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December 3, 2004The offensive linemen of the basketball court, college power forwards are normally 6-foot-8 or 9 bruising rebounding machines bent on muscling the other team away from the basket. Francisco Garcia certainly doesn't come to mind. But with Brian Johnson out for the season and Otis George sitting out for the Lafayette game, the spindly scoring forward will be spending time playing power forward for U of L tomorrow. CardinalSports.com has more...
During Friday afternoon's pre-Lafayette press conference, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino explained a new line-up twist for the weekend. Garcia, a 6-7, 190-pound shooter, could spend some time at power forward when the Cardinals go to a smaller line-up.
Pitino said he expects to start Taquan Dean and Larry O'Bannon at both guard spots, Ellis Myles at center and Juan Palacios at power forward with Garcia at the small forward spot as the team did during the Maui Invitational. When Palacios or Myles needs a break, however, Pitino would likely move Garcia to the four and bring in sophomore Brandon Jenkins at the point guard spot.
"We'll have Francisco at the four out of sheer necessity," Pitino explained. "...Right now, we're as thin as any team I've ever had had across the frontline. That will certainly be one of our weaknesses."
With the smaller line-up in the game, Pitino hopes to capitalize on Garcia's quickness and ball-handling skills against much bigger, slower players. Garcia seemed to light up when asked about the possibilities.
"Me playing the four will just allow me to shoot a little bit more, set a couple picks for Taquan and the other guards and come off and shoot the three," Garcia said. "It is a learning experience for me. I am excited. I am looking forward to playing the four and see how I do."
"That's what coach is looking for," Garcia explained. "Sometimes when we are having trouble scoring, Coach just said that he wants to put me at the four and then run some plays from there. It is fine. It is a new thing for me and I think I enjoy it."
On offense, the move will force the opposition to play a smaller line-up to keep up with Louisville's speed, but on defense, this Cardinal line-up could be tested by teams with significant size.
"I don't think anything is going to come easy for this team," Pitino said. "When we are starting 6-7 and a half, 6-7 and 6-7 across your front line, you can't erase defensive mistakes, so we've got to play smart and be in the right spots at the right time. I'd certainly like to have more size- I'd like to have more size, but this team is going to play smart."
Senior guard Larry O'Bannon could guard a power forward when the smaller line-up is in, while Garcia would still guard the other team's small forward. Pitino stressed the importance of team rebounding and defense to this Louisville team's success.
"I know that I'll have to rebound the ball a little bit more, and focus in on what I need to do at the four spot," Garcia said. "I need to concentrate more on defense as well, and how to handle my man on the post."
Louisville first opportunity to test their new roles will be Saturday at noon at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. The game will be televised live by WDRB-Fox 41 and on WKJK 1080 Radio with Doug Ormay and Bill Burke.