Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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, 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.

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