Coach optimistic after undergoing tests
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino hopes to rejoin his team Thursday, three days after he took an indefinite medical leave.
Pitino was at the Cleveland Clinic this week, getting treatment for an undisclosed ailment that's caused him pain for months, and his assistant Kevin Willard coached the No. 4 Cardinals past Houston 64-48 Wednesday night, their 16th consecutive victory.
Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein spoke to Pitino after the victory and said the coach was hoping to fly back from Cleveland on Thursday morning and make it to the Cardinals' afternoon practice.
On Tuesday, Pitino said he might miss only one game. The 51-year-old coach left the team in hopes of determining the cause of the "urological-related" pain in his left side.
Pitino had tests for prostate and bladder cancer at a Louisville hospital earlier this month. Both turned up negative.
The players were energized by the good news.
"It was a big sigh of a relief," junior guard Larry O'Bannon said. "We just want to go out there and take care of Houston for him."
Luke Whitehead, Louisville's leading rebounder, said Willard told the team before Wednesday's game to make Pitino proud.
"We can't drop off, we've got to keep our energy at the same level as if Coach Pitino was there," he said.
The Cardinals were without leading scorer Francisco Garcia (sprained ankle) and top 3-point shooter Taquan Dean (pulled groin) against Houston. Garcia and Dean are day to day, but Garcia said he expects to play at home against Marquette on Saturday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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