CRAWFORD | Louisville's first hoops exhibition -- Eight Men Out - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville's first hoops exhibition -- Eight Men Out

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Rick Pitino has done this in exhibition games before. Press every possession with a short rotation, try to run the legs out from under his starters, and see how they respond to an inferior opponent while playing under the effects of fatigue.

Pitino stayed true to his pledge to use a short rotation — only eight players saw meaningful minutes in the University of Louisville's first exhibition game of the 2014-15 season — a 91-71 win over Barry in the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday. (Click box score at right to enlarge)

When questioned on a playing-time decision, Pitino shot back, “I can't play everybody. . . . I've got to work on getting ready for Minnesota. It's a different schedule this year, so I can't.”

TRANSCRIPT: Pitino news conference after the victory over Barry

If you were looking to be blown away, you're almost certainly still looking. Barry grabbed 15 of the game's first 20 rebounds and collected 29 offensive rebounds in the game.

The final 53-41 rebounding disparity to Barry, an NCAA Division II team, and the lesson it will help Pitino drive home, was the main benefit of the game, according to the coach.

“Barry did us a great favor coming in here because from our practice tapes each day we've realized where our weaknesses lie,” Pitino said. “One was the turnover area, and we were much better tonight. The second area was our rebounding and Barry did us a great favor.

“. . . Sometimes a dad can keep saying, ‘Don't go in that neighborhood, don't go in that neighborhood, you'll get in trouble, don't go in that neighborhood.' And then finally they'll get in trouble and say, ‘Why didn't I listen to my dad?'  So sometimes coaching-wise you tell them a weakness from everyday watching film and practice, but until the game starts, they don't realize it. Now, we've got their attention.”

It's a veteran group, not a team that should struggle with a fundamental aspect of the game. But Pitino said it was a technique issue that hampered his team's effort on the boards. He said his players were drifting toward the rim on perimeter shots, then were out of position to run down long rebounds. Some drills on blocking out and following the flight of the ball should help address it.

Regardless, junior Montrezl Harrell said he was going to address it on his own. He finished with 18 points and five rebounds.

“We got outrebounded. By Barry,” he said, pausing to let that sink in. “That's not acceptable. I'm not happy with myself. I'm not happy with anybody else. We just need to work on our technique and effort. And we will.”

Otherwise, Pitino said he was fairly pleased with what he saw.

The Cards shot 52.1 percent from the field. Wayne Blackshear made 9 of 15 shots from the field and led the Cardinals with 22 points. Terry Rozier had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

“I don't think necessarily I was happy with any individual,” Pitino said. “I thought Wayne was very aggressive, but he didn't go to the offensive glass, and that's something he has to do. I thought we did some good things passing the ball. But I wasn't really happy with any specific player. I tried not to focus in on that as much as I did the ball movement, the defensive help, the rotations. I think I can get to eight guys on a rotation.”

For Pitino, the key areas of progress were in turnovers — the Cards committed only 12 turnovers, while forcing 20. He liked the team's ball movement, and his team's conditioning.

“It was a good exhibition game for us, it really was, because they're a well-coached team, a well-drilled team, they run good sets, and I know exactly now what I felt that we need to work on, and it solidified everything in my mind,” Pitino said. “. . . Obviously, we're not running a lot of our sets right now. Our early opponents, we don't want to give them too much, every game is some form of television. So we're not going to show as much as we would for a regular game.”

The Cards return to exhibition play next Sunday against Bellarmine in the KFC Yum! Center.

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