Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
December 19, 2011Despite his lengthy tenure in college basketball, University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino says he gets uptight before some games, but they're not the opponents you would be inclined to think. And one of those stress-inducing foes, College of Charleston (9-1), visits the KFC Yum! Center Tuesday for a nightowlish 9 p.m. game on ESPNU.
Pitino insists it's not the Kentuckys, Connecticuts or Pittsburghs that tend to make him toss and turn at night, but unheralded yet dangerous clubs like previous victims Ohio University and Long Beach State, along with Charleston.
And yes, believe it or not, the IUPUIs and Fairleigh Dickinsons (that's his story and he's sticking to it). In other words, lower level and mid-major teams from lesser conferences, games that fans -- and sometimes players -- consider automatic wins (and in truth usually are).
"I've always said the coaches are in a cocoon, we don't read, we don't listen," Pitino said. "We watch games on television, but nobody would dare text one of the coaches and say, 'You've got an easy one coming up.' We would never speak to that person again. But players get it from family members, friends. But we don't do that, we shut ourselves out. We truly just concentrate on this next game. All of us are really uptight about Charleston. We were uptight about Memphis, Ohio U., Long Beach and Vanderbilt. You never look ahead."
If Pitino looked ahead he would see that Louisville's schedule is about to become much tougher. After hosting Western Kentucky (4-8) Friday night, the No. 4 Cardinals (10-0) will end their 10-game homestand by opening their Big East Conference campaign against No. 16 Georgetown (9-1) on Dec. 28, followed by a showdown with No. 2 Kentucky (9-1) in Lexington at noon on New Year's Eve. So three of the next four opponents have a combined 27-3 record. Then comes the remaining 17-game Big East grind that includes two games each against top-ranked Syracuse (11-0), No. 8 UConn (9-1) and No. 15 Pittsburgh (10-1).
At least, UofL is getting healthier and should be further bolstered by the addition of freshman guard Kevin Ware, who became eligible for the 95-87 win over Memphis Saturday.
"We're very lucky right now we have survived a very difficult stretch with 7-8 players with an inability to practice, an inability to get better, because we knew down the road how rough it was going to get," Pitino said. "With all the injuries we've had we could have had three losses and we would have been in bad shape. So we've weathered a great storm, we're getting healthy and it's a lot of fun to be healthy and able to practice."
Charleston, coached by former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, comes to town with a six-game winning streak. The Cougars' only loss came at Central Florida, and they've beaten Massachusetts, Clemson and Tennessee.
Charleston boasts four double-figure scorers, headed by 6-7 sophomore forward Antwaine Wiggins at 18.1 points per game. He's also averaging 7.0 rebounds and shooting 49.3 percent. Sophomore forward Trent Wiedeman (6-8) leads the team in rebounding at 8.3 and is also producing 12.0 ppg while shooting 51.8 percent. Junior point guard Andrew Lawrence is averaging 13.7 ppg, has 23 steals and owns a stellar assist-to-turnover ratio of 51-18.
"They're very talented, as good as anybody who has come to KFC Yum! this season," Pitino said of the Cougars. "They've played a tough schedule and they know how to play on the road. Lawrence is a tremendous point guard and Wiedeman is going to remind you of (Notre Dame's Luke) Harangody in terms of where he gets his jump shot off and unorthodox moves. He's a heckuva basketball player."
UofL has signed a three-year contract with Charleston. The Cards will play there next season, then host the Cougars again in 2014.
RUSS GETS BIG EAST HONOR
To no one's surprise, UofL sophomore guard Russ Smith was named Big East Player of the Week for his performance against Memphis when he scored 24 points and had seven steals in only the third start of his collegiate career. His steal total tied seven other players for the most in school history. Tick Rogers set the UofL record with 10 against Western Carolina in 1994, while Alvin Sims had nine aginast VCU in 1995.
UConn center Andre Drummond was named Rookie of the Week after posting game highs of 24 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots in a 77-40 rout of Holy Cross. Drummond is averaging 9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg and leads the conference with 3.0 blocks per game.
Florida State NEWS