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Louisville seeks to avoid letdown vs. Providence

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Louisville seeks to avoid letdown vs. Providence

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino isn't worried about a letdown after the big victory over Kentucky.

That's because the No. 4 Cardinals (12-1) have something to prove in Wednesday's Big East opener against Providence (8-4).

Louisville's 90-59 loss at Providence last January was the Cardinals' worst of the season. Pitino credits the Friars for playing well in that game while adding that nothing went right for Louisville in an ``embarrassing'' loss.

On Saturday, Louisville beat Kentucky 80-77. Now the Cardinals must put state rivalries aside and shift their attention to the most important part of the season - the 18-game conference schedule.

``We're thrilled because we played a great first half but disappointed in the way we executed in the second half, and we're going to learn from victory with that,'' Pitino said Tuesday of beating Kentucky.

``We think the league is much more important. It's going to determine where you are at the end of the year. Beating Kentucky, we're delighted for our fans but we didn't give any postgame speech because of mistakes we made at crucial times. The Providence game is very big, so I don't think that (letdown) will happen at all.''

Especially since many areas are a work in progress for the Cardinals, the defending conference tournament champions.

Pitino is pleased with Louisville's 78.2-point scoring average, its highest in seven years and just behind the 2005 Final Four team (80.7). Part of that is due to the recent growth of sophomore forwards Chane Behanan (11.5 points) and Wayne Blackshear (9.6), though guards Russ Smith (19.8) and Peyton Siva (12.0) have improved their offense as well.

``Chane has worked hard at becoming the player he should be in the last month or so,'' Pitino said, ``and I think the guards are getting him the basketball more, which is really important.''

Surprisingly, Louisville's defense is an area for concern. Although the Cardinals' +8.4 turnover margin and 11.4 steals per game rank second nationally, Pitino believes they've become too reliant on Siva and Smith creating takeaways and wants to see more contributions from Luke Hancock and Kevin Ware.

Saturday's return of junior center Gorgui Dieng from a broken left wrist should help the Cardinals' post defense once he gets back into a rhythm. Pitino's hope for the 6-foot-11 Senegal native is that he doesn't allow foul trouble to make him as tentative as in the second half against Kentucky, which erased a 17-point deficit thanks to several Cardinals with at least three fouls.

``He didn't play good defense,'' Pitino said. ``Four or five times he had the ability to go block the shot without fouling and he didn't do it. You've got to play good defense out there, you can't back away.''

At the moment, Louisville has offered little defense against a flu epidemic. Pitino said he was affected during the Kentucky game and the virus has spread to freshman center Mangok Mathiang, assistant coach Kevin Keatts and Behanan, who's considered doubtful for Wednesday.

Louisville did not make players available Tuesday.

Providence, meanwhile, has recently gotten healthy. After starting 7-2 despite playing with seven or fewer players, the Friars welcomed former Arizona forward Sidiki Johnson and freshman guard Kris Dunn.

In Dunn's collegiate debut following summer shoulder surgery, he tied a Providence freshman record with 13 assists while setting another school mark for the most in his first game. He's averaging 7.0 assists, helping a Friars offense led by Big East scoring leader Bryce Cotton (22.0 points), sophomore forward LaDontae Henton (17.3) and junior forward Kadeem Batts (16.6).

Providence is 0-6 in Louisville but the memory of last year's blowout win tells the Friars what can happen when everything clicks. Pitino is more focused on a strong follow-up and momentum he believes the Cardinals will need to defend their Big East title.

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PHOTOS: What the media attention on Rui Hachimura looks like at Wizards workouts

PHOTOS: What the media attention on Rui Hachimura looks like at Wizards workouts

WASHINGTON -- If it wasn't clear on draft night in Brooklyn or the next day at his introductory press conference in Washington, Wizards first round pick Rui Hachimura is a massive deal back in his home country of Japan. He gets the star treatment from Japanese media and that attention has followed him through the first two days of Wizards mini-camp.

Usually, Wizards mini-camp isn't even open to the media. Most years, the Wizards host undrafted players and members of their G-League team with little fanfare as they get set for the Las Vegas Summer League in early July.

But this year has been markedly different with dozens of Japanese reporters and photographers arriving early and staying late, all competing for information about Hachimura to report home to their respective outlets.

While the Wizards' pre-draft workouts, some featuring big-named prospects, had five-to-10 reporters show up to the Wizards' practice facility, the total media contingent probably pushes 50 now.

Here are some photos to put it in perspective...

Here's a photo from Hachimura's press conference on Friday...

On Tuesday at mini-camp, there were two sets of media scrums for Wizards Summer League coach Robert Pack. He first did one with American reporters, then one with those from Japan, who had a lot of questions about one player in particular, of course...

With Hachimura on board, it's a new era for the Wizards when it comes to media attention.

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Mystics win fourth straight, beat Sky 81-74

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Mystics win fourth straight, beat Sky 81-74

 In their second victory against the Chicago Sky this season, Elena Delle Donne dominated once again.

In 33 minutes of play, the star forward racked up 22 points, seven rebounds and 9 of 15 field goals against her former team. She led the Mystics in points and rebounds. 

Tianna Hawkins brought a spark off the bench, tallying 15 points, four rebounds, six of ten field goals and a +11 differential in just 18 minutes of play. 

The Mystics won all four games on this road trip, tying their season-high win streak from earlier this season. Washington is now 8-3 as they head home to host the Connecticut Sun, who just snapped a seven-game win streak.

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