Patrick McSweeney steals show at UofL-Bellarmine preseason game

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What were you doing at about 12:35 p.m. Sunday?

Fifteen-year-old Patrick McSweeney, all 5-feet-3 of him, was busy living out a dream at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Teen cancer patient surprised with chance to play hoops for Bellarmine]

That's because his friend, Bellarmine basketball coach Scott Davenport, surprised him with a uniform this week and told him he'd be in the starting lineup for the Knights' preseason game against big, bad Louisville.

"My heart was just pounding," McSweeney, who has battled cancer since he was 5 years old, told a gaggle of reporters after the game. "Thoughts just kept rushing through my head. It was just crazy, (with) everything going on. Getting out on the court, looking around the stadium and seeing everyone, then finally making it after kind of a rough miss. It was really cool."

The miss McSweeney referred to was a nervous air-ball from three-point range, but he gathered his composure and dropped in a short baseline jumper on the next possession to get his name in the box score and cut Louisville's early advantage to 3-2.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Memories made at camp for kids with cancer]

That's when the whistle blew, allowing Davenport to sub in for McSweeney, prompting a standing ovation from the 20,432 in attendance. McSweeney heads to Philadelphia on Monday for treatment, the unforgettable afternoon still fresh in his head.

"(Sunday's event) really gives a little extra boost that a person going through a severe illness usually needs," he said. "I know a lot of friends who, sort of when they have experiences they get excited about it. It just helps them have more motivation to keep on battling, knowing that so many people want them to live."

Davenport was equally enthusiastic after the game.

"The city of Louisville and this community won today," he said. "I think we can all learn a tremendous lesson of being appreciative. If (Patrick) said thank you once today, he said thank you a thousand times. I wonder if anyone in this room has thanked anyone today."

Added Louisville coach Rick Pitino: "(Sunday was) a cool thing for a young man. Everyone in Card Nation and at Bellarmine is praying that he makes a nice recovery."

McSweeney's departure after the first minute gave way to a fairly lopsided contest. The Cards used a suffocating defense to pressure the Knights into 12 first-half turnovers and prevent easy looks. The visitors were eight-of-25 from the field, including just one-of-12 from three-point range, in the opening 20 minutes.

The second half was much closer, but it began with Louisville ahead, 49-20, so the only questions were about when the Louisville starters would call it a day and whether 7-foot freshman Anas Mahmoud would make an impact. The final score of the final preseason tuneup was 82-57.

The Cardinals begin their regular season Friday against Minnesota in the Armed Forces Classic in Puerto Rico.

Pitino's son, Richard Pitino, is in his second season as the Golden Gophers' coach.

BU also opens Friday with a game at Northwood University in Michigan.

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