Ragin' Cajun links

--The key to Louisville's recent surge might be Rick Pitino's simplifying of the press.

Rick Pitino grew tired of watching Louisville blow countless assignments while trying to run his vaunted "22 press.''

Running the "22'' properly requires good instincts and constant communication, two qualities the quiet and inexperienced Cardinals lack.

"I just don't think it's their thing,'' Pitino said.

So Pitino went back to basics, dusting off the playbook and rolling out the "black'' and "white'' press, different variations of a fullcourt man-to-man defense that takes thinking out of the equation.

Now, instead of figuring out where to go and when to trap, the Cardinals can just react. The spots on the floor where the Cardinals can trap is predetermined, no more leaving it up to the players to decide.

"There's less thinking involved,'' forward Stephan Van Treese said. "Now you know where you're supposed to go.''

--Lafayette comes into tonight's game struggling mightily and still stinging from a crushing three-point loss to Tulane.

"We better come out more aggressive against them or they're going to beat us by 30 easy," UL forward Tyren Johnson said. "We saw what they did against Western Kentucky. We've got to be very aggressive, especially playing on the road."

UL, which had won three of its previous four games, shot 56.3 percent from the floor against Tulane but lacked consistency in the loss.

After trailing by 16 in the first half, the Cajuns recovered to take a two-point halftime lead and led by six with 8:45 left.

Then they collapsed, committing five of their 14 turnovers over the next five minutes — including four by forward Chris Gradnigo — as Tulane used a 15-3 run to take a 65-59 lead.

--Ragin' Cajun game notes.

--With Kentucky looming, the Cards are suddenly playing with a great deal of urgency.

With a game against Radford on Saturday and the Big East opener next Wednesday against South Florida, Louisville doesn't plan to take time off for Christmas. Pitino said Louisville would practice Christmas Eve morning and at night Christmas Day.

"We just want to keep getting better and improving and we're doing that now," Pitino said. "We're achieving what we set out to right now and we're getting better each day. We're practicing very well and one of the reasons for that is we're getting healthy. George Goode went through individual instruction today and he's probably a few days away from practicing. So we're getting healthier."

Pitino wants to see continued improvement from his team, starting tonight against Louisiana Lafayette. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

"I like the way all the guys are playing right now. I like the way Edgar is playing, I like the way Preston is playing, I think Jerry has really picked it up," Pitino said. "I think the guys have really improved over the last week. It could be they are just getting healthy and learning the system better."

--Lafayette has been a Jekyll and Hyde squad to this point.

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