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COLLEGE COACH: PREVIEW Q&A's

College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

shawn@collegehoops.net

July 20th, 2006

 

Louisville: Rick Pitino

 

It took four seasons, for Rick Pitino to take Louisville into the Final Four.  But in his fifth year, after the Cardinals lost a lot of experienced players,  the team started slowly and finished with a 21-13 record.  This year, despite the graduation of Taquan Dean, the coaching staff and fans alike have high hopes for another deep postseason run.  We'd like to thank one of the most accomplished coaches in NCAA history for taking the time out to chat with CHN.

 

 ***


CHN: What do you expect the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team to be?


RP:  I think depth will be a strength for us, as will being a very hungry and dedicated team.  I think this team is very hungry to rebound from last year’s NIT team a year ago.   We didn’t deserve the early rankings we had last year because those numbers were based on our Final Four team from the previous season.  I think this group has show that they’re very hungry and very dedicated.  I don’t know of a glaring weakness we would have without seeing our team together in practice.

 

CHN: Talk for a moment about which of your guys deserve more credit for working hard in practice, in the workout room, and being leaders off the court:

 

RP:  One of the reason’s that we had an average to good team last season was that we did not have good leadership.  That’s not a knock on our captains, but we had a very young team and no one really stepped up to show leadership.  That’s an area we hope to improve upon.  Our players have always been great about giving great effort in practice.
 

CHN: Discuss the incoming guys for a bit. Who will make the biggest impact?

RP:  Edgar Sosa will probably battle Andre McGee for the starting point guard position.  Even if he doesn’t start, he’ll play significant minutes and play a major factor on our team.  Jerry Smith is healthy after suffering a foot injury and he’ll see a lot of playing time at the ‘two” and possibly the “one.”  Earl Clark will play a lot at the wing position.  How far along he comes in gaining strength will be the biggest factor in determining his playing time.  Derrick Caracter is very talented but is just the opposite of Earl.  He needs to lose weight and get into shape for the first time in his life.

 

CHN: How hard will it be to replace Taquan Dean?

 

RP:  Taquan Dean (Louisville's lone senior last year), the junior, will be very hard to replace.  He was behind the eight ball a little bit as a senior.  He didn’t have the same experienced talent around him last year, so he was keyed on a lot.  He didn’t really get a chance to showcase his abilities because he was a focus of opposing defenses.  Our injuries limited our effectiveness in the low post and we didn’t have anyone to get him shots that weren’t difficult.  I think Terrence Williams and Juan Palacios have the most promise in having a breakout year this season.

 

CHN: Which of your guys is ready to take their game to the next level?


RP:  Terrance Farley probably gained the most of any player on the team last year from the injuries we sustained as a team.  He got the chance to be a starter and play a lot of valuable minutes.  He’s probably going to make the most significant improvement from last year from what he gained on the court.  If he ever becomes really passionate about the game, the sky’s the limit to how good he can become. He’s someone who could rebound and block shots with about anyone in the country.

CHN: What other coaches really helped you reach the level of success you’re at now?  How does their advice and teachings still help you to this day?

RP:  Hubie Brown had the greatest impact on my life.  I’ve been a very big admirer of Pat Riley.  He’s from the Hubie Brown school of thinking from the statistical standpoint, preparation, scouting, defense.  With the exception of the way they dress, they’re very similar.  Hubie had the most impact on my basketball life.  I’ve been a big admirer of what Pat accomplishes at the pro level.  I believe in a lot of his system in the way he prepares and does things.

CHN:
What are your realistic goals and hopes for this season?

 

RP:  I have very high expectations for this team.  They were very low last year because of what I saw in our individual workouts and team practices in the fall.  It shows on the court.  I think this team is very hungry again and we have great depth.  Depth is very important to any basketball team, particularly with the way we like to play.  We have not been able to play at the tempo we want to over the last few years because of a lack of depth.  We’re a very deep basketball team right now with gifted athletes.

 

CHN: Thanks coach.

 

Don't forget you can obtain more information on the University of  Louisville at UofLsports.com and on head coach Rick Pitino at RickPitino.com.

 

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