Just when one has filed a University of Louisville basketball player in the marginal to wasted category, Rick Pitino does his thing, getting inside the player’s head, pointing out the obvious, showing him ways to get better, making him a contributor.
Yes, sometimes Pitino must go back to the well many times, taking a while for a player to grasp the obvious. He knows the players better than they do, so he often has to introduce and educate them about themselves.
- Who would have believed three weeks ago that Samardo Samuels would ever get the post-up move down so well, consistently connecting on hook shots or becoming a reliable rebounder. And how about the recent emotion, the smiles, even laughter from the shy one, and the swagger. Samuels is all in, believing in himself.
- Too soon to know whether Jerry Smith of the UConn game is the new one. He’s the last player one expects to be dribble driving, being an offensive force, with few vestiges of his three-point prowess remaining. Pitino says the three-point drought has made him a better player.
- Edgar Sosa’s tears after the Pittsburgh game may have had something to do with the decisions against UConn, finding his teammates with eight assists while hitting six of nine shots himself. More than enough points to go around, and he’s much happier.
- Terrence Jennings is still way behind on the learning curve but those blocked shots always seem to come at the right time. Pitino says he will be a very good basketball player. Trust him.
- Reginald Delk is enjoying the game, now that he’s more than a spot shooter, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal to go with his 10 points.
- Credit one Stephen Van Treese with some valuable relief work during his six minutes in the first half, getting schooled by the UConn big men, collecting three fouls destined for Samuels or Jennings.
- You can bet that Pitino is focused on Jared Swopshire, the player who hit the three-point shot from the corner but thinks too much and leaves other shooters open too often. Pitino is on the case.