LOUISVILLE — The college basketball season may be more than a week old, but don't bother asking Louisville forward Terrence Williams about his early impressions.
"I hate watching college basketball," Williams said. "When I watch college basketball and I hear the announcers talking about another team or another player, it upsets me. They tend to hype a lot of people that's not that good to me, personally. I'm not knocking anybody ... (but) sometimes they talk about other coaches like 'This coach is the best coach in the land,' like I don't play for the best coach in the land."
Williams doesn't mean any disrespect, he just doesn't think people should make up their minds until everybody gets a chance to show what they can do, particularly the late-starting Cardinals.
The No. 3 Cards finally open the season this weekend in the Billy Minardi Classic. Louisville will play Morehead State (0-3) on Saturday and either Florida A&M (0-3) or South Alabama (1-1) on Sunday.
Though the last week has been a little frustrating for Williams and his teammates, it's also been a blessing of sorts. Williams went down with a knee injury shortly after practice started. He returned to practice two weeks ago and doesn't anticipate any lingering problems.
"I'll be 200 percent," he said.
The Cardinals hope they don't need that much out of their co-captain so early in the year, though even Pitino admits he's not quite sure what to expect from his talented but still unsettled team.
"I'm having a very difficult time gauging this basketball team," Pitino said. "I don't think they're as focused as I'd like to see for a veteran group. I don't think they truly understand how tough the competition and schedule is going to be. ... I just hope they need games."
Louisville returns four starters off last year's team that fell one game short of reaching the Final Four, yet the biggest buzz of the pre-season has centered on freshman center Samardo Samuels.
The 6-foot-8 Samuels looked plenty polished offensively during two tougher than expected exhibition wins over Georgetown College and Northern Kentucky, combining for 49 points. Yet Pitino is more concerned about how the precocious kid from Jamaica works on the other end of the floor. Samuels had just nine rebounds in the two games despite playing against much smaller opponents.
"Samardo's weakness is defensive rebounding," Pitino said. "I try to tell him if you're a basketball player and you have the talent to play at the next level, your pockets are lined with gold every time you rebound."