With Peyton Siva having graduated Louisville needed another guard to step up in a group led by senior Russ Smith, and given his production at Northwest Florida State junior college transfer Chris Jones was expected to be an impact addition. Through nine games Jones is averaging 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest for the sixth-ranked Cardinals, who host Western Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
According to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, a sprained wrist could potentially sideline Jones for that meeting. But while Jones said at a charity event on Thursday that he could miss game action as a result, that isn’t the same message coming from the team.
Chris Jones sprained a wrist and wore a brace during a team charity event Thursday night. He told The Courier-Journal he could miss three games, though U of L spokesman Kenny Klein said the team considers Jones “day-to-day” and would have more information on his injury today.
If Jones is limited or can’t go due to the injury that would simply mean more work for Smith in running the team, and through nine games the man known for his sometimes reckless forays to the basketball has been a more efficient basketball player. Smith’s averaging team highs in both points (17.6 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg) while shooting 46.7% from the floor. According to kenpom.com Smith’s offensive rating of 121.6 is nearly 13 points higher than his mark of a season ago (118.9), and his assist percentage (33.3) had increased by more than 12 percentage points (21.1).
Among the other options at Rick Pitino’s disposal on the perimeter are junior Wayne Blackshear, senior Luke Hancock and freshman Terry Rozier, with Hancock having experience running the show from his time at George Mason. After this current three-game stretch (WKU, Missouri State and FIU) the Cardinals visit bitter rival Kentucky, and they’ll definitely need a healthy Jones for that showdown in Lexington.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.