Staggering Louisville preps for Western Carolina
Moments before Rick Pitino addressed reporters on Friday, guard
Preston Knowles walked in and placed a large gold Christmas tree
ornament on a table.
The gift itself wasn’t the shiny orb but the fact Knowles held
it in his injured right hand, the surest sign that he’s ready to
return after missing last week’s drubbing against Charlotte with a
The Cardinals (5-2) could certainly use him after enduring the
worst home loss in nine seasons under Pitino. The 49ers dominated
from the opening tip, so much so that Pitino ended up pulling out
his starters with over six minutes remaining in the 87-65 loss.
Pitino expects Knowles and freshman guard Peyton Siva – who sat
out the game with a sprained wrist – to be back on Saturday when
Louisville hosts Western Carolina (9-1).
“They’re probably not 100 percent, but we need them to be back
because practices haven’t gone well,” Pitino said.
Neither have the games.
Knowles and Siva were both injured in a loss to UNLV two weeks
ago and without them the Cardinals were hardly dominant in a win
over Stetson and looked absolutely lost at times against the
“They’re probably not in basketball shape, but their legs are
fine,” Pitino said. “If we don’t have them, we can’t beat Western
Carolina. They’re every bit as good as Charlotte.”
While Knowles and Siva will play, senior guard Jerry Smith will
not. He’ll sit out his second straight game with a sprained
Achilles’ and it could be another week before he’s ready.
Sophomore forward George Goode will also sit out Saturday’s game
after injuring his left knee during Thursday’s practice. Louisville
sports information director Kenny Klein said an MRI showed Goode
suffered a bone bruise in his left knee joint, and could be
sidelined for as little as a few days or as long as several
It’s the latest bit of bad luck for the affable Goode. He
suffered two concussions in practice before the season started then
missed a couple games after turning his ankle while stepping on a
Goode recovered enough to earn a rare start against the 49ers,
though he managed just two points and a rebound in 13 ineffective
Goode’s absence makes it even more critical for the Cardinals to
receive some kind of boost from reserve center Terrence
The 6-foot-10 sophomore is Louisville’s most athletic big man,
but has struggled to stay out of Pitino’s doghouse. Pitino has
criticized Jennings for a lackluster offseason, and Jennings has
done little over the season’s opening weeks to get back in his
coach’s good graces.
Jennings is averaging 3.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in about 12
minutes a game, not the kind of contribution Pitino was
“Terrence doesn’t understand who he is,” Pitino said. “He
looks in the mirror and sees something different. He looks in the
mirror and doesn’t see Ben Wallace, Dennis Rodman or that type. He
sees Tracy McGrady. He doesn’t see who he is and the mirror is
playing tricks on him.”
The Cardinals will need Jennings to start snapping out of it
against the Catamounts, who have won eight straight games and boast
five legitimate 3-point threats. Not the best news for Louisville,
which allowed Charlotte to drain 10 3-pointers last week.