A much more sober and positive look at the 2009-10 Cardinals as well as a preview of the 2010-2011 Cards is up on Rick Pitino's website. Check it out directly, but if you want to avoid the auto-play music (web design like its 1999!) here are some highlights:
Without question, this was a rebuilding season. I knew early on it would take everyone contributing for us to make the tournament. In that regard, I was quite pleased with eleven conference wins. Was I disappointed with our performance vs. California? Yes, but as a nine seed it’s not shocking. There is very little difference any more between Gonzaga, Butler, Northern Iowa, New Mexico State , etc. and the rest of the top teams. There seems to be a consensus that the Big East was so fatigued from beating up on each other. I believe that’s true with Villanova, Notre Dame, and Georgetown. Not us! We got beat because from day one we were inconsistent and unathletic on defense. Defense helps you win the games when it’s not going your way on offense. It gets you over the bump. With one third team All-Big East selection on our team this year and two lottery picks moving on last year, that’s why I was pleased to make the tournament. Young teams that aren’t good at the defensive end will be very unpredictable and that was us in a nutshell. The next two years we will get back to our style -- changing defenses, more pressure and a less reliance on playing half court to slow things down.
And on the 2010-2011 players:
*Preston Knowles- had a subpar year
Major reason - His thumb hampered him for ¾ of the season. Wasn’t the intense defensive player he showed in his first two years.
Outlook - We need to develop his passing skills and get him to slow down on offense. He needs to get back that intensity on defense. His major positive is he cares about winning first. He could be a great leader because of that fact.
*Kyle Kuric- He will cherish that Syracuse game for the rest of his life. Good athlete who must improve going left and develop a consistent jump shot. He has a tendency to fall back and look at the ball instead of the rim on his jumper. These are easy things to fix. He runs and jumps well. Kyle has many areas that with hard work, will take a major step forward. He will battle to start at the small wing position.
*Jared Swopshire- He will have an outstanding junior and senior season. How can I be sure? He has a super work ethic, is very disciplined and is highly organized with his work regime. He will get stronger and play at 225 pounds. He needs to work on lateral quickness and foot speed, these being his biggest problems. They won’t be for long with this young man’s desire.
*Samardo Samuels - Third team All-Big East. He made small strides in the improvement area. He needs to push his shoulders back and develop a quick intense demeanor. He needs immediate attention to improving his foot speed, sprinting the floor, passing, and rebounding is essential. That’s why his potential is promising. He can make significant improvement in so many areas if he develops a hungry and humble attitude this summer, then all Cardinal fans will see a different player in his junior season. Speed and quickness are a must for improvement. He needs to grab 10-12 rebounds consistently instead of six, handle double teams better, and improve his lateral quickness on defense. All that’s needed for him to be a great player is an intense attitude toward work. I know he can do it.
*Terrence Jennings - Good athlete who needs a summer of skill development in the low post. We must concentrate on foot work and balance. If he can master those two areas, he will have a shot at playing at a higher level. Blocking out and rebounding are his keys.
*Chris Smith - Like Kyle, Peyton, and T.J., he is a terrific athlete who must improve his passing and ball handling skills. He’s an explosive penetrator who could develop into a good defender. Strong guard who will help us with our full court press.
*Peyton Siva - Showed exciting flashes this year. Needs work on his ball handling and decision making. Great attitude and has to be ready for major minutes at the point.
*Mike Marra – He needs to become more of a gym rat. I compare him to Andy Rautins, and that’s quite a compliment. Notice Andy’s stats for his first three years. Good passer and athlete. He needs improvement on defense and work on his lateral quickness.
*Rakeem Buckles – He had the best year of the freshmen. He’s a quick athlete who has good one-on-one skills. Needs to get stronger and improve his passing skills. His jump shot will get better in time.
*Stephan Van Treese - Stong rebounder and unselfish player. He must learn to shoot the basketball on the way up instead of on the way down. Also, like Mike, he needs to become more of a gym rat.
Always good to hear from Coach. Next year's team will be interesting, that's for sure. Wonder how they are supposed to work on quickness / foot speed? Is that something you can teach?