Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Madness: First Weekend Preview Podcast

Trevor Kelsey and I sat down for an hour this afternoon to talk about Louisville's draw and the first weekend of March Madness. We touch on pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about Cal and even a little on possible second round with Duke. Check it out, you'll enjoy it...

Four Factors to Winning - CAL vs. CARDS

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cardinal Nine Dare Opponents To Score On Them

Just when you thought manager Dan McDonnell couldn't top himself in just his 4th season at Louisville, he may be on his way to doing it again this season. Louisville is off their best start in school history (12-0) and are nationally ranked 8th in the country.

The Cardinal Nine will hope to continue the undefeated streak as they prepare to go on the road out of conference down to Oxford, Mississippi to meet #17 Ole Miss for a three game weekend series.

Last year the Cards used a high powered offense to get them into the post season for a 3rd straight year but while this team has shown it can slug it out, it has been an overpowering pitching staff that has helped this 12 game winning streak. Louisville pitchers have held opponent's to just .199 BA so far and are bolstering a 2.54 ERA.

Coach McDonnell has not only put together an impressive pitching staff but did so with a heavy local flavor. Half of the twelve pitchers the Cardinals have used this year are from the state of Kentucky, including 10 of Louisville's 12 wins this year have been awarded to a Kentucky native.

Leading the way has been Lexington's own Thomas Royse (pictured left), who has been the ace of this staff with 3 (tied for 1st in the country) wins in 3 starts while allowing just runs (only 1 was earned). Royse even pitched a 6 scoreless inning against Michigan in the Big Ten / Big East showdown. That shutout continued as Owensboro finest Neil Holland came in to pitch 3 more scoreless innings but pitching shutout baseball has been nothing new to Neil this year.

Holland has appeared in 6 games this season (12.2 IP) and has yet to allow any run, earned or otherwise, hell he has only allowed 1 hit and has 16 strikeouts. Gabrel Shaw (Paducah) is tied with Royse for wins with 3and has only allowed 1 earned run in this young season. Starter Dean Kiekhefer (Louisville) has just 1 win in 3 starts but has held batters to a .169 batting average with a 2.50 earned run average.


After an historic game to close Freedom Hall, once again, the Louisville Cardinals found a way to lose a perfectly winnable game against an inferior opponent. The Cardinals took a positive 1st half lead of nine points into halftime, only to start off the second half with one of their patented 7 minute scoring droughts, losing the lead and falling 66-69 to the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

The Cardinals, namely senior guard Edgar Sosa, started the game out smoking hot, making 3's seemingly at will in his home city. Louisville took advantage of 28% shooting from the field by the Bearcats to build up a 9 point lead going into the half. Louisville also had a big lead despite being badly beaten on the offensive boards 18 to 6. This glaring lack of offensive rebounding would come to haunt them later. Soon after the second half began, it was deja' vu all over again in terms UofL's offensive ineptitude. Edgar Sosa scored 5 points in the first minute and a half, from there, the Cardinals literally dissapeared from the scoring column for a FULL 7 MINUTES!!! until Samardo Samuels scored on a free throw. At that point, the score was 47-45 and the Bearcats confidence level was alive and well after a lackluster first half. The Bearcats built the lead up to 7 before Louisville staged a late comeback to be down only 1 ,66-67, on a Reginald Delk 3 pointer. After 2 free throws from the Bearcats, to make it 69-66, Edgar Sosa came down the court and promptly had the ball stripped with time running out on the clock. Game Over. Cards fly home early on a negative note.

Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. The Cardinals were badly beaten in the rebounding category, 54-33. Sadly that wasn't even the worst stat. 28-9 was the offensive rebounding edge for the Bearcats as they made a habit of scoring on second chance points, which is exactly what happens when you give up that many offensive rebounds. This more than made up for their bad shooting from the field. One of Cincinnati's GUARDS had just as many rebounds,9, than Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings, COMBINED! Like I've said a million times before, rebounding is a sheer act of will. You have to want the ball, and The Cardinals just were not willing to get dirty down low on this night.

Substitions. I've had issues with Coach Pitino's substitution pattern (Is there one?) all year long, ever since he refused to start Terrence Jennings at the power forward position in the beginning of the season. It's as if Coach Pitino is outcoaching himself. It's become like clockwork, the Cardinals have a good first half and build up a good lead, Georgetown and Villanova are great examples. But in the second half they come out a completely different team and fall apart losing the lead. This is where the fun begins watching Coach Pitino. When the Cardinals go on these confusing minutes long scoring droughts, Coach Pitino freaks out and begins to substitute. If his first sub doesn't work, he'll sub another player in, and if that sub doesn't work he'll sub another player in. The longer the scoring drought, the more players Coach Pitino starts shuffling in and out. Coach Pitino will yank a player, usually Sosa, the instant a player makes a defensive or offensive mistake. This does nothing for a players confidence, wondering if and when the Coach is going to bench you after a bad play. The best anology is that the Cardinals are like a computer that Coach Pitino begins to give too much information to, too fast. It becomes so much that the computer, the Cardinals, freezes. Only problem here is that the Cardinals don't have a ctrl + alt + delete button.

Edgar Sosa scoring 28 points was the WORST thing that could have happend in this game. It built up his confidence level to him thinking he could shoot anywhere ,and way, he wanted. Fundamentally speaking, THIS MAKES NO BASKETBALL SENSE! You're point guard is supposed to be the distributor and initiator of your offense. When you point guard is doing all of the shooting, this means that you have noone to get the other players involved offensively. One of the players in this game that was misused entirely was senior forward, Reginald Delk. He was PERFECT from the field, 3 pt line, and free throw line and you refuse to look for him the entire second half?! A head scratcher. I don't think that this is that advanced or unorthadox of a concept.

No effort on the offensive boards was the main reason that the Cardinals lost to a ,fundamentally unsound, playground team. The Bearcats shot terrible from the field and the three point line, yet the Cardinals still let this game slip away. The messed up thing is, Coach Pitino is far too stubborn to admit that there is something wrong and make the proper adjustments. He seems to think that, because all of his philosophies worked perfectly with his 96 UK team, then it should work with all of his teams. This is obviously not the case. No matter who the Cardinals play in the NCAA's,(Yes I'm presuming that they're in), more than a couple of things have to happen. Edgar Sosa has got to pass more than he shoots and get other players involved. Clearly, him scoring didn't work against an awful team. The Cardinals have got to get Samardo Samuels the ball ,sooner than 7 minutes left in the first half, like they did against the Bearcats. Without Samardo, they become a one dimensional shooting team and that will get you no wins fast. EVERYBODY ON THE TEAM HAS GOT TO REBOUND!!! No player on earth is good enough to think that they don't have to put forth effort on rebounding. If the Cardinals don't execute these simple rules, they will be forced to leave the Dance early.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Case for Kuric

I know a lot of people are playing the whole "What should be Kyle Kuric's new nickname be?" on some popular radio shows and blogs this week. I say that question has already been answered. It's "Krazy Kracker". Enough said. The real question should be whether or not that one half against Syracuse proved enough to get the sophomore from Evansville a permanent spot in the starting line-up. I say it's an emphatic yes.

Rehashing to anyone that's been living under a rock or in a coma, Kuric had one of the top 2-3 halves of basketball by a Louisville player in the 20+ years I have been watching them religiously. 22 points, 4-5 threes, 4 dunks and a win over the #1 team in the land at the last game at Freedom Hall. It was the kind of performance movies are made about. The only other second half that compares is Larry O'Bannon's 24 points in the second half and OT against West Virginia in the 2005 Elite 8. Both players' games had extreme significance in the season of their particular team. O'Bannon's got his team in the Final 4 after being down by 1,000 pts at halftime and Kuric's closed out the legendary Freedom Hall in storybook fashion.

However, O'Bannon has started every game that year and played tons of minutes over the 4 previous years. Kuric has only started 2 games his whole career and was averaging a shade over 10 minutes a game before Saturday's explosion. Can Coach Pitino afford to continue playing Kuric the minutes of an 8th, 9th man off the bench when the guy produced like an All-American the game before?

I would be lying if I said I thought Kuric would have a game like that this early in his career. He has shown signs of brilliance the last couple years in limited action, but nothing close to what happened Saturday. Yet when given the opportunity and asked by Pitino to shine, he did just that. In just one half, Kuric proved he can hang with the best of the best, not only in the Big East but the country. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say that one half of basketball solidified him as the most athletic man on the team with his ally-oop dunks that looked more like Dominique Wilkins than Larry Bird.

Kuric has always been an excellent rebounder, prompting Pitino to call him the best "pound-for-pound' rebounder outside of T-Will on last year's team. Pitino is known for his rhetoric, but what has Kuric done to prove him wrong? If Pitino wasn't so loyal to struggling upperclassman, maybe this epiphany would have happened long ago. Reggie Delk, Jerry Smith and Mike Marra are all good college basketball players who have had their moments in the sun. Having said that, none have even come close to putting up as powerful a performance as Kuric did against Boeheim's squad. He is simply the better player at this time and should be rewarded with minutes.

The Krazy Kracker can't be sitting on the bench. It would be like Yankee manager Miller Huggins putting Wally Pipp back in the lineup for Lou Gehrig the day after his streak started or Bill Belicheck benching Tom Brady for a recovering Drew Bledsoe. You just don't mess with fate. And if it fizzles out, Pitino has the fortune of having solid ballplayers like Smith, Marra, and Delk to fall back on. At least we now know he is capable of just completely getting off.

You don't call a girl back the same night you get her number, you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't talk to a pitcher that has a no-hitter and you don't mess with a shooter with a hot-hand. Therefore, Kyle Kuric should see starters minutes tonight or I'll be convinced that the great Coach P is just screwing with us.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Big Blue Ship Sinking?

Someone sent me this picture today and it is awesome. Sorry if I'm not crediting the right person out there, but whoever and wherever you are... good work.
The picture is in response to an article in the LEO yesterday by veteran sportswriter CD Kaplan. Kaplan is known as Seedy K in the publication and has a reputation to push the envelope in his writings. This time I don't think he's pushing it too far because the news has been around for months. Of course, the piece involves our favorite cheaters down I-64 and their two prized recruits - John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins...

There are now two sources, one a member of the national media, who indicate there is a race to reveal some NCAA transgressions by UK frosh stars, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

I am told, though I have no personal knowledge nor evidence myself whatsoever, that the investigations concern cash money and, perhaps, real estate.

There are two nationally known media sources who are, according to sources, scurrying to obtain the last bit of evidence that will allow them to publish the story. One, I’m advised, is the New York Times. The other, one of the major online sports sites.

As per usual, neither of my sources mentioned UK coach John Calipari by name. Only the players were named. This is all I have at this time. Frankly, it’s not much. But, the facts are these. 1) John Calipari has a track record that would not rule out such a situation. 2) These two players, by their actions, indicated they would have played for Calipari at North Dakota A & M, if that’s where he was coaching. 3) None of the Tobacco Road schools surprisingly gave a serious look at Wall, though he was a local

Now this isn't new news to anyone that is as obsessive about the situation as most UK and UL fans are in this state. There has always been the strong rumor that either Pat Forde of ESPN, Jeff Goodman of, Pete Thamel of the New York Times or someone else had some serious dirt on Calipari and was just waiting to double, triple, even quadruple his sources before his paper/website decided to take on one of the more powerful fanbases, coaches, and programs in the country. It's been months since this news first came about and I have been waiting for it to finally hit print. That day hasn't come... yet.
However, you'd have to be blind to think the major news outlets aren't trying to get to the bottom of how all these big-time recruits are being filtered to Calipari. UK fans will dismiss this as a jealous witch-hunt done by guys who are either lacking credibility or would just like to see UK suffer. Yet, those are the same fans that asked the same questions about Cal when he was at Memphis. You just don't go from a program losing it's luster, coming of an NIT season with a recruiting class headed by Jon Hood and Daniel Orton to a powerhouse with 4 first-rounders in the starting line-up without doing something drastic. Right?
Like Kaplan said, there has to be a reason that a North Carolina boy like Wall wasn't coveted more by the big, in-state Tobacco Road schools. Remember, Wall wanted North Carolina to come calling, but a strained relationship with his handler Brian Clifton turned Roy Williams off. Why did Coach K not put up more of a fight for such a transcendent player right in his Durham backyard? Could it be because they knew something was fishy and weren't in as desperate a position as Kentucky to risk NCAA heat for his services?
Why was DeMarcus Cousins so in love with Mike Davis at UAB, knew he was only going to play for a year, but still asked that his letter of intent be amended in case Davis left? Davis had just signed a contract-extension through the 2012-13 season and had his 2rd straight 20 win season. Why would Cousins think Davis was leaving unless someone else sweetened the deal for him a little? These are the questions an article of this magnitude should answer and why it is taking the piece so long to be printed.
Something is up in Lexington and everyone knows it. There is a reason that Cal has been to two Final 4s that aren't in the record books anymore. He recruits players who are great, but not necessarily legal. Whether to the extent of what Kaplan said remains to be seen.
All I have to say is UK fans better hold on to those UK2K shirts because they could become a collectors item in the near future. For all the wrong reasons.

Smith Out, Kuric & Knowles In

Coach Rick Pitino said Jerry Smith will be forced to sit out of this week's Big East tourney due to a thumb injury he suffered after a dunk during Saturday's win against Syracuse. In patented Jerry fashion, the thumb was not actually injured in the act of dunking, yet in an act of celebration following the jam. Smith scored 8 of the Cards' first 10 points Saturday before leaving the game and making way for that crazy cracker Kyle Kuric.

Whether or not Pitino is being straight-forward about Smith's status remains to be seen. It was almost as if Pitino thought the injury was more of a mental thing than anything else. As we have all seen over his 4 years in red, Smith's game feeds off his shot. Jerry could be effective in other phases, but since his shot won't be on point Pitino is worried it will hamper his game. A similar situation occurred with Preston Knowles and his thumb injury earlier this season. Normally, Knowles would be as tenacious of a defender as they come. However, the injury made him tentative and afraid of re-injury.

Where does this leave the Cards in the historic MSG this week? I say Kyle Kuric steps into Knowles' back-up slot and Knowles moves into the starting line-up. With Kuric's epic performance Saturday, Pitino would be crazy not to give him more clock. Many could argue a healthy Knowles is just as effective if not more than Smith this season. Pitino even said Edgar Sosa, who played the 2 in high school, actually looked comfortable playing there in practice, but sounded like he didn't want to be forced into that scenario. This is not as bad of a situation as an outsider would think. Remember, if Smith doesn't get injured on Saturday, you never have Kuric's legendary performance and the Cards are possibly...possibly... fighting for their NCAA lives this week.

The thing to worry about is how Smith missing such crucial games will affect team chemistry when he finally comes back. Pitino is loyal to his upperclassman almost to a fault. Regardless of how well Knowles and Kuric play in his absence, Smith will be inserted back into the line-up when Pitino feels he is ready. If that's in a pivotal NCAA second-round game or even Big East championship, you can only hope his return doesn't cause a hiccup. However, if anyone on the team can fit right back in after missing a few games, it's Jerry Smith.

Louisville is tentatively scheduled to play at 9 PM tomorrow (that'll never happen). Thinking it'll be more like 9:30. Their opponent will be determined tonight when Cincinnati takes on Rutgers at around 9;00 as well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I love being a Cards fan

I'm a fairly young Uofl fan. I'm also not from Louisville so I didn't grow up with the great stories of the 80's championship team. Hell, Darrell Griffith was actually sitting on my couch one night when i was a kid and I had zero clue that it was him or who he was for that matter. But I know sports, and I know what being a great fan is.

Being a great fan has nothing to do with how early you show up to tailgate. Nor does it have anything to do with how many people show up for College Gameday. It has nothing to do with how much paraphernalia you possess or how many games you attend. It doesn't really even matter how many people show up to the game at all.

Being a great fan comes down to one word: Appreciation. Great fans appreciate the fact that we get to cheer on one of the most recognizable Universities when it comes to sports. We appreciate that we live in a great city with great sports heroes that put things in perspective for us. This helps us appreciate guys like Kyle Kuric when he gets to showcase the talents that we all knew he had, but never got to truly see. We appreciate the fact that we have, and have had, great coaches in all of our sports that can recognize talent that doesn't just jump right out at you. Deion Branch, Jason Spitz, Angel McCoughtry, Chris Cates, Boomer Whiting, Harry Douglas, Larry O'Bannon, Taquan Dean, the list goes on for what seems like forever. What's great about being a Uofl fan right now is the fact that we appreciate the fact that these guys weren't "top 50" kinds of players. They have all cemented their place in the history of this program when they could have all been afterthoughts.

It's easy to look to the final four year or the orange bowl year as the best times to be a fan. But for me being a great fan is appreciating the adverse times for your program. People were stunned when we made the College World Series a few years ago. Now we're in the top ten and will more than likely stay there. Our football fell off the map during the Kragthorpe era. But Coach Strong has already made strides in turning the program back around. When people said that we wouldn't make the tournament another one of those not "top 50" guys cemented his name in the lore of Uofl basketball.

I love being a fan right now because of the unknown. I love not knowing what's going to come at the beginning of a season. But I love not being surprised when a guy like Kuric has the game of his life. I love not having the ridiculous idea that we should win a championship every year. I always have faith that our program will never fall too far.

Games like Saturday's win over the Orange make me feel bad for people that don't get to cheer for the 'ville. I love being a Uofl fan.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Winning "Kurics" All Ills

A must win situation, backs against the wall, win or go home, loser shaves his head. All of those sports cliche's, described The Louisville Cardinals playing in Freedom Hall for the very last time against the #1 ranked team in the country, The Syracuse Orangemen. According to Head Coach Rick Pitino, and ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi ,the Cardinals needed to win two out of the last three games of the regular season to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals did just that and than some in what could best be described as a celebration of the Louisville Cardinals basketball team's past, present and future. After this game, the future looks bright.

The Cardinals defeated the Orangemen, 78-68, on a from-out-of-nowhere 22 point explosion from sophomore guard Kyle Kuric. Kuric scored all of his points in a second half that saw the Cardinals outscore the Orangemen by 15 points, 48-33, after being down 5 going into halftime, 35-30. The first half started out in what has frustratingly become the norm, with Louisville settling for 3 point jumpshots and absolutely refusing to try to get anything going in the low post with sophomore center, Samardo Samuels, against the Orangemens 2-3 zone defense. As a direct result of the Cardinals missing numerous outside jumpshots, the Orangemen were able to score on many fast break opportunities. These miscues on the offensive end, and a lack of offensive rebounding, gave the Orangemen a 35-30 lead going into halftime.

The second half would turnout to be a completely different story, but first, some recognition needed to be handed out to past Cardinals during halftime. The 1980 and 1986 national championship teams were both introduced, along with the seven previous All-Americans. After almost a quarter century, even the elusive UofL legend, Pervis Ellison, made an appearance at the final game in Freedom Hall. After that unforgettable ceremony, the present UofL basketball Cardinals had no choice but to close Freedom Hall in grand style. The Cardinals more than delivered, bringing the capacity crowd to a fever pitch with the help of guard Kyle Kuric putting on one of the best performances in Freedom Hall history. Kuric scored 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting, making 4 0f 6 of his three pointers. If Kuric wasn't dunking, he was sinking a three pointer, with all but 2 of his points coming from either dunks or three's.

The Orangemen had no answer for Kuric's onslaught as star senior shooting guard ,Andy Rautins, scored only 3 points on an atrocious 1 of 9 shooting from the field and 1 of 8 from the three point line. The other star for the Orangemen, still injured junior forward Wesley Johnson, had a little better game, scoring 18 points on 6 of 15 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Senior power forward, Arinze Onuaku chipped in with 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Being old enough to appreciate the moment on a sunny Saturday afternoon, at Freedom Hall, is something I will never forget. I know how lucky I am to be able to watch roughly 20 years of basketball coached by two of the best coaches of all time. From 'Doctor Dunkenstein" Darrell Griffith, the greatest UofL legend of them all, to "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison, seeing all of the players who put Louisville basketball on the map, in one building, was a once in a lifetime experience. I couldn't have asked for a better closing to the best basketball arena I have ever been to. The Downtown Arena may be brand spanking new and have all the bells and whistles, but to me, it will never replace "The World Famous Freedom Hall".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Dumb & Dumber Game

Here are my bitter, bitter thoughts about last night's game. Nothing positive, what can I say...
The Cards had an embarrassing performance last night at the Bradley Center. Bottom line. Nothing said or done will be able to change the fact that the team went into a place where they have won 4 of 5 and get absolutely humiliated. However, was anyone out there taken aback by this? Caught off-guard? Shocked that this happened? I, amongst other Louisville fans, thought the team had turned a corner and were going to put these effortless outputs behind them. It wasn't the first time all year this team had people fooled with their inconsistency...

Only 2 Free Throws all game?

I want to blame the Big East officials for this. I really do. They did have their usual 7-10 questionable calls, but the Cards' ineffectiveness and complacency on the offensive end had the most to do with that. It's hard to get fouled on a jump shot and it's even harder if you're not taking the ball to the hoop aggressively. The coaching staff just could not figure out how to effectively get the ball into Samardo which forced the Cards to take jumpers all game. And the lack of aggression was frustrating. Do the Cards have a beef with the refs over lack of foul calls? Yes. Did they do enough to relive all doubt from those dope's minds? No.

Buzz Christmas or Lloyd Williams?

Buzz Williams took a page out of the Dumb & Dumber book of coaching fashion with his Lloyd Christmas get up last night. That was completely outrageous. i know he was trying to get a rise out of the fans on senior night in a huge game for Marquette, but c'mon man. In the day and age of HDTV, Williams made a bad choice. I will give the guy credit for sweating more than the majority of the players wearing red on the floor did. I just want to see him and Bruce Pearl play and both wear their orange/powder blue suits with the loser getting whacked in the back of the knee with a cane.

The Double Down - Samardo's Nemesis

Marquette did a great job in collapsing on Samuels when he got the ball. Due to their lack of height they had to or else Mardo would have dominated. Samuels didn't counter-act that by finding the open man after the double-team therefore Marquette did it every time he touched it. 4 points, 5 turnovers and 1 assist later, Mardo had his worst game of the year and his team lost by 21 points. For some reason the big guy didn't look quite into it last night. He was frustrated early and went downhill from there. It's not all Samardo's fault though. The team plays outstanding when they pass it 3 or more times in their offense and they failed as a whole in that respect last night.

Rotation...or lack thereof

Pitino is playing an alarming number of players at least a quarter of the game this season. 11 players are seeing at least 10 minutes a game. Playing a lot of guys and wearing the other team down with depth has always been a Pitino strong suit, however this season seems different. Guys like Mike Marra, Rakeem Buckles, and Kyle Kuric won't see action in one game and then end up starting the next. I understand playing the match-ups, but I don't understand how that could work with team chemistry and comfort-level. If you have 11 guys that play 10 minutes, then you play those guys every game. Right? Not in the Book of Pitino. For a team that "lacks talent", Pitino sure is playing a lot of guys he feels deserve minutes.

Swiss Cheese Defense

Aside from a blunder like last night, this year's team has been extremely efficient on offense. They average just as many points as the last two Elite 8 teams (09,08) and the Final Four team (05). What separates this team from those is defense. The gap in that separation is the size of Rosanne's ass. This team has failed to stop anyone on a consistent basis. They show flashes, but never for longer than say a half. It starts up top with the 4 guards (Sosa, Siva, Smith, Knowles) and trickles down to the paint. This team has to buckle down and play some defense or else Louisville fans will be watching more games at Freedom Hall.

Groundhog Day All Over Again

After a huge and exciting win at UConn on Sunday, one would have thought that the Louisville Cardinals would take this positivity into the Bradley Center against the Marquette Golden Eagles, and guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA's with a win. Instead, they put out an effort that was a mirror image of the second half against the Georgetown Hoyas, just one game before UConn. Fouls and free throws were the special of the day and Marquette had a feast fit for a king.

The Golden Eagles shot 22 free throws, making 18 for 81%. The Cardinals, on the other hand, shot 1 of 2 from the line. That is not a typo, only ONE PLAYER went to the free throw line! That one player wasn't an experienced senior, but freshman forward Rakeem Buckles. The Cardinals got off to a hot start, making two threes and a jumphook by senior guard Jerry Smith, to go up 8-3 in the first 2 minutes. From there Marquette settled down and implemented a suffocating 2-3 ,trapping in the post, zone that left sophomore center Samardo Samuels frustrated the entire night, keeping him from going to the basket and making passes out of the post. On offense, Marquette guards Darius Johnson-Odom and Maurice Acker ran the dribble-drive offense and took advantage of a lackluster Cardinal defense to score 22 and 15 points, respectively. The first half ended with the Golden Eagles ahead 33-23. In the second half, The Cardinals shooting woes continued as they were held scoreless for the first 7 minutes. The Cardinals fought back to bring the defecit to 10, but ran out of gas to end the game, losing by 21, 69-48.

Samardo Samuels easily had his worst game of the year. Scoring only 4 points on 2 for 5 shooting, he was literally shutdown the entire night. Samuels had no answers for a zone that trapped him down low every time he touched the ball. To make matters worse, he had a game high 5 turnovers. If he wasn't getting the ball slapped out of his hands, he was throwing an errant pass out of the post. I'm no Phog Allen, but major adjustments should have been made in the game with Samuels. When a post player is double teamed in the post, he can do one of two things. He can either pass the ball to a man cutting to the basket or take the ball to the double team and try to get fouled. Samuels did neither of these things and came up with 1 assist and no trips to the free throw line. Not getting fouled was especially frustrating because he could, and should have, controlled the entire game against a lineup whose tallest starter was 6-6! Samuels seemed out of it, and a second behind, from the tip. Realizing this, it seemed like Coach Pitino gave up on using him and benched him for most of the second half. He's just got to be ten times more aggresive moving forward.

Senior point guard, Edgar Sosa, didn't have that much better of a game than Samuels. He ended up with 9 points on 4 for 10 shooting, 3 assists and 3 turnovers. Marquette kept Sosa quiet by shutting down his trademark bull rushes to the basket, and constantly having a hand in his face when he was shooting.

Senior shooting guard, Jerry Smith, got 5 points in the first 2 minutes of the game and absolutely dissapeared the rest of the game. In front of many family and friends, an already dissapointing season for Smith just got a little worse. The wrong time and place for a senior to have a letdown.

Junior guard, Preston Knowles had a bad game putting up a goose egg on 0 for 3 shooting. If the starters are having a bad game and the Cardinals sixth-man is having a bad game, that's a recipe for disaster.

In a game where the Cardinals should have completely dominated the Golden Eagles in the low post all night, they brought nothing to the table in terms of energy, offense or defense. They just looked they were sleepwalking and going through the motions. To be beat at the free throw line by an undersized team 18 to 1 is beyond frustrating. Key adjustments were not made for whatever reason, be it coaching or players, and the end result was an awful game all around. If I knew what was wrong with this team, I'd be in coaching, but I do know something has to change across the board and it starts with the players energy. This is one of the least energetic teams I have seen in a long time. If the Cardinals bring this same type of effort to Freedom Hall on Saturday at 2 on ESPN, then it's going to be a more than bittersweet closing to Freedom Hall. I have Cardinal faith that we will close the Hall in grand fashion.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pick a Game....Any Game


      The Ville has two more games before heading into the Big East Tournament. They are teetering on the edge of not getting an invite to the big dance. Experts are predicting that the Cards are in however, and will be placed anywhere between an 8-10 seed. It seem's like to secure a sport for sure the Cards might want to think about knocking off either Marquette on the road or Syracuse at home in Louisville's final game in Freedom Hall.

      Which win does Louisville need the most? Another road win versus an upper mid level Big East squad who is recognized along the same line as Louisville is....or, a win at home against the #1 team in college basketball who they have already beaten? Now the answer might look obvious. You would think #1 ranked Syracuse in the last game at Freedom Hall would be the mort important win, but is that necessarily true? Of course I know all Cards fans would love to take down the The Orangeman by completing their sweep of them at home to close out The Hall, who wouldn't want to do that? Though would it be better than beating Marquette? a surging team, on the road.  The Cards will be competing with them for tournament rights and seeding so shouldn't you you maybe want to beat them and secure your spot by beating the team who is just above you in conference on the road. Would beating Syracuse at home prove Louisville's true place in the conference? It might also. Confused yet? We'll you probably should be because I think either win would ensure us a spot in the field of 64....I just wanted to get your mind working a little bit. Here's a thought....How about the Cards just go undefeated in these last two games, and the conference tournament winning our 2nd in a row. Maybe bump us up to a 6 seed....It could happen. Now lets break down Marquette....

      A team picked to finish 12 in the Big East Marquette has come up with 10 Big East wins this season and is fighting for a first round bye in the Big East tournament. If Louisville has anything to say about it they will have the rights to that first round bye which is still open to either school. 

     The Golden Eagles are coming off of a stretch where they only saw 1 loss out of their last 9 games. Though the 1 loss came against Pittsburgh which was clearly the toughest game during that stretch, the next set of tough games for them were all road games that went to overtime against the likes of Seton Hall, St. Johns and Cincinnati. Other than that I don't really know much about Marquette. Other than Lazar Hayward their senior leader should probably be stopped because there are only 2 others on their team who average double figures a night.

      Honestly I am not worried about stopping Marquette. If I were the Cardinals I would be worried about doing what we need to do to not play like a bunch of reckless street ballers out there and play as a team. I think if they just worry about doing the right things and taking care of themselves they could easily come out a winner. Though if they don't rebound, take advantage on 2nd chance scoring opportunities or play with hustle, urgency or passion, they may find themselves in a must win at home against the #1 team in the country....and that is pressure they don't need.

      In my opinion the key to a victory tonight are the role players. Samardo has sort of ben the corner stone to our winning important games. Though teams are starting to catch on to that ever since his 36 point performance against Notre Dame. So as long as he comes out and still goes to the rim hard and goes to the free throw line, plus those fore mentioned role guys come out to play and we see spurts from Preston Knowles, Jarred Swopshire, Peyton Siva and we have to see consistency from Sosa, I think the Cards have a good proven method to wrapping up any team in the country weather that be Marquette tonight or Syracuse this Saturday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Listen to Evening Buzz Tonight at 9 PM


Long Makes Strides at Combine

And people tried to say there was no talent on last year's team.

Scott Long was one of the few bright spots in the Krag era, and might have earned himself a spot on an NFL roster next year with his impressive performance at the Scouting Combine this weekend in Indianapolis. Among all the wideouts in attendance, Long had the highest vertical leap (41.5 inches) and fastest three-cone drill (6.45 seconds) & 60-yard shuttle (11.06 secs). Long tied for most bench press reps at 225 lbs (20) and was second in the 20-yard shuttle. The 6'2 219-pounder finished in the top 10 of every drill done by the wideouts and scored highest overall.

Even though he was dealt a bad hand in his time at Louisville, Long's performance this weekend bodes well for his pro chances. Many players have gone from Mr. Unknown to Mr. Popular solely based on their performance at the combine. TE Vernon Davis of the Niners via Maryland made himself some serious scratch with his combine freakishness a couple years back. Not that Long got himself into the first round, but scouts and GMs alike know who he is now.

With all the attitude problems surrounding the NFL these days, Scott Long is a GMs dream when it comes to respect and discipline. According to Aaron Wilson of the, Long has drawn interest from teams that are operated by no-nonsense guys. New England (The Hoody), Miami (The Tuna), New York Jets, Carolina, and Kansas City. I could realistically see Long seeing the field for any of these teams with the exception of New England.

The man they called "Baby T.O." at the Schnellenberger Complex put up a T.O.-esque performance in front of every NFL scout/exec/coach/writer who matters in Indy. Good thing is, I don't think Long will follow T.O. when it comes to attitude.

Hopefully the karma police pay Long back for his tumultuous times here and he spends some time cashing those big NFL paychecks. He deserves it.

The Tiger Emerges When it Counts

Tied for 7th in scoring this game, Edgar Sosa's last two out of six points he scored were the most valuable of the game. He went in for a layup with eight seconds remaining on the game clock, and came out with the bucket the Cards needed to put away the U Conn Huskies, 78-76.

      This isn't the first game winning shot Sosa will be remembered for. He hit the game winner last season against arch rival I have to remind Cards fans of that stat. Though Edgar has been taking a lot of heat from Cards fans this season. He hasn't seen the success or received the praise of past Louisville seniors like Terrence Williams and David Padgett who helped lead their teams to a successful seasons and trips to the Elite 8. Sosa was praised in his earlier years for playing beyond what most freshman and sophomores typically played. He was nicknamed the Tiger for his ability to pounce on the opposing team with confidence. Yet the last 2 years he seemed not to have grown at all.He could still be that player who could make things happen from time to time but still made bad decisions, and just all around didn't grow as a player from his early days. This Afternoon he did make one play....the play, that everyone  will remember....and least for the rest of this season.

      Louisville played quite good even though they were dominated on the glass 22-50 and Kemba Walker put together a nice game scoring 28 points 4 rebounds 3 assists and 2 blocks. U Conn in the end just committed too many turn overs, or should I say Louisville forced too many. 15 of the 22 TO's U Conn committed were steals by the Cards. Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles played extremely well on defense each getting 3 steals and offense. Knowles hitting big shots and Siva taking on the roll of field general and utilizing his leadership skills. I personally can't wait to see these two guys starting, and working together next season.

      Louisville goes on the road again this week to take on Marquette, before heading back home for the last brawl in Freedom Hall against Syracuse. At least one more win should secure a spot in the NCAA tourney for the Cards. Though another win on the road or a win against one of the top 3 teams in the country could be tough. Stay tuned folks....


The Heart Stop Kids

After a wild and crazy game, grades need to be given to the major players in the game. Here are my grades, and the reason for them, handed out for the UL/UConn game:

Edgar Sosa A: Edgar did not have his best game by no means, but he took his best shot when the game mattered most, taking and making the game-winning shot with 8.2 seconds left. His shots didn't fall, shooting 2 of 8 from the field, but he made up for it in the assist category tallying 6 assists with only one turnover. Before Edgar made the shot, I would have given him a C+, but winning cures all ills and Edgar is the classic example of the old phrase "It's not how you start, it's how you finish".

Samardo Samuels B-: Samardo had a rough shooting day, going 4 for 11 from the field, but still managed 14 points by shooting 6 of 7 from the free throw line. He also worked hard on the boards, getting 7 rebounds with 3 of them on the offensive glass. One season long blemish on Samardos' game is lack of ball security in the post. Too many times he easily gets the ball knocked out of his hands. In this game he had 4 turnovers as a direct result of soft hands. That's about 3 too many for a 6' 9" 260 pound man. Samardo only had 1 assist. At this point in the season, where all defenses are keying on him, he should thrive in the assist category when he is double and triple teamed. Our success in the post-season will literally depend on Samardo Samuels' hands.

Jerry Smith B-: Jerry had a really good game offensively, shooting 4 for 5 from the field and 3 for 3 from the free throw line for 12 points. But after those totals, he was pretty much absent from other categories. He had 0 rebounds, only 1 assist, and 2 steals. As a senior starting 2 guard, he simply has to do more at a much higher level. This whole season has been less than positive on the court, so let's hope this last game will give Jerry confidence to play better in the games coming up.

Terrence Jennings D: Terrence had 6 points on 3 of 5 shooting. After those numbers, he showed up in no other form or fashion, tallying 0 rebounds and 0 assists. The 0 rebounds is inexcusable. At 6' 10" and 240 pounds there is no reason he couldn't come up with at least 5 or 6 rebounds. This is nothing but a lack of effort and desire in the rebounding game, which is exactly what is required to be a great rebounder. I've told this story a million times. Former Pitt center, and now San Antonio Spur power forward, DeJuan Blair was an undersized center at 6' 7" and he also happend to play without ACL's in EITHER knee!! Yet he was able to vacuum in rebounds at an astonishing rate of 12 per game his senior year. For Blair, rebounding was an act of shear will and that is something that is sorely missing in Jennings' game. Terrence doesn't lack intensity the whole time because he did come up with 3 blocked shots, it's just that he needs to bring it every second of every game.

Reginald Delk D: In 17 minutes of play, Delk came up with 0 points, 1 rebound and 0 assists. Delk was a ghost in this game. I will never understand Coach Pitino's crazed persistence to leave upper-classman in a game when it is more than obvious that he is having a bad game. That is why you have a thing called a bench to put another player in to spell another player. Read on to find out who that other player could have been.

Mike Marra ?: For the third straight game Marra played zero minutes. Whether Marra kicked Pitinos dog or he forgot to bring doughnuts one time too many, we the paying public should know why in the world he has been turned into a modern day Rodrick Rhodes. I just don't get it.

Peyton Siva A+: Yeah, the grades a little high, but for a freshman point guard to perform the way he did in a big time must-win game in the Big East in enemy territory, he earned every bit of that A+. In only 17 minutes of play, Siva scored 8 points on 3 of 7 from the field with 2 three pointers, had 5 assists, got his quick hands on 3 steals and commited ZERO turnovers! Sivas performance was stellar as he was the key to the Cardinals comeback. What I did not understand at all was Coach Pitinos decision to take Siva out of the game for a slumping Sosa. As soon as Sosa came into the game, the 7 point lead that was built ,as a direct result of Siva, was gone in a matter of minutes. Taking out a younger player who's having a career game to keep a seniors mindset positive makes no sense to me. You keep the player, no matter what year he is, that is playing the best game at that time.

Preston Knowles A: Preston was terrific coming off the bench, scoring 12 points and getting 3 steals in 18 minutes of play. It seems like he's back to his super-sub form and that couldn't have come at a better time. Preston hit huge shots late and played superb defense and I have no question that he will get even better as his nagging injuries seemed to have finally worn off.

Jared Swopshire B: Jared a had bad shooting day, scoring 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting, but as usual his work ethic showed up on other parts of the stat sheet. He had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. If only the rest of some of the players like Terrence, Samardo and Jerry had the no quit attitude of Jared, there is no telling where this team would be in the standings right now.

There you have it folks, my first report card for the UofL/UConn game. UofL needs one more win to solidify their spot in the NCAA's. The Cardinals should be able to ride the confidence from this game into Tuesdays game at 9:30 on ESPNU against Marquette at The Bradley Center. It's good to see the urgency from most of the players on the floor and especially on the scoreboard. The wild ride continues.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

By the Numbers: Player Impact

Strong & Jurich Talked in October?

According to those in attendance and a fellow blogger, Tom Jurich said he talked to Charlie Strong about the Cardinal head-coaching job back in October. Jurich and Strong were speaking at a Churchill Downs Turf Club meet & greet Wednesday night. Jurich was introducing Strong and spilled the beans a little. From Paul Sykes of
The plan to replace Steve Kragthorpe as football coach intensified after
former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy repeatedly confirmed Jurich’s
beliefs about Strong as the ideal candidate to take over Cardinal football.

U of L maintained contact with Strong during his final season as
Florida defensive coordinator. Strong told Jurich after the Florida vs. Arkansas
game in October, “There comes a time when you have to make a change in your life and Louisville is the place I want to be.”

Tony Dungy just went up 265,456 spots in my favorite people on Earth list after hearing that. Louisville fans should send that guy a Christmas card and when Strong wins a BCS bowl, Dungy should get a ring.

Although extremely awesome, this is in sharp contrast to the way the Louisville athletic department treated a story I wrote on OCTOBER, 7th for I was told by people that would have no reason to lead me wrong that Jurich had been searching for potential replacements for a coach who's name I won't make you cringe with. The story and I were then called "bogus" "erroneous" and "irresponsible" by everyone sans a few friends and truth bearers. These comments from Jurich further reassure that in October he was looking for new coaches, basically letting Kragthorpe ride-out the season as a lame-duck. Any claims to the contrary are bogus, erroneous, and irresponsible.

Did a meeting take place during the season? Yes. Was Kra..err...that coach present? That I am not sure of now. From what I understand, he was a gone after the PITT debacle on October 2nd. Jurich then told the in-the-know people that the mess was going to be cleaned up. The story was written October 7. The details thereafter are irrelevant.

I know it's like beating a dead-horse, but I want to reassure that when there's a report on here, it doesn't come out of thin air. We take a lot of pride in not writing rumors and innuendo unless we indicate that. The good thing is the Cards have a so-far spectacular new coach in Charlie Strong and that coach going to be out of sight, out of mind.
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER (I have no life otherwise) - @RobJonesLyes

Pitino Watches Teague & More Cool Stuff

- Good read by Matt Norlander of College Hoops Journal on how God-awful, terrible, disastrous, vile, horrid, atrocious, reprehensible, nauseating (plus any other synonym for dreadful you can come up with) the Big East officiating has been this year. This is not just a Louisville thing. There are some other pissed off individuals that have rooting interests elsewhere.

- Jody Demling said on his blog that Rick Pitino has been blazing the recruiting trail in the last week. First he saw 2011 commit Wayne Blackshear lead his Chicago Morgan Park team to the public school championship. Saturday he watched 2010 preferred walk-on Elisha Justice play against J'Town & Sunday he visited Huntington Prep - home of 2010 commit Justin Coleman and recruit Gorgui Sy Dieng. After spending a couple days to prepare for Georgetown, Pitino went to Conseco Fieldhouse last night to see prized recruit Marquis Teague's (pictured left) Indy Pike team defeat Lawrence North with the already committed Michael Chandler and Ryan Taylor. For a guy that's lost his passion, recruiting edge, and is taking the first plane he can get out of Louisville is sure spending a lot of time reassure the team's future.

1. What do you make of the reports that Louisville's Rick Pitino is
interested in the Nets' job?

DeCourcy: He already has issued an emphatic denial—which, of
course, he did when a similar story was reported regarding the Sacramento Kings
last spring. And that story was true. The Kings were contacted by someone
representing Pitino's interests. So I believe someone got in touch with the Nets
on Pitino's behalf.
The fact these stories are leaking, though, indicates
he's not being well-received at the NBA level. If your organization were serious
about getting a deal done with Pitino, you wouldn't want your intentions
bleeding all over the Internet months before an agreement is likely to be
It's easy to understand, given the developments in his personal
life over the past year, why Louisville might no longer be a comfortable place
to live. Moving to another college would appear odd and awkward, and he'd likely
have to take a lesser (and lesser-paying) job if he did. The NBA would be a more
logical direction.
Pitino told, "I'm done with professional
basketball. I've put the professional ranks behind me." But these stories
suggest it's really more the other way around.

- Seedy K (CD Kaplan) of the LEO breaks down the Georgetown game as only Seedy K can. Couple good points on the lack of enthusiasm by the Freedom Hall faithful and a great anecdote about Samuels yelling at Sosa and demanding the ball. both pretty obvious statements, but the paper (C-J) or recruiting sites (Scout, Rivals) failed to mention it for some reason...

- Here's a two-part interview with potential 2011 recruit from Chicago Mike Shaw. It has been said that Shaw and Blackshear would be a "package deal" & with Blackshear recently committed, it looked good for the Cards. However, things may have changed a bit, but I'm sure Pitino is still going strong after the kid. He's a 5-star and ranked in the top 20 by most recruiting services.

- Not liking the attitude I am seeing from many Louisville fans on social media and message boards about Tuesday's loss. They went from NCAA noise-maker to NIT hopeful that fast? Let's be serious. Bottom line is Georgetown is one of the 10 best teams in the country and the Cards didn't play terrible at all. Austin Freeman wasn't letting anyone in the country beat the Hoyas and that includes Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky. 2 more wins and the cards are definitely dancing. I'm hard on the team as much as the next guy, but you can't completely throw away the last 3 games after the performance Tuesday. A win at UCONN and the detractors will jump right back on the bandwagon. If Louisville fails to make the tournament after the stellar play they have shown since the loss to St. John's I would be completely shocked. Unfortunately, I wouldn't put it past this team to pull a shocker

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sosa's Roland Rating

Here's an explaination of the Roland Ratings from It's a pretty cool way to gauge a player's value when he is on and off the court...

The main components of the 'Roland Ratings' are a production measure (a variant of John Hollinger's PER rating) for a player's own stats versus the counterpart player on the other team while he is on the court, as well as a simple on court/off court plus minus. This rating is actually more of a placeholder until the more sophisticated analysis we produce is made public, but still offers a good fast read on player performance.