Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Louisville Baseball Raising Money for Haiti

From the Louisville Athletic Department...

Louisville Baseball Donates to "Pinch Hit for Haiti" Effort

U of L players, coaches donate more than $700 to disaster relief effort started at Elon University

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Players from the University of Louisville baseball team recently joined the "Pinch Hit for Haiti" effort by donating $724 to the Red Cross for relief efforts in the island nation which was ravaged by a 7.0 earthquake last Tuesday.

The "Pinch Hit for Haiti" effort was spearheaded by Elon University senior catcher Mike Melillo. After thinking about the amount of money that could be raised if every athlete gave just $1, Melillo came up with the "Pinch Hit for Haiti" concept. In less than one week, the effort has raised nearly $10,000 through donations from collegiate baseball players, coaches and fans around the nation.

The 7.0 earthquake in Haiti has had an effect on nearly 3,000,000 people in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The capital city of Port-au-Prince was nearly leveled and many people are still missing. Estimates have casualties numbering in the 10's of thousands.

More information on the "Pinch Hit for Haiti" effort is available online at

Steps to joining Pinch Hit for Haiti:
As a team:
1. An individual from your school collects $1.00 from each member of the team.
2. That individual visits and donates the amount
collected via credit or debit card.
3. Once the process has been completed, Red Cross will provide you
with a page that has your tracking number, name, and the amount
4. Copy the information and paste it into an email document.
5. Email the information along with your team/school name to
6. Pay it forward and tell as many student-athletes as you can about
our objective.

As an individual:
1.Visit and donates the amount collected via credit
or debit card.
2. Once the process has been completed, Red Cross will provide you
with a page that has your tracking number, name, and the amount
3. Copy the information and paste it into an email document.
4. Email the information along with the school you cheer for or the
school you wish to represent to
5. Pay it forward and tell as many people as you can about our objective.

Pitino Needs Teague to Join Cards

Marquis Teague is only a junior in high school. Yet right now the 17 year old has Rick Pitino and the rest of the Cardinal Nation by the short-and-curlies in anticipation of his decision of what college he will attend. The point guard from Indianapolis Pike is a special talent - John Wall/Derrick Rose special - and has been thought to be a lock to show up on Louisville's campus in the fall of 2011. Two main elements factor into most people's assumption - Teague's father, Shawn, played for Coach Pitino at Boston University & his AAU coach, Shabaka Lands, was hired by Louisville as a special assistant prior to this season. By that, you would think Pitino has Teague hook, line, and sinker.

That could be, but is not necessarily the case.

Teague is a program changer. Many scouts and recruiting insiders say whoever gets him will become an instant Final Four contender. He has been compared to a more-athletic Chris Paul and Louisville has been in on him since Day 1. The only problem is, so has everyone else. If this sounds familiar, it is. All world PG DaJuan Wagner of New Jersey was the son of someone with a strong connection to the program - his father Milt who's number hangs in honor at Freedom Hall. After years of assuming he would become a Cardinal, John Calipari swooped in, hired Milt as an assistant coach and logically DaJuan followed. Fortunately for the Cards, DaJuan didn't turn out to be the impact player that he was thought to be. I wouldn't expect the same from Marquis.

Teague is the most important recruit of the Pitino era. Francisco Garcia & Terrence Williams took the program to great heights and will go down as all-time greats but Teague would mean more in the long run. If you add his services to already the already committed 2011 class - SG Wayne Blackshear, C Michael Chandler, SF Ryan Taylor & PF Zach Price - Louisville would have a 5-star class that rivals this year's Kentucky and other historically great classes. With that season's possible return of Samardo Samuels, Terrence Jennings (seniors) & Peyton Siva (junior) that makes one fierce 8-man rotation that would put Louisville as a preseason favorite to win the national title.

So what's holding him up? It could just be he wants to get the Jesus Shuttlesworth treatment at every visit. He's the number one player in his class and I can't really blame him for taking it all in - especially the women. Indiana and Kentucky are hot on his trail as well, so Pitino will have to prove he still has it against the nation's best recruiters.

Marquis Teague doesn't need Pitino and the Cards to make it to the next level, but Pitino and the Cards desperately need him to come in order to accomplish the goal of a championship that most people thought would have been closer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Listen to The Buzz Tonight at 8:30

Through our partners in crime - Louisville Sports Buzz - Trevor "Bacon" Kelsey and myself will host a 2 hour podcast tonight as we do every Monday-Thursday 8:30-10:30 PM EST. It is known as The Evening Buzz - a no-holds-barred attack at local sports with numerous local insiders to provide insight and intellectual stimulus on the happenings in the sports world. You can call in, ask questions, or give opinions at (646) 381-4206. Too shy to call? E-mail us at

On tonight's show we will break down the weekend's big games - Cats/Hogs, Ville/Cincy & the rest of college basketball. Also, we will talk about the excellent NFL Championship weekend & the upcoming Super Bowl match-up between New Orleans & Indianapolis. We will have Raashaan Myers from to talk Charlie Strong's recent commitments and Marquis Teague's interesting weekend visit to Coach Pitino. Any Cat fans out there, don't fret, we will talk about the newly crowned #1 team as unbiased as is possible for 2 born-and-raised Card fans.

You can listen to the show streaming through the link on the left side of this page,, or by clicking this link to get the streaming page on You are also able to subscribe to the podcast if you can't listen live through the links on the left on this site or the BTR site.
You don't want to break these poor girl's hearts... Do you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fabris Stepping Down, Hurtt In?

According to a website that chronicles coaching moves at all levels - - Louisville new defensive line coach John Fabris will step down before coaching a game. From

Louisville: Our sources tell us former Miami defensive line coach
Clint Hurtt will be coaching the defensive line. We hear that defensive
line coach Jon Fabris is stepping down. We have heard that Louisville will
be looking to hire their linebackers coach after signing day.

I don't want to speculate, could be a number of issues as to why he is stepping down, but you can only hope for the best for his future. Fabris had spent the previous nine seasons at Georgia coaching pros like Charles Grant and David Pollack. Along with Coach Strong, he was the main connection with stud Georgia decommit DE BJ Butler. Butler is very high on Charlie Strong so it is pretty clear this won't effect his choice, but we will continue to monitor the situation moving toward signing day February 3rd.

Clint Hurtt has been rumored to join the staff for a few weeks now and is an excellent hire. He just finished his 3rd season as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for Miami. It is expected for him to fill the same role here at Louisville. A young guy who finished playing at Miami in 2001 has recruited guys like Jacory Harris and coached 1st rounder like Calais Campbell (AZ). Also, he is overly knowledgeable about the hotbed that is Florida high school football.

As the passage said, this will leave a hole at the linebackers coach position that Strong had hoped would be filled by Tennessee's Lance Thompson who now looks to be staying with new coach Derek Dooley, but don't rule him out. Strong has also interviewed Georgia Tech linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary for a position, possibly the same one as he has in Atlanta. We will keep you updated as soon as something happens.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is It Time to Pass the Torch?

I'm not one to panic about a Rick Pitino coached team. Only once in his career at Louisville has a team gone into the season with promise and failed to go to the NCAdd ImageAA. Unfortunately, that was the 05-06 team that went to the NIT. That is also the last time the Cards lost three games in sequence in the Murderer's Row known as Big East basketball. That 05-06 team lost 3 major players - Francisco Garcia, Larry O'Bannon and Ellis Myles - from the previous year. As we all know, this year's team lost two lottery picks - Earl Clark and Terrence Williams. The correlation is too much to overlook.

How can this be prevented from happening again? Well if you remember, the NIT team had a upperclassman backcourt of Brandon Jenkins and Taquan Dean. Two good players who made their fair share of plays over their careers, but never could be expected to carry the team alone. Both Robins who needed a Batman to compliment their powers. Not taking anything away from them, that's just how it was. I'm starting to see the similarities between that backcourt...and this year's duo of seniors - Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa.

Only the 05-06 back-court lacked quality back-ups. An overweight freshman Andre McGee and over-matched Brad Gianinny were Dean and Jenkins' replacements. That is where the difference lies. This years teams supposed "back-ups" are not a step down whatsoever. One is a ball of fire with confidence in his shot and tenacious defense in Preston Knowles. The other is a pure point guard who had recruiting analysts drooling in freshman Peyton Siva. Neither has been able to get into a rhythm this year (with the exception of Knowles against PITT) due to Pitino's extreme loyalties to Sosa and Smith. To avoid history repeating itself, something of a changing of the guard must occur ASAP. Smith and Sosa haven't given the senior leadership that was expected.

Let's face it, Sosa and Smith are having trouble getting the job done this season. Smith has gone from having the nickname "Raindrops" to "The Drought" overnight. His shot isn't falling and it is affecting his whole game - intensity, rebounding and defense. Plus, it seems at times like he's just going through the motions, waiting for the game to end. The frustrating part is that he was the complete opposite for the last three seasons. Even if his shot wasn't falling, he would make it up on the defensive end (most of the time). This year his confidence is shot and that's not a good recipe for a shooting guard who regrettably feeds off his offense. Sosa has been brilliant at times, but immature at others. He can fill up the buckets with the best of them, yet that isn't a pre-requisite for a solid point guard. Whether it be the missed foul shots at PITT or the poor decisions against Seton Hall, Sosa hasn't become the distributor Pitino would have liked him to be by now. Both players have given their all to the Cards and Pitino has been extremely loyal (almost to a fault), but it's hard to justify not playing the Siva/Knowles combo the majority of the minutes based on performance.

Former coach and Hall of Famer Denny Crum said on his radio show that if he had Peyton Siva on this team, he would play 38 minutes a game. Every time the guy gets into the game something good seems to happen. He plays with a swagger and confidence unmatched by anyone but Knowles. As a pure point guard, he distributes and facilitates before looking for his shot. The freshman conducts himself on and off the court like a person 10 years older. Siva is downright electric, yet he hasn't played more than 11 minutes (Nova) since the conference opener. In that game, he had 12 points. Why not give the guy 30 minutes to see what happens? Can't get much worse. Right?

Caoch Pitino is stubborn sometimes. He went into the season saying "Preston Knowles will be the best 6th man in college basketball" so that's what was going to happen. What happens if he completely outplays the guy ahead of him? Is he still the 6th man or has he deserved a start? There is no one on the team with the confidence in his shot like Knowles and after a small slump early on, his shot is back on track. He has even shown he can run the offense with some success in Sosa/Siva's absence. I have tried to justify playing Jerry Smith more minutes than Knowles, but it is impossible. Knowles is simply the better option and it is evident in every aspect of the game.

A 3-guard line-up with Sosa/Knowles/Siva or a small back-court of Siva/Sosa would work as well. However, a new wrinkle must be added soon or else this team will end up playing the last game in Freedom Hall in the NIT. The team doesn't deserve that. The fans don't deserve that. Most of all, the hollowed floor of Freedom Hall doesn't deserve to have the last game played on it be involved with the NIT.

A little change could prevent that.

More Recruits Drinking Strong Kool-Aid

Three more top-notched recruits have surfaced this week as having interest in Charlie Strong and the rejuvenated Cardinal football team. Two of the trio have have decommitted from big-time BCS schools and the third might be a diamond in the rough.

Delvin Jones (left) is a 6-6 230lb defensive end from Miami Palmetto and had recently decommitted from The Fighting Derek Dooley's in Tennessee last week. Known for his size and athleticism, Jones had NFL size and speed (4.6 40) at a position in which the Cards are in desperate need of depth. It has not been confirmed that Delvin will be in town this weekend, but that is the strong rumor (no pun). He's set to visit Ole Miss next weekend and holds offers from a who's who of college football - USC, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Nebraska, and Oregon - just to name a few. Ranked the 25th DE by ESPN and 32 by Scout. Cardinal Comparison - Brandon Johnson or Michael Josiah

QB Barry Brunetti (right) would be an outstanding grab by Strong and his staff. Not only because he is one of the Top 20 gunslingers in his class, but that he is recently decommitted from that couch burning, battery throwing school West Virginia. The 6-0 200lb pocket-passer has been praised for his presence and arm-strength, but criticized for his size. A few analysts have said he would be an ideal "spread-option" signal caller. That could be the reason why it is said that the Memphis-area QB is choosing between the Mountaineers and two Urban Meyer disciples - Strong and Miss St. coach Dan Mullen - all schools that run similar spread-option attacks. It has been confirmed that Brunetti will be in town this weekend to check out the Louisville facilities and spend some time with the coaching staff. He participated in the US Army All-American game and was ranked the 13th QB by ESPN and 20th by Scout. Cardinal Comparison - Shorter Dave Ragone

Jamaine Brooks is a teammate of Delvin Jones at Miami Palmetto and will absolutely be here this weekend on an official visit. The 6-4 285lb DT has been flying under the radar with many of the national services having him unranked. However, if you look at this highlight tape, I believe he could be a steal and also help bring Jones with him. Coach Strong has always said he is looking to play guys wherever they best fit to help the team - Brooks has the size and pedigree to find somewhere to be effective. I could see him beefing up and becoming a serviceable offensive lineman. Either way, it's good to see that Florida pipeline opening up again. Cardinal Connection - Adrian Grady

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jeremy Makes Cards Life Living Hazell

Junior Jeremy Hazell has given every coach he has faced nightmares since the minute he got to Seton Hall campus. Louisville has been no exception. As Seton Hall beat the Cards for the second straight time at home, 80-77.

Hazell torched the Cards two years ago in his home arena for 29 and it seems that hot hand-held over to tonight's game. Cardinals had no answer for him, allowing him to score in several different ways for a 25 point effort on 9-12 shooting.

Bad news for Louisville, who lost their 3rd straight game, Hazell wasn't the only Pirate that the Cards allowed to score at ease. Seton Hall as a team shot 52.7% from the field, including 5-12 from behind the arc.

As easy as Louisville made it for Seton Hall to score, they were just as bad from the free throw line...again. Cards finished a horrible 14-25 for a Shaq-like 56%. Louisville would outbound the Pirates 34-33 but it didn't seem that way. In the rare times when Seton Hall would miss a shot it seemed that they would get a second or even third chance regularly.
All five starters for Seton Hall finished in double figures, led by Hazell, while only leading Cardinal scorer Edgar Sosa reached that milestone for Louisville with a team high 15 points.

Freshman Mike Marra joined him as the only other Card to score double digits with 10 points but only scored one of those in the second half. Fellow Freshman Rakeem Buckles, who got the start over Swopshire, finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds. He was 3-9 from the field though and looked lost on defense on more than one occasion.

Samardo Samuels who has been an unstoppable force over the last 2 losses was a completely nofactor in the game. He would get 9 points and 6 rebounds but got no offensive touches. Samuels would take only 7 shots, hitting 4 of them. Three of those four field goals were offensive put backs.

Louisville have now lost 3 games in a row in the Big East. Only the second time under Pitino that has happened. The last time was 05/06 season when the Cards lost to Pittsburgh, at St. John's, and UConn that year. That year they also went to the N.I.T. tournament. Louisville has no time to dwell on this loss with Cincinnati coming to Freedom Hall on Sunday.

Cards Hope To Avoid Deja Vu

The last time Louisville and Rick Pitino visited Seton Hall, it was January 19th, 2008. It was a trip that I am sure both coach Pitino and all Card fans would like to forget.

The Cards allowed the Pirates to shoot the lights out from inside and outside the arc and no one took advantage of that more than guard Jeremy Hazell. The then Freshman from Harlem would hit 8 three pointers (only 14 attempts) on Louisville. He would finish with 29 points in the Seton Hall 92-82 win.

Since then Hazell has been a thorn in all Big East coaches sides as well as giving all score keepers cramps from writing so much. Hazell, now a Junior, is in his second straight season averaging over 22 points per game. He has scored more than 30 points in a game five times this year, including 41 in a loss to West Virginia.

Louisville "held" Hazell in check last season as best as you can. Forcing him to take unwanted shots that resulted in a 4-13 day from behind the arc. Hazell would finish the game with 18 points still but Louisville got the win.

Opponents are entering this game shooting 34% from downtown on Louisville, with an average of 6 three pointers allowed a game by the Cards.

Rick Pitino and company are looking to avoid a 3 game losing streak and get to far behind a cut throat Big East. Louisville through history is 8-4 versus Seton Hall, while 3-3 all-time in South Orange.

Samuels Becomes Go-to Guy

Who is Coach Rick Pitino's go-to guy?

That was one of the biggest question marks going into the season for the Louisville basketball team. When the shot-clock is winding down and the squad is in desperate need of a bucket, who do they get the ball to? With two patented "go-to" guys going in the first 14 picks in the draft, that was a gaping hole coming in and the product of a few sleepless nights for Rick Pitino, I'm sure.

Is it Edgar Sosa? Despite popular opinion, No. He's too reckless and unpredictable. Jerry Smith? Has a tough time creating his own shot from inside 25 feet. Preston Knowles? Maybe... hell, he might not even be in the game though. Jared Swopshire? See: Final shot at Pitt. Chris Brickley? Sorry Bricks but it ain't happening. It can't be Samardo Samuels can it?

It can and it should. After the first part of the season, nearly every Card fan would have said that's crazy talk. He's too passive. He doesn't demand the ball. He can't get it done against a quality big-man. Definitely not vocal enough. Although that rang true in many early season contests, it couldn't be further from the truth after the last few contests.

In Big East play, Samardo is shooting a robust 57% from the field and playing worlds tougher than he has before. His previously suspect foul shooting has risen to 87%. Instead of looking apathetic and unconcerned about getting the ball, he is now actively demanding the post pass. Two premier teams in the country - Pitt and Villanova - could not handle Samuels in the low-block. He averaged 23 points in the last two games by making quicker decisions with the ball, using both hands, and going up to the basket with authority. Unfortunately, both games were heartbreaking Louisville losses.

In both games Louisville had the game won and somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of
victory after playing very well. One of the main reasons was not riding home on the horse that brought them. In both late stretches, the Cardinals' perimeter players went away from getting the ball inside to Samardo for an unknown, strange reason. Similar to the time of David Padgett, good things happen when the offense runs through Samuels. If he gets double-teamed, someone has an open shot. If not, he can take his man, score, or get to the line. Seems simple. However, Samuels didn't even touch the ball once in the final minute and overtime at Pitt and was forgotten about in crucial times against Nova. It seems as though he has to earn his team's trust just like he has the fans.

The team must look for him in the post more often for the Cards to overcome their demons. I was very impressed with the inside-outside game Samardo had with Knowles in the Pitt game and Peyton Siva is always looking to get the big guy involved. It is up to the two senior guards to swallow their pride and look to him more often. Sosa and Smith have hit big shots over the course of their careers, but this offense runs best when the Jamaican sophomore touches the ball. It will only get everyone else on the team better shots. Samuels will never play above-the-rim, but if this new-found tenacity and resilience continues it won't matter.

Some thought it would happen sooner, but it looks like Samardo Samuels is starting to become the player everyone and their mother thought he could be. To me, it seems he is the answer to the question of who the Cards' go-to guy really is.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Strong Getting the Job Done...So Far

New Louisville football coach Charlie Strong has done a lot for himself in only 5 short weeks. A school that a short time and a different regime ago was battling with mediocre programs like Ohio and Middle Tennessee for one-star preps is now beating out perennial powers like Florida and LSU for elite recruits. A 2010 class full of question marks may now turn into one of the best classes in school history. Strong has changed everyone's perspective of this program -from the fans to the administration to the coaches in the Schnellenberger Complex in just 5 short week. Also, remember he spent most of the month preparing his Florida defense for the Sugar Bowl.

Stud offensive guard Torrian Wilson from Miami Northwestern and Georgia dual-threat QB Marcus Smith both spurned offers from the mighty Gators by choosing Louisville this week. Both should be factors in some way next year whether it be on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Strong won't be afraid to switch a guy positions or even sides of the ball if he feels he can help the team better elsewhere. Wilson and Smith join a slew of other recruits that include one of the best receivers in the country in Miami Northwestern standout Michaelee Harris and devastating Defensive end from Georgia BJ Butler. Harris chose Louisville over Miami FL and Tennessee with many analysts calling him the best "possession" guy in his class. Butler is a monster judging by his write-ups and decided to join former Georgia and new Cards defensive line coach John Fabris and spurn a verbal agreement with the Dawgs. Can you really blame the guy?
In the coming weeks expect decisions from a few other top recruits that are very high on Strong and Louisville. Former Texas Tech recruit WR Kadron Boone is down to the Cards and LSU. DT Todd Chandler (Wilson and Harris' HS teammate) is expected to choose the Cards soon after a very successful visit a couple weeks back. That would give the Cards 4 players from Miami Northwestern, a school known for producing top-notch talent since the days Schnelly coaches the Canes, in one class. Another guy to look at is Fred Harvey, a bruising OLB from the Memphis area who holds an offer from the Tennessee Dooleys. Unless the hostesses were retained by Vince's son I think the Cards should most likely land him as well. All these guys are very highly respected prospects and despite what people might think will qualify and contribute if they were to choose the Cards.

Locally, the big decision has yet to be made by Central star defender Tim Patterson. It's between the Cards and the Cats on this one and Patterson seems to be taking his time in choosing red or blue. All indications point to Patterson picking the Cards, but it seems he wants to ride out the "Jesus Shuttleworth Treatment" as long as he can. Teammate Stefon Robinson already chose Strong like 2 days into his tenure and local studs Quan Weaver and Harris Bivin held their previous commitments and will wear the red and black. I have always said I think it's essential for Strong to lock-down the top recruits in Kentucky and he seems to be doing just that.

It's an exciting time for Louisville football again and Spring practice is still a ways away. Funny how things can change when the head man has what it takes to recruit at a BCS school with great facilities. It might not happen this year, but by the way things are looking on the recruiting front, Charlie Strong will have the Cards back in the championship picture in the near future. It looks like the nightmare is over.