So Rick Pitino is experimenting with his starting lineup entering Thursday’s exhibition basketball game with Kentucky Wesleyan. The starting lineup for Louisville will feature Stephan Van Treese at center, and Gorgui Dieng and Chris Smith at the forward spots.

Not Terrence Jennings, whose billboard-sized poster adorns the new KFC Yum! Center lobby.

Nor Kyle Kuric, the Freedom Hall legend, reigning homecoming king, big man on campus.

Or Rakeem Buckles, whose energy  seems to  know no bounds.

Not even Mike Marra, he with the great shooting expectations.

What is Pitino up to anyway? Does he have so much or so little talent available that it makes no difference who he starts? Or are the skills levels equally dispersed?

He says the second unit has beaten the heretofore starting unit about 55 percent of the time in scrimmages. That could be a bad thing or a good thing. The answer won’t be obvious until UofL gets past the patsies in the first couple of weeks.

One thing certain, however, is that Pitino is up to his old tricks, playing mind games with his players, the media and the fans. Keeping everybody guessing, doing the opposite of what’s expected, sometimes the opposite of what he says he’s going to do.

Welcome back to basketball, Pitino style.

Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Pitino keeps everybody guessing

  • November 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm
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    Sounds like it’s a fitting reward for busting your buns in practice every day–and maybe a dig at the ones who aren’t. More power to the coach, if that’s what he is doing.
    Who is going to make TJ or Rakeem better this year? I am guessing that the coaches have done all they can, and the rest is going to have to come from inside the players themselves. If it takes mind games–Rick is the master. And after a splendid recruiting class at last–well, the present players better be looking over their shoulders and getting it done. Barring injuries, the Cards are going to surprise the Big East this year. Go Cards!

  • November 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm
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    If this game was not an exhibition game this would worry me. Seeing as we are playing in a game that doesn’t matter I am happy with the changes. These 3 guys are all wild cards because we have not seen them very often against other teams(neither has Pitino). What better time to see if they can become legitimate contributers(at least in minutes)than tonight?

    Against NKU I was impressed with Chris Smith who was in constant attack mode. This is a nice change of pace from the timid play that was often shown last year.

    Dieng did not look that bad all things considered. Am I calling for him to start? Absolutely not. It is clear however that he is not that far off from being a player that can consistently contribute. All he needs is playing time. Tonight for example.

    SVT fits nicely into Pitino’s offence. Success come when the perimeter, not the interior, of the offence become the focal point. Having to pound the ball into Samardo last year killed momentum(especially when he started dribbling which seemed to be an automatic turnover). SVT is good at rebounding, dishing the ball to the open man on the perimeter, and sometimes for scoring. I will take that.

    I think that the veterans will be the starters when the season starts, but I believe that tonights plan is to see how good the depth is behind them. It will also serve as a motivator to TJ specifically who looked like he was on Auto-pilot against NKU. I see only good things coming from tonight. This is just my opinion of course so feel free to disagree with me.

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