Louisville-Coll. of Charleston Preview
Charleston has already surprised one Top 25 team this season,
and coach Rick Pitino and Louisville aren’t taking the Cougars
The Cardinals’ latest performance is another reason why.
Pitino wants to see improvement defensively as the fifth-ranked
Cardinals play their first true road game Tuesday night against
Charleston (5-2) has won four in a row behind strong defensive
play, allowing 39.2 percent shooting from the field – including
25.6 percent from beyond the arc. That stretch includes a 63-59 win
at then-No. 24 Baylor on Nov. 24, and that performance isn’t lost
He also may be wary of the matchup after Louisville (6-1)
narrowly avoided an upset of its own Saturday in beating Illinois
State 69-66, as the Redbirds missed two potential game-tying 3s in
the final seconds.
Plus, Charleston put a scare into the Cardinals last Dec. 20,
losing 69-62 at Louisville after leading by four at halftime.
“Charleston is obviously, like (Illinois State), one of the
teams in the country that could surprise a lot of people. They
already surprised Baylor at Baylor. They won’t surprise us,” Pitino
said. “They could win, but they won’t surprise us because with two
minutes to go in the game last year at (home), it was anybody’s
“We’re going into a hornets’ nest. We realize that, and we’ve
got to be ready to play.”
Pitino’s team has struggled defensively while adjusting without
center Gorgui Dieng, who will be missing a third game with a broken
The Cardinals have allowed opponents to shoot 47.1 percent from
the field over the last three games, giving up a season-high 52.1
to Illinois State – which converted 20 of 29 attempts from inside
“Our defense is not as good in the back, obviously with Gorgui
being out and all that pressure,” Pitino said. “We’ve got to
Another strong performance from Stephan Van Treese would help.
The junior forward has totaled 14 points and 16 rebounds over the
past two games after totaling four and 13, respectively, in the
He had two steals and two blocks Saturday, playing a season-high
34 minutes off the bench to fill in for Dieng. That could be reason
enough for Van Treese to get his first start of the season over
Zach Price, who has totaled only four points and three rebounds in
two games since Dieng’s injury.
Still, Louisville may again rely heavily on guards Russ Smith
and Peyton Siva, who combined for 44 points against the
Smith leads the Cardinals with 19.9 points per game, while Siva
has averaged 17.3 over the past three contests.
Siva wasn’t a factor against in last December’s win, missing all
five field goals and finishing with one point. Smith had 11 off the
“Offensively, they are very aggressive and will attack you in
transition,” Cougars coach Doug Wojcik said. “It’s coming at a
great time for us with the way we are playing and our confidence
The Cougars are looking for another upset as they open a
four-game homestand after overcoming a season high-tying 19
turnovers to win 56-54 at Elon on Saturday.
“We will continue to work hard and build on what we have going
right now,” junior forward Willis Hall said.
Hall, coming off a 19-point, 12-rebound effort versus Elon, will
try to capitalize on Louisville’s interior defensive issues and has
averaged 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds over the past three
Andrew Lawrence, who had six points against the Cardinals last
season, is averaging 13.0 points since getting a season-high 22 in
a 71-67 win over Boston College on Nov. 18.