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December 15, 2011Kevin Ware hasn't played a minute yet for the University of Louisville basketball team and has already surprised coach Rick Pitino.
Pitino said Thursday afternoon that Ware, a highly-touted 6-foot-4 guard who was academically ineligible the first semester, has looked so good in his first several practices that he will see playing time against Memphis (5-3) Saturday at 4:07 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center.
Ware, joined the team on Wednesday, will be used as a backup point guard to Peyton Siva and also possibly as a backup to small forward Kyle Kuric.
"If he has another good practice tomorrow, he will see some time in the game Saturday, which is a pleasant surprise," Pitino said. "But he's in much better physical shape than we expected. I was actually shocked that he was physically to stay with double sessions, mentally pick up all the things. We'll give him a couple of things offensively to run."
Pitino said Ware suffered a minor injury in Thursday morning's practice, "so he's officially a Louisville Cardinal."
Pitino says the expected fast pace of the Memphis game will suit Ware, and his long arms will help the No. 4 Cardinals (9-0) defensively.
"He's in pretty good shape, he picks up things quickly and this is his type of game, an up-and-down game," Pitino said. "He gives us something we don't have, great length at the guard spot. He's extremely quick, extremely fast, a very good athlete and he's very long. Although he's 6-4, his wingspan is sort of like Gorgui's (6-11 center Gorgui Dieng). For his size, he has a very, very long wingspan, which we don't have at the point position especially.
"He's much more of a point guard than I anticipated. I watched him play in the summer and was very impressed with his athleticism. It's obvious he's a terrific athlete, but you really don't know what position he is. Peyton has been a great help to him because Peyton tells him exactly what to do. I can give him three different sets to concentrate on and he doesn't have to run the whole gamut. He's fresh, he's ready to go."
Because Pitino is worried about penetration by Memphis' guards, he indicated he may start Russ Smith in place of Chris Smith at shooting guard because Russ is quicker and UofL has had trouble stopping drives to the basket by opposing guards.
Russ said Ware has already impressed the Cards.
"Kevin caught on to the system in probably the first couple minutes of practice," he said. "He's really good, he's quick off the bounce, he's lanky. And you wouldn't think just looking at him, but he's pretty tall with his arms (wingspan) too. He's a great asset to our team."