Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl took some time away from his new gig as a college basketball analyst at ESPN to talk with Card Chronicle about Louisville, the upcoming season, and whether or not he knew about the twist at the end of The Sixth Sense before he saw the movie for the first time.
Here are the relevant portions of our conversation for you to munch on (literally...print this out and consume it).
On where he thinks Louisville should be ranked heading into this season
"I'd put them at one or two. They're right there with Indiana as two of the teams with the best talent and the best coaches in the country.
The big difference with Louisville this year is that they're healthy. I remember watching Louisville and Georgetown play last year, and I was amazed that Rick Pitino had been able to keep that team competitive, let alone unbeaten, to that point despite all those injuries. Obviously that caught up to them a little bit in Big East play, but then they get guys back at the end of the year and make a run to the Final Four.
Rick Pitino is really enjoying this run they've had the past few years. He really seems to like his kids and their attitudes, and the kids seem to really like him, too."
On what he thinks Louisville's weakness is
"I do think that it's shooting. They shot 42% from the field last year which was 13th in the Big East and 31% from three, so that has to be improved.
Here's the thing, though, I think they're going to get better shots this year. I think now that they're healthy they're going to have more chemistry on offense, they're going to be able to create more holes in opposing defenses, and they've got more guys who can spread the floor.
The other big thing is having a healthy Wayne Blackshear. He's a difference maker, and he's a guy who can create shots for both himself and guys around him."
On how important it is for teams to stay healthy
"Dealing with injuries is tough because it really does affect team chemistry. The fact that Rick was able to keep that ship afloat last year was incredible. They also had to play at a slower pace last season than I think he would have liked, and I'm sure he's happy to have more able bodies heading into this year."
On The Gorgs
"When I saw him for the first time two years ago, I never thought he'd be as comfortable offensively as he is now. That's a credit to him and his coaches on their hard work."
On the Battle 4 Atlantis
"The Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, that's a field that could potentially have three or even four Final Four teams. Duke is my pick to win the ACC this year, Minnesota is going to get back to the NCAA Tournament this season I think, Missouri, I don't know if they can win the SEC, but I think they can compete with Kentucky, and then you've got VCU and Memphis and, of course, Louisville. It's going to be an incredible tournament."
On his current Final Four prediction
"Indiana, Louisville...Kansas and Syracuse."
Thanks to Bruce for taking some time out of his day to talk with us.