Inside Cardinal Basketball: Weekly notebook

Wayne Blackshear

The University of Louisville basketball team landed in the Bahamas on Tuesday afternoon, preparing for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament that begins on Thursday. The Cardinals play Northern Iowa on Thursday in the opening round. Here's a look at some notes surrounding the U of L program.

REBOUNDING HAS IMPROVED FOR CARDS

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and his staff have been stressing rebounding with his team early in the season.

Pitino showed his team so much video of Kenneth Faried, the former Morehead State player who is considered one of the best rebounders in the NBA, that current center Gorgui Dieng said he was "almost" tired of watching.

"We saw a lot of Kenneth Faried," Dieng said with a smile.

But it's obviously working. After being outrebounded by Bellarmine and Manhattan, the Cardinals have dominated the boards.

Louisville whipped Samford on the boards 53-28 and then Miami of Ohio 43-26. Sophomore Chane Behanan had 18 rebounds against Samford, while Dieng had 13 in that game and then nine against Miami.

"Rebounding has been the No. 1 point of emphasis and we have improved remarkably," Pitino said. "We still need to keep working."

Added Dieng: "We have heard enough about it. Coach wants everything to be perfect. We had to do a better job rebounding. Now we see once we are going to control the glass, we control the game.

"Coach wants everything to be perfect and gives us a great example of Kenneth Faried, the best rebounder in the NBA. He's like Dennis Rodman. He gave us that example and I think that it has helped us."

Behanan leads the way with 11.3 a game, while Dieng averages 8.3.

BLACKSHEAR ‘REAL ACTIVE'

U of L sophomore Wayne Blackshear, who missed much of last season after double shoulder surgery, is finally getting back his old self.

"Some Old Wayne," Blackshear joked after the Samford game.

Blackshear then hit four three-pointers and had 14 points in a win over Miami of Ohio, showing signs of finally being over his injury issues.

"I am passed the shoulder problems," he said. "I was real active. I think I am getting back to where I should be. I feel great."

Blackshear averages 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds a game. Pitino said he's been "very pleased" with Blackshear's efforts on defense.

"Coach really doesn't care about the offensive end," Blackshear said. "He preaches about defense. He wants us to get after the ball."

NOT AS MUCH IN THE ZONE

U of L coach Rick Pitino has said he won't play as much zone defense this season and so far it's been very limited.

The Cardinals played a few possessions against Miami of Ohio but other than that it's been all man-to-man this season.

"We have some new guys and it takes time," senior Peyton Siva said. "Montrezl (Harrell) and even Kevin (Ware) and Wayne (Blackshear). They played last year but (zone) is kind of new to them because they didn't play all year.

"We'll get better at it."

CARDS BY THE NUMBERS

A few numbers to chew on:

*14 – Wayne Blackshear's career high of points against Miami of Ohio. He now has 32 points in four games, five short of his total for all of last season.

*13 – Career double-doubles for Dieng after one against Samford.

*67 - Turnovers forced in the first three games by the U of L defense, scoring 84 points off those turnovers.

*153 – Points needed by Peyton Siva to reach 1,000 career points.

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