Rick Pitino announced at his Friday press conference that both forward sophomore forward Rakeem Buckles and freshman center Gorgui Dieng returned to practice and will be available to play in Saturday's game against Syracuse.
Buckles was Louisville's leading rebounder at 7.5 boards a contest before fracturing his left index finger on Dec. 30.
I don’t know how good I’ll be," Buckles said. "But I’ll tell you one thing, I’m going to play hard. I’m going to give it my all."
Dieng, Louisville's leading shot-blocker, suffered a concussion during the Jan. 26 victory over West Virginia and has not played since.
More notes from Pitino's pregame presser:
--Both Dieng and Buckles are behind in terms of conditioning, timing and execution, but having them big is really big, especially because it helps out in practice.
--Both Dieng and Buckles will likely play against Syracuse, "how much, I'm not sure."
--DePaul and Pittsburgh are the only teams in the Big East who aren't hard to figure out.
--Returning from injury is not going to bother Rock mentally or physically. He's not going to be tentative like Preston was when he came back last year. He's been dying to get back and is dunking and mixing it up in practice already.
--About two weeks ago Rock started doing basketball conditioning drills, so he'll be closer to being in shape than most guys who have missed as much time as he has.
--The new offense is much more difficult to scout and defend. Didn't just put it in for the Notre Dame, waited to bust it out until we were closer to being fully healthy.
--Chemistry's always going to be great for this team. Nothing can affect that.
--Team is very, very disappointed after losing Wednesday night's game. Preston is especially down, and put far too much of the blame on himself afterward. Have to credit Notre Dame's offense and experience for what happened late in the game.
--The new offense really helps Kyle Kuric, who is not a pick-and-roll guy. Same goes for Mike Marra.
--Pitino thought the Kuric technical was the most absurd call he's seen since he's been a coach. Driscoll originally told Pitino that Kuric said something, to which Pitino replied: "That's impossible. He's been a mime for three years. Give me another excuse. I know he didn't say a word."
Driscoll then walked away, came back 15 seconds later and said "Ok, I made a mistake. He didn't say anything, but he looked at him."
He may have looked at him for a second, but certainly did nothing to warrant a technical.
"A very poor call made by a very good official."
--"You see so many players pounding their chest, pulling their uniforms out, and Kyle Kuric is the antithesis of all of that."
--Technical call definitely hurt our momentum, but it isn't the reason we lost the game.
--Syracuse is a very powerful team up front and they've got great size at the guard position which makes them difficult to defend. Rick Jackson is great at getting position.
--First half was "poetry in motion." Second half wasn't awful, but we went one-on-one too much, took bad shots, and didn't look inside enough.
--Mike Marra missed practice on Thursday but returned today and will be available for tomorrow's game.
--We're finally close to being healthy, so "we'll probably lose by 30 tomorrow."
--It was fun practicing with almost a full roster on Thursday. Could do so many things that we haven't been able to do for the past month or so.
--DePaul is the only team in the Big East this year that has scored on more zone offense possessions than man offense possessions.
--Boeheim hired Pitino way back when primarily to recruit to teach man-to-man defense.