Pitino expects tough test from Georgetown

Rick Pitino isn't expecting an easy game against Georgetown College Wednesday night at Freedom Hall in Louisville's 2009-10 exhibition opener.

Pitino knows a thing or two about the Tigers, one of the nation's best NAIA programs. Last season, Georgetown gave Louisville all they could handle before the Cardinals prevailed 74-67. Louisville was up by just four in the final minute of that game, and that was with two NBA lottery picks who led the Cards to the Big East title.

"They have Division 1 talent, they practice from mid-August and they're very well coached," said Pitino.

Pitino wasn't ready to claim defeat Tuesday during his pregame press conference but he also made it clear this would be a tough test and provide valuable experience for a team with five sophomores and four freshmen on the roster.

"I'm very pleased with our guys and their attitude and I like the way we pass and shoot but we are not ready to play an opening game," Pitino said. "I'm not setting you up for a loss but it would not shock me to see the same situation as last year. Defensively, we're just not ready to play against a team that has been practicing since mid-August."

The Cardinals have had two scrimmages in the past several days. Sunday, the White (reserves) overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to beat the Red (starters) 93-89. Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor and combined to make 23 three's. It's clear that the offense is ahead of the defense heading into the exhibition opener.

"We're just starting to put in our scheme and we've worked mostly trying to integrate our guys offensively," Pitino said. "We lost three great defensive players. I think we can make up for the rebounding and scoring but it's going to be very tough to make up defensively for those three guys."

Pitino, of course, is talking about Terrence Williams, Earl Clark and Andre McGee. Look for the Cardinals to use a team-approach defensively this season.

"I really don't think we have a real good defensive player," Pitino said. "I don't think anyone on this team can do what Earl, T-Will or Andre could do – guard their man without help. It's got to be five guys helping out and a team effort in terms of our defense."

Through two scrimmages, the Cardinals have impressed with their passing and shooting. Both teams shot better than 50 percent in both games and the two teams combined for 43 assists in the first scrimmage and 48 in the second. Every scholarship player on the team made a three in the first two scrimmages except Samuels, Terrence Jennings and freshman Stephan Van Treese.

"I think we're an unselfish basketball team and a great shooting team," Pitino said. "And any time you have a great low-post presence like Samardo Samuels – and he's a willing passer – you're going to get a lot of good shots. We're a very good shooting team because Kyle [Kuric] can shoot it, Mike [Marra] can shoot it, Edgar and Jerry [Smith] can shoot it, Peyton [Siva] is an OK shooter, [Preston] Knowles can shoot the ball and [Jared] Swop[shire] is an improved shooter."

Pitino envisions a fun-n-gun team that gets out and runs and shoots the three at every opportunity.

"We're a lot of fun to watch, we've just got to work on our defense," Pitino said. "We've got to get better defensively and not turn the ball over as much, but they're fun to coach and fun to watch. We've got a good inside-outside attack and we're running much more this season. When the defense catches up with our offense I think we're going to be a pretty good team."

With a veteran backcourt returning, senior point guard Edgar Sosa believes Louisville will be effective on the press this season.

"I think we can still be a good pressing team but we're still looking for what Andre did," Sosa said. "I think Preston and Jerry and will be those guys but right now we're still looking for that."

Sosa also expects this year's team to shoot the ball better from outside than last year's team that lost in the NCAA Midwest Regional final.

"I think we have better shooters and we shoot better than we did last year but our inside is just as good," Sosa said. "Samardo is a beast and wreaks havoc in the post and so does TJ."

Sosa and Smith are expected to start at guard against Georgetown with Swopshire and Reginald Delk at forward. Samuels will be at center. Sosa, Smith and Samuels will be regular starters this season but Pitino said yesterday the starters at forward aren't set in stone.

"Reggie Delk and Swopshire could change from game to game depending on matchups and who is playing well," Pitino said.

Kyle Kuric, who is battling Delk at small forward and Rakeem Buckles, who is dueling with Swopshire at power forward, played well in Louisville's scrimmage Sunday. Kuric had 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Buckles finished with 17 points and 10 boards.

"He had a new makeover from last year to this year – he's blown up," Knowles said of Kuric. "He's assertive, he's talking a little more and he's getting more rebounds. He's just asserting himself. He's going to have a good year."

Knowles said the Cardinals are eager to play against a different team.

"We've been beating each other up this whole summer and preseason so I'm glad we get to take it out on another opponent," Knowles said.

GAME FACTS - Louisville vs. Georgetown College
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 28
Time: 7:07 p.m. ET
Site: Crum Court / Freedom Hall (18,865), Louisville, Ky. (UofL 669-137 all-time in Freedom Hall)>br? TV: WHAS (Ch. 11 in Louisville) will televise the game with Drew Deener (play-by-play) and Bob Valvano (analyst)
Radio: WKRD (790 AM, 101.7 FM) with Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Doug Ormay (analyst)
SIRIUS: Game not available on SIRIUS radio
Last Meeting: U of L 74, Georgetown 67 (Nov. 1, 2008 in Freedom Hall)
Satellite Coordinates: AMC 6, Transponder K08H, (KU digital; downlink frequency 11851 horizontal; data rate: 18.30Mb; symbol: 13.235)
Next U of L Game: Nov. 4 vs. Bellarmine, 7:07 p.m. ET (WHAS-TV/Cardinal TV network statewide)

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