Charity stripe hasn't been kind to Cards

January, 23, 2013
If Louisville is to reach its ceiling this season, the onus will be on Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell to get to the gym at odd hours and practice taking -- and making -- countless free throws.

The Cardinals are coming off consecutive losses heading into Saturday's game against Georgetown, notably a court-storming setback at Villanova Tuesday night.

In that game, the Cardinals shot 12-of-24 from the free-throw line, as Behanan was 3-of-9 and Harrell was 0-for-2.

Coach Rick Pitino admits that the free-throw struggles down the stretch played a big role in the 73-64 loss to the Wildcats.

"The 4-spot is what we have to fix, both of those guys are shooting [free throws] in the 50 percentile,'' said Pitino. "We can't have them shoot 50 percent and expect to win close games.''

Behanan is shooting 54.2 percent at the charity stripe, while Harrell is at 51.5 percent.

"These two guys foul shooting, that's a major detriment,'' said Pitino. "We can't go to the foul line in late-game situations. We've got to cure that right now.''

How do you do it in late January?

"It takes a lot of work and repetition,'' said Pitino. "It's on the players; they'll have to do it on their own after we show them the technique. They'll have to get in the gym and do it themselves due to the 20-hour rule.''

The 20-hour rule limits the practice time with the coaching staff.

"Without the 20-hour rule, I'd cure it,'' said Pitino. "Because of that, they have to do it on their own.''

Of course, Behanan and Harrell weren't the sole reasons for the loss to the Wildcats or to Syracuse this past Saturday. The Cardinals turned the ball over too many times against Syracuse late, and it didn't help that there were unforced turnovers again -- not to mention a total of 17 overall -- in the loss to Villanova.

Still, Louisville has the personnel and the veteran leadership to right this issue, win the Big East and compete for a Final Four berth in Atlanta thanks to a backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, a slashing scoring wing in Wayne Blackshear and a defensive stopper on the back line in Gorgui Dieng.

There is no need to panic. But there is work to be done.

"I always want to keep getting better going into the Big East tournament,'' said Pitino. "It's our philosophy to play your best basketball in conference tournaments so you can go right into the NCAA tournament. That's what we're trying to do.''

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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