Pitino adds to risk/reward for 2011-12 season

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Wake Forest decided Tony Woods wasn’t worth the trouble. That put them in the minority.

About 30 schools inquired about the 6-11 center, who recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault on a female and received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, plus community service. The landing spot?

Louisville.

Woods’ stats aren’t overwhelming, but there’s a reason so many program wanted Woods. As Mike DeCourcy writes, there aren’t many quality big men out there.

A Division I coach told Sporting News one reason so many programs expressed interest in Woods — despite his arrest and modest production in two seasons at Wake — is the dearth of big men in the high school class of 2011 who can offer immediate help at the college level.

Still, the move isn’t sitting well with fans who are sick of the drama and shenanigans associated with Rick Pitino’s program lately, but frankly, Pitino needs Woods. (He can’t enroll until January and won’t be eligible to play until Dec. 2011. After that, he could play the entire 2012-13 season.)

The Cardinals are headed for another sub-par season, but 2011-12 could be huge. That’s when Pitino’s best recruiting class in years (which could still add Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello, among others) takes the floor in possibly a make-or-break season.

When your program needs a big season, you take a few chances. Fans will forget about Woods’ past if he produces and Cardinals win.

If it goes awry, Pitino is probably out anyway.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.