Reeling Cardinals get timely returns

December 12, 2009

Moments before Louisville coach Rick Pitino addressed reporters Friday, guard Preston Knowles walked in and placed a large gold Christmas ornament on a table.

The gift wasn't the shiny orb, but the fact Knowles held it in his injured right hand, the surest sign he's ready to return after missing the Cardinals' 87-65 drubbing by Charlotte on Saturday because of a tender thumb.

The Cardinals (5-2) certainly could use him after enduring the worst home loss in nine seasons under Pitino. The 49ers dominated from the opening tip, and Pitino pulled his starters with more than six minutes remaining.

Pitino expects Knowles and freshman guard Peyton Siva - who sat out the Charlotte game with a sprained wrist - to be back Saturday when Louisville hosts Western Carolina (9-1).

"They're probably not 100 percent, but we need them ... because practices haven't gone well," Pitino said.

Neither have the games.

Knowles and Siva were injured in a loss to UNLV two weeks ago, and without them the Cardinals were hardly dominant in a victory over Stetson and looked absolutely lost against Charlotte.

"They're probably not in basketball shape, but their legs are fine," Pitino said. "If we don't have them, we can't beat Western Carolina. They're every bit as good as Charlotte."

While Knowles and Siva will play, senior guard Jerry Smith will sit out his second straight game with a sprained Achilles'. And Pitino said sophomore forward George Goode could be lost for the season after tearing the meniscus in a knee during practice Thursday.


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