University of Louisville sophomore center Zach Price didn't like sitting the bench and not seeing much game time as a freshman for the Cardinals.
So, in the offseason Price listened close to the instructions of U of L coach Rick Pitino and tried to get better.
"I worked hard," Price said. "First and foremost, Coach P really wanted me to get in shape. So, all summer long I worked hard on that."
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Price is in much better shape, noting that he can now last through an entire practice session, and has improved his skills.
Price will be one of several players – along with Stephan Van Treese – to be the backup for All-American center Gorgui Dieng. Price only averaged 4.3 minutes a game in 19 games as a freshman, but should see more action this season.
"You didn't see it (in an exhibition against Pikeville), but Zach has been playing really good basketball," Pitino said. "I think he's going to be a very good player down the road. I have a lot of confidence in that young man."
Price, who scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds as a freshman, had 10 points and 16 rebounds in the three Red-White games. He had eight rebounds in 11 minutes of the exhibition against Pikeville.
"He's really improved," Pitino said earlier in the preseason.
Price said he has "come a long way," since he entered the program after spending his senior year of high school at Jeffersontown following a transfer from Lakewood, Ohio, St. Edwards.
As a senior at J'town, Price averaged 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
"Last year, it was pretty tough for me," Price said. "It was a learning experience. It's tough because I wanted to get out there and wanted to play and I was not necessarily getting the minutes.
"But I was still learning. I learned a lot last year and now I just need to bring to the table this season for what I learned."
Price is more comfortable with his position in the middle on offense and has improved his reaction time and positioning on defense.
Both Price and Pitino said conditioning were a major plus.
"That was really the knock on me," Price said. "For the most part, I have just been getting in shape and working on all aspects of my game – as far as fundamentals. I am in a lot better shape.
This time last year, I would have gassed out on the court. Now, I am less winded out there in practice and it's really helped me out."
Price said he's "hungry" to get some minutes and show the fans his improvement and said he knows his role on this team.
"I expect to be more of a contributor this year," he said. "At least, to be able to do more than last year. I want to be able to step in there when Gorgui gets in foul trouble and be able to help out the team."