Ari Wolfe (play-by-play) and Bob Valvano (analyst)
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) with Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Doug Ormay
SIRIUS: SIRIUS Satellite Radio channel 119
Last Meeting: U of L 81, Miami 65 (Nov. 22, 1985 at Cincinnati, Ohio: Big Apple Preseason NIT)
National Rankings: U of L is ranked 12th in this week's Associated Press Poll and 10th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Next U of L Game: Dec. 8 vs. Dayton in Freedom Hall, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)