Wed Dec 15 11:37am EST
Maybe it was because he wanted to avoid questions about his potential coaching gig in Puerto Rico. Maybe it was because he was truly seething at his team's lackluster effort against Drexel.
Either way, Louisville coach Rick Pitino endured only two minutes worth of questions after Tuesday night's 52-46 loss before issuing a terse thank you and abruptly leaving his postgame news conference.
The question that truly set Pitino off was one inquiring whether the Cardinals need a player willing to step up and hit a big shot down the stretch in a close game. An irritated Pitino cut off the reporter and launched into a lecture.
"I'm going to tell you this. You're not listening because you keep asking the same questions every time," Pitino said. "We don't have that this year. It's just what it is. We don't have it. We've got to win as a team. The parts are not as good as the whole here. It is what it is and it's got to be that way. We don't have that player. On a given night we may have somebody shoot well, but we don't have that player."
The lack of a go-to scorer hadn't hurt Louisville during a season-opening eight-game win streak prior to the Drexel loss. The Cardinals entered Tuesday night's game buoyed by a surprisingly lopsided victory over No. 19 UNLV, though skeptics still questioned whether they were a legitimate Big East contender or not since all eight of their victories had been at home.
A poor performance against Drexel will only fuel criticism that Louisville's strong start was just fool's gold. The Cardinals shot 12 of 25 at the free-throw line, failed to impose their fast-paced tempo on the Dragons and got out-rebounded 46-26.
"We lost the game because we didn't rebound," Pitino told reporters prior to his abrupt exit. "Very simple stat. We got our deflections, we didn't turn it over and the fact that we didn't shoot well was OK because they didn't shoot well. We just got outrebounded 46-26 and that pretty much tells the story of why we lost."
The bottom line with Louisville is that the Cardinals probably aren't as good as they looked in dismantling UNLV in the second half this weekend nor are they as inept as they appeared against Drexel. They won't get lights-out shooting nights from Preston Knowles and Kyle Kuric every night, but they won't clank everything and get beat on the glass so thoroughly every night either.
Maybe the lowpoint for Louisville on Tuesday night came via Drexel coach Bruiser Flint, who told FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman after the game how he motivated his team.
"I told them, 'We're not playing against Kentucky,'" Flint said. "'We can win this game.'"
Ouch, Louisville fans. That one had to hurt.