Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PRIDE WEEK


Day 3. And they’re still staying classy in Lexington. (Right.)

Location notwithstanding, UNLV will be 13.5 point underdogs tonight when they take the court at Freedom Hall. Maybe oddsmakers got wind that Earl Clark has worked his way out of the doghouse and back into Pitino’s starting lineup.

Angel McCoughtry had 14 points and 6 boards to lead the No. 13 Cards (13-1) past New Hampshire last night, 82-40. Angel, who was coming off a 4 point performance in a win against Central Michigan Monday, and the Cards open conference play against DePaul Saturday.

Happy New Year. Go Cards.

Cup o' Jones : UNLV Gameday

Hope everyone has a safe and happy new year's celebration tonight. First the Cards must take care of business against UNLV tonight. We don't need another reason to get completely blacked-out (ie: we should be in Memphis or, hell, even Birmingham for a bowl), so please - do your fans a favor and get the job done. Plus, I'm ready to start talking trash about that smell coming from I-64 East. The Kayuts don't have anymore games leading up so they've already started. However, I promised myself not to start the onslaught until after the task at hand - the Runnin' Rebels.

- Coach Pitino held a press conference today at the Yum! Center to preview the upcoming games. He failed to mention the "Dream Game", only listing the Mildcats in a group of good defensive opponents. There may be a Thursday or Friday presser to preview the game, but I doubt it. Here are some of the highlights..
  • The Don said that UNLV was was of the better teams defensively that he's has watched on film. They give you "no paint" and make you settle for the jumpshot. On offense, the Rebels have switched to a dribble-drive-motion (DDM) very similar to Memphis. I think the Cards can get some steals if they stay at home against this penetrate-and-kick style. Coach continued to say that whatever you practice, UNLV will stop. Very good test for guards.
  • Earl Clark will start which makes me think he's having a better week during practice. Pitino has to keep Earl on his toes or else he'll play unmotivated ball. Earl spoke with the media as well, saying he was happy to be back on the "red team" (starters) and just wants to stay positive, get better and make his teammates better. Proceed Earl. Proceed.
  • A question was asked to the effect of "Who is this year's David Padgett aka facilitator/playmaker?". Pitino said obviously T-Will and Clark are the main cogs, but that he would like to see more out of his guards. He questioned if the guards are even playmakers at all, which sounds like another patented Pitino motivational tool.
  • Edgar Sosa is now the 4th guard according to Coach. As always, he said Sosa has the potential to be a playmaker for this team but let's his emotion get the best of him. If he gets frustrated, he feels like he has to score. Coach P went on to say it might be hard for Sosa to get going ow that he's basically been demoted
  • "Samardo wants to learn, he's anxious to learn, but he has a lot to learn." I feel like that quote pretty much sums up our freshman stud right now. You shouldn't complain about a freshman center averaging 15 points and 7 boards, but with Mardo's potential you can. Coach went on to say that Mardo needs to become an Elton Brand-type of player. Pitino said Samuels needs to run the floor better, pass out of the post more efficiently, and play above the rim in the paint to achieve his true potential.
  • Few other nuggets...Team has had ample time to prepare for UNLV as opposed to the Minnesota debacle...Coach would be ecstatic if Swop could give 8-12 solid minutes backing up Clark and is very pleased with his play...Swop's game is ready, but his body isn't...Coach won't go more than 10 deep because you lose continuity, this seemed to be directed at Jennings and Kuric.
- UNLV star player Wink Adams, who is averaging a team high 14.5 ppg, has been nagged by an abdominal strain suffered in the Arizona win. He has not practiced all week, but Coach Pitino is preparing for an Adams-led Rebel team. Adams seems like the type of veteran player that can overcome a few missed practices and not miss a beat. However, if he fails to play it would be a huge advantage for the Cards.


- Cardinal recruits Steven Van Treese and Justin Martin led their Lawrence North (IN) squad to a title in the T-Mobile Invitational last night over #1 rated Derrick Favors and South Atlanta. The game, held at Ball St. was televised on CSTV and I watched the future Cards in action. The junior Martin (pictured above) is a slasher or swing player and had a rough shooting night (would you expect anything less?) but was sporting a killer box-top afro a la Will Smith in the Fresh Prince. Martin did show off some good defense and athleticism. The potential is very evident and judging by the picture, will be fun to have in a Cards jersey. The senior Van Treese doesn't get to show off his skills as much as he should due to the amount of talents around him. I know he gets the tag of "slow white center" but so did David Padgett after Kansas. SVT stepped back and hit a 15-foot jumper and was very active on the boards. He is very fundamentally sound and will make for a super power forward one day. Steve had 8 pints and 13 rebounds.

- However much they kill college football, the computer ratings are somewhat of a good barometer for basketball. Well, not really, but I still look at them. My favorite, The Pomeroy Ratings, currently has the Cards ranked a respectable #10. Mr. Pomeroy says we have had the 247th best/worst luck in the nation while playing the 246th rated schedule. On the total opposite side of the spectrum, realtimeRPI.com has the Cards ranked 36th with the 37th toughest schedule. In the middle somewhere, our old friend Jeff Sagarin has the Cards 36th with the 229th ranked schedule. Can these nerds meet at a Star Trek convention somewhere and create one universal computer rating? How hard is it?

- Cards win tonight by 20 with Samardo having a big night at the line. Keep checking back because I got a fever and the only prescription is smacking around the Mildcat faithful.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Show Me My Opponent-UNLV Runnin' Rebels



Location: Paradise, Nevada
Enrollment: 31,000
Conference: Mountain West

Stadium: Thomas and Mack Center

Record: 11-2 (0-0)


Head Coach: Lon Kruger

TEAM STATISTICS UNLV
---------------------------------------------------
  • SCORING.................. 942
  • Points per game........ 72.5
  • FIELD GOALS-ATT.......... 320-745
  • Field goal pct......... .430
  • 3 POINT FG-ATT........... 98-296
  • 3-point FG pct......... .331
  • 3-pt FG made per game.. 7.5
  • FREE THROWS-ATT.......... 204-300
  • Free throw pct......... .680
  • F-Throws made per game. 15.7
  • REBOUNDS................. 458
  • Rebounds per game...... 35.2
  • ASSISTS.................. 192
  • Assists per game....... 14.8
  • TURNOVERS................ 158
  • Turnovers per game..... 12.2
  • Assist/turnover ratio.. 1.2
  • STEALS................... 93
  • Steals per game........ 7.2
  • BLOCKS................... 57
  • Blocks per game........ 4.4
TEAM STATISTICS LOU
---------------------------------------------------
  • SCORING.................. 783
  • Points per game........ 78.3
  • FIELD GOALS-ATT.......... 277-624
  • Field goal pct......... .444
  • 3 POINT FG-ATT........... 84-244
  • 3-point FG pct......... .344
  • 3-pt FG made per game.. 8.4
  • FREE THROWS-ATT.......... 145-229
  • Free throw pct......... .633
  • F-Throws made per game. 14.5
  • REBOUNDS................. 423
  • Rebounds per game...... 42.3
  • ASSISTS.................. 186
  • Assists per game....... 18.6
  • TURNOVERS................ 132
  • Turnovers per game..... 13.2
  • Assist/turnover ratio.. 1.4
  • STEALS................... 87
  • Steals per game........ 8.7
  • BLOCKS................... 64
  • Blocks per game........ 6.4
Notable Alums....
  • Veronica Hart, adult film star and director
  • Jimmy Kimmel, comedian and talk show host
  • Suge Knight, entrepreneur and CEO of Death Row Records
  • Kenny Mayne, ESPN personality

  • Athletes.....
  • Greg Anthony, former basketball player, current basketball analyst with ESPN
  • Stacey Augmon, former basketball player
  • Keon Clark, former basketball player
  • Armon Gilliam, former basketball player
  • Larry Johnson, former basketball player
  • Anderson Hunt, former basketball player
  • Sidney Green, former basketball player
  • Shawn Marion, basketball player, currently with the Miami Heat
  • Reggie Theus, former basketball player, currently head coach of the Sacramento Kings
  • Randall Cunningham, former quarterback
  • Keenan McCardell, football wide receiver
  • Ickey Woods, former football fullback
  • Cecil Fielder, former baseball first baseman and designated hitter
  • Ryan Ludwick, baseball right fielder, currently with the St. Louis Cardinals
  • Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., former baseball pitcher
  • Todd Stottlemyre, former baseball pitcher
  • Matt Williams, former baseball third baseman

Head Coach Lon Kruger....

  • Longtime collegiate and NBA basketball coach Lon Kruger completed his fourth year as the Runnin' Rebels' head coach in 2007-08, compiling an overall 91-42 mark (.684), after finishing a season that kept the program in the national spotlight.
  • Hired at UNLV on March 15, 2004, as the 10th full-time head coach in UNLV men's basketball history. Kruger has led the Runnin' Rebels to records of 30-7 and 27-8, over the last two seasons as UNLV made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2007.
  • Kruger, who earned his milestone 400th career win on Feb. 9, 2007, with a 68-51 victory over Colorado State at the Thomas & Mack Center, has led UNLV to back-to-back seasons with at least 27 wins for the first time since 1989-90 and 1990-91.
  • A veteran of two-plus decades as a head coach on the collegiate and professional levels, Kruger came to Las Vegas after a four-year stint in the NBA.
  • Following 18 years as one of the nation's most successful college coaches, Kruger spent three seasons (2000-03) as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and then part of the 2003-04 season as an assistant with the New York Knicks.
  • At the collegiate level, Kruger has compiled an impressive 409-275 overall mark in 22 seasons as a head coach at Pan American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-90), Florida (1990-96), Illinois (1996-2000) and UNLV (2004-present).
  • His ability to build programs is also evident in the fact that he has led all five of the schools he has coached to 20-win seasons.
Projected Starters
  • Guard - Jo'Van J. Adams (nicknamed "Wink")
  • Guard - Rene Rougeau
  • Guard - Oscar Bellfield (started 8 of 13 games) or Tre'Von Willis (started 5 of 13 games)
  • Forward - Joe Darger
  • Forward - Darris Santee
They only have two players that are taller then 6-8 and neither one of them play. Wink Adams is their leader and best player (14.1ppg, 25 in win over Arizona, but held to 5 in loss to Cincinnati).The six pplayers before mentioned as the starters all play over 20 mpg, led by Adams (30mpg), Rougea (29mpg) and Darger (28mpg).Darger (31 made at .34%), Bellfield (17 made at .45%) as well as Kendall Wallace (14 made at .41%) are their shooters. Adams has taken 68 attempts from beyond the arc (Darger leads team in attempts at 90) but has only connected on 17 of them (.25%).At 6-6 210lbs Rougeau laeds them in rebounding (8.1 rpg).
U of L has a rematch tonite with the Runnin' Rebels, who the Cards beat last year during their west coast trip. Wink Adam leads UNLV in scoring and is regarded as their best player. Lon Kruger is a coach with experience and he will have his boys ready to play. UNLV doesn't have a player over 6-8. Oh yea, our boy Derek Jasper transferred to UNLV, but won't play til next year.
Prediction: the days of Tark, Larry Johnson, and Stacey Augmon are over. Cards roll 77-62.

PRIDE WEEK

Day 2!


Er, uh, Big East Round-Up:


Conference play just kicked off last night. I told you all it was coming.

No. 8 Georgetown smoked the No. 2 Huskies last night at UConn on ESPN2. The Hoyas opened up 18-3 and never looked back, despite the fact freshman phenom Greg Monroe was in and out of the game a lot with foul trouble. Monroe still finished with 16 points by extending Hasheem Thabeet from the goal and either driving around him or shooting over him.

The final score, 74-63, is not indicative of just how dominant G’town was. DaJuan Summers led all scores with 18.

Interestingly enough, the Hoyas only got 6 points out of their bench.


Down 3 at half, No. 13 Villanova rallied to beat Temple last night, 62-45. Corey Fisher came off the bench to drop 23 for the Wildcats.

Cincinnati got beat by Memphis. Don’t care much for either.


WVU ripped No. 12 Ohio State Saturday, 76-48. But for reasons unbeknownst to the author of this piece, the 10-2 Mountaineers failed to crack the Top 25 in either poll. I guess 9 from one conference is just way too many.

And despite Rob’s pleas to the contrary, it is still football season. For some anyway. And guess who leads the Bowl Challenge Cup, awarded to the conference with the best winning percentage during bowl season? (Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.)

Why, that would be the overrated, weak, outclassed Big East conference at 3-0 after South Florida and West Virginia took care of business this past weekend and Rutgers came back to beat N.C. State last night. You might recall the Big East took this thing two years ago after going 5-0 and amidst a lot of the same criticism it's receiving today.


Up next is Pitt vs. Oregon State in the Sun Bowl, Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.


T minus 5 days. TIP IT OFF ALREADY!

Oh yeah. Beat UNLV.

Best Team Money Could Buy

I'm sure most of you remember when UNLV had it's day in the sun. They won the 1990 national title, beating the Dukies like a drum 103-73. It is still the largest margin of victory and most points in a title game. Coach Jerry Tarkanian had the best team money could buy with future NBAers Larry "Gramama" Johnson, Stacy "Plastic Man" Augmon, Greg "Young Republican" Anthony and Anderson "On the Take" Hunt leading the Rebs to a 69-6 record in a 2 year span. They stormed through the '91 season going undefeated, only to fall to the same Dukies they embarrassed the year ealier in the Final 4. Weeks before the defeat, Hunt and a couple teammates were pictured lounging in a hot tub with the mafia connected and noted game fixer Richard Perry. Perry had also been tied with many recruits and allegedly greased the pockets of many a Rebel. The NCAA struck down with a year postseason penalty. An agreement was made that UNLV would be able to defend their title and miss the next year. Stacy Augmon's ridiculously long arms, Johnson's gold tooth, Anthony's Kid N Play box-top afro, and Hunt's deadly stroke created the perfect storm and one of the best 2-year spans in NCAA history for a team not named UCLA. Tarkanian, however great a coach he was, got every school he coached put on probation (Long Beach, UNLV, Fresno) in a 700+ victory career. This has to be the team they based "Blue Chips" off of.

Even though I don't condone cheating, it did bring us teams like the Fab 5 at Michigan, most of the late 80-early 90s Miami football teams and this great Runnin' Rebel team. All revolutionized their sport but did it in a sleazy way. It is somewhat of a basketball moral dilemma whether or not to pass this team as legit in "greatest ever" discussions. I say cut them some slack, but if UK ever does it they better get the death penalty. That would only be fair right?

Cup o' Jones

I'm going to start trying to give some links and news bytes for you all every morning. Some could be long, some short (twss) but I will give my best to have something Card related in this spot every morning. I decided on Cup o' Jones as the title. if anyone has a better idea send me an email or add it to the comments section. Here you go...

- Rumors are circulating that Coach Pitino is very unhappy with the way Earl Clark has been practicing the last week. Clark's lazy and lackadaisical effort led to Pitino sitting him on the bench in favor of Jared Swopshire against UAB. Sources say Clark spent the better part of two practices this past week running on the treadmill due to his lack of effort. This is an obvious motivational tool Pitino is using to get E5 rilled up. Clark plays his best when angry and on the big stage (just ask OU's Blake Griffin) however Pitino feels if he gave that same intensity daily during practice, Earl would be unstoppable and help his teammates improve in the process. I see Swop starting until Clark's effort increases, whether that be Wednesday or later.

- Coach Pitino will have a news conference today at 2 pm to preview the upcoming games with UNLV and the Kayuts. We will be there and if the stars are aligned correctly, we could have some audio. Knowing the minds around the L Yes! compound that is highly unlikely so expect a transcript sometime this evening.

- I will not start an official countdown to the Battle of the Bluegrass until the UNLV game is over. I would hate to lose to a team we shouldn't just because we are looking ahead to a team that we are clearly better than and shouldn't make the team nervous in the first place. The Rebels recently defeated Arizona and lost a heart breaker to Cincy. This game will be just as important for the Cards' NCAA resume as the a win against the Big Blue Boo-Hoo.

- In case you missed it, LB coach Bill Miller was promoted to defensive coordinator, replacing Ron English. Miller is a 31-year coaching vet who has had stints at places like Arizona St., Miami (FL), and Michigan St. He spent last year as the coordinator for Western Michigan. All I have to say to this guy is good luck and if you have a job a year from now I won't be the only person surprised. To use one of Krag's patented cliches, "He's gonna have to make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what". God, thinking about football makes me nauseous. Trying to stay positive however hard it may be.

Anybody that has some pictures of goofy looking redneck Cat fans make sure you get them to me and we'll put 'em up. It's Pride Week - there are no holds barred.

Monday, December 29, 2008

PRIDE WEEK

Day 1.


Please don’t accuse me of overlooking opponents. I’m well aware we got a formidable one coming up on New Year’s Eve in the 11-2 Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. In honor of the transition from '08 to '09, I’ll be there in my Armani suit (and by Armani suit I mean Unseld throwback) sipping bubbly (and by bubbly I mean Miller Lite draughts) in all my glory (and by “glory” I mean screaming profanities at Sosa and mimicking everything T Will does while my girlfriend tells me to sit down, I’m embarrassing her.) But whatever.

That being said, it’s just about peanut butter jelly time. If you’re good, maybe Rob will put up one of those little second-by-second countdowns until Sunday afternoon’s tip-off.

Quick comment (because that’s what I do) on the UAB game: It’s become increasingly obvious that we’re at our best when it’s McGee, T Will, Earl, Samardo, and Preston. Obviously, that’s open to debate. And I understand and appreciate that the owner-operator of this blog is a diehard Jerry Smith supporter, but you can’t play with six, and the numbers don’t lie.


OK. T minus 6 days, and some change. Where’s that countdown?

The Ron English Farewell Tour


Former Louisville Defensive Coordinator, on his way out the door to take the head job at Eastern Michigan, sat down to chat with the Courier-Journal's Eric Crawford.


Crawford concludes we were "fortunate to have English," whose defense gave up 63 points and 671 yards of total offense in its season finale at Rutgers. The Cards D ranked better only than Syracuse among Big East teams, giving up an average of 29.8 points and 368.8 yards per game.


These are just stats, folks. Yes, English coached with a great deal of intensity and his passion for the game was evident each time we saw him out on the field. Yes, he lacked the dogs he needed for the fight and would probably have been able to open up some pipelines recruiting-wise had he stuck around awhile. Yes, our defense was better than it was last year. And yes, EC, we were probably fortunate to have had English.


But let's call a spade a spade. The D was improved; it was far from spectacular. And while, if given the chance, English may have been able to rectify the situation, maybe even catapult our lackluster defense into a top 15, top 10 unit, he didn't. And if he stuck around awhile, maybe he might have been given the reins to the whole kit and caboodle.


But don't look for this blogger (and yes, I use that term loosely) to sit and speculate on what might have been or what should have happened. It is what it is, and this past year's defense was at best mediocre, sometimes less than inspiring, and now its leader has left and is on to greener pastures. (Shut up, you know it's a greener pasture.)




So fare the well, Coach English. The LYes!Report wishes you all the best in your future endeavors. We hope that your successor brings as much intensity, passion, recruiting wherewithal, and potential as you brought.

More Mike Bush

Just give Mike Bush the ball and let him do his thing! The Louisville legend has been unhappy this year in Oakland, mostly due to the fact that they run that team like a White castle at 4 AM and lack of touches. The head coach was replaced early and Bush was asked to play fullback, a position he has never played dating back to grade school. In typical Bush fashion, he did what was best for the team and waited his turn. That turn came Sunday in Tampa as Bush ran for 177 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries crushing the Bucs' playoff hopes in the process and making one Trevor Kelsey a very happy Eagles fan. It's been a long time coming for #19 and hopefully this opens some eyes around the league.

If the rumors out there are correct, then Justin Fargas is on his way out of Oakland after this season. That would leave the Raiders with Bush and Darren McFadden as the RBs. It seems to me as the perfect scenario for a "Wildcat" offense. McFadden ran it in college and Louisvillians know how great of a QB Bush was in high school. I know the offense might be a tad gimmicky, but the Dolphis made the playoffs using it a good amount and I expect other teams to follow suit. If the Raiders hire an open minded coach, the scenario could come to life. All that is needed is the opportunity. Owner Al Davis missed his first Raider game since 1979 Sunday, so let's hope the TV guys painted a good enough picture for him. Bush was healthy all year and only saw the ball 95 times rushing where he averaged 4.4 yards/carry and caught 19 passes for162 yards (8.5 ypc). Those are numbers worthy of a starting look.

Another possibility is a trade, something I feel Bush would welcome. Teams like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and even the Bucs could be in the market for a featured back this offseason. Judging by today's performance, Bush could handle the load very well. We'll keep our eyes open for any rumors or news concerning Mr. Bush coming up and keep you posted.

Interview w/ Mr. Bush courtesy of CBS 5 in San Francisco

Plus/Minus for UAB Win

Here are your plus/minus ratings for the UAB game. Again, it is calculated by the margin of points the team loses or gains while a particular player is in the game. For example, T-Will started the game with the score 0-0, he left the game with the count 24-17. That's +7 for ol' T-Will. It is a very good judgement as to how one played and used by many coaches across the country as a tool. There are a few huge numbers in this one. Minutes played is in parentheses.

Starters
Jerry Smith (26) EVEN
Preston Knowles (20) +18
Jared Swopshire (14) +11
Terrence Williams (37) +23
Samardo Samuels (36) +25

Bench
Earl Clark (26) +9
Andre McGee (28) +24
Edgar Sosa (6) -6
Reggie Delk (2) -5
George Goode (4) -7
Kyle Kuric (1) +2


- Very impressed with Samardo playing 36 minutes. That is a testament to his conditioning and improvement on Pitino's concerns - passing and rebounding. He improved on his rating against Minnesota (-10) by 33 points.
- Andre "Buckets" McGee proved that his performance against Minnesopta was an aboration due to the travel and improved his turnout by 38 points. i think playing off the ball a little helped, but it could just be a case of his shot finally falling. Great recovery and improvement by Buckets.
- T-Will and Mardo left the game for the first time at the 8:30 mark in the first half with a 24-17 lead. They quickly re-entered the game around the 6:30 mark with only a 24-22 lead. they then finished off the half by building the lead to 9 (+7). That was the only run greater than 3 points that the Blazers went on.
- Edgar Sosa, George Goode and Reggie Delk were subbed in at that 8:30 mark and taken out 2 minutes later with a -5. They tied for the single worse stretch for any player in that timeframe.
- T-Will played the best individual segment in an amazing 19 1/2 straight minutes from the start of the second half to :30 seconds left. The Cards were a +9 during that time and Williams had 11 points 6 boards and 3 assists including 3 trifectas.
- According to this scale the best possible line-up would have been - McGee/Knowles/Williams/Mardo/Swopshire. They averaged a +20.2. The game starters averaged a +15.4. E5 was only 2 behind Swop, so they could be interchangeable.
- No Card that played more than 6 minutes had a segment worse than a -2. Jerry Smith recorded that in the first half when the lead was cut from 5 to 3 in an 8-minute span.

Breaking Down UAB Win

The Cards looked sharp and rested Saturday against Robert Vaden's of Alabama-Birmingham in an 82-62 victory. As he said he was going to do earlier in the week, Coach Pitino shook-up the starting line-up and altered playing-time which turned out to be successful.

This victory was impressive, but could be a case of fool's gold. Mike Davis' Blazers had only 6 scholarship players and looked like they'd been stranded in a desert towards the end of the second half. Robert Vaden is a player and I'd hate to see the Blazers if they lost him. His shooting went cold in the second frame due to fatigue, but the shooting display he put on in the first half was impressive. Good to get back on the winning track even if it's at the expense of a shorthanded team.

The point guard battle between Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee was so brutal that Pitino decided that both shouldn't start. Instead, Jerry Smith got the ball at the point and Preston Knowles took his spot at the 2. This is my ideal backcourt because the tenacity on defense is unmatched by any other combination. Also, it gives Terrence Williams the ability to handle the ball more up top with two good shooters to kick it out to on the wings. Sosa's playing time is diminishing by the second. He played only 6 minutes and to be brutally honest his play wasn't missed. As we all know, Sosa has the potential to be a high-caliber point guard. Yet, if he doesn't buy into the team concept there is no reason for him to play. This might have been a wake-up call to Edgar from his coach - We don't need you to win. On the other hand, McGee answered the bell by scoring 13 points on 3-6 from beyond the arch in 28 minutes. "Buckets" McGee has always been better off the ball. Hopefully if Smith, Knowles or T-Will run the offense smoothly he will get more off-the-ball opportunities.

I hope T-Will's shooting performance was a product of the tinkering of his jumpshot and not just luck (which it could be). It is easy to tell when he gets that elbow in and when he lets it flair out. Len Elmore made a great point about the shot-doctoring on ESPN's telecast saying, "It takes shooting 100's, even 1000's of shots a day to change your body's muscle memory". Well, Williams is the type of gym rat that will go to those measures to improve. Everyone knows if T-Will could develop a consistent jumper like what he displayed against UAB (5-8 3's) he would be absolutely deadly. He's already a great defender, slasher and rebounder as well as the team's leader. If his J continues to drop, it adds a new dimension to the team.

Other Tidbits...

- Swopshire for Clark in the starting line-up doesn't really make sense to me. Other than the fact that it gets the others involved early. Coach Pitino has suggested before that Clark would be better off the bench and I did suggest that Swop start in a post after the Gophers loss, however it just doesn't seem right with Clark in a warm-up at tip-off. It looked like E5 took it well which is another sign of his maturation process and he knows the decision was based on the team getting better, not lack of performance. Swop had a great game - letting the game come to him without disrupting the offense. The drop-off between the 2 is pretty big, but Swop gives Earl the opportunity to stay fresh without hurting the team.

- Coach Pitino's main beefs with Samardo have been his inability to be active on the glass and pass out of the double team. Although UAB had no one taller than Mardo, he looked tremendously better rebounding the ball and throwing his body around. As the game progressed, Samuels began to recognize the double-team and find open shooters. As great as he has been, it must be noted that Mardo is only a freshman and will have growing pains like the games against Ole Miss and Minnesota. Nonetheless, it looks like he is starting to take heed to his coaches demands. I aslo like how he wasn't pouting after a call or miss like he has previously. I can't wait to see him eat Patrick Patterson's lunch Sunday.

- The losses to Western and Minnesota made the Cards look vulnerable to the rest of the nation. This game was a step in the right direction. I am convinced that both those games were set up wrong and doomed to be losses. The team was fatigued after the travel problems in Arizona for the Tubby-ball loss, which was a self-admitted scheduling disaster. And after all the trouble Jurich gave Western for cancelling the home/home a few years back, the Toppers were out for blood in a home environment. If anything, they helped Pitino and his staff know which players had the moxy to get through the fire.

-Another solid non-conference opponent comes into the Hall Wednesday in the form of UNLV. The Cards look to repeat the 20 point drubbing they served the Runnin' Rebels last year in Vegas. The Cards were without both Padgett and Palacios in that game last year, so they basically have the same team back and they're playing in our house. The only problem would be the team overlooking the Rebs in anticipation for KenSUCKy on Sunday. I'm going out on a limb and saying if the Cards show up they should win both games this week by a combined 50 points. That's a big if though...

IT'S RIVALRY WEEK BABY... TIME TO FEAST ON SOME MILDCAT

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mike Bush is Dirty

Dirty in a good sense.

The Louisville product did work Sunday, rolling for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Raiders' upset of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was his first full NFL game, as RBs Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas were both out with injuries.

Bush rambled for 77 yards on the Raiders' final drive, setting up a Sebastian Janikowski FG that iced the victory and destroyed the Bucs' playoff hopes. He carried the ball 27 times on the day, a career high.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

8:28


8:28 left in the first half we have our first Edgar Sosa sighting....hmm

Samuels, keep playing well and why is Earl Clark settling for 3's? And why is Vaden getting so much room?

Keep it going Cards!

Enter Mike Davis

At one time I used to think Mike Davis was a pretty solid coach. Actually, I still do but UAB is a dumpster fire right now...suspended players, unhappy players, etc. The vision that UAB had that Davis was going to come in and immediately bring an upper echelon of players (maybe a few from IU) has never really happened. If nothing else Louisville fans need to hold onto the memory of Davis raising his arms in the air as Darth Vaden burned UK last year...but before we get into today's wide array of games, this is courtesy of RickPitino.com ...just in case you haven't read it.

Ok fans, it’s very disappointing but do not get discouraged. That game was not the real Louisville. I put our team in a difficult situation. Little time to prepare, little time to rest. We arrived at 5:00 a.m. eastern standard time. No bus for 45 minutes. We finally got to bed between 6:30 and 7:00am. Bus ride to practice was 1 hour due to Friday traffic. Minnesota was better and deserved the victory. They had nine days of preparation and out played us at both ends.

Recently Tom Crean texted me about our team last year, pointing out that we were the best quick passing team in the country. He was on the money. That is precisely our weakness this year. Too much dribbling, that is our number one problem. We will cure it by UAB. We need ball movement which leads to player movement. Defensively we played our poorest game. Give Minnesota the credit for creating good shots in their offense. We fouled too much and did not move our feet. We must develop Goode and Jennings at a quicker pace. Both players are struggling picking up the fundamentals. It will get done.

We have been down this road before. This time it will be more difficult. But I have confidence in our veterans and team. We have three crucial games coming up before the start of the Big East conference. All three are significantly better than any team we have faced. With a strong dose of humility added to our basketball team, our improvement will happen at a rapid pace. I am looking forward to this unlimited time to work on improving our team. There will be no time restraints and a lot of hours logged by our team in the next two weeks.


Well, that's what Pitino's been saying and honestly I couldn't agree more.
There are many things that are now obvious with this team. We're actually finding out who this team is...that's why a game like today is so big. Are we simply going to go through the motions and play like the last 2 games? OR are we going to come out fast and knock UAB off the feet? If we do, will we have long scoring lapses where we look very pedestrian? Here are some areas where improvement is vital.
1. Quick Passing - I agree with Pitino in this facet. This team dribbles...a lot! And that isn't good giving McGee and Sosa look very lost. I think today you see a lot of Knowles and Jerry Smith. It's show up or shut up time for our guards...but of course we've heard all of this before.
2. Freshmen integration/development is lagging (and that's an understatment). Not only with Jennings but Swop isn't getting many good touches. Jennings rarely gets touches. Samuels is getting blocked by point guards and can't finish anything around the basket. Today, on December 27, 2008, I'm praying Samuels resembles nothing like Caracter....I'm just saying. Missed layups, weak around the basket, turnover prone...it's something to watch.
3.Attitude. The Courier-Journal had a good story earlier this week about the team's attitude. Do you feel like watching these early season games, whether a win or a loss, that the team feels it should be given a win because at one point they were preseason top 5 and have many capable athletes. This team needs ANGST. They need Earl Clark playing mean, Samuels finishing around the basket and drawing fouls, TWill running the show, Smith being mean on defense and spotting up, and something from the PG position. But, of course, this all comes back to attitude. I'll be interested to see if we're cocky, hungry, or apathetic today.
4. Samuels FACTOR. Let's face it, college basketball has changed. I know freshmen are freshmen but also we need to face the fact that we NEED Samuels. He isn't simply just another good player on our very deep team. He needs to be our first or second leading scorer, top rebounder, and one of our better passers. Right now he's struggling to finish, bringing the ball below his waist and losing it, and letting much smaller guys score on him on defense. I think, whether he would admit it or not, Pitino had his fingers crossed this season because he knew he would have to rely on a true freshmen....enter Samardo Samuels. Today I want to see Samuels have about 20-10 with some nice moves around the basket, solid at the line, but most importantly protect the ball.

**Tomorrow I'll be breaking down the NFL...sorry Rob, it looks as if my GMEN aren't going to be helping your playoff chances...I'm very sorry.

GO CARDS!

p.s...Tom Crean texted Ricky P...I thought the two had some bad blood?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Siva Rolls, Takes KOB

Louisville signee Peyton Siva was named MVP of the King of the Bluegrass tourney at Fairdale High after he and his Frankin High Quakers romped J'town last night, 72-55. Siva led the Quakers, ranked 19th nationally and the first out-of-state team to take the tournament since 1999, with 29 points, 3 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists, and a partridge and a pear tree.

Mad props to the Fairdale and KOB folks for putting on another great show.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peyton Siva is Ridiculous



Can he just play right friggin’ now? PLEASE!? Seriously, this kid is sick.

In last night’s King of the Bluegrass Tourney at Fairdale High School, future Louisville point man Peyton Siva got downright ridiculous to lead his Franklin (Seattle) Quakers to victory, 91-88, against a very formidable Coral Reef (Miami) team.

Siva’s work included 32 points (50% from trey, 17-18 from the charity stripe), 10 assists, 4 boards, 2 steals, and – get this – zero friggin’ turnovers. He scored from inside and out, played phenomenal defense, and created for his teammates, all to the delight of his future coach, Rick Pitino, who was in attendance.

Siva faces J’town tonight in the KOB final at 7:30.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

Monday, December 22, 2008

Big East Round-Up

Reminder: conference play starts (gulp) next week. Moment of truth has arrived, ready or not.


The new polls are out. UConn and Pitt hang on to their No. 2 and 3 rankings, respectively. The Huskies are coming off a big win against No. 7 Gonzaga Saturday, 88-83 in OT. A.J. Price (pictured left) led the way with 24 points and 10 assists.

Louisville
dropped to No. 19 in both polls.

Pitt remained unbeaten by knocking off Florida State yesterday, 56-48.

No. 14 Syracuse improved to 11-1 Saturday by knocking off Memphis, 72-65. Jonny Flynn dropped 24 and threw 6 dimes for the Orange.

The 2008 Big East/SEC Invitational ended with a 2-2 split after Cincinnati beat Mississippi State and the Cards took care of Mississippi on Thursday. Marquette and South Florida took Ls last Tuesday.

Georgetown (8-1) has moved up to No. 9 in the coaches' poll after an eleven-point win against Mt. Saint Mary’s this Saturday.

No surprise here, but Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody leads the conference in scoring, averaging 22.6 per. He’s followed by Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell (22.2), Marquette’s Wesley Matthews (20.4), and Pitt’s Sam Young (20.1).



That's all I got. Off to buy crap and wrap it. Humbug.

History is on Cards' Side

The Minnesota loss was not something Cardinal fans expected. If you go by the polls, the Cards were supposed to blow through the non-conference schedule of unranked teams with ease. They weren't supposed to lose to in-state little brother Western and especially not to the Tubster. Two was the maximum number of losses expected going into Big East play. Now that is the minimum. I'm here to say that's fine.


Scheduling the game in Arizona with 36 hours to prepare, all the while flying from Cincinnati in bad weather put the odds against the Cards in the first place. Pitino admitted that in hindsight, it was an absolutely horrible scheduling decision by himself. Something else must be wrong, right? Traveling doesn't affect you that bad, does it? What are we going to do? I say calm down and remember what some other memorable teams did early on, before they became great.


What we're going to do right now is go back. Way back. Back into time...


-In 1975 the Cards were 2 free throws away from ending the career of John Wooden with a loss in the semifinals. That team lost to then in-conference rival Bradley and were taken to OT twice in the early going.


-The 1980 national title team took a similar journey out west in the season's early stages and lost to unranked Utah.


-In 1983's Final 4 year the Cards lost to Purdue at home in the non-conference.


-The 1986 national title team started off 11-6 and ended up winnig 17 games in a row to capture the crown with a freshman center who struggled early and a NBA prospect PF having trouble becoming a leader.


-Sweet 16's in '93 and '94 were preceded by losses to Vandy and Virginia Commonwealth resepectively. Both at home. (Not that a Sweet 16 would be gratifying this year, but those were good teams).


-Pitino's Final 4 team in 2005 lost to an Big Ten team, Iowa, on a neutral court before going west to win the Maui. If I remember correctly shooting woes were the cause of that loss as well.


As you can see, the night is darkest before the dawn. Every good team goes through it's struggles (unless you wear Carolina blue this year). Coach Pitino is going to tweak a few things - including different combinations in the backcourt to generate more scoring and different practice methods to toughen up Samardo Samuels - he said it so himself. These guys have been told how good they are since Earl Clark decided to come back in May. Now they sit on the brink of being unranked and a 7-2 record with the tough part of the non-conference schedule yet to come. I, as everyone should, have confidence that Pitino will get the best out of this team. This team's best could be very dangerous when it is reached. Everyone knows the talent is there, but the execution isn't. Don't fret, the necessary changes will be made and this team will get the ball rolling soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Emmanuel Yeager Commits to New Mexico


Jody Demling is reporting that QB Emmanuel Yeager from Washington, DC has changed his mind for the second time and is now committed to New Mexico as opposed to the Red Rage. Previously, Yeager had spurned Central Michigan to commit to the Cards so it's not totally surprising. This commitment started rumors of Krag's desire to run an offense centered around a dual-threat QB. With this news, the Cards have only pocket-passers to choose from in Zach Stout, Tyler Wolfe, NC State transfer Justin Burke and recent JUCO signee Adam Froman. Matt Simms hasn't said he's not coming back this year officially or even really unofficially, so I'll add him as well. Not one of those guys has been mistaken as a dual-threat QB. As we saw this season, the QB is the most important position and if a certain level of performance isn't met, the team struggles. I still say Burke takes the job due to his intelligence and decision-making abilities, but honestly any one of the 4 or 5 mentioned could line up under center next season.

Yaeger is the 32nd ranked dual-threat QB and a 3-star player by Rivals and a 2-star, 82nd ranked QB by Scout. Cards fans should not be discouraged by this. I didn't ever see him fitting in with the current offense and he didn't seem like the kind of player you revamp your offensive playbook for (not saying it's not a good idea). He gets annointed with the "buyer beware" sticker after this switch. One time changing your mind I understand. Two is pushing it. Good luck to both parties involved.

Plus/Minus Ratings for Minnesota Loss

One of the only good things that has come out of the sport of hockey, in my opinion, is plus/minus ratings (and Sean Avery, but that's another story). It shows how well your team produced while certain players were in the game. For example, if Preston Knowles comes into the game and the Cards are down 3 and he comes out and they have taken a 5 point lead, his plus/minus (+/-) would be +8 for that particular segment. All you do is simply add or subtract each segment to get a positive or negative figure that represents the teams production while X player is in the game. I also added minutes played in parentheses to show which guys' playing time might be too high or too low. Got it? Good.

Backcourt-
Edgar Sosa (18 minutes) - minus 4 - did not play the last 14:47 of the game after playing a stretch where the cards went from a 5 point halftime deficit to a 9 point margin. I don't want to say anything now for fear I'll regret it later. Not a big fan right now.

Jerry Smith (25) - plus 3 - played the single best stretch of any one player as he came in with the Cards down 12 at the 6:52 mark in the 2nd half and left at the 3:21 mark trailing only by 5. Jerry hit a 3 and grabbed 1 board in that stretch.

Andre McGee (14) - minus 12 - clearly the worst performance by one player as the team never was never above water with McGee in the game (only breaking even once). This was evident by his ZERO points, ZERO assists, and ZERO rebounds all the while fouling out of the game. I hope he didn't have any family from Cali travel to watch that game. Not very good at all.

Preston Knowles (20) - plus one - the Preston/Jerry back court was the most successful as they were plus 7 when in the game at the same time. Pitino said he needed more production out of his guards. It looks to me like either Smith or Knowles needs to learn how to play point...fast.

Reggie Delk (8) - EVEN - played in 3 separate 2:30-3 minutes stretches where he didn't hurt the team one bit. ZERO turnovers with 2 blocks and an assist. Delk did not take a shot, something he needs to look for more often. Could he play point or am I dreaming?

Kyle Kuric (3) - EVEN - played last 3 minutes of second half and got 2 big offensive rebounds. He pulled down more offensive boards than all the other guards combined. Maybe the vets should take some notes when Kuric is in. Look for his playing time to grow exponentially in this next run of games.

Frontcourt -
Terrence Williams (33) - minus 6 - pretty clear-cut that the team goes as T-Will goes. It seemed like he was looking to score more (17 pts on 6-15 shooting) than create for his teammates. He still had 5 assists, which is funny because ESPN said the whole team only had 4 about 5 minutes after the game yesterday, and the squad needed him to score at the end. I'll take 17-6-5 from T-Will every day. His defense was a different story. I hope he's getting it for letting Hoffharber and Busch score all over him. The Cards were a +3 without T-Will in the second half.

Earl Clark (36) - plus 1 - Earl left the game at the 16 minute mark with the Cards trailing by 6. By the time he got back into the game at the 14:00 mark the Cards were down 11 and a win was pretty much out of reach. No explanation here. Clark can't be expected to play the whole game. However, he can take better shots and maintain his solid starts throughout the game. The worst stretch he played (-6) was the first portion where he scored 8 of the team's first 15 points. In all other shifts he played in, the team was +7. Can't complain with 16 and 11 from E5.

Samardo Samuels (27) - minus 11 - Did Mardo really only take 4 shots? I guess when you get blocked by an ugly white-boy they don't count it. Samuels didn't play the last 8 minutes of the first half and the team broke even. In the second half, he came into the game after a short rest with the team down 4 at the 17:49 mark. He left at the 7:49 mark with the Gophers up 12 (-10). the single worst stretch by any player. 7 points 3 boards 4 turnovers and a foul out. I thought it couldn't get worse than Ole Miss, I guess it can. The last Louisville player with such poor passing skill was Cliff Rozier and everybody remembers how much of a "black hole" he was.

Jared Swopshire (5) - minus 6 - Not very good considering he played only 5 minutes. 3 points 2 rebounds. I think it takes Swop a couple minutes to get into the flow of the game. I would almost suggest starting him if it wouldn't put T-Will or Clark on the bench.

George Goode (8) - plus 3 - Goode played the last 5 minutes of the first half and the Gophers did absolutely nothing inside hitting 2 threes though. Goode plays excellent defense and is active the entire time he's in the game. I think when the team is forcing the ball to Mardo too much, Pitino should throw George in there to increase the ball movement and actually improve on the defensive end. However, I'm not a hall of fame coach.

Terrence Jennings (3) - minus 1 - played only 3 short minutes in the first half. Still learning the system. His biggest contribution to the team would be to make Samuels work his tail off in practice, which in turn will make the team better.

Only 4 guys on the positive side this game - Smith, Knowles, Clark and Goode. The same guys I'm sure the majority of fans out there feel played well considering. I'm going to try to do this for every game so we can start getting a better judgement of what is going on. Plus, traveling thousands of miles in 48 hours wasn't a variable in this equation. Based solely on the Minnesota loss the starting lineup should be Knowles and Smith at guard, Williams and Clark at the forwards and Goode at the 5 spot. I do not think that would sit well with Mardo, but it's worth a shot.

Siva, King of the Bluegrass Thoughts

I spent the this weekend watching as much college basketball as one could possibly do. Thursday in Cincinnati. Friday at the King of the Bluegrass at Fairdale for 4 games and Saturday I was only able to attend 3 - the Cards and UCONN/Gonzaga on TV pulled rank. I did see some great high school ball, the sport at it's purest, over the last two days. Of course it was led by the point guard of the future for the Fighting Cardinals, Peyton Siva.

The photo on the left is from my camera phone when Siva went down tonight with an apparent sprained ankle. This happened at the start of the second quarter causing Siva to sit out the rest of the half. He walked off the court on his own power. Seeing his Franklin Quakers only leading by 4 at the half, the gritty Siva decided to fight through the pain and join in a team effort to beat Pleasure Ridge Park 68-57. Siva finished the game with 9 points and 7 assists on only 3/9 shooting. However, Siva will be just what the doctor ordered for the Cards. You see, Siva doesn't have to shoot to be happy. He enjoys getting his teammates involved and will take 9 and 7 and a win any day of the week. Siva does this thing where he points to the air when he makes a free throw or a bucket. But he also does it when a teammate does the same and was definitely the vocal leader even if he wasn't the leading scorer. He makes quick, smart decisions but does try to make the spectacular pass sometimes to a fault. Sources say Siva's ankle is pretty swollen (like soft ball swollen) and will be a game time decision in the semis against Coral Reef (FL) on Monday. At least he has a day to rest it.

Siva, at 5-10 170 pounds, jumped center for a team that fielded no one taller than 6'4 (allegedly). He was 1 for 2 on the tip-offs in the two games this weekend. Pretty good for someone giving up at least 6 inches to both players. He definitely has extremely explosive leaping ability and isn't afraid to go up and dunk in a 7-footers face just by looking at him. He has great rotation on his shot, seems to never get frustrated, and plays like he is having a good ol' time out there. I can't wait to see him in a Cardinal uniform next year so a freshman can teach an un-named senior how to play team ball. Siva makes everyone around him better like a PG should.

Other guys I liked...

Jordan Hickman - Bardstown KY - PG - A 6'3 strong left-handed player who is huge for his position and probably grabbed at least 10 boards to go with his 27 points Saturday. He hit the GW shot to break a tie with a coast-to-coast lay-up that beat the buzzer. He's not top-level material but he will do wonders in the Ohio Valley Conference or somewhere similar. He is thought of as the best player in the 5th region this year

Ryan Kelly - Centennial TN - The 6'7 son of the head coach set a KOB record with 67 points on 26-33 shooting. The kicker is his team LOST 102-95 in OT Saturday. Absolutely amazing. I saw the guy play Friday and didn't think much of him. Proves my point that you have to see a player at least twice before you pass judgement, whether it be positive or negative. Kelly will attend Miami (OH) next season.

Michael Kvam - Cherokee GA - First off, he had the best haircut I have ever seen on a single athletic human being and that includes Dennis Rodman, Anthony Mason and even Cornelius Holden. He looked like he had a "Joe Dirt" wig on, only it was real. Wait until I find a good enough picture. Second, he was very good. Kvum overshadowed his teammate and the supremely overrated Shawn Kemp, Jr. and led his team in scoring with 23 Friday. But seriously...the haircut...i mean you have to see it. My favorite player besides Siva at the tourney for not only his hair but his slick play on the court as well.

Check into my homeboy Jody Demling's blog on the C-J online for an excellent rundown on what has transpired so far at the 28th King of the Bluegrass.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

English to Eastern Michigan??

It only took one season for Louisville defensive coordinator Ron English to make huge strides in fixing what was a bad Cards defense and that was enough to convince someone that he was ready to be a Head Coach....that someone appears to be Eastern Michigan. The Eagles coming off a 3-9 season, haven't played in a bowl game since 1987. I am sure that Loyd Carr (English coached under for 5 years at Michigan), who is a special unpaid consultant to the University, had a little to do with the push for English. While nothing is official just yet, it is all but a done deal according to several sources. English stepped into a mess of a defense in his first and what appears to be his only season in Louisville, taking over a unit that had been ranked near the bottom in every statistical category, only to revamp the defense to respectability. Most notably the run defense that finished the season ranked in the top 50 (#40) against the run this season.

Siva at King of the Bluegrass

This is Louisville's future point guard in a photo from kingofthebluegrass.com blocking a potential game-tying lay-up against Louisville Male last night in a win by Peyton Siva's Seattle Franklin team. The team had a rough trip to Louisville with the freaskish snowfall in Las Vegas. Franklin was only able to bring 8 players and 1 assistant coach. Siva looked tired and went 3-12 from the field scoring 14 points and leading his team to a 56-52 victory. Siva plays PRP tonight at 730 in the main gym at Fairdale.

UK signee John Hood's Madisonville team was beaten by PRP as he missed a game tying free throw with 12 seconds remaining blowing the opportunity to play against Siva tonight. Earlier in the week Siva said his team would "crush" Hood's team and Hood responed by saying "he's only 5'10, we'll meet at the rim". Guess we'll have to wait until the Dream game next year.

More updates on tonight's game later this evening.

Jet Lagged Cards Upset by Gophers

Louisville did not look sharp or fresh in their 70-64 loss to Tubby Smith's Minnesota squad in Arizona today. Not to take anything away from the Gophers, who looked like they wanted it more today, but the Cards had to travel cross country after beating Ole Miss in Cincinnati Thursday night. Smith's squad's last game was December 10th. Shots were coming up short and players were getting out-hustled, giving Minnesota the needed edge to outlast the Cards.


The biggest discrepancy in the statistics was foul shooting. The Cards made 20-33 and the Gophers 27-37. A close second was 3-point shooting. The Cards shot 4-17 for 23% and the Gophers made 7-20 for 35%. Aside from the the Cards made two more field goals and were only out-rebounded by one (29 to 28).

The Cards managed only 4 assists the whole game. That is completely uncalled for regardless of how much talent is on the team. Edgar Sosa must not recover well from flights as he played the majority of the first half and let Minnesota guard Al Nolan blow by him like a matador. Samardo proved me wrong, as I thought he couldn't play any worse than he did Thursday. Today his shot was blocked by a Beau Zach Smith type multiple times and I would be surprised if he was able to jump over today's Courier-Journal. Mardo is going to be great, but like coach Pitino says, he will become great through passing. He was double and triple teamed all game and had a whale of a time passing out of them. Even Jerry Smith wasn't his usual rock steady self, making a couple of extremely lazy passes leading to turnovers.

Minnesota just wanted this game more. Players like Travis Busch and Blake Hoffarber just killed us with their energy and shooting. Both players were Minnesota Mr. Basketball and needed this game to restore credibility to the home state program. As was the case at Kentucky, the first team to 60 points wins in Tubby Ball. When the Cards cut it to 4, 58-54, I thought we were going to get there before the Gophers. A Smith turnover and Samuels foul out later, the Cards were done.

Terrence Williams tried to bring the Cards back, scoring 17 points on a questionable 6-16 shooting. Earl Clark scored a lot early, but faded off late making only 1 second half field goal. Too many missed shots and turnovers doomed the Cards. Louisville comes home for UAB a week from today followed by equally tough match-ups with UAB and the friggin Mildcats. Time to do some soul-searching on the flight home.

I'm going to cool off and watch some good ol' high school basketball at the King of the Bluegrass. More to come tonight along with a Peyton Siva update tonight.

Show Me My Opponent - Minnesota Golden Gophers





Location: Minneapolis, MN
Conference: Big Ten
Stadium: Williams Arena
Record: 9-0
Last Season: 20-13
Series (Pitino v. Smith): 6-4 Pitino

Enrollment: 51,140
Notable Alumni: "The Nature Boy" Rick Flair, Bobby Jackson, Flip Saunders, Ben Utecht, and Dave Winfield
Head Coach: Tubby Smith
Projected Starters
G Lawrence Westbrook Jr. 6-0
G Al Nolen So. 6-1
F Damian Johnson Jr. 6-7
F Jamal Abu-Shamala Sr. 6-5
C Colton Iverson Fr. 6-10
Key Reserves
G Blake Hoffarber So. 6-4
F Paul Carter So. 6-8
F Ralph Sampson Fr. 6-11
G/F Travis Busch Jr. 6-4
G Devoe Joseph Fr. 6-3
G Devron Bostick Jr. 6-5

The Cards travel to University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona to take on the Golden Gophers in a Saturday showdown. The game will be U of L's second within 41 hours. U of L will be without assistant coach Steve Massielo again, following the sudden death of his father. Minnesota is coached by former Pitino assistant and former head coach of the mildcats, Tubby Smith. Smith has the Gophers off to an undefeated start, 9-0. He has an experienced bunch that distributes the scoring duties, with no player averaging more than 14 ppg. Smith's team plays tenacious defense and the same boring style that once had Rajon Rondo coming off the bench.

It will be interesting to see if U of L will play their game and get up and down the floor quickly, or will they fall into the lull of the Minnesota style. It will be tough for the Cards to get up for this game, after playing a tough game against Mississippi on Thursday, and Minnesota has had 10 days to prepare for the Cards. If Earl has another game like Thursday, there is no reason U of L should not dominate on Saturday. Samardo Samuels must man up because he looked awful when a much smaller Ole Miss team got physical with him. He has to be the aggressor and take the ball to hole strong. I have a prediction to make before the prediction for the game: Mark my words, Samuels will return for his Sophomore year. Pitino will make a video of all the shots Samuels missed against Ole Miss and all the other (though few) mistakes he has been making and tell Samuels that he's not ready to go to the NBA. Mardo has faith in Pitino's opinion.

Anyway...my prediction for the game, Minnesota and Tubby get the best of U of L in a nut-knocker 72-71. I hope I'm wrong!




Football Team Signs 2 JUCO Prospects

From the Louisville Sports Information Department...

The University of Louisville football program and head
coach Steve Kragthorpe announced the signing of two highly-rated junior college prospects to National Letters of Intent Friday, including an All-American quarterback.

Adam Froman (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa HS) and Malcolm Tatum (Moss Point, Miss./Moss Point HS) have each signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play for the Cardinals. Froman and Tatum are slated to enroll at Louisville in January and participate in spring drills.

*We are extremely pleased with the addition of these two young men to our program,* Kragthorpe said. *They are all tremendous athletes and we believe that each of them possesses the toughness and competitiveness that we are looking for in a football player. I like Adam's
competitiveness and toughness. Malcolm fills an immediate needs on the defensive side of the football due graduation.

Froman led his Santa Rosa Junior College to an 8-3 season in 2008, including a 28-20 win over No. 2-ranked Sierra (CA) C.C. in the West Bank Bowl. Santa Rosa finished ranked 10th in the nation.

Froman threw for 525 yards on 35-of-61 passing with three touchdowns in a win over Sierra and was named the game's MVP. Froman threw for 401 yards in the first half against Sierra. He opened with 229 yards and two touchdowns in his first college start, a road win against 10th-ranked Reedley, and combined to throw 12 touchdowns in his next two games. Froman tied the school record with seven touchdown passes in his third college start.

Froman is the third consecutive SRJC quarterback to sign with a major Division I school, joining Ian Hetrick (2005, Wyoming) and Greg Alexander (2007, Hawaii).

Named a first team All-American by JC Grid-Wire, Froman threw for a state-leading 3,876 yards and 40 touchdowns passes this season and was the NorCal Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He joins a crowded
quarterback picture at Louisville to replace the departing Cantwell. Froman is expected to battle juniors Tyler Wolfe and Justin Burke,sophomore Matt Simms and red-shirt freshman Zack Stoudt for the starting quarterback position in the spring.

A talented defensive end, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Tatum recorded 30 tackles and 9.5 sacks as a sophomore at Gulf Coast Community College.Tatum, who was named the defensive MVP in Gulf Coast*s (10-2) 41-7 Mississippi bowl win over third-ranked Georgia Military, earned second team MACJC South honors as a sophomore and is rated a two-star prospect
by Scout.com.

The Cardinals have a definite need on the defensive line due to the graduation of Earl Heyman, Adrian Grady and Maurice Mitchell

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cards Escape Rebel Comeback, Win 77-68

I'll start out by stating the obvious - Earl Clark was a man-child/beast/monster/savior last night with his 26 point 16 rebound 5 block 4 assist performance in the 77-68 win against Ole Miss in Cincinnati. Not enough can be said about his production. If E5 doesn't show up, the Cards lose that game - maybe by double figures. Clark scored 17 of the first 24 Louisville points to build the first half lead to 18.

"Earl Clark was spectacular...he had to be Superman for us tonight and he was." said Coach Pitino after the game, "This was his best game as a Louisville basketball player". Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy added, "What a tremendous athlete he is. Long and athletic with the skills of a guard. Everything you could ask of a player."

Earl was doing it in every way imaginable - hitting threes, mid-range jumpers, and banging around down low. Pitino said he gave the effort last night that he did at the end of last year, something I have been harping on all year and mentioned the other day. Coach placed it solely on effort and talked about his NBA days and how scouts would salivate over a 6'10 player with his ball-handling skills.

As good as Clark was, Samardo Samuels was equally as bad. He missed more lay-up then I've seen anyone miss since I can remember. 2-13 for 9 points. Probably his worst game of the young season but he made up for it by grabbing 13 rebounds which masked the horrendous shooting night.

"He needs to learn how to pass out of the post and play above the rim. [Although] I was pleased with his rebounding." Coach Pitino said about Samardo's play.

If a 9 point 13 board game is about as bad as it gets for Mardo, I think the Cards will be fine. I just hope it doesn't discourage the talented Jamaican big man.

Other nuggets..
- Pitino made an interesting comment about Edgar Sosa. He said "If we are going to be a great basketball team, Edgar Sosa has to be a great point guard". If that is the case, Sosa better shape up. There were way too many times when he got lost on penetration and. Got himself in trouble, but what else is new. He did make a big 3 with around 4 minutes to go to put the game away. He is just a very frustating player who makes me hold my breath every time he gets the ball. Not in a Jordan kind of way and not the Michael Porter kind of way, but somewhere in between the two. Sosa needs to take a step back and realize what a PG's true duties are - lead and distribute not shoot and dribble.

- I was very pleased with the turnout of Card fans in Cincy. Ther were plenty of C-A-R-D-S and DE-fense chants, that I'm sure helped the team through the tough stretches. The arena doubled in attendance after the UC/Miss St. game and it was played in the hometown of the Bearcats. I don't know if the Card fans should be commended or Cincy fans chastised. I'd say 3500-4000 fans made the trip. Good work.
- The Andy Kennedy situation was the talk of the press room with a lot of people staying to listen to what he had to say for himself afterwards. One guy was just completely grilling him. First he asked, "What happened lat night?" And Kennedy declined comment. The reporter then said "Well the bartender at 'The Lounge' bar said you were beligerant and asked to leave, is that true?" Kennedy declined comment again. Then the guy asked, "What were you doing out at 1 o'clock the night before the game?" Again Kennedy declined comment. The Ole Miss coach looked hungover and tired saying he had trouble focusing due to the rough previous 24 hours. - that's all I'm going to say about the situation until all the facts come out because the rumors were rampant.

Watching Peyton Siva play tonight. More tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tipoff with Rebels Coming Soon

Sitting here on press row of US Bank Arena in Cincinnati watching the Bearcats and Mississippi St. Bulldogs battle it out. Cincy built a big lead early only to see it cut to 7 presently. MSU went a long time without even making a basket in the first half and the Bearcats caught fire from beyond the arch. We're at the 8 minute timeout. The Fighting Cardinals face the Fighting Cabbies..I mean Rebels about 30 minutes after the conclusion of this game.

A few celebrity sightings so far. Of course Kenny Klein is always good to see, but the real doozies are basketball legends, hall of famers, Gods Oscar Robertson and Bob Knight. The General is calling the game for ESPN. I'd go introduce myself but he'd probably make me pee me pants. The Big O is watching his beloved Bearcats as he does very often. Looks like an approachable guy, but you never know. I'd almost guarantee they don't know or care about a small-time blogger like myself.

Not as much of a buzz surrounding the Kennedy situation. However, I did see the ESPN sideline reporter (who's name escapes me) talking to an Ole Miss official about the details of the investigation. I just can't believe the guy is coaching tonight. Oh well.

The Cards just walked into a chorus of cheers from the 1500 or so Card fans in attendance. The Cards look to break a streak of regular season neutral court losses in just a matter of time.

More on the game at it's conclusion.

Go Cards