Pitino’s Pre-Puerto Rico Press Conference Notes

dunikcardEver clever, Louisville hoops czar Rick Pitino is combining his gig as mentor of Puerto Rico’s MNT, with a summer tour in the Caribbean for his really young Cardinal squad.

Better to get them prepared, don’t you know.

U of L has been at it on the practice court for over a week now. Two a days, with one session early in the morning, another in late afternoon.

The Cards will play doubleheaders on three consecutive days, the 11th, 12th & 13th, plus three more tilts before they return home on the 17th.

The coach met the media, both locals and call ins from Puerto Rico, Thursday afternoon.

The session got off to a start straight out of a Cheech & Chong album.

The reporters from the island, asked questions either in Spanish or relatively unintelligible Spanglish. Pitino’s two not fully identified assistants for the MNT were by his side, answering the queries that weren’t in plain English. While we locals waited our turn.

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Snippets from The Rick’s comments on the Cards:

The coach’s summer hyperbole setting was cranked to 11.

“This team has the best attitude I’ve seen as a coach. At least since the ’87 Providence team.

“Guys come up to me and shake my hand after practice.”

Pitino attributes it to “luck,” the two fifth year transfers, Mango’s upbeat personality, and the fact that “Donovan Mitchell acts like a 35 year old.”

“They’re all terrific guys.”

* * * * *

Damion Lee is “better than I anticipated.”

Pitino added that his game is suited for Louisville’s uptempo style.

Lee “has the ability to put points on the board.”

Trey Lewis is “like another coach.”

Pitino refernced his son, Minnesota mentor Richard Pitino, “Lewis is the most mature player he’s ever seen.”

Those two elder newcomers, Pitino said, aree the only ones who will be sure starters.

* * * * *

Of the rookies, Raymond Spalding has “the most upside.”

“It’s astonishing. He’s a freshman and leads the team in deflections.

Pitino advised, “I can’t say which freshman is the most talented.

Ryan McMahon is somewhat better than Pitino expected, but still look for him to redshirt.

Deng Adel “is the strongest guy on the team.”

Mango “has really improved. His foot work. His mid range jumper.”

“Anas is full speed.”

“Q has come out of his shell. But he’s still not a (verbal) leader. He leads by example, playing hard.”

* * * * *

The games in Puerto Rico will be contested using International rules.

All will be broadcast on WHAS 840AM. And telecast, streaming online at gocards.com/ puertorico. ($9.95 for all nine. Cheap.)

— Seedy K