|Pitino collects 500th win as Cardinals beat Marshall|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:10|
After watching his team struggle with reckless play in consecutive losses that kept Pitino stuck on 499 career victories, the Louisville coach decided to mix things up against Marshall.
The pregame hype that accompanies player introductions? Gone, replaced with a modest arm wave from each of the starters as their name was announced.
The goal, Pitino said, was for his players to understand the importance of playing for the team and not for themselves.
The Cardinals responded with their best game in a month, racing to an 85-75 victory over the Thundering Herd. The win made Pitino the 17th active coach with at least 500 wins, and his team did it in typical Pitino fashion: a little full-court pressure, some timely 3-point shooting and high energy at both ends of the court.
Though Pitino received a rousing ovation at the final buzzer, he called the milestone ``insignificant'' and was more pleased with his team's performance as the Cardinals (6-3) snapped a two-game losing streak.
``We tried to suffocate them with our defense,'' Pitino said. ``We were very active.''
After letting the Thundering Herd (5-3) stick around for the first half, Louisville took control early in the second thanks to an energetic press and some nifty passing in the open court.
``We couldn't get the ball past half court for a while,'' Marshall coach Donnie Jones said. ``We just weren't getting the shots up.''
The Cardinals forced 17 turnovers and shared the ball at the other end. Louisville finished with 19 assists, the Cardinals' highest total since a season-opening rout of Hartford. Louisville also had a season-high 13 blocks, five by Terrance Farley.
Earl Clark scored a career-high 23 points and Derrick Caracter had 18 points and eight rebounds in his return from a one-game suspension.
Pitino suspended Caracter indefinitely last week for a curfew violation but lifted it on Monday saying Caracter met his obligations. The decision to reinstate Caracter, who has had several run-ins with Pitino over the last year, raised some eyebrows. Pitino defended his actions, saying he hasn't gone soft on his players.
``Let me tell you, I'm not sticking up for DC,'' Pitino said. ``Just so you know, he's not getting off easy. What we're doing is 10 times what I've ever done to a basketball player. ... He has no life.''
Caracter said he made a mistake and is trying to change his ways.
``I've really had to prove myself to my teammates,'' said Caracter, who also had four blocks and two rare assists in 23 minutes. ``I had a lot of bad habits. ... I want to show everybody I belong here.''
Markel Humphrey had 24 points and Mark Dorris added 21 for Marshall, which went without a field goal for nearly seven minutes during a 20-3 run in the second half as the Cardinals took a 66-49 lead.
The victory upped Pitino's career record to 500-185, but after disappointing performances in losses to Dayton and Purdue, he was simply looking for his team to play like the one that began the season ranked in the Top 10.
``Your confidence is lacking when you lose two games in a row,'' Pitino said. ``We needed this victory tonight badly.''