Pitino not worried about 'pointless' Cards Print
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Tuesday, 30 December 2008 12:35
NCAAB Headline News


 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -Every once in a while, Edgar Sosa will do something that will remind Rick Pitino why he likes his enigmatic point guard so much.
Maybe it's a nifty wraparound pass to Louisville teammate Samardo Samuels after Sosa snakes his way through the lane. Maybe it's a well-timed 3-pointer from the top of the key. Maybe it's a deflection at the front of Louisville's suffocating fullcourt press.
Yet three years into his roller-coaster career, the plays aren't coming fast enough for Sosa, his coach or the 18th-ranked Cardinals.
Pitino hasn't lost faith in Sosa's ability, but he doesn't have time to wait.
The Cardinals (8-2) host streaking UNLV (11-2) on Wednesday, and they'll do it with shooting guards Preston Knowles and Jerry Smith in the backcourt. That leaves the playmaking to forwards Earl Clark and Terrence Williams while Sosa watches from the bench.
After spending more than two seasons watching Sosa be either brilliant or bratty, Pitino doesn't think he has a choice.
mind-set would change he'd be a great playmaker,'' the coach said. ``His mind-set is he gets so emotional that he wants to score, and then if he doesn't score he gets down on his game and that's the toughest thing with him.''
Chastised as a freshman for being a little too exuberant following even the most mundane of plays, Sosa has slipped to the other end of the spectrum. Moody at times, Sosa vanished from the locker room following Louisville's 82-62 win over UAB last weekend, a game in which he played just six minutes, none in the second half.
``I was watching a clip last year right before the half he went in, had a layup hit the front rim and missed it and had his head down as he was going off the court,'' Pitino said. ``The air just came out of him. We've just got to get him to the point where he just thinks about playmaking. I think he can be an outstanding playmaker.''
Maybe, but time is quickly running out. Sosa has already been passed by Smith, Knowles and Andre McGee on the depth chart as Pitino has chosen to run the offense through his talented forwards.
``Our guards are good, they're steady, they get the job done, but I don't think they're playmakers necessarily,'' Pitino said. ``The playmakers on this team are Earl and T-Will and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.''
guards with 30 assists, but 10 of those came in the season-opener against Morehead State. It was the kind of performance that he's occasionally tantalized his coaches with over the last two-plus seasons. Yet he's failed to back it up and his erratic play - not to mention his 30 percent shooting - has him watching more than he's playing.
There's some irony in Sosa losing his starting job to Smith. The two came in as freshmen and appeared to be the backcourt of the future, with Sosa the decision-maker at the point and Smith the spot-up shooter. Now it's Smith who is at the top of the press, Smith who is the next option when Williams and Clark give it up.
Pitino allows Smith isn't a penetrator who will drive and dish that way Sosa can. But Smith's intensity and maturity mean Pitino knows what he's going to get when he puts Smith on the floor.
``The good thing about Jerry is he gets a little more fatigued at the point, but he doesn't turn the ball over much,'' Pitino said.
For now, that's enough.
Besides, not many teams have a pair of athletic ballhandlers on the wing like the 6-foot-6 Williams and the 6-10 Clark. It's a role Clark relishes though he doesn't exactly consider himself a point forward. If the Cardinals play well enough, Clark knows everyone will get a chance to do their thing, even Sosa.
``Edgar at times, he shows that he can be a great point guard, one of the best point guards in the country,'' Clark said. ``But it's just like an up-and-down process right now and we're just trying to keep him up.''
 

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