While Rick Pitino is not happy about the hole Louisville has dug for itself, Tuesday night's trip to Providence will bring back special memories for the coach about how a team can recover.
The Friars will be honoring the 1987 Final Four team coached by Pitino at halftime of this Big East matchup with the No. 14 Cardinals.Pitino has mentioned throughout the season how difficult he believes the Big East road schedule is for Louisville (13-3, 1-2). It's more of a concern now that his team has dropped its first two conference home games after Saturday's 67-65 double-overtime loss to Notre Dame."It's certainly not easy losing two home games," Pitino said. "And when you do that, you certainly put yourself in a hole. But I don't think there's any team I'd rather fight out of a hole with than this team."Pitino is one of two coaches to guide three schools to Final Fours, taking Providence, Kentucky and Louisville to college basketball's showcase event. John Calipari has taken Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky there, although two of those trips have been vacated.The 1986-87 Providence team went 25-9 under Pitino, who called it "one of my favorite teams of all-time," and reached New Orleans -- site of this year's Final Four -- as a No. 6 seed."That team forever made me dream," Pitino said. "And you all talk about the incredible comebacks that we've had, it's all because of that team. I have always coached every time out no matter how much time is left in the game feeling we could come back."Louisville's current woes stem from a perimeter attack that is the Big East's third-worst at 32.1 percent on 3-pointers. The Cardinals have had trouble replacing the impact of last season's top scorer, Preston Knowles."We are trying to go more inside to develop that," Pitino said. "We're not quite the 3-point threat that we once were but you have to change."The Cardinals would like to get more touches from Gorgui Dieng, but he's fouled out in both Big East losses.Louisville will be trying to bounce back against a Providence team that is one of two remaining yet to win a Big East contest. The Friars (11-6, 0-4) entered conference play on a seven-game win streak.Providence will be trying to salvage the finale of a three-game homestand after Saturday's 66-57 loss to Seton Hall. The Friars were outrebounded 47-33."You've got to be tough in this league," coach Ed Cooley said. "We've got puppies, and we're playing against dogs."Bryce Cotton continues to fare poorly in Big East play, averaging 8.0 points on 30.6 percent shooting. He's the Friars' top 3-point shooter, but made 1 of 7 attempts Saturday."You're not going to win many games with your key shooter going 1 for 7," Cooley said.These teams split two meetings last season, with each winning at home. The Friars' 72-67 victory is Pitino's only loss in eight tries against them."We know it's going to be a tough ballgame," Pitino said. "They beat us last year and they're playing extremely hard."