In his news conference previewing Sunday's game against Kentucky, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino emphasized shot selection.
Pitino linked defeats to Western Kentucky, Minnesota and, most recently, UNLV on Wednesday to shot selection.
"They all started with quick early bad jump shots that put us in the hole," Pitino said. "We fight hard to catch up, but (the U of L players') confidence is lost because of bad shots early on. And the UNLV game was a carbon copy of Western in taking bad shots."
Despite its No. 3 pre-season ranking and great expectations, Louisville cannot afford to take bad shots, Pitino said.
"You see it all the time: teams take difficult shots and they go in," the U of L coach said, "but we're just not a team capable of taking bad shots. We just don't have enough offensive firepower to do that.
"And I'm not just talking about jump shots. We took a lot of bad runners, 'one-handeds'-in-the-lane shots that weren't good. . . . We've got to run our offense and take high-percentage shots."
Pitino also reminded reporters that poor shots reduce the number of times Louisville can align its signature pressure defense, thus lessening its effectiveness.
"Our defense never really gets a chance to do the things they're capable of doing unless we take good shots," he said. "It all starts with our offense, not our defense because if we take high-percentage shots we can get our pressure on and maybe cause some damage to people."
When a reporter noted that Jerry Smith, arguably Louisville's best perimeter shooter, had attempted only five shots in the last two games, Pitino noted Smith's adjustment to point guard.
Asked if he'd like Smith to shoot more, Pitino said, "I like to see people take open shots."
Of the Cardinals repeatedly beginning games with poor shot selection, Pitino said, "Our weakness is we don't learn our lessons. ... Unfortunately every team has a weakness and that's probably ours."
Pitino on Patterson
Pitino lauded Patrick Patterson as an effective low-post scorer and all but guaranteed that Louisville will collapse on Kentucky's big man.
"I don't think there's anybody in the country who can guard him one-on-one," Pitino said. "Maybe (Connecticut's Hasheem) Thabeet can. That's about it."
Pitino noted Patterson's improvement in a season and a half at Kentucky.
"In high school, he had a reputation of being a very good runner, a very good rebounder, but very unskilled as far as his offensive game," the U of L coach said. "Well, he's gone from that tag to someone extremely skilled who turns off both shoulders, and he's catching the ball about 70 percent of the time in the paint."
When Patterson shoots, he usually connects. He's shooting with a 72.2-percent accuracy. "That's pretty scary," Pitino said.
In the last three games, Patterson has made 33 of 40 shots (82.5 percent).
Sense of urgency
Pitino agreed with the suggestion that Louisville will take a sense of urgency into the game.
"We have to realize you're going to have to go 12-6 in the Big East to play in the NCAA Tournament," he said, "or 11-7 and win a couple in the (Big East) tournament. ...
"We're nowhere near where we want to be, but we're certainly not going to panic."