Saturday, February 28, 2009

We Own Marquette!

Here's proof.....

Friday, February 27, 2009

Would You Rather?

You know the game. You get two options, and you must answer. Would you rather hit every red light for the rest of your life, or always be wrong? Would you rather have the ability to fly or to be invisible? (I’m going with invisible here, because I have a dirty, dirty mind.)

Well, with Rob’s breakdown of how the Cards could land a No. 1 seed in the tourney, I got to thinking. Would I rather have a No. 1 seed and be facing a UConn, Pittsburgh, or even a UNC as a No. 2, or would I take a No. 2 in a bracket that has Memphis as a No. 1?

Would I rather be a No. 1 in the West, staring at perhaps Oklahoma and/or Cal, UCLA, or Michigan State to deal with in Arizona? Or would it be better to take a two or even a three seed in the Midwest, with the Regionals being played in Indianapolis?

Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology has Louisville the No. 2 seed in the South bracket, with No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 Wake Forest, and No. 4 Clemson waiting in the wings. Like I’ve said before, a 2 seed draw in Oklahoma’s bracket isn’t something I fear. Our first games would be in Dayton, definitely not a bad little car ride. The Regionals for the South are in Memphis, and I’d be willing to bet the house, wife and kids that Beale Street would be crawling with Cards fans over Sooners at a 3 to 1 ratio. (I have none of the above, so don’t try to take me up on that.) While Wake and Clemson scare me, this is about just a good a draw as we could ask for.

But would you rather play in the Midwest? Trouble with that is (1) the No. 2 seed plays in Kansas City in the first rounds, and (2) according to Lunardi, Pittsburgh has the No. 1 seed there all wrapped up. I realize we beat them already, but Pitt is in my top 3 of teams I don’t want to see in March. But the Midwest bracket features the closest Regional Championship – Indianapolis, which makes a Midwest draw just a tad sexier than a draw in the South.

But let’s assume Memphis wins out, and Oklahoma and/or Pitt sputter down the stretch. Say the selection committee gives Memphis the nod for the No. 1 in the Midwest. (They wouldn’t put them in the South because that would set up a home game for them if they made the Regionals.) Would you rather have a No. 2 seed in the Midwest with Memphis at the No. 1 and the Regionals being played in Indianapolis?

There’s a lot of basketball left to be played. But the chips are starting to fall into place for Selection Sunday and the greatest sporting event God’s green earth has ever seen – the NCAA basketball tournament. There are a lot of different scenarios that could have the Cards playing as a No. 1, a No. 2, or a No. 3 in any of the four regions. Wherever we end up and however we’re seeded, the most important thing is getting a draw where we have good match-ups and can play in an accessible venue. And it sure is fun to speculate and debate in the meantime!

Cup O' Jones : Roundball roundup

The unpredictability of college basketball continued in this past week. Some teams reassured their NCAA-bid and others left a little work to be done. Then there is always the battle for the best possible seed. As you’ve seen with North Carolina, UCLA, and many other teams in previous years, staying close to home is a recipe for the Final 4 and that is a luxury of being in the top 2 seeds. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. Many teams have been sent thousands of miles from their home and been successful, but it’s obviously far more difficult.

- As it looks right now, 6 teams are battling for the 4 #1 seeds. Oklahoma, PITT, UCONN, North Carolina, Louisville and Memphis. I think just because of what conference they play in Memphis is almost a shoe-in. They should win every game from here on out easily (get to that later). If Blake Griffin recovers from his concussion, Oklahoma is another near-guarantee. Even if he isn’t, Willie Warren has been making his claim for National Freshman of the Year and could carry the Sooners to a conference title, which would almost assure them of a #1. Griffin will be back soon though - hopefully - I know a concussion is nothing to mess with, but I think Griffin is milk-toast and this further proves it. What is disturbing is the next 4 teams left are better than the 2 I just mentioned, but will more than likely be punished because they is a greater possibility of being beaten in their tourney. Only one team out of the 3 from the BIG EAST can win the conference tourney and only 2 can make the title game. There’s a possibility of the committee taking that into account and knocking Memphis or Oklahoma down - but I doubt it. Whoever fairs best in the tough ACC will take the next #1, probably Carolina if they run the table and win a couple in the tourney. My prediction as of right now is - Carolina, Memphis, UCONN, Louisville (let the hating ensue).

- Back to Memphis. They are an enigma to me this year. They feast on a conference full of cupcakes, yet they sit a top the latest Pomeroy ratings. Their biggest non-conference wins are against Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Cincinnati. They are 2-2 against BIG EAST teams (one being Georgetown) and also lost to Xavier. They are also rated as the best defensive team by Pomeroy. Is that a product of their stifling defense or lack of competition? The team has definitely gotten a lot better since moving freshman stud Tyreke Evans to point guard. He’s good, but he’s no Derrick Rose. Antonio Anderson has given leadership, but he’s no Chris Douglas-Roberts. Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart are active down low, but they don’t amount to Joey Dorsey. Last year’s Memphis team was full of talent and senior leadership - this year it isn’t. The Tigers are a good team, but they would just be another team in what is a down SEC this year. Last night, it took an 0-17 performance from UAB-start Robert Vaden for the Tigers to beat their conference “rival” - and by rival I mean UAB fans just hate Memphis because they always get whipped.

- South Carolina is emerging as the possible team to represent the SEC furthest in the dance. You can’t underestimate the value of veteran guard play in March and the Gamecocks most definitely have that. Devan Downey reminds me a lot of Billy Clyde’s meal ticket Acie Law IV at Texas A&M. He seems to make everyone around him play with more confidence and, when needed, he can completely take over a game. Plus, he has a few good complimentary players surrounding him. Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow hold it down inside with Dominique Archie and Zam Frederick complimenting Downey on the wings. There is always one team who basically comes out of nowhere to make a nice run out of the SEC. Vandy did it last year. The Gamecocks are the best bet this year.

- The Dominic James injury is a horrible thing to happen to Marquette given the season they were currently having, but I don’t think it will be as crippling as many are making it out to be. Yes, James was a 4-year starter and supposed team leader. However, in my mind he was their 4th option and not necessarily the best defender. I could see some kind of “Ewing theory” coming out of this where a team’s alleged “leader” is hurt and in turn plays better without him. There is no question Dominic James is/was a great college basketball player and I’m not saying it’s a a guaranteed blessing in disguise. Just don’t count Marquette out quite yet. Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews and Lazar Hayward are really going to have to elevate their respective games up in order for that to happen.

I don’t know if this week is “Rivalry Week”, “Judgement Week” or “Shark Week” on ESPN. All I know is this is what to watch for…

Friday - Such a waste of a good night to have some quality big conference games. As is with nearly every Friday night all year, there is absolutely ZERO good games to watch. The Siena Saints are a team a lot of people are picking to be one of those #12 seeds that upset a #5. They take on their closest competition in the MAAC, Niagra, at 7 on the U.

NOON - CBS - Georgia Tech at UNC - The Heels are still the scariest team in the country regardless of what happened against Maryland last week. However, Tyler Hansbrough has been a complete ghost lately and the loss of Marcus Ginyard has been a lot more significant than first believed. Ginyard was their best shut down defender and his loss is evident in the way the other team’s opposing star has been having huge games against the Heels.
2 - CBS - Notre Dame at UCONN - Frankengody and the Irish have their backs against the wall when it comes to getting a tournament bid. A road win against the Huskies would stick out beautifully on an Irish tourney resume. They do match-up fairly well ouside of Thabeet and only need a few shots to fall to have a chance.
4 -CBS - LSU at Kentucky - Two teams with something to prove on national television in the game of the day in my opinion (yea i said it). LSU wants to prove that they are not Paper Tigers who have a jaded record due to a down-conference and early cupcakes. Like the Irish, the Cats have their back against the wall as well. A win here would be enough to get them a ticket to the dance regardless of what happens in the conference championships.
5 - CSTV - Utah at BYU - DVR this one because both teams are unranked and still making the tourney. The Utes sit #9 in the latest RPI rankings with the 20th ranked schedule. This makes no sense whatsoever because they beat Gonzaga by 1 and LSU by 30 - that’s it. Their losses include SW Baptist, Idaho St., and Utah St. BYU is 23rd and has about the same resume, but with their only quality win being San Diego St.
9 - ESPN - UCLA at Cal - Another match-up pitting tournament teams is also a position battle for second place in the Pac-10. Jerome Randle is putting up 18 points and 4 assists for Mike Montgomery’s Golden Bears who lead the nation in three-point accuracy. The Bruins need a strong finish or else they are going to make it very difficult for a 4th straight Final 4.

NOON - CBS - Marquette at Louisville - Two top-10 teams tussle in the Hall to start off a huge day of college hoops. The Cards are playing as hot as any team in the country. A win here and they are looking one of those precious top-2 seeds in the face. it will be interesting to see how the Eagles fair without James.
2 - CBS - Missouri at Kansas - The “Boarder War” went down to the last second last meeting a couple weeks back with a Zaire Taylor game-winning shot for Mizzou. The Tigers have won 11 of 12 and find themselves with the distict possibility of a #2 seed. Bill Self should be considered for National Coach of the Year for what he has done with the Jayhawk team who lost more than anyone after last year’s title run.
TBA - CBS - Michigan St. at Illinois - There is a three-way battle for first place in the Big Ten between these two and Purdue. If the Illini hold court, they could clinch the regular-season title with a win against Penn St. in the finally. I really can’t take a team that scored 33 points in a game - as the Illini did against Penn St. previously - seriously.

7 - ESPN - Villanova at Notre Dame - I have trouble thinking Harangody will be able to be stooped by Villanova’s big guys. In turn, I don’t see Notre Dame’s guards being able to stop Scottie Reynolds and co. This will be a high-scoring affair.
9- ESPN - Baylor at Texas - After starting the season 15-3, Bayor has dropped 8 of their last 9 games and have totally played themselves out of the tournament. Maybe the karma from the sleazy John Wall package deal is oming back to bite them. AJ Abrams and Texas saved their hides with a tainted Oklahoma win and should build upon that against the Bears.

7 - FOXSPORTS - Wake at Maryland - Gary Williams might have saved his job thanks to Grevies Vasquez’ triple-double in the OT win against Carolina. However, the Terps still may have work to do to get a bid. A win here and it’s pretty much sealed. On the other side, Wake needs to get back on track as it looks like Al-Farouq Aminu has hit the freshman wall. Jeff Teague could get hot at any momen, so still watch out for Wake
8 - N/A - Florida St at Duke - An all ACC night is topped off with Toney Douglas and his Seminoles traveling to Cameron. Douglas, brother of Harry and Auburn transfer is getting a little pub for ACC player of the year averaging 20-4-4 for the 24th ranked Noles. Gerald Henderson of Duke may be playing as well as any player in the nation without an A-Rod or T-Mac like nickname. G-Hend really sounds stupid, but so do the others.

730 - ESPN - Marquette at PITT - A horrific stretch of @GTOWN, UCONN, @LOU, @PITT, SYR continues for the Eagles. It’s pretty simple, get DeJuan Blair in foul-trouble and you can beat PITT. In all three losses Blair has been missing action due to foul-trouble. And being undersized he is nt a very good defender, so the Marquette guards need to slash the ball inside and get him to make a mistake. PITT is very beatable without Blair, but with him they are close to unstoppable.
9 - N/A - Oklahoma at Missouri - The battle of all battles in the Big 12 this year. 6-8 225lb DeMarre Carroll will be assigned to Blake Griffin assuming the OU big guy is cleared to play. As has been all year, if Willie Warren’s shot is falling the Sooners are tough to beat. Whether or not he’s on could determine the outcome of the game.

830 - FOXSPORTS - Stanford at Arizona St. - How is James Harden not getting National POY hype like he should? The guy is up in the top-10 in the country in scoring, pulls down 6 boards and drops 4 assists on a team that is highly-ranked. Unlike some other candidates, Harden does it all without having to be selfish. I just think no one east of the Mississippi has seen him play enough to judge him. A great player shining for a good team should win the award - not someone who jacks up shots because that’s all their team has, a la Harangody and a few others.
9- FOXSPORTSOHIO - Dayton at Xavier - Always a bitter battle for positioning in the Atlantic 10. The Muskie were sitting in the top-10 nationally not too long ago and have preceded to lose 3 of their last 6 conference games. Derrick Brown leads a balanced attack for Xavier and Chris Wright is a highlight waiting to happen for Dayton.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

White-Out the Hall Sunday

From the Louisville athletic department...

Fans are encouraged to wear white for Sunday's game to "white out" Freedom Hall.  Sunday's game will also feature the Cardinals wearing retro white uniforms similar to those worn during the Wes Unseld era of the 1960's, with the exception of short shorts.  Unseld is the Cards' only three-time All-American, earning that distinction in 1966-68.

Broken Foot Ends Career of Dominic James

Sad news.

When the Marquette Golden Eagles travel to Louisville Sunday, they will be without PG Dominic James. The senior broke his foot last night in their loss to No. 2 UConn. The injury ends his stellar career at Marquette.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let's Go...Marquette?

That’s right folks. The LYes! Report will be halfheartedly and dispassionately cheering for Marquette to topple the Connecticut Huskies when the two Big East powerhouses meet in Milwaukee tonight at 7:00 on ESPN.

My utmost disdain for all things UConn is not the sole reason for this seemingly misplaced enthusiasm for the Golden Eagles.

With Providence’s upset of No. 1 Pittsburgh (12-3 in conference play) last night, Louisville and UConn (both at 13-2) sit alone tied for the lead for the Big East. With a Marquette win over UConn, Marquette (12-3) would ascend to that spot, sharing the conference lead with the Cards.

This means that Louisville would “control its own destiny” (in quotes because I hate that kind of language, like “thinking outside the box”) by beating Marquette on Sunday and winning out for the regular season.

There are of course other scenarios by which Louisville could take the Big East regular season crown. Marquette’s remaining games besides UConn tonight and Sunday at the Hall include a trip to Pittsburgh and Syracuse (20-8, 8-7) at home. And UConn must also travel up to Pitt for a rematch. (Or, in UConn’s case, I guess they’d be traveling “down” to Pitt. But you get my drift.)

But a Marquette win tonight is the most immediate of situations that would allow a Louisville Big East Regular Season Title to materialize. And, not that any further motivation is necessary, it could make Sunday's game even more exciting. So, if you can stomach it, go…uh…Marquette.

Cup O' Jones : Ash Wednesday Edition

Coincidence....I think not

Hope everyone had a gluttonous Fat Tuesday filled with beads, creole food, and all that good stuff. Lent starts today for Catholics with Ash Wednesday - the time of year when you're forced to give something up until Easter as a sign of respect. I am giving up fast food for sure and maybe cursing. For those of you that know me, fast food is easy for a skinny guy to give up - the cursing on the other hand will be pretty difficult. Enough about me, let's talk about something I could never give up - those Louisville Cardinals.

- Providence took care of PITT last night in what should give the Cards and inside track on an overall #1 seed come tourney time if we take care of business. I think 2 teams will get #1 seeds from the BIG EAST and it will come from 3 (maybe 4) teams. Right now, if we somehow get past the Panthers in New York, there is no question we are that second team. The team we play Sunday - Marquette - also has an outside shot of a #1 if they can run the table. Those damn Memphis Tigers are the only team I see with a possibility of spoiling the BIG EAST party. I remember when we played in a tougher C-USA and didn't get as much credit as the Tigers have the lat 3 years. Remember, when we played in the C-USA so did Cincinnati, Marquette, Memphis, and So. Florida. Now the Tigers get to feast on UAB, Tulsa and UTEP and a reaping the benefits.

- Marquette might be the most underrated team in the nation. Their top three guards - Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James - have more experience combined than any back-court in the country. James seems like he's been there as long as Clarence Weatherspoon was at So. Miss or Elliot Perry at Memphis. The problem people have with the Eagles is their lack of size. As most BIG EAST fans know, a smallish team can have a great deal of success in the conference. A couple years back Villanova took a team with no size to the Elite 8 -taking a great UNC team to the brink. That team was set around guards - Mike Nardi, Kyle Lowry, Allen Ray and Randy Foye. All but one were first round picks and all had at least 2 years of playing time under their belt. Not saying the Marquette trio is at the same talent level, but it's close. Even with that being said, the Cards should pound the ball down low early and often.

- The way I see it, if the Cards win on Sunday and take care of the final two games against Seton Hall and WestVirginia we are staring the regular season title right in the face. PITT and UCONN face off in the last game of the season and - if everything plays out like it should - if UCONN wins they win the title and if PITT wins UL wins the title. The only thing that could hurt the Cards is if PITT sneaks up and steals our dance seed because of their two wins against the Huskies. All the Cards need to worry about is their own games and taking care of their own business.

- Here's game-winning shot #2 for the Cards against Marquette. Enjoy...

Starting 5

1. Pat Forde - - Daring to dream - Tiny Elliot County takes on the big boys in Kentucky's one-division basketball tourney (Great story if you haven't already heard about it. There are coaches (see Joe B. Hall) that have been around for a while that say these guys are as exciting and fun to watch as anyone in the last 50 years)
2. SportsByBrooks - Supermodel Adriana Lima elopes with Grizzlies PG (Well, looks like I can mark another one off the old list - Marco Jaric though? Couldn't she pick somebody like Rafer Alston or even Juan Carlos Navarro. Marco Jaric sucks)
3. Tom Hoffarth - LA Daily News - Gathers and Westphal together again on the basketball court (One of the best players that no one knows about, Hank Gathers who tragically died of a heart condition for Loyola Marymont in the early 90's, has a nephew playing with his former coach's grandson - pretty ironic and cool story)
4. Daluerio - Deadspin - Andy Phillips and the Bizarre Porn star police report (pretty self-explanitory - you have to read the transcript of the emails he sent - classic)
5. Deuce of Davenport - How about some herpes with that beer pong championship trophy (here's a quote from the center of disease control : "unprotected beer pong play is more dangerous than unprotected sex", I think I'm staying home this weekend

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

T-Will: The Case for Big East Player of the Year

Excuse me, Digger Phelps and your occupants on the Luke Harangody bandwagon, but let’s not already assume a repeat is in order.

Don’t cast your vote for your boy Hasheem Thabeet just yet, Coach Calhoun and Coach Boeheim.

No, Andy Katz – contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just a two-man race. (And how quickly you forget Dejuan Blair’s 9-point outing at Freedom Hall only a few weeks ago.)

And let’s not all simply succumb to Seth Davis’ observation that Jerel McNeal is the “best” of his breed in the Big East.

Terrence Williams needs to be in the conversation as Big East Player of the Year. His versatility, his composure, the consistency of his play, and the level of his importance and value to his team render him so.

Yes, I appreciate I may be biased. I know my love for all things T-Will is well documented, that I spearheaded a grassroots campaign to see him voted Senior CLASS Player of the Year. (Polls are still open, by the way.)

But hear me out on this: T-Will must be in the conversation.

The 6-6, 220 pound senior can play like a point guard. You and I know that from watching him in open court. You and I know that from watching him bounce the rock at the top of the key, then suddenly and abruptly thread the needle to find Samardo Samuels or Earl Clark in the paint. Then you and I wonder: “How did he even see that?”

But some folks don’t have the luxury of observing T-Will’s phenomenal court vision and Peyton Manning-type ability to place the ball precisely where it needs to be on a weekly basis. Those folks need only check out the numbers.

He’s fifth in the Big East in assists at 4.8 per game. He’s behind some familiar names: Levance Fields, Johnny Flynn, Dominic James, and Troy Jackson. These gentlemen are the state of the art. Cream of the crop. Top of their field. The only thing that separates T-Will from these folks is that their “field” is the point guard position – their function is to distribute the rock. 6-6, 220 pound forwards aren’t bred for that kind of work. But T-Will does it, and does it with consistency – the 6-6, 220 pound forward has dished out 5 plus dimes in 14 games this season with an average 2.06 assist-to-turnover ratio. In a word: remarkable.

But T-Will can also play like a big man, averaging 8.4 boards per game. You and I watch him sky up in and through a crowd of trees to come down with the basketball. You and I watch him use his quickness to chase down hard rebounds and turn those rebounds into immediate transition offense. And everybody should recognize that he’s 9th in the conference in that category.

When you’re Hasheem Thabeet (7-3, 10.5 rpg) or DePaul’s Mac Koshwal (6-10, 9.8 rpg), rebounding is a given. You live under the basket. You’re taller than your competition. You’re expected to come down with missed shots. When you’re a 6-6 wingman, when your team expects you to run the offense, when you’re called upon to defend and challenge your opponents’ three point shots, it’s a
little different. Rebounding isn’t a given. It’s a chore. It requires an aggressive, “want-to” attitude. It takes pride to declare that that ball coming off the iron is yours, the 7-3, 6-10 trees already standing under the basket ready for it notwithstanding. Rebounding is a hustle stat. At 6-6, 8.4 rebounds per game speaks volumes of your attitude and commitment to hustle.

But let’s be honest. We aren’t big on passing and hustle. We live in a basketball age where people want to see points. The more the score board flickers the more entertained we are. Which may have something to do with Harangody (Big East-leading 24.2 ppg) taking BE Player of the Year honors last year and figuring to be a frontrunner this year. And T-Will has had his games of 2 (Morehead State), 3 (St. John’s) and 4 (Ohio, South Florida). Against DePaul he didn’t even take a shot.

But since coming off that wrist injury, as the Cards enter the homestretch (and when it was very, very evident at Notre Dame that offense was desperately needed if this team was to make a run at anything this post-season) T-Will’s averaging almost 16 points per game and has hit 52% of his shots. Harangody is a phenomenal scorer who can drop jumpers from anywhere on the court and is a forceful presence inside the paint, which is why he averages 18 shots per game. To put things in perspective, T-Will only averages 11 field goal attempts per game. While you and I know and recognize T-Will as a scoring threat every time he touches the ball, he knows that he can make his team more dangerous by crisp execution and efficient ball movement. Even so, his 12.5 points per game puts him in the top 30 in the Big East.

That’s 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. He’s the only player in the country averaging 12, 8 and 4. And that, Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Boeheim, Mr. Katz, and Mr. Davis, puts Terrence Williams in a class all by himself.

Which is why the conversation for Big East Player of the Year should – and indeed does – include T-Will.

Cup o' Jones : En Fuego Edition

- Dan Patrick is one of my favorite sports personalities of all-time so I'm going to borrow one of his phrases just this one-time. The Cards were - dare I say - en fuego to start the game last night. They came out of the gates 9 of 9 with 4 3-pointers. Their first miss came around the 9 minute mark on an Earl Clark flailing baseline jumper. 8 different players scored in that stretch led by Jerry and Samardo with 5 a piece. You would assume the Cards had an insurmountable lead after a red-hot start like that. They were up 13, but it could have been more if it weren't for some careless ball-handling. 14-20 for 70% is the best half I've seen from the Cards in a while.

- The hot-shooting performance over-shadowed and helped the Cards overcome not taking very good care of the ball. However, the game was played at a frantic pace at points and both teams were forced to make quick decisions which led to turnovers. I have no idea why John Thompson III decided to let his team run with a team that is obviously deeper and used to playing that pace. With the exception of UCONN, the Cards losses have been against teams that didn't let the Cards control the pace. Minnesota, Western and UNLV all slowed down the pace and didn't let the Cards take advantage of their depth. For some reason, JTIII thought his 6 man rotation was going to last against Pitino's 10-man-rotation. I was expecting him to slow it down and milk the shot-clock. However, he let the Cards dictate the pace and it was curtains from there.

- Everyone played exceptionally well tonight. Earl had 22 points and 8 boards. T-Will almost dropped a triple-double...again (10-12-7). Samardo and Jennings had 10 and 7 respectively, going a combined 5-7 from the field and 7-10 from the line. Preston Knowles continued to play without a conscience and dropped 10. Jerry and McGee filled their role as always, hit some big shots, and manned-up the head of the press. Sosa didn't play carelessly. Swop and Goode gave some respectable minutes and even Will Scott grabbed a rebound. Everyone did their part which led to the victory.

- T-Will continues to play at a level matched by very few (if any) players in the country. He is so calm, cool and collected with the ball and seems to always make the right decision. Even when he turns the ball over it is evident he isn't being careless, but simply trying to make something special happen. His joking demeanor shades the fact that he is playing some of the best ball in the country. The only man averaging 10-8-4 in the land and the only person that knows where every camera is. Did you see him mug for the camera after his dunk-and-a-foul late in the game? Ridiculous. Yet he can get away with that attitude with the way he is playing. Hell, he can do whatever he wants.

- 5 days of practice and then Marquette on Sunday at noon on CBS. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those classic games between two teams that don't care for each other too much. It is going to be the time where we need Clark, Samuels, and Jennings to show up more than ever. Marquette concedes too much height not to be taken advantage of. Here's just a little something to get you fired up even though the game isn't until Sunday. I have been waiting all year to put this up. My favorite part is when he knocks that poor lady on her ass while celebrating...

Starting 5

1. Carson - More Hardball - Gratuitous Crotchitular Activity (Do baseball players really grab their package a lot or is that just a myth from too many baseball movies? The staff at More Hardball did a little research and came up[ with some interesting findings)
2. Howard Beck - New York Times - Powerful Agents' Blunt warning About Future of the NBA (Supposedly, a lot of NBA teams are losing money and might be ready for a 2 YEAR work stoppage. 2 years is too long, but I wouldn't mind if one year they just skipped right to the last 20 games of the regular season and playoffs when the players actually earn their outrageous checks)
3. Joseph Gerth - Courier-Journal - Bunning: Justice Ginsburg will likely be dead in 9 months (Wow. Just a bit outside in that comment Jim)
4. Michael Hiestand - USA Today - With Emmitt out, Could ESPN get Favre? (You'd have to put him in a cage to keep Peter Kong, John Madden and Chris Berman's hand off him, but I think he would do a great job. Anything is better than Emmitt)
5. Ron Cooke - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - A big decision looms for Blair after this season (By all means DeJuan, the door is right there. We can't keep you in foul trouble for two more years. The money is too good to pass up DeJuan. Go. Go Go...)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cards 6th in Both Polls

The Georgetown Hoyas will be playing the No. 6 team in the country tonight, at least according to the latest coaches’ and AP polls. The Cards moved up one spot from No. 7 after Michigan State’s 18-point loss to Purdue last week. The Spartans fell from No. 6 to No. 9 in both polls.

Meanwhile, after beating No. 1 UConn last week, and with No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 North Carolina both losing, Pitt retook the No. 1 throne the Cards stripped from it back in January at Freedom Hall. The Coaches' top 10 looks like this:

1. Pittsburgh (30) 25-2
Connecticut (1) 25-2
Oklahoma 25-2
Memphis 24-3
5. North Carolina 24-3
Louisville 21-5
Duke 22-5
Missouri 23-4
Michigan State 21-5
Marquette 23-4

And here's your AP:

1. Pittsburgh (69) 25-2
2. Connecticut (1) 25-2
Oklahoma (2) 25-2
North Carolina 24-3
Memphis 24-3
Louisville 21-5
Duke 22-5
8. Marquette 23-4
9. Michigan State 21-5
Villanova 22-5

Also, in Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology, Louisville remains the Midwest’s 2 seed with UNC at 1 and Michigan State at the 3. The Cards’ first round opponent would be the North Dakota State Bison of the Summit Conference.

Show Me My Opponent - Georgetown Hoyas

NAME: Georgetown University

LOCATION: Washington, D.C.

ESTABLISHED: 1789 by Jesuit Priest John Carroll


MASCOT: Hoyas (origin unknown)

DATE: February 23, 2009

TIME: 7:02 p.m. EST

SITE: Verizon Center (20,600) Washington, D.C.

TELEVISION: ESPN "Big Monday" feature; Mike Patrick play-by-play, Len Elmore commentary

RADIO: 790 WKRD; Paul Rogers play-by-play, Bob Valvano commentary

OFFICIALS: Ed Corbett, Karl Hess, Bob Donato

SERIES HISTORY: Georgetown leads 5-3 all-time; U of L has never won in D.C. (0-2)

LAST MEETING: Georgetown 55, Cards 52 (March 8, 2008, in D.C.)

CARDINAL CONNECTION: Pitino's son Ryan is a freshman at Georgetown, where he writes for a local sports blog that covers Hoyas basketball. Ryan Pitino maintains his loyalty to the Cards.

HEAD COACH: John Thompson, III, 5th year, 101-44

ASSISTANTS: Robert Burke, Keenya Hunter, David Cox

OVERALL RECORD: 14-11, 5-9


RPI: 44

SOS: 1

SPREAD: Louisville -1.5

Georgetown boasts a plethora of distinguished alumni, from congressmen to judges to ambassadors to business leaders to royalty. Here are a few:

Bill Clinton (Former U.S. President)
Antonin Scalia (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)
Patrick Leahy (U.S. Senate, D-Verm., Chairman of the Judiciary Committee) George Tenet (Former CIA Director)
General David H. Petraeus (Commander, United States Central Command)
Sarah Albert (America's Next Top Model contestant)

BASKETBALL: Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Sleepy Floyd, Allen Iverson


F 3 DaJuan SUMMERS 6-8 240 Jr. 14.0 4.5

C 10 Greg MONROE 6-11 250 Fr. 13.0 6.8

G 4 Chris WRIGHT 6-1 205 So. 12.9 3.0

G 15 Austin FREEMAN 6-4 220 So. 12.5 4.3

G 21 Jessie SAPP 6-3 210 Sr. 6.5 3.9

BENCH: Jason Clark (5.4 ppg); Omar Wattad (3.0 ppg)

While the Cardinals are flying high after winning three straight, the young Hoyas are coming off a devastating loss against Marquette Saturday, a game that was tied at halftime. It was Georgetown's second loss to the Golden Eagles and 8th of its last 10 games. A disappointing month for a team that was in the top 10 only a few weeks ago.

Louisville will see another team fighting for its post-season life Monday. The Hoyas are looking for another signature win for their resume - their first being a 11 point beatdown at UConn back in December.

The Hoyas aren't very deep, but their starting 5 is very tough. DeJuan Summers and Austin Freeman are two household names in Big East country. Chris Wright is coming off a 17 point performance against Marquette and can fill it up - he's hit 75 threes on the season.

Greg Monroe is arguably the best freshman in the conference. He'll test our bigs with his versatility and physical style of play. Samardo and TJ will need to block out and keep him off the offensive boards.

With their backs against the wall, expect the Hoyas to come out swinging. They average 72 points per game, so the Cards will have to keep up the defensive intensity and hopefully the newly-found offensive will resurface as well. With T Will healthy, Earl playing his best ball, and Preston Knowles emerging, give me the Cards in this one, 77-69.

Cup O' Jones : Big Monday Edition

Thoughts from Cincy game...

- Even though he had only 9 points and 4 shot attempts, I thought Samardo Samuels showed more grit than he has all season. He played with a fire that we haven't seen from him quite yet. Mardo showed emotion after big plays and got after rebounds with a newfound tenacity. You look at the stat-line and see 9 points 3 boards in 20 minutes, but watching the game it looked as though something had clicked. there was one point where it was evident when Samuels missed a hook, fought for the rebound, and put it back for an and-1 late in the game. The bench and Mardo went nuts because both parties know that is what will make him an All-American player. Maybe when Pitino said Samuels might just not be that good of a rebounder prior to the game it motivated the Jamaican big-man to prove his coach wrong. That's why Coach P does that. Right?

- The reason his playing time is diminishing is not because of his play. It's due to the play of Terrence Jennings, especially on the defensive end. However, if he didn't before, Jennings now officially looks like he's fully in tune with the offense. He's starting to make quicker decisions with the ball and finds the right spot to receive a pass. His defense has and will always be there - shot blocking is an inherited trait that some people just have as a gift. Also, Jennings' rebounding on both ends is getting better by the game and he almost always seems to come up with a huge offensive putback in the most opportune time.

- Preston Knowles is slowly becoming a somewhat of a cult-hero amongst Card fans. He has that old West gun-slinger mentality on the court - if you give him room to take the shot, he going to take it and 46% of the time he's going to make it. You can clearly see the confidence oozing from him on the court. That confidence rubs off on the team once he enters the game and you can see the group's energy level rise. He has been the Cards' most consistent guard on both sides of the ball for the majority of the year. Knowles has earned a spot in the starting line-up based on his play the last few games. However, the mini-microwave is best served to come off the bench and spark the team on both ends. A perfect day for Preston - 4-4 FG 3-3 3FG in 11 minutes.

- When it was looking like the Bearcats weren't going to go out easy, in came Terrence Williams to save the day. Williams helped the Cards answer every flurry Cincy threw at them whether it be a huge offensive rebound, a jumper right in a defenders face, or a beautiful pass to someone for the dunk. It also looks like the wrist is fully recovered and he has his stroke back. There is no one in the country I would trade T-Will straight up for right now - not Blake Griffin, Ty Lawson, Stephen Curry or even that overrated joker Jodie Meeks. One is because neither can equal his all-around output. Two, without T-Will no one on the team would be able to get the new star the ball. T-Will looks like he is on a mission and is making all the right moves right now. 20 points 8 rebounds and 5 assists - all while playing every minute of the game.

- You have to take the good with the bad when dealing with Earl Clark. The good - 14 points. The bad- 4-15 shooting. The good - 3 assists and 9 rebounds. The bad - 6 turnovers. The good - he only took 3 trifectas. The bad - he only made one. The good does outweigh the bad with Clark because he also ripped down 5 offensive board and went an acceptable 5-6 from the line and I couldn't thing of another bad to off-set it. I guess I could always revert to the fact he doesn't play with his back to the basket enough...

On to Georgetown...

- This games has not lost any of it's luster at all due to the fact the Hoyas are unranked and on the outside looking in on the NCAA tournament. John Thompson III will have his team ready to play at home and if anything the Hoyas will play better than in previous year just because they are up against a possibly miserable offseason. The Cards have had trouble playing in the MCI Center ever since joining the BIG EAST. Just because the Hoyas' record indicates they aren't the preseason top-10 team they were predicted to be doesn't mean they don't have the capability of playing up to that potential. It's painful to think, but Georgetown is in the same boat as Notre Dame was last week. A team that came into the season with a lot of hype, losing all the close games they play and facing a possible NCAA snub. Both are Cards road-games against teams with seniors that would be very upset with no post-season berth.

- The Hoyas have 11 losses and only 3 have come by more than 10 points - 2 of which were in overtime. Losses to Cincy and Seton Hall really tarnished their record and will be hard to overcome. They still have one of the top-3 freshman in the country in Greg Monroe, a great hybrid forward in DeJuan Summers, two excellent guards in Jessie Sapp and Chris Wright and a former McDonald's All-American in Austin Freeman. The problem the Hoyas have currently as opposed to previous years is depth. Those five players can by themselves match-up with any 5 players in the country. The question is whether those 5 players can match-up with the 8-10 Louisville is going to bring.

- The Hoyas would like nothing more than to have a win against a top-5 team to hang their hat on come selection time. The Cards must realize this and treat this game as if they are playing against another top-5 team. The Hoyas ended the Cards winning streak at the end of last year, so maybe the team can use that as fuel. They can also build off the fact they have an outside chance at a #1 seed with no more than 1 loss the rest of the way. The Hoyas seem to have hit a stoke of bad luck here lately. Pitino need to make sure the troops don't let the good luck come back with us.

More news from the weekend...

- Eric Wood had an extremely good showing at the NFL combine this weekend and is headed back to California to continue training before Louisville's pro-day in March. Wood did 30 bench-press reps at 225 pounds, showed of his Darrell Griffith-esque hops at 30.5 inches, a blistering 7.56 seconds on the 3-cone drill and 4.51 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle. Numerous teams have been in contact with Eric, but I really hope he gets to play for his hometown Bengals. It would be a dream scenario. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock currently has Wood as the 2nd rated center and has him projected as the 38th overall pick to his Cincinnati Bengals.

- The baseball Cards started their season in disappointing fashion, as they were swept by perennial powerhouse Florida in a season-opening three game set over the weekend. Senior All-American 3B Chris Dominguez had a terrible series - going 1-10 with 2 walks, 2 K's and a RBI. The Cards pitching staff led by Matt Lea and Justin Marks pitched fairly well, but the offense just couldn't score enough runs to get the job done resulting in the first 3 game losing streak the Cards have had under coach Dan McDonnell. The Cards look to rebound as Marks takes the hill in the home opener on Wednesday at Jim Patterson Stadium against the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky.

- Lastly, Jody Demling gave us some news from Pitino in his Recruiting Insider for the C-J. Coach said we want at least on McDonald's All-American a year and that all will ideally stay 3-4 years. "Earl stayed three years. We'll have Samardo three or four years, and we'll have Peyton for three or four years." Samardo for three years? I would have called you crazy if you said that after the Red/White scrimmage, but now it makes sense. Not that it is definite that he is coming back or I was even worried about it in the first place, but it's pretty reassuring coming from the coach's mouth.

Starting 5

1. Liz Clark - Washington Post - With Little Time, Hoyas Are Facing A Long Climb (Further providing evidence that the Cards are going to get about everything they want from the Hoyas tonight)
2. Aaron Wilson - Pro Football Talk - Andre Smith went AWOL? (Very peculiar story about the Alabama OT who was projected as a top-5 pick and then decided to leave the scouting combine without hvaing the smarts to tell someone. it goes without saying that his stock has plummeted is the past few days)
3. Jeff - March Madness All Season - Road to Selection Sunday (Fellow blogger breaks down who's in and who's out and who needs to do what to solidify themselves. i think it's funny that the best and only ranked team in the SEC is still a bubble team)
4. Jeff Goodman - FoxSports - Source: Renardo Sidney headed to USC after all (one of the best players in this year's class spurned UCLA and Ben Howland at the last minute. Word on the street is the guy won't make the grades and is possiblt headed to Europe barring a miracle SAT score)
5. John Helsley - NewsOK - Status of OU's Blake Griffin uncertain for Kansas game (I can't decide who is softer - Griffin, Ramon Harris or the Pillsbury dough boy. I watched the game and a didn't see any hit that looked like it would cause a concussion)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cincy Recap and Preston Being Awesome

The Cards continued their winning streak yesterday by beating Cincinnati 72-63. They earned their practice uniforms back, which Pitino stripped from them after that humiliating Notre Dame loss.

T Will had 20 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, and 3 steals and played all 40 minutes. Earl had 14 points and 9 boards and was 5-6 from the charity stripe.

Preston continued his streak of being awesome, coming of the bench for to hit 3 of 3 three-pointers and finishing with 11. Did I mention he's awesome?

What else is awesome is that this team is starting to show some signs of life on the offensive end of the court. The Cards shot better than 48% from the field. This comes after a 55% shooting and 94 point outing against Providence, and a 59%, 99 point performance against DePaul. Making shots is cool.

Pitino said after the game that he emphasized hitting the boards against UC, and we won that category, 33-24.

Very little time to celebrate as we head to Georgetown for a 7:00 Big Monday tip-off tomorrow. More on that later.

Preston Knowles is awesome.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Show Me My Opponent - Cincinnati Bearcats

DATE: February 21, 2009
TIME: 2:04 p.m. EST
SITE: Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio

TELEVISION: BIG EAST Network (WHAS-11 in Louisville); Anthony Calhoun play-by-play, Jack Armstrong commentary

RADIO: 790 WKRD; Paul Rogers play-by-play, Doug Ormay commentary

OFFICIALS: John Cahill, Mike Kitts, Jeff Clark

NAME: University of Cincinnati
LOCATION: Cincinnati, Ohio

SERIES HISTORY: U of L leads 51-39 all-time (28-16 in Louisville, 21-21 in Cincinnati, 2-2 neutral)

LAST MEETING: Cincinnati 58, Louisville 57

CARDINAL CONNECTION: Keith LeGree. (Didn’t see that coming, did you?) The former Card-turned-Bearcat spent a few seasons on the UC bench as an assistant as well until a 2005 DUI knocked his coaching career of track.

HEAD COACH: Mick Cronin. Cronin is a Pitino prodigy, serving as an assistant to the Cards from 2001-03 before taking over the head job at Murray State, where he went 69-23 in three seasons. He is 1-2 against Pitino.

ASSISTANTS: Larry Davis, Chris, Goggin, Tony Stubblefield; (side note): Louisville Male High grad Chris Shumate is Director of Basketball Operations

NATIONAL RANKING: N/A (fancy abbreviation for “not applicable,” which means they’re not ranked)
RPI: 49
SOS: 26

Notable Alumni:

Sandy Koufax (Hall of Fame MLB pitcher)
Oscar Robertson (Hall of Fame basketball player)
Kenyon Martin (No. 1 overall pick in 2000 NBA draft)
Chris Collinsworth (Law) (Former NFL QB, Sports commentator)
William H. Taft (Law) (Only person to serve as both United States President and Supreme Court Chief Justice)
Stephanie Heinrich (Playboy Model) (pictured left)

Probable Starters:

F 21 Mike Williams 6-7 240 SR 10.0 5.7
F 22 Rashad Bishop 6-6 225 SO 5.4 4.1
C Steve Toyloy 6-8 255 JR 4.0 4.0
G Deonta Vaughn 6-1 190 JR 15.7 4.1
G Larry Davis 6-3 195 SO 6.8 1.6

Bench: Yancy Gates (10.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Dion Dixon (7.3 ppg); Alvin Mitchell (6.3 ppg)

Tomorrow the University of Cincinnati is calling on its faithful to wear red for what it’s calling the “Ring of Red” Game. The L Yes! Report thanks them for being so accommodating.

You’ll remember last season when the Bearcats came into Freedom Hall and upset the Cards by 1 on New Year’s Day. It was David Padgett’s return game after coming off his 48th knee injury.

Cincy is protecting a 4-game home winning streak. It’s won 5 of its last 7, dropping its last game at Pitt. Like Providence before and Georgetown next, it’s a bubble team playing for its NCAA Tournament life.

Deonta Vaughn is their man, leading the team in both points and assists. He must be defended on the perimeter – he’s hit 64 triples on the season thus far.

Yancy Gates (6-9, 255) is a beast. The freshman comes off the bench and gives Cronin 22 minutes per game, averaging 10.4 and 6. It’ll be interesting to see how he matches up with our freshmen bigs.

Cards are looking to win their 3rd straight and stay in the hunt for the regular season Big East title. T Will’s wrist is officially fully healed, look for him to be back to his old self, and for Earl to have a big game. I like the Cards in this one, 79-66.

Pitino-Laettner Duo Makes Great Team

If that’s not a headline sure to drive a stake through the hearts of Kentucky Sports Radio readers everywhere, I don’t know what is.

The Courier-Journal’s Rick Bozich is reporting that Pitino is teaming up with Christian Laettner for a Vitamin Water commercial. Pitino has been a spokesperson for the company for a year.

The commercial is scheduled to air during the NCAA tournament.

In an unrelated story, Vitamin Water's Kentucky Marketing Director was fired after sales dropped 975% in the area in only two days, and fires to Vitamin Water warehouses in Lietchfield and Pikeville are being investigated as arson.

Cup O' Jones: Roundball Roundup

I've been pretty busy with The Freak Show thsui week and have been having the usual connection problems. Here's a sneak preview of my weekly piece on KSR. Hope this helps hold you over...

We’re a little over 3 weeks away from one of the best days of the year, Selection Sunday, and this week will either make or break teams depending on how they perform. Some games you could even call “elimination games” because of their significance for either side. An example from this past week would be Florida St./Miami or Ohio St./Northwestern. It’s not that the loser is officially eliminated from the dance, but it could be a turning point or the single game the committee needed to see to pick Team X over Team Z. If it is true and the selection committee doesn’t hold into account the conference tourneys as much as ‘last 10 games’ or ‘regular season wins’, then this week is almost the most critical time of the season to do a last-minute resume building and posturing for the postseason. Just as teams are fighting just to get in the tournament, the teams that are solidified up-top are fighting just as hard for the easiest possible draw.

- The UCONN/PITT game was about as good as it gets outside of the madness. Two top-5 teams battling for about 38 minutes until PITT pulled away at the end behind a couple bombs from Levance Fields. This game was Final 4 caliber and the best thing about it is there’s a rematch still to come. DeJuan Blair put up the best performance of the season thus far with 22 points and 23 rebounds. The reason it is better than other great performances is that it came against the best defender in the country, Hasheem Thabeet, playing for the hands-down #1 team in the country. Thabeet had been getting POY pub all weekend prior to the Monday match-up because of his spectacular 25-20-8 game against Seton Hall. Right from the tip, Blair took it to Thabeet - going through him as opposed to under him (Jay Bilas). He almost broke the man’s arm in an early game tie-up. If Blair stays out of foul trouble, as he didn’t in losses to Louisville and ‘Nova, PITT is deadly. Sam Young and Fields are two of the most wiley veterans in college basketball and Blair is a complete force. Also don’t count out the Huskies. The loss of Jerome Dyson might take a minute to adapt to, but his replacement Kemba Walker is arguably the better player and was just waiting his turn. Both teams have #1 seeds if the season ended today.

- I find it hard to believe that a team should be punished for what conference they are in. It is obvious to me that a team in the BIG EAST or ACC would have a much better record in any other league in America. That being said, I think a team like Miami, Florida St., Georgetown or Notre Dame is going to get pushed aside for a school that plays against weaker competition causing an inflated record. All 4 teams have quality wins in and out of the conference and seem like victims of the “somebody’s gotta lose” theory in most of their defeats. Just like the Big 12 and SEC in football this year, sometimes one or two conferences are just head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field. In my opinion, the BIG EAST/ACC should get 14 of the 31 at-large berths at the minimum. It is impossible to look at a team from either conference on paper and tell really how good they are. It will be proven in March as the majority of Final 4 contenders - outside of Memphis and Oklahoma who play in weaker conferences- are from one of the two leagues.

- The significance of the Stephen Curry injury is huge on Davidson, but also proves the point that he is the most valuable player in America. Curry turned and ankle and was on crutches as he saw his team lose to The Citadel this week. What are the requirements for the Naismith/Wooden Awards? Is it scoring ridiculous amounts of points? Is it being the best player on a good team? Or is it who’s team would suffer the most in his absence? If it’s a combination of all, Curry should have the thing won easily. Blake Griffin, Meeks, Thabeet, Harden, Hansbrough, and Harangody all have at least one NBA-caliber player around them to take some heat off. Curry doesn’t have that- every team knows he’s going to shoot when he gets it and he still pours in 30 a night without any supporting cast. And those that question his competition level must remember that he did the same thing against the likes of Duke, Oklahoma, and West Virginia earlier in the season. Stephen Curry is the Player of the Year.

What to watch for in the week to come….

Friday - Always the worst day of college basketball out of the week. However, there are two “Bracket Buster” games on the ESPN family of networks. I don’t know what the consensus is around the country, but I am a huge fan of the “Bracket Buster” weekend. It is almost essential to watch if you want the inside track in this year’s office pool. Illinois St. might be a 10-12 seed that’s a candidate to pull of an early round upset. they take on Niagra on the deuce. Nevada is in action against former Cinderella VCU on the U following at 9. Also, don’t sleep on Mercer who ran through the state of Alabama this year, pulling off non-conference upsets on Bama and Auburn. The Bears take on Nashville’s Lipscomb at 7 on ESPN360.

12 ESPN Butler at Davidson - The marquee match-up of Bracket Busters pits two teams that are almost surefire locks to make it to the tournament. No word on whether Stephen Curry is in or out at post time, but I can see a hobbled Curry putting up a courageous effort against a Butler team that seems to reload every year. Lexington’s Shelvin Mack, who will possibly be assigned to Curry, is averaging double-figures for the Bears.
330 ABC North Carolina at Maryland - The Terps are fighting for their lives and Gary Williams’ job security is the hot topics around College Park these days. Their meltdown against Clemson this week could have been the final nail in the coffin, but a win against a red-hot Carolina team would leap-frog them back into the hunt. The only problem is the Terps have great wings and guards, but no big men for support.
900 ESPN Oklahoma at Texas - I have been looking forward to this game until recently when Texas decided to take a serious nose-dive. I can’t remember a time in Rick Barnes’ tenure that the Horns have been this bad. We’ll see if the Horns play like a team with their backs against the wall. The key match-up will be Damien James trying to throw his weight around with Blake Griffin.
1100 CBS-CSTV BYU at UNLV - Top two teams in the Mountain West square off in a late-night affair for east coast viwers like myself.

745 FSN Wake Forest at Duke - The Dukies looked pretty bad at St. John’s last night, but they are a different team at home. Deacons guard Jeff Teague has not been getting as much hype because if a few losses, yet he is the type of player that can come into Cameron and set the nets on fire. He reminds me a lot of former Wake guard Randolph Childress - only Childress had Tim Ducan to play with.
1000 FSN Arizona at Arizona St. - The Pac 10 is fairly underrated in this part of the country, partially due to the fact we never get to see games. Arizona looks to continue the longest streak of consecutive tourney appearances (25) and a win against one of my sleeper teams will solidify that. 3 potential lottery pick in this game with Arizona’s Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill and State’s James Harden.

Monday - Big Monday doesn’t disappoint yet again as Louisville takes on Georgetown at 7 and Kansas travels to Oklahoma at 9 on ESPN. The Cards are vying for a top-seed in the dance and a bye in the conference tourney and the Hoyas don’t even know if they are in or not. Kansas will be the best test for Oklahoma in months. Cole Alderich shouldn’t back-down from Griffin and teams with a player like that are usually pretty successful when facing the Sooners. Kansas is my upset-special of the week, but given how I’ve been picking games lately the Sooners will win by 30.

7 ESPN Penn St at Ohio St. - This could very well be an elimination game as both teams sit around the middle of the pack of a Big ten that is not as good as was previously thought. The Lions sit at 19-8 with big road wins against Michigan St, Wisconsin and Illiinois. The Buckeyes are 17-7 with wins over Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame.
9 ESPN Florida at LSU - The Tigers and Trent Johnson are shocking some people around the country withe their play, but many aren’t sure whether it is because of the lack of firepower in the SEC this year. The Paper tigers have two guys, Marcus Thorton and Tasmin Mitchell, that account for the majority of points scored and neither are anything to write home about. Calathes and his Gators should give the Tigers a good test.

7 ESPN UCONN at Marquette - These are two contrasting styles if I’ve ever seen it. UCONN brings guys like Thabeet and Jeff Adrien that love to get physical and pound the ball inside. Marquette doesn’t play anyone over 6′8 and is loaded with tough, scoring wings. It will be interesting to see how first year coach Buzz Williams attacks the Huskies’ defense with Dominic James and Jerel McNeal.

9 ESPNU Kansas St. at Missouri - Did anyone else realize that Missouri has risen all the way up to #10 in the land? That is crazy to me, but the Tigers have beaten who they were supposed to a snuck in a last second win vs. Kansas. K-St is yet another team fighting for there life and I’m sure all the people wearing purple are hoping those animalistic survival traits come out and they pull the upset.

9 ESPN Purdue at Michigan - Robbie Hummel returned for Purdue after missing games with back spasms to lead the Boilers over an overrated Michigan St. team last week. The Boilers have always been one of my sleepers and look like they are back on tack going into the homestretch. Add Michigan to the list of teams that need to win and win now.
11 FSN Arizona St. at Washington - Watch simply to see two players - Washington freshman PG Isiah Thomas who is named that because his dad lost a bet…seriously and first team All-American James Harden. Both are worth staying up to watch and both are playing for top 20 teams.

Until next week - Check out how good Louisville’s basketball team is at The L Yes! Report

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Louisville Signee a McDonald's All-American

The McDonald's All-American teams were announced last night, and, much to the delight of the L Yes! Report, Louisville signee Peyton Siva was included on the East's roster.

Mike over at Card Chronicle has the full rosters.

Congrats to Mr. Siva from your friends here at the L Yes! Report.

Tale of Two Halves

Louisville could have had a let down game against a good Providence team coming off their massacre of DePaul and at halftime it looked like they might.

First year coach Keano Davis has done a great job this season, taking over a Friars team that was 15-15 last season, having already won 16 games this season (16-10 overall). The Friars weren't going to come into Freedom Hall intimidated. Providence would come out firing - hitting their first four shots of the game and with every first half blow the Cards threw at them, Providence would answer, finishing the half shooting 18/24 from the field and holding a 46-45 lead.

The Cards couldn't have played better offensively in the first half, doing a great job of attacking the smaller Friar line-up in the post and utilizing both Williams and Clark in the high post. Louisville's inside success early allowed good looks from the outside and Louisville for the second straight game took advantage of the open threes.

Unfortunately, as good as the offense looked, the defense struggled slightly. Yes...46 points and 75% from the field and I say the Cards only slightly played bad defense. Here is how...Louisville's four guard rotation did a great job of speeding up Providence's guards, forcing 9 turnovers before intermission but unlike most of the season, Louisville allowed the Friars guards to penetrate with ease and that of course opened up Providence with easy shots in the first half and contributing to their hot start.

I don't know what coach Pitino said to his team in the locker room but I can probably guarantee it wasn't even pg-13 rated. Louisville came out in the second half with the same sharpness on offense and continued to hound the Providence guards, forcing them to play at a speed they couldn't control but when Louisville stopped them from getting into the lane, the Cards went on a 18-1 run highlighted by the play of Preston Knowles. He (Knowles) is 8-12 from behind the arc over the last two games and has returned to be that energetic spark that the Cards really need. I have always thought that Preston as never seen a shot he could turn down. I think last season he would get so exited to play that he would shoot right away just to shoot the ball but over the last few games he has become smarter at knowing what is and isn't a good shot. Don't get me wrong though, Knowles still has no fear in taking any shot no matter what.

It seemed that Terrence Williams has regained his shot, going 7-11 and scoring 17 points with 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Williams wasn't the only triple double threat on this night though. Earl Clark contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists as well. Clark who biggest problem has been his shot selection only took 2 of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc and only one of those was forced. He (Clark) did a great job attacking the Friars zone by hitting the offensive boards (5 offensive rebounds) and making great decisions in the high post.

I wasn't surprised that Providence hung in the game with Louisville, I in fact thought that the Cards wouldn't pull away until closer to the six minute mark but they weren't that patent making their run at the thirteen minute mark to pull away.

This was an important home stand for Louisville. They now must travel to Cincinnati, who despite getting pimp slapped by Pittsburgh recently have been playing as good as anyone in the Big East over the last month and then to Georgetown, who while have underachieved record wise this season are still talented and are a young team that plays better at home.

Editor's Note - For those of you that saw the headline "Tale of Two Halfs", just know that the L Ye! Is an equal opportunity employer

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Show Me My Opponent - Providence Friars

Name: Providence College
Established: 1917
Location: Providence, RI
Enrollment: 8,878

Cardinal Connection - this one was easy as Coach Pitino reached the Final 4 with the Friars and Billy the Kid Donovan in 1987. Pitino coached the Friars for 2 seasons - compiling a 42-23 record. Assistant Richard Pitino also coached as an understudy/manager to Tim Welsh in his last two years as a student. It's obvious that the Pitino family has strong ties in Providence and both sides have a mutual respect and admiration for each other.

Head Coach - Keno Davis (1st season) (44-14 in 2nd year as HC - 28-5 last season at Drake)
Assistants - Chris Davis, Rodell Davis and Patt Skerry

Overall Record - 16-9 (8-5 in BIG EAST)
RPI - 67 SOS- 268 (
Pomeroy Rating - 71 Sagarin - 66
Bracketology - #12 in East vs. #5 Purdue

Notable Alumni

Doris Burke (part of the Axis of Evil involved in tonight's game)

Christopher Dodd (U.S. Senate, D-Connecticut) (Interestingly, like TC, Sen. Dodd received his law degree at University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. While I can't speak for the distinguished Senator, TC assures me he will not be rooting for the Friars.)

Billy Donovan - second favorite coach behind Pitino for the way he spurned Cat fan a couple years back

Patrick Kennedy - U.S. House of Representatives, D-Rhode Island

Lenny Wilkins - NBA's All-Time Wins/Losses Leader as head coach

NBA Alumni - Marvin Barnes, Ausin Croshere, Ryan Gomes, Herbert Hill, Eric Murdock, God Shammgod, Dickie Simkins. Michael Smith, John Thompson, Otis Thorpe, Jimmy Walker, Eric Williams

Probable Starters

G - Jeff Xavier (6'1 185 SR) - Mostly known for getting elbowed in the face in a game earlier in the year only to have his drug-charge-carrying brother walk out onto the court in the middle of the game and give the officials a piece of his mind. Aside from that problem, Xavier has not lived up to expectations he had as a transfer from Manhattan averaging 17 ppg. His 9ppg is 3 points less than what he averaged last year. It is always a possibility that Xavier goes off for 20 though.

G- Sheraud Curry (5'10 170 JR) - Friars PG missed all last year with injury and has came back strong, especially the last 10 games. Curry has scored 10+ points and dished out 4+ assists in 9 of the last 10 and has gone over 20 twice. That has boosted his PPG to over 10 to go with a shade under 5 assists. his true test will how he handles the pressure Louisvile is going to throw at them.

F - Geoff McDermott (6'8 235 SR) - A guy that seem like he has been there forever (Clerance Weatherspoon-style) is having somewhat of a down year, but if the Friars make the dance I'm sure he won't care. He has been hovering around 10/10 all 4 years and will do all the dirty work for his squad - a la Jeff Adrien on UCONN. He scored 18 points and grabbed 7 boards in defeat against the Cards last year. A bruising-old-school type of player with a nice mid-range game and good rebounding instincts.

F - Weyinmi Efejuku (6'5 210 SR) - The player with the hardest name to say will probably be the hardest for the Cards to stop tonight. He is coming off a 25 point effort against Rutgers on Saturday and is leading the team with 13.7 PPG. Out of the remarkable 5 Friars with 1,000 career points, Efejuku leads with 1,325. He seems to disappear on occasion and teams with good guards like Marquette and UCONN have been able to slow him down.

C - Jonathan Kale (6'8 245 SR) - Kale takes about 7 shots a game and makes them at a 59% clip. He is an undersized center who gets by with smarts and strength. Has been somewhat of a liability on defense and seem to only play well when the other team doesn't have someone bigger than him (remind you of someone?). Kale is putting up 10 points and 6 boards a game.

Bench -
G/F- Marshawn Brooks - Sophmore SF brings some youthful exuberance to the team,
C - Randall Hanke - 6'11 big guy helps Friars match up with bigger teams off the bench
G - Brian McKenzie - gives backcourt help - not a very good shooter

Television - 7:30 tip on ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien & Doris Burke)
Side note: So let me get this straight - we have played on ESPN twice in the last week and both times one of the analysts is an alma mater/icon of the opposition. Does that seem unfair to anyone? I didn't see Will Perdue calling the UK/Vandy game and Clark Kellogg isn't calling the Ohio St./Northwestern game tonight. Why do we have to get stuck with pitiful Doris Burke?

Officials - Tim "I love scotch...scotch,scotch,scotch" Higgins, Ed "Pitino must have slept w/ my wife for the way I treat his teams" Hightower and .....who cares? Those are the two worst possible officials we could have been given. Both have a reputation for calling some of the touchy-est fouls in the country and the Freedom hall faithful dogging them all night is just going to make it worse. I could see Samardo getting 3 quick fouls and becoming a non-factor. Not due to stiff competition, but the officiating crew.

Outlook - Samardo Samuels and Earl Clark should have there way inside whenever they want tonight. Providence's tallest player is Randall Hanke at 6'11, but he could become a human tea cup (if you know what I mean) tonight. The ball needs to get pounded inside every possession to get easy buckets and free up the outside shooters. T-Will is set to return 100% so expect him to slice and dice through the defense like TC cutting up onions for his chili. The guys in Las Vegas have this at 14 points, which seems a little high. the reason behind it is that UL completely over matches the Friars and the only way a loss could occur if if Providence is red hot and the Cards are ice-cold from the outside. You also can't discount the fact that the Friars are fighting for their tournament lives so all bets are off. I see Providence covering the 14, but Louisville still winning by double-digits.

Cards 77
Friars 67