Guards could be back against Western Carolina

Louisville coach Rick Pitino should get back Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva for Saturday's game against Western Carolina, but the Cardinals might have lost a key reserve to a season-ending knee injury.

Louisville suffered their worst home-court loss under Rick Pitino last Saturday against Charlotte. The Cardinals had the week off to practice and fix their mistakes. They'll return to action Saturday against Western Carolina.

With guards Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva on the bench with injuries, Charlotte demolished Louisville 87-65 last Saturday at Freedom Hall.

The loss dropped the Cardinals out of the Top 25 this week. But more importantly, it further exposed some big problems with Rick Pitino's team, namely defense and rebounding. Pitino said he wasn't worried that Louisville's second loss of the season would diminish his team's confidence.

"The way we lost was indicative of being depleted, I think our players understand that," Pitino said. "We definitely would have defended the three better with a healthy team. But I don't think that would have helped our rebounding woes."

Louisville gave up 10 three's against Charlotte and were out-rebounded 49-35. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva are expected to be back for Saturday's game against Western Carolina. Knowles and Siva both missed the Charlotte game with hand injuries.

"Two of our guys are going to come back," Pitino said. "Jerry did his first individual instruction today and he's probably a game or two away from coming back. Preston and Peyton will be back but they're probably not 100 percent. But we need them back because practices haven't gone well without them."

Though Knowles and Siva have been limited in practice recently, Pitino said they've kept in shape while recovering.

"We kept them in good shape because we could run them," Pitino said.

Western Carolina is off to their best start in 46 years. The Catamounts feature five starters that average at least eight points. Western Carolina beat Wofford 66-59 in their last outing.

"Western Carolina is every bit as good or better than Charlotte – they're in the same class," Pitino said. "They're 9-1 and a senior-laden basketball team."

Pitino has not been pleased with his team's defense lately. Charlotte hurt the Cardinals inside and out, while shooting 45 percent from the floor, including 10 of 24 from three.

"We've been working on defense," Pitino said. "We got taken to the woodshed [vs. Charlotte] in two areas we knew we were weak. One was defending the three and giving up three's is not what we like to do. [Western Carolina] made 17 three's against Duquesne and they're a great three-point shooting team. And then the other this is we got dominated inside on the backboard."

His team's rebounding problems are especially troubling to Pitino. Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings combined for just seven rebounds against Charlotte.

"It's troubling," Pitino said. "We're not rebounding the basketball well. We're going to have to take the mind-set of gang rebounding. We've got to get our one's, two's and three's to understand that our bigs aren't great rebounders so everybody's got to do it."

George Goode could be out for season with a knee injury.
Pitino might have lost one of his better rebounders in practice earlier this week.

"George [Goode] may be out for the season with a meniscus tear," Pitino said. "He fell down yesterday and may have a meniscus tear. He's probably out for the year if it is a meniscus tear."

Goode made his first start against Charlotte, scoring two points in 13 minutes of action.

"It hurts in practice and our depth up front," Pitino said. "We've got to start getting more out of Terrence Jennings now because we're not as deep at that position now."

Jennings played a season-low nine minutes against Charlotte, finishing with two points, three rebounds and two blocked shots.

"Terrence doesn't understand who he is," said Pitino. "He looks in the mirror and doesn't see Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman. He sees Tracy McGrady. So he doesn't know who he is. The mirror is playing tricks on him. When he figures out who is he is he'll become a good basketball player because he lacks fundamentals – he doesn't have good footwork – he has to work diligently at that."

Jennings is averaging just 3.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. He's blocked four shots this season.

"We're working on [his fundamentals]. We had a long conversation after the Charlotte game," Pitino said. "Fundamentals take time, especially with big guys."

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