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Rick Pitino advises against pickup basketball for his team in the offseason

Sep 9, 2012, 3:32 PM EDT

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Considering Louisville’s trouble with injuries last season, Rick Pitino looks to be playing more of the protector role than the spoiler of fun when he discouraged his players from participating in pickup games.

Not only protector of fresh legs, but protector of fundamentals, as well.

“I said I don’t want you playing pickup basketball, because that’s how you regress,” Pitino told Eric Crawford of WDRB. “I said I’d rather you play one-on-one basketball, with these rules — games of five. If you play games of five you’re playing hard on offense, hard on defense, winners come on.”

That style helped Pitino and the Cardinals to the Final Four last season. They return for this upcoming season with Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan, and Gorgui Dieng as the centerpieces, also adding big man Montrezl Harrell to the mix.

“We have an extremely competitive team that loves challenges,” Pitino said in a release. “We’re very excited to not only be traveling to face a terrific field [Battle 4 Atlantis] in the Bahamas, but from the first game on we will be tested. We look forward to that challenge.”

Many analysts see Louisville as the favorite in the Big East and perhaps as a national championship contender. With Siva, Dieng, and Behanan, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cardinals made another trip to the Final Four.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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