Posted: 8:05 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
By Mike Rutherford
The first 2013-14 installment of The Rick Pitino Radio Show took place from the Buffalo Wild Wings in Middletown Wednesday night, and the coach left Cardinal fans with plenty to marinate on.
Here are the highlights:
--The guys are working really hard, but we're just way behind where I anticipated we'd be. We're constantly having to stop practice to teach offense and defense in a tedious way because we have so many newcomers. Russ is the only guy we have right now who played 30 or more minutes last year. Wayne is healthy, which is great, but Luke's not and Chane is gone.
--Montrezl Harrell looks flat-out awesome, but the other guys who didn't play big minutes last year are way behind.
--Luke Hancock hasn't been able to practice at all yet, and he'll probably miss the first couple of games of the season.
--The starting backcourt as of right now is Terry Rozier and Tim Henderson. That's the way it was today in practice. You'd think Chris Jones and Russ Smith will be starters for next week's exhibition against Kentucky Wesleyan, but you never know. Has no idea what the starting five will be once the season starts.
--Russ is not starting right now because he's had a few nagging injuries. He had a very good practice today and could start Tuesday in the exhibition game.
--The most important thing for Russ in his effort to make it to the NBA is that he do two things: cut down on the turnovers and cut out three or four bad shots per game. He's fine the way he is by me, but that's what he needs to do for himself going forward.
--You can't change Russ, but you'd like him to realize that 1-on-2 is advantage Russ, 1-on-3 is semi-advantage Russ, but 1-on-4 is pass the ball, Russ.
--Doesn't think Charlie Strong's name has actually come up for NFL jobs, think that's just rumors. He's very content at Louisville and with the move to the ACC, plus he has a massive buyout.
--Montrezl Harrell has made the most improvement of any player over the offseason. He has that same incredible motor and he's improved his jump shot immensely.
--Chris Jones and Terry Rozier will probably have the biggest impact of the newcomers. If you asked me who I was the happiest with on the team right now, I'd say Montrezl would be first and Terry would be second. They give me what I call a "professional effort" every single day. For a freshman to do that is incredible.
--Terry Rozier and Anton Gill both have tremendous attitudes. Akoy Agau doesn't have a bad attitude, he just gets a little too deflated when he makes mistakes right now.
--The personalities of guys like Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng are irreplaceable. I still text them every day.
--Wayne needs to try to not just fit in anymore, he needs to try to be great. He has a lot more confidence now, but he needs to get that killer instinct. We played him at the four all day today, and he's struggling with it right now, but we think he can play there.
--It was a very special spring and summer. Anytime you win a championship, if you don't celebrate, it wasn't the right thing to do. I try to celebrate everything. I think it's the only way to handle adversity and success, because there are a lot of days that are very difficult to handle in this game of life.
--Mangok Mathiang is probably a better athlete than Gorgui was as a freshman, but Gorgui had better basketball instincts.
--Last year's team is probably his all-time favorite.
--The next horse Pitino buys will be named after Montrezl Harrell (I'll give anything for it to just be named "Horsel" and have track announcers be forced to pronounce it "Horse"). His last two horses are "Cardinal Strong" and "Three-Point Luke."
--(On Tom Jurich's decision to keep Clint Hurtt) The easiest thing for Tom to do would have been to fire Clint Hurtt, but he wouldn't do that. Tom will never say this, but I know that Clint went to Tom two years ago and told him about the mistakes he made at Miami and promised he would never break any rules at Louisville. As a result, Tom put those recruiting restrictions on Clint and made sure he was totally compliant. So what do you do in that situation? Fire him for past problems that he already told you about even though he's been honest and done all the right things here? Tom opened himself to criticism by doing what he thinks is the right thing. It's very easy for the media to knock him for that because Tom isn't going to tell you all the details, he's just going to take the hit and move on.
--Kevin Ware looks good right now. He's going through about 15 minutes of practice a day right now and we're about to move that up to 20. Fred Hina is the best trainer in America and he knows exactly what to do to get these guys ready.
--It won't take Kevin too long to get back into the flow of things once he's fully healthy because he understands the game of basketball so well. He's a lot like Luke in that regard.
--The AAC is going to be a great basketball league, and the best thing about it is that you're going to have a true regular season champion because of the balanced schedule.
--(On whether his wife likes his tattoo and if he might get another one) "Yeah, she wakes me up every night in the middle of the night just so she can look at it. No, I'm joking." I don't think I'll be getting any more tattoos. That was a once in a lifetime thing for me to do something that spontaneous.