CRAWFORD | Mack throws out first pitch for Louisville -- but it wasn't his biggest pitch of the day
Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack met with reporters before throwing out the first pitch at a Cardinals' baseball game.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – New University of Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Cardinals’ baseball game against Western Kentucky, but it wasn’t even close to his first pitch as U of L coach.
Those have come to prospects far and wide, to high school standouts and graduate transfers.
So far, Mack has yet to throw a strike. Earlier in the day, before Mack’s appearance on the baseball diamond, South Carolina-Upstate guard Mike Cunningham picked Oklahoma State. Keyshawn Woods, a Wake Forest transfer who talked to Louisville coaches last week, is headed to Ohio State.
If highly touted Missouri Mr. Basketball Courtney Ramey, who reportedly visited with Louisville coaches on campus Tuesday, decides to renew an earlier commitment to the Cardinals, Mack will have demonstrated a pretty effective fastball to begin his U of L recruiting efforts.
Either way, the philosophy remains the same. Fill some holes in the Louisville backcourt with the best players he can get for next season, then look ahead. After months of minimal recruiting and a period of repeated scandals, it's not the easiest engine to jump-start.
“My best pitch? It’s not going to be out on the baseball diamond I can tell you that,” Mack said. “We just want to get the best players we can for Louisville next year. And then hopefully sow the seeds for future Cardinals in the class of 2019, 2020 and beyond. You never stop recruiting.”
In the meantime, Mack continues to get to know his current Louisville roster. He had a brief period of individual instruction. Now the players are in conditioning, weight training under new strength coach Andy Kettler, and working on their own in the gym.
“We didn’t do a whole lot on the court, but I really liked our guys’ attitude, both in the weight room and on the court, and in the classroom,” Mack said. “Really since I’ve taken over I’ve felt really comfortable with our group. I think they’re a very eager group, a hard-working group, and got a good energy and spirit about them. So I’m excited. It’s going to be a big summer for our team.”
As for their adjustment to a new strength and conditioning staff, Mack said he hasn’t had much chance to gauge the difference.
“It’s different. It’s very taxing,” Mack said. “In fairness to them and Ray (Ganong) they weren’t really doing much in the weight room because they’d gone through the grind of a regular season, so that’s only natural. But, you know, I texted (Ryan) McMahon, ‘Hey I haven’t seen you in the gym’ over the course of a weekend, and they’d had lifting on Thursday and lifting on Friday, and I told him I hadn’t seen him on Saturday or Sunday in the gym. He said, ‘Coach, I couldn’t move.’ So I’m hoping that’s a sign of good things to come in getting bigger and stronger.”
Mack said he hasn’t had much chance to unpack his bags.
“I haven’t been on the campus that much,” he said. “I’ve been on the job, but I’ve been on the road recruiting, back and forth to Cincinnati a couple of times, and interviewing candidates for a couple of positions. I’m steadily getting my feet under me, and every day that goes by I feel a little bit more adjusted.”
Mack hit catcher Vince Tyra with a pitch that was just off the plate but, most importantly, not in the dirt.
But everyone in the stadium knew, it was far from his most important pitch of the day.
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