February 17, 2008. That's the date Sosa turned his season around and got with Rick Pitino's program.
It was the day before the Cardinals big game against Syracuse and Sosa once again found himself in Pitino's office for another meeting with his coach. During that sit-down, Pitino made clear once and for all it was time for Sosa to shape up – or else.
in recent weeks.
Pitino's message was received loud and clear.
"He told me ‘I really don't need you' and that really sparked a light in my head," Sosa said. "He just told me to shape it up and get my attitude right. I think that was the wakeup call for me."
That meeting, according to Sosa, was about the 15th such sit down with Pitino this season. It was also during that meeting – a not so pleasant experience for Sosa – that Pitino made clear he was reaching the end of his rope with Sosa.
"We had about 10 to 15 one-on-one meetings and he just talked to me about my confidence and that it didn't matter who starts it's who finishes," Sosa said. "He told me just to play the game for the team and not for myself."
Since that last ‘chat,' Sosa has been playing better – and his team has kept on winning. Sosa says he's embraced a new team-first attitude. He's no longer worried about starting or minutes. Instead, Sosa's main concern is to help the Cardinals win.
"I've been going real hard in practice the last couple of weeks and just giving it all that I've got," Sosa said. "Thinking about myself isn't going to get this team anywhere. This team is much bigger than I am. So I have to be a team player. I've become happy to see us win more than how I am playing."
Really, it was a very simple proposition for Sosa – get with the program or else. It appears he finally learned a very important lesson about playing for Rick Pitino.
"I'm not going to win going against Coach P(itino)," Sosa said. "I'm never going to win trying to do things my way. I just bought in and he tells me that everything is going to be alright. I just have to trust him and I'm learning to do that."
One of the biggest issues Sosa struggled to deal with this season was adjusting to life coming off the bench. As a freshman, Sosa had grown accustomed to life as the Cardinals starting point guard, starting 32 of 34 games. This season, he's been supplanted by Andre McGee in the starting lineup and has only started 9 of Louisville's 30 games.
"It bothered me a lot," Sosa said. "I started almost the whole year last year as a freshman. But this year coming off the bench at the beginning of the year was miserable. I couldn't take it. But now even if I do good I want to come off the bench for the rest of the year just because I've adjusted to that."
Since the Syracuse game, Sosa is averaging 10 points per game, including an 18 point outing in the win at Pittsburgh. He also had 10 points and four assists against Notre Dame and has made only two turnovers in the past four games.
"You see the game different when you come off the bench," Sosa said. "I come off the bench now and I feed off Andre's energy and Jerry's energy. Everybody is getting the same amount of minutes now so there's not really a difference."
Sosa has also seen his playing time increase in recent games – he played 27 minutes in two of the Cardinals last three games.
"Edgar Sosa is coming around," Pitino said. "He's worked a lot harder the last three weeks and he's bought into team ego. He is playing much better basketball. Earl Clark and Edgar Sosa improved the most physically during the month of February. From a practice standpoint, those two have grown the most."