Louisville is back — and ready for a run

Austin American-Statesman - - NCAA TOURNAMENT -

Rick Pitino ap­pre­ci­ates be­ing back in the NCAA Tour­na­ment, maybe more than ever.

One year after Louisville opted for a self-im­posed post­sea­son ban, the two-time na­tional cham­pi­onship coach has his sec­ond-seeded Car­di­nals poised to make a po­ten­tially deep run.

If sit­ting out taught the Car­di­nals any­thing, it’s that they must take ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity.

“The dif­fi­cult thing about last year was our cul­ture as a bas­ket­ball team, es­pe­cially in the hu­mil­ity depart­ment, was changed tremen­dously by Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. That’s what hurts,” Pitino said Thurs­day in In­di­anapo­lis. “Those guys trans­ferred to Louisville to play in the NCAA Tour­na­ment and they never got a chance to play. But they did change the cul­ture of our bas­ket­ball team be­com­ing a very hum­ble group.” The dings still ex­ist, too. Louisville (24-8) gave up two schol­ar­ships this sea­son, and is still wait­ing to hear from the NCAA re­gard­ing its re­sponse to al­leged re­cruit­ing vi­o­la­tions that in­cluded ac­cu­sa­tions of strip­pers be­ing hired to win over high­school prospects. The NCAA has not pro­vided a timetable. Its head­quar­ters, just a short walk from where the Car­di­nals open tour­ney play against first-time en­trant Jacksonville State (20-14) to­day.

The win­ner faces sev­enth-seeded Michi­gan or 10th-seeded Oklahoma State on Sun­day in the sec­ond round of the Mid­west Re­gional.

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