Frustration seems to be boiling over for Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.
On Wednesday night, the Cardinals lost their second straight game, falling at Syracuse just four days after suffering a home loss at the hands of N.C. State. Starting guard Chris Jones was suspended for Wednesday’s game against the Orange just a week after he was benched for a long stretch of the second half against Pitt.
Without Jones and with Wayne Blackshear in foul trouble for the entire game, Pitino was forced to dig deep on his bench, playing David Levitch and Anton Gill extended minutes in both the first and second halves. But Shaqquan Aaron, a former top 40 recruit that had seemingly become a key contributor off the bench, never took off his warmups.
After the game, Pitino had some choice words for both players. Here’s Pitino’s comments on Chris Jones (as transcribed by Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, our emphasis added):
We missed him a lot but, you know, it’s his selfishness that hurt the team. I’m not one that believes in suspensions, game suspensions. I believe in punishment where you get up in the morning and lift weights and curfew at night, but this was not a decision by me.
This was a decision – it’s all cleared up – he could play the next game if he does what the assistant coaches tell him to do. If he doesn’t he sits again. And I don’t care if he sits the whole season, to tell you the truth. I could care less. Because if he doesn’t do the right things and act like a Louisville man, he can move on and try to go to Belgium somewhere.
And on Shaqquan Aaron:
He just doesn’t have a Louisville attitude. He’s not a Louisville man in terms of the way we practice, the way we go about it.
(Can he get there?)
If he doesn’t, he’ll be at another school. That’s the way it will be. He’s never going to step on the court until he gets that attitude.
It’s clear that Louisville has some serious issues this season in regards to their roster makeup. They have two score first point guards on their roster, they lack a consistent supporting cast and they don’t have anyone on the team that makes the players around him better.
That’s a problem.
But so is having two rotation players getting benched — and suspended — in mid-February.
At this point, is it even possible for Louisville to turn this thing around?