Cards know they must refocus as hot-shooting Hokies visit


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - Louisville's basketball players finally got a signature victory for their rookie coach and an important road victory for themselves in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference Wednesday night.


So how long did the Cardinals get to savor their 73-69 win over No. 24 Florida State? Oh, about as long as it took for the locker room to clear out and the bus to arrive at the Tallahassee airport.

"The locker room after a good win like that is always fun," U of L interim coach David Padgett said Friday afternoon. "It was awesome to see the younger guys experience what a great road win is like. But as soon as we get on the plane, it's all about Virginia Tech."

That's because the Hokies (13-4, 2-2 ACC) are the next opponent for U of L (12-4, 2-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday in the KFC Yum! Center, and in the ACC there's no resting on your laurels and no looking ahead - in this case to another crucial road test at Notre Dame Tuesday.

"That's just the way it is," Padgett said. "I mean, you play 18 conference games in a very short period, so you can't worry about or enjoy the last one too much. You can't get too high or too low, you just have to continue to improve."

However, Padgett says he doesn't worry too much about the Cards continuing to bask in the glow of the win at FSU because they're good listeners and fast learners.

"They're smart kids," he said. "You don't have to keep repeating things over and over and over."

Former coach Rick Pitino constantly emphasized scouting reports. Padgett and his assistants have done the same, and say they've been impressed by the way the players have paid attention during film sessions.

"It's amazing film-wise," Padgett says. "Trent (Johnson, assistant coach) has been around a lot of different teams and he says, 'I've never seen a team so intent and locked in when we watch film,' whether it's before or after practice or whenever it may be. They understand the game."

Undoubtedly, the main area the coaches have concentrated on with Virginia Tech is the importance of containing the Hokies' perimeter shooters. Last year when coach Buzz Williams' team visited the Yum! it almost upset Louisville by hitting 17-of-26 3-pointers and shooting 59.2 percent overall in a 94-90 loss against a team that was among the nation's leaders on defense.

And this Virginia Tech outfit is similar when it comes to dynamite offense. The smallish Hokies have a bunch of shooters who lead the nation in field goal percentage (.522), are 23rd in scoring (85.8 ppg) and 23rd in 3-point shooting percentage (40.9). All five starters are averaging in double figures.

Of course, the last thing the Cards want to do is get into a shootout like last season because their forte' is defense, not offense. But U of L does have a significant size advantage since Virginia Tech is the second-smallest team in the ACC. Its only big man is 6-10 junior Kerry Blackshear, who is averaging 13.2 ppg.

"They present a lot of problems," Padgett said. "They play up-and-down, home and away, so they're going to look to push the pace. They've very disciplined, structured and efficient with what they do offensively."

On the flip side, the Hokies haven't been a good defensive team. In their four league games, opponents are shooting 50.4 percent on 2-pointers and 41.8 percent on threes.


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