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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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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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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.

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Pitino Seeks 600th Win In Season Opener

The University of Louisville basketball team opens regular season play tomorrow night, hosting the University of Tennessee at Martin.    

Coach Rick Pitino is seeking the 600th victory of his collegiate head coaching career that began at Boston University in 1978.     

I’ve enjoyed every aspect of it,” Pitino said today of his overall coaching career, which also included stints with the NBA’s New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

“The only time I didn’t enjoy was the Celtic times, because we were losing. I think (NBA coach) Pat Riley always quotes it best when he says, for a coach, it’s winning and misery. If you lose, it’s misery, especially in the pros, because you have so many games,”

U of L is ranked number nine in the AP pre-season poll.

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U of L Basketball Team To Play In Bahamas This Week

The University of Louisville basketball team will play four games in the Bahamas this week.

The Cards will play two professional teams and conduct two Red-White scrimmages starting Wednesday in Nassau.

The NCAA allows teams to go on a foreign tour every four years.

U of L Coach Rick Pitino says what’s more valuable is the ten practices he gets to conduct that are not ordinarily permitted.

“I think every coach will tell you that the practices are much more beneficial than the games. You can tell more from practice. You’re not sure about the competition, but the two Red-White games will be very good for us,” he said.

Pitino says injured veterans Jared Swopshire and Rakeem Buckles won’t make the trip but should be ready to play this fall.

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Local News Next Louisville

Dominican Team To Face Former UK Players In KFC Yum! Center

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for an exhibition basketball game later this month at the KFC Yum! Center featuring the Dominican national team.

Some U of L fans are rankled that the visitors to the new home of the Cards will be coached by UK’s John Calipari, and their opponents will be a team of former Wildcats.

Calipari is coaching the Dominicans against a squad of former UK players now in the pros. The teams’ August 15 game in Lexington quickly sold out, so Calipari scheduled a second game at the Yum Center the following night.

That’s not sitting well with some U of L fans, but the Yum! Center is a state-owned facility and the basketball program has no control over off-season scheduling.

Cards Coach Rick Pitino said this week it’s no big deal.

“We don’t pay any attention to our competitors, except when it’s time to play them and I really mean that sincerely, it’s no different than Villanova or West Virginia or anyone else. It’s a free country. And the KFC (Yum! Center) last time I checked was part of this country,” he said.     

The team of professionals will be coached by retired U of L Coach Denny Crum. Crum’s radio show partner, former UK Coach Joe Hall, will assist Calipari with the Dominican team.

That team includes two former Louisville players.

(Photo of Denny Crum and Joe B. Hall courtesy of WKRD Radio)

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Local News Next Louisville

Keatts Named U of L Assistant Basketball Coach

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has named a third new assistant coach for the program.  

Kevin Keatts has been head coach for the past eight seasons at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia, where his teams have won two national prep championships and have been in the title game three other times.

Keatts is the third new assistant Pitino has hired this week.   His son, Richard, is returning to the staff after two years in Florida.   The other vacancy will be filled by New Mexico assistant coach Wyking Jones.

The openings were created by the departure of two assistants to other universities and the shifting of a third assistant to another position at U of L.

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Local News Next Louisville

Richard Pitino Returns To U of L Staff

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has filled two assistant coaching vacancies on his staff.   

Pitino announced today that his son Richard (right) will return to Louisville after two years as an assistant at Florida. He was previously a U of L assistant from 2007 to 2009.

Also joining the staff is Wyking Jones, a former Nike traveling team manager who most recently was an assistant at New Mexico.

Rick Pitino says a third assistant will be hired soon.

“All three guys (are) going to hit the road running. We had an outstanding top ten recruiting class last year, we want to come back with another top ten recruiting class this year. We want all three guys to be able to do that,” he said.

Pitino says earlier reports that his son would return as a coach-in-waiting at U of L were incorrect.

(Photos courtesy of www.uoflsports.com)