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 NFLDraftDog.com 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.
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)