Cards face top-ranked D-II opponent

Tuesday night, Syracuse lost an exhibition to Division II Le Moyne. Tonight, Louisville will try to avoid the same fate against Bellarmine, the top-ranked Division II team in the country.

The Cardinals will wrap up the exhibition season tonight against Knights, who finished 26-7 last season and return four starters from a team that advanced to the Division II Sweet 16. Louisville won their exhibition opener last week against Georgetown College 80-68.

"They play a lot different than Georgetown," Pitino said. "They're a much better offensive team than Georgetown. They don't play in your face..defense. They play more high percentage type defense. If you leave them open at the 3 the ball is going down."

With the regular-season opener against Arkansas two weeks away, Pitino is trying to fit the pieces together on his team, particularly at both forward positions. Reginald Delk and Jared Swopshire are listed as the starting forwards against Bellarmine, but Kyle Kuric and Rakeem Buckles are sure to get lots of playing time, too.

"The one thing we're trying to do early in the season is experiment," Pitino said. "Every couple days we've changed our starting lineup because it's such a young team and new team. We're not sure of the best combinations at this point. So we're using these exhibition games as a way to experiment."

Sophomore Samardo Samuels is the only returning player that averaged in double-figures last season. The Cardinals also return starters Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith, but Pitino says his team's strength isn't its starting five.

"Our first five is nothing that is going to scare anybody but we really have great depth," Pitino said. "With the exception of Samardo, there's very little difference between the guards and in the front court."

"We're trying to develop two solid units and I don't know who those units will be yet," added Pitino. "Our practices have been great, maybe the best since I was at Louisville, because their attitude is great and their willingness to learn and get better. I love their attitude. They're the closest group I've had top to bottom. The older players are willing to help the younger players along. The young guys are really eager to learn."

While Louisville will face Bellarmine in a final tune-up tonight, most of the Cards focus in practice has been on Arkansas, their opponent in the Hall of Fame showcase in St. Louis in the opener. The Razorbacks return five starters from a team that upset Oklahoma and Texas last year.

"We're practicing to beat Bellarmine," Pitino said. "But we're paying a lot of attention to Arkansas. They've got as explosive a back court as you'll see in the country. We've got to be very careful with them and we don't usually open very strong. We're trying to do something about that this year."

GAME FACTS - Louisville vs. Bellarmine
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 4
Time: 7:07 p.m. ET
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
Satellite Coordinates: AMC 6, Transponder K21V, (KU digital; downlink frequency 12111 vertical; data rate: 18.30Mb; symbol: 13.235)
Next U of L Game: Nov. 17 vs. Arkansas in Hall of Fame Showcase, Scotttrade Center, St. Louis, Mo., 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)


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