CRAWFORD | Pitino says Cards' preparations for Puerto Rico trip - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Pitino says Cards' preparations for Puerto Rico trip are off to good start

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Louisville coach Rick Pitino talks to young players at the Robbie Valentine Summer Basketball Camp. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford). Louisville coach Rick Pitino talks to young players at the Robbie Valentine Summer Basketball Camp. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford).

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The summer basketball season is under way for the University of Louisville men’s basketball team, which began preparations for its scheduled tour of Puerto Rico on Monday with double-practice sessions.

Coach Rick Pitino, who was back in town from working with the Puerto Rican National Team for a Sunday team meeting and Monday’s workouts, said Tuesday that he likes what he saw in the initial practices.

The Cardinals visit Puerto Rico from August 10 to 17 and reportedly will play nine games — including several split-squad contests — against Puerto Rican competition. Pitino stopped to speak with reporters after conducting a short clinic at a camp run by former Cardinal Robbie Valentine at the KFC Yum! Center.

“We went double-sessions, then gave them off today believe it or not, because we’re going to spread it out a little bit so we don’t have a lot of injuries,” Pitino said. “But from yesterday’s double sessions, I would say they’re in good shape. I was very impressed with the two newcomers, they’re the ones that stood out, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis stood out the most. (Freshman center) Ray Spalding stood out defensively. He had the highest number of deflections in the practice, and you don’t often see freshmen accomplish that.”

Pitino went through a rough experience with his Puerto Rican team in the Pan Am Games, but said the experience was useful. He estimates 3-4 players at most from that team will be a part of the national team he eventually puts together.
  
“I learned an awful lot with the Pan Am games,” he said. “I knew we were going to get killed because we were going in there with players that weren’t going to make the national team. The Puerto Rican team is undersized, we don’t have much height, but the national team will have outstanding guards, and we’re quick. And the great thing is that by the time we (Louisville) go to Puerto Rico, Louisville versus Puerto Rico will be a hell of a game. It’ll be like playing an ACC team at the high level, so I’m excited about that.”

Despite the lopsided losses in Toronto, Pitino said he came away from the Pan Am Games, his first international coaching experience, upbeat.

“It was great for me from a scouting standpoint to see what we’re up against,” he said. “Even to scout the teams we weren’t playing and finally get film on them. So going into the World Games I’ll now know what they run, and not only will I know what they run, but I learned a lot from the motion. The only thing different about them is they have 6-11, 6-10 guys who step out and shoot more threes than they do inside. I would say 10 percent of the offenses are (built around the) post game. The other 90 percent are all perimeter oriented. So I learned an awful lot form their style. I don’t necessarily think it’s suited for our style (at U of L). But there are 2-3 sets I picked up that I would implement in our style.”

The logistics of coaching two teams don’t appear to have hurt Pitino’s energy level.

“We’re going to practice 8-10 in the morning, then the Puerto Rico team goes 11 to 1:30, then we go back from 4 to 6, the Puerto Ricans come back from 6 to 7:15, then film, dinner, pass out,” Pitino said.

Broadcast and radio arrangements for U of L’s upcoming trip to Puerto Rico are pending, as are official game times.

Via his Facebook page, WHAS Radio's Terry Meiners released this tentative schedule on Monday. All events are subject to change until an official announcement is made.

Aug. 10 -- Leave from Louisville for Puerto Rico

Aug 11 - 5:30 p.m. Louisville vs Puerto Rico Junior Team; 8 pm Louisville vs Puerto Rico National Team (Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan)

Aug 12 - 5:30 p.m. Louisville vs Puerto Rico Junior Team; 8 pm Louisville vs Puerto Rico National Team (Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan)

Aug 13 - 8 p.m. Louisville vs Puerto Rico Junior Team (Mario Morales Coliseum in Guaynabo, PR)

Aug 14 - 8 p.m. Louisville vs Puerto Rico National Team (Municipal Coliseum, Manati Ave, Manati, PR)

Aug 15 - 5:30 p.m. Louisville vs Puerto Rico Junior Team; 8 pm Louisville vs Puerto National Team (Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, PR)

Aug 16 - 8 p.m. Louisville vs Puerto Rico National Team (Emilio E. Huyke Coliseum, Humacao, PR)

Aug 17 - Return to Louisville

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