LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack will return to practice Tuesday and coach the Cardinals Wednesday night against Syracuse as the team returns from a 16-day pause forced by the novel coronavirus.
But the Cardinals will be without two unnamed scholarship players as well as one walk-on against the Orange because of COVID protocols. Assistant coach Dino Gaudio declined to name the players who will not play. The Cards and Syracuse will play at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the KFC Yum! Center.
Gaudio said that Mack, who tested positive on Feb. 6, was feeling better and had been in constant communication with the staff.
"He might be feeling too well," Gaudio said. "Because he's telling us he's watching practice and it's just grating on him that he can't be here."
Although Louisville (11-4) has not played since the Cardinals defeated Georgia Tech, 74-58, on Feb. 1, Gaudio said the staff has tried to turn the downtime into a positive. The Cardinals missed nine days of practice before returning last Friday.
“It’s a little bit of a psychological game with the players,” Gaudio said. “We’ve told them to never underestimate fresh legs and fresh minds.”
Gaudio described Louisville’s Sunday practice as excellent and said the players have done extra running and shooting.
"We had them run a bunch of 22s (from one end of the court to the other four times)," Gaudio said. "We told them, 'Fellas, this isn't punishment. This is trying to get us back into basketball and playing shape.' "
Gaudio said injured forward Malik Williams has returned to practice and participated in team shooting drills for the first time Sunday. Williams also participated in a single 5-on-5 drill.
Williams has missed the entire season with a broken foot. Gaudio said Williams will need time and practice reps to return to top form.
"The medical staff said his foot has healed," Gaudio said. "He feels pretty good knock on wood ... this a young man who in essence has not played in a year. So I think before he comes back and plays, he has to do a little more in practice."
Louisville is also scheduled to play at North Carolina Saturday.
"Anything could change in 48 hours but from our end, I think we're fine," Gaudio said. "We tested Friday and Saturday. Couldn't test on Sunday because the lab wasn't open. We tested again this morning. The latter three we've had all negatives.
"So I think we're in a good place and hopefully Syracuse is as well. As of whatever it is right now, 11:45 Monday morning, we're anticipating that we're playing the game."
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