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Pitino Not Concerned About Denver’s Mile-High Altitude

The University of Louisville Cardinals are making final preparations for their opening NCAA men’s basketball tournament game Thursday in Denver.

Coach Rick Pitino says there’s no doubt that Denver’s mile-high altitude will have some effect on his team, especially given its fast-paced style of play.

“It does, I played there in the pros, it does. Every athlete training for the Olympics will tell you that. But it’s the same for every other team,” he said.

Pitino says his team is well-conditioned and should be able to adjust to the thinner air.

The Cards face Morehead State Thursday at 1:40pm Eastern time. Kentucky also opens tournament play Thursday; the Wildcats face Princeton at approximately 2:45pm in Tampa, Florida.

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Big East Tournament Underway; U of L Plays Thursday

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team opens play Thursday in the Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

The Cards are seeded third in the 16 team tournament and will play either Marquette, Providence or West Virginia in the 9:00pm game Thursday.

Coach Rick Pitino says despite receiving a double-bye, the Cards still have a tough road to the title in a league that will send 11 teams to the NCAA tournament next week.

“Obviously we play hard enough to play close, but we’re not good enough to knock anybody out either. We’ve got to execute at the end of the game, which we didn’t do the other day, but I think that will be an valuable learning experience for us as we move forward,” Pitino said Tuesday.

The Cards blew a five point lead in the final moments of last Saturday’s loss at West Virginia.

In other men’s tournament action this week, Kentucky opens play Friday at 3:30pm in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta.

Indiana meets Penn State Thursday at 7:30pm in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

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Pitino To Cheerleader: Enjoy Your Moment Of Glory

University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino says he placed a call to the Cards cheerleader who was whistled for a technical foul at the end of Sunday’s win against Pittsburgh.

The incident gave Pittsburgh a chance to force the game into a second overtime.

It happened as time was running out in the first overtime and the Cards leading by five points.

Thinking the game was over after a score, cheerleader Jordan Alcazar grabbed the game ball and threw it in the air in celebration. But there was still half a second on the clock, and Alcazar was whistled for a technical foul.   Pittsburgh then made its two free throws but couldn’t hit a game-tying shot at the buzzer.

Pitino says he spoke to Alcazar a few hours later.

“I said ‘look, we won the game, it would have been a big deal if we lost the game, so enjoy your moment of glory and have some fun with it. Twenty years from now your children—keep the footage—your children will be able to laugh about it. It’s very comical now, but don’t do it again,'” Pitino said Tuesday.

Alcazar wasn’t disciplined.

The Cards play their home finale Wednesday against Providence.

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U of L Seniors To Be Honored In Home Finale

Wednesday’s University of Louisville men’s basketball game will be the last home contest for seniors Preston Knowles and George Goode.   

Knowles (right) has matured from a lightly recruited guard from Winchester, Kentucky, to the Cards team captain and leading scorer.

“I think my teammates, the coaching staff, and a lot of people around this program did a great job of helping me become a man,” he said Tuesday.

Goode (below left) is a reserve forward who has played limited minutes, but coach Rick Pitino says he’ll likely see more action now that forward Rakeem Buckles is out for the season with a knee injury.

The two seniors will be honored prior to Wednesday’s home finale against Providence. Tipoff is at 7:00pm.

The Cards finish out their regular season Saturday at West Virginia.

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U of L Faces Butler In Season Opener

By Sheila Ash

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team opens regular season play Tuesday night.

The Cards will host Butler — last season’s NCAA tournament runner-up.

Louisville’s only returning starter junior Jared Swopshire is out with an injury. Pitino says senior guard Preston Knowles will play, but will not start because of an injury suffered a week ago.

Sophomore guard Peyton Siva (pictured) will start and calls this a statement game.

“A lot of people counted us out this year and picked to finish around eighth or tenth in the Big East. This game is just going to show like what we’ve been working on and you know what we can accomplish. It’s really going to show the fans and show everybody else, including ourselves, if we’re able to play with the best and we’re just going to go out there and compete,” he said.

The Cards won their two preseason exhibitions. Butler opened its season last week with an 83-54 win over Marian.

Tip-off is at 8 pm.

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Cards Prepare for Oral Roberts Tomorrow

After two straight home losses, Coach Rick Pitino says he’s re-working some aspects of his team’s strategy. The University of Louisville men’s basketball team fell at Freedom Hall to Charlotte and Western Carolina.

Pitino says it would be easy to point to something like missed free throws as the culprit, but he thinks it’s a bigger problem.

“It’s our transition defense that’s giving up threes, giving up easy shots, and causing us problems, and we’re going to develop a different type of scheme to make sure we don’t have those problems anymore,” says Pitino, “and it’ll give us time to improve some of the weaknesses we have, and take our time with it, so this is a welcome time of year for us.”

Pitino says they’ll address those problems in the now-unlimited practice time they can have because of the Christmas holiday.

The 5-3 Cards face 6-5 Oral Roberts next – tomorrow evening at Freedom Hall.