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Pitino Announces Staff Changes

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has announced two new additions to his staff and a new role for a current staff member.

Kareem Richardson (at left in photo) is the Cards’ new assistant coach, a vacancy that was created by the departure of associate coach Richard Pitino to Florida International University two weeks ago.

Rick Pitino says Richardson has become a top-level recruiter during his 15 year coaching career, most recently at Xavier.

“Recruiting is always the number one dynamic in hiring an assistant. And then I always say I hire future head coaches,” Pitino said.

Pitino also announced that former Cards’ player Andre McGee has been promoted from program assistant to director of basketball operations, and Doug Davenport (at right in photo) is the team’s new director of video operations.

Davenport is the son of former Cards’ assistant and current Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport.

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Cards’ Final Four Celebration Set For Tuesday

University of Louisville basketball fans will get a chance to celebrate the team’s Final Four run tomorrow with a public event at Fourth Street Live.

Coach Rick Pitino says it will be the Cards’ first opportunity to publicly thank fans for their support.

U of L went on an eight game winning streak in the post-season to reach the national semifinals in New Orleans, where the Cards were eliminated by eventual champion Kentucky.

“I think it’s awesome to have two teams from a small state in the Final Four playing each other. It’s history, we’re part of history now. I’d like it to happen again. I just want the score to be reversed next time around,” Pitino said at a Monday press conference.

Pitino also announced that guard Elisha Justice is transferring to the University of Pikeville and forward Jared Swopshire will play his final collegiate season at Northwestern.

Associate Coach Richard Pitino (left) is also leaving Louisviille and his father’s staff. He’ll be the new head coach at Florida International.    

“We’re trying to get him in here to play next season,” Rick Pitino joked. “Because I never spanked him as a child and I want to give him a good spanking when he comes back in here.”

Pitino says he’s in no particular hurry to fill the job, although he has several candidates in mind.

The Cards’ Fourth Street Live celebration begins at 5:30pm Tuesday.

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Cards/Cats Showdown Puts Commonwealth in Bright Spotlight

The University of Louisville/University of Kentucky rivalry will reach new heights Saturday night when the Cards and the Cats clash in the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans.

Some are calling it the biggest sporting event in the commonwealth’s history.

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This has the feel of a Kentucky Derby week, with the national media lens on Louisville and Lexington, focused not on thoroughbreds, but on what makes this basketball rivalry so intense.

Rick Pitino is in the unique position of having coached both teams. First, eight years at Kentucky and now eleven seasons in Louisville. This week he explained the fan demographics to an out of town questioner.

“We’re sort of limited to our city. They have as many fans in our city. It ends up with a lot of bad marriages. A lot of mixed marriages that end up bad. You have a Louisville woman with a Kentucky man and it always ends bad,” he joked.

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NCAA; UK and IU Meet Tonight; U of L and Florida Play Sunday for Final Four Berth

The men’s NCAA basketball tournament resumes this evening with Kentucky and Indiana squaring off in a South Region semifinal in Atlanta.  

Tipoff is at 9:45pm.

Kentucky is the tournament’s overall number one seed, but the Hoosiers handed the Wildcats the first of their two defeats this season in December.   

The Louisville Cardinals are one victory away from their first Final Four appearance since 2005.

Coach Rick Pitino’s team takes on Florida tomorrow in the West Region final in Phoenix. The Gators are coached by Billy Donovan, who played for Pitino at Providence 25 years ago and was his coaching protégé at Kentucky.

“I do think the game is really about the players that are playing in the game, that are going to be competing on Saturday. Because both teams have earned the right to play. The competition part of it will never, ever get in the way, for me, of our relationship, ever,” Donovan said.

U of L and Florida will tip off at 4:30pm tomorrow.  

In the women’s NCAA tournament, the Kentucky Wildcats return to action in the Sweet Sixteen round Sunday, taking on Gonzaga.

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NCAA: U of L Wins; UK and IU Meet Friday; Bellarmine Eliminated

The Louisville Cardinals are one victory away from their first NCAA Final Four appearance since 2005.

U of L upset Michigan State 57-44 last night to advance to the Elite Eight round of the men’s basketball tournament and will face Florida Saturday in Phoenix. Tipoff is 4:30pm Eastern time. The game will pit Cards coach Rick Pitino against his protege, Gators’ coach Billy Donovan.

Chane Behanan led the Cards in scoring with 15 points and Gorgui Dieng added nine blocked shots.

The Kentucky Wildcats and Indiana Hoosiers square off tonight in the South Region semifinals in Atlanta.

Indiana won the teams’ regular season meeting in December. IU coach Tom Crean says the Wildcats are playing better as a unit.

“As good as each individual player is on the team, I think it’s a great credit to (UK Coach) John (Calipari) in a way that no matter who’s there, no matter who’s not there, they continue to play at a really high level,” Crean said.

Many are predicting that this is UK’s year to win the title, but Calipari says that’s the expectation from the Wildcat fan base every season.

“And I love our fans. They’re crazy. They watch the game tapes three times. I don’t watch the game tapes three times. But that’s coaching and playing at Kentucky. It’s a little different, let me say that,” he said.

Kentucky and Indiana will tip off at 9:45 tonight.

In the men’s Division II tournament, defending champ Bellarmine’s quest for a second straight national title came to an end last night as the Knights fell to Montevallo of Alabama 79-72 in a Final Four game.

Montevallo will take on Western Washington Saturday for the championship.

(Photo courtesy of NCAA/Getty Images)

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College Basketball: Cards Visit Pitt Saturday

In college basketball this weekend, the Louisville Cardinals are on the road tomorrow night at Pittsburgh. U of L has lost three of its last four games; the Panthers have dropped seven straight.

Cards’ coach Rick Pitino said today he wasn’t sure if leading scorer Kyle Kuric will play. Kuric sat out the last two games with a high ankle sprain.

Tipoff is at 9:00pm tomorrow.

The Kentucky Wildcats return to action tomorrow in Lexington, where they’ll take on Alabama at noon. Indiana hosts Penn State on Sunday.

Murray State visits Southern Illinois-Edwardsville tomorrow (Sat) night. The number 14 Racers are 19-0 and one of two remaining undefeated Division One teams in the country. The other is top-ranked Syracuse.

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U of L’s Buckles Out For Season With Second Knee Injury

University of Louisville basketball player Rakeem Buckles will miss the rest of this season and all of next season after injuring his left knee during yesterday’s game at Marquette.

The junior forward suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will undergo surgery in the next few weeks.

Buckles had just recovered from a torn ACL in his right knee suffered last February against Pittsburgh. He played an average of 13 minutes in the 11 games since his return this season, averaging 4.0 points and 3.8 rebounds as a reserve. He made his only start of the season against Memphis, totaling 12 points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.

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Pitino: Kuric Out For DePaul Game With Ankle Sprain

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino says leading scorer Kyle Kuric won’t play tomorrow against DePaul after suffering a high ankle sprain in practice.

The Cardinals have lost four of their last five games, including a 31 point blowout Tuesday night at Providence.

Pitino says he understands fans’ frustration with the team’s struggles, but the Cards need their support to recover from a 1 and 3 start in Big East Conference play.

U of L has had seven players miss at least one game with health or eligibility issues this season.

Pitino bristled at suggestions raised in a Courier-Journal article that his players are feeling the effects of overwork in practice, saying he doesn’t push his players any harder than other coaches.

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Pitino, ’87 Providence Final Four Team To Be Honored

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team returns to action tomorrow evening at Providence College.

This particular trip to Rhode Island will be a special one for U of L coach Rick Pitino.

It’s been 25 years since Pitino coached Providence to its improbable run to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.

Pitino had left his job as a New York Knicks assistant to take over the flagging Providence program the previous season.

Led by Billy Donovan and Delray Brooks (pictured, from left, with Pitino)  and using the newly-allowed three point shot, Pitino’s lightly-regarded Friars knocked off Alabama and Georgetown to reach the national semifinals, where they were eliminated by Syracuse.

It put Providence and Pitino on the college basketball map.

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Unbeaten Cards To Host College of Charleston

The University of Louisville basketball team is off to its best start in 15 years.

The Cards are 10-0 heading into tomorrow’s game against the College of Charleston.

Coach Rick Pitino says his team is spending its holiday break preparing for its final stretch of non-conference games, then the Big East race.

“We can rest our players, practice hard, get a lot of different individual instructions in. We can go recruiting at night. It’s a great time of year because the players are not under pressure with their academics,” Pitino said.

U of L has four games left in the 2011 calendar year, including a New Year’s Eve visit to the University of Kentucky.

Tomorrow’s game against the College of Charleston tips off at 9:00pm at the KFC Yum Center.