Louisville Men’s Basketball Coach Chris Mack met with the media ahead of the Cards season opener against Evansville tomorrow.
In his opening statement, he mentioned how it has been a rough go and acknowledged the cancellation of games around the country. However, though he did expect cancellations to continue throughout the season, he said he and the team are ready and looking forward to playing Evansville Wednesday.
Coach Mack discusses how the players are handling the pandemic and the fact that if games or cancelled or postponed, they have shown the ability to be flexible. He mentions that everyone, outside of the injured Malik Williams and Charles Minlend, is available. He also mentioned Josh Nickelberry is close, but unavailable for the first few games as well.
Samuell Williamson is discussed next. Coach Mack praises Williamson’s competitiveness and work ethic, saying that even though he was out some time, he didn’t skip a beat when he returned. In essence, he said that Sam should be ready to contribute despite missing a chunk of the preseason.
Discussion turns to the inexperience that permeates team 107. Coach Mack seems to indicate the team will be going through a learning curve. Many players who played sparingly or not at all last season, will now be relied upon to play. Coach Mack hopes that they will learn, grow, and gain valuable experience as the season progresses.
The bubble concept UofL is utilizing is then discussed. Louisville is one of the places that is instituting a bubble for their early non-con schedule. Coach Mack mentions that the bubble isn’t “foolproof.” Specifically, he mentions the Mohegan Sun bubble and its issues. Coach mentions that teams that are scheduled for Louisville’s bubble have been asked to test frequently before they make the trip. He’s cautiously optimistic that there will be no issues in Louisville’s bubble and that all games will be played. While he acknowledges the Covid protocols instituted in the bubble will help, there’s still a “luck factor” involved.
When asked what coaches and players in the bubble may do between games, Coach Mack says there are certain things in place to help deal with possible idle time in between them. Apparently, there will be lounges where family members and players can be together in a socially distanced manner. There was also mention of a game room by Coach Mack. In essence, Coach Mack believes that there will be plenty of things, including game prep, to keep players and coaches occupied while being locked down in the bubble.
Coach Mack is asked if his team is physically ready to go. He said he believes they are. However, he did acknowledge that they’ll know more as they progress through the bubble. As of right now, Coach Mack feels confident his team is physically prepared.
David Johnson and his improvement is then discussed. Coach Mack had quite a bit to say. While he mentioned David is a much better defender and shooter, he raves about how his communication as a floor leader improved and how the game has slowed down for David. The game slowing down for him allows him to play “under control” and utilize his next level court vision and passing ability.
Discussing the physicality in practice, Coach Mack said it’s been, “business as usual.” Coach Mack is known for his physical brand of basketball and apparently they haven’t had to really adjust much on-court with the exception of wearing masks.
Here are some other things discussed:
- What Coach Mack expects from tomorrow’s opponent: Evansville. Specifically, he gives a little scouting report on the Purple Aces and how their center could prove a difficult matchup.
- There is discussion of the Yum Center setup to accommodate for the pandemic. While asked if not having the usual home court advantage may hurt, Coach Mack says he’s not focused on that and is just focused on coaching the team and preparing for games.
- What Coach Mack would consider a success in tomorrow’s opener. He basically said that if the team competes and players play the game the same way they play in practice, it will be successful.
To hear all of Coach Mack’s exact quotes and detailed answers, watch the presser below: