Tag Archives: Basketball

Can The Lady Cards Do It?

Louisville Villanova BasketballIt’s really hard to expect the Louisville Cardinals women’s basketball team to be able to beat Connecticut.  Connecticut is fielding one of their best teams of all time.  The Huskies are firing on all cylinders and they have been since the first tip-off of the season as they remain undefeated heading into tonight’s championship game.  They’ve beat the Lady Cards twice this year by an average of 33.5 points and one of those blowouts was in the Big East Tournament championship game.  They’ve beaten all of their opponents in the NCAA tournament by double-digits.

Connecticut has the nations best player in Maya Moore.  They have the nations best coach in Geno Auriemma.  They have eight players who were All-Americans in high school.  Louisville has none.  They have a history that contains five national championships and over 30 regular season and conference tournament championships.  They also have Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles.

Regardless of UConn’s long list of accolades, there is one thing that Louisville has more of.

Heart.

Louisville showed they had more heart than anyone in the country  when they erased a first half lead of 14 points and came back to win the game against a stacked Oklahoma team in the national semi-final on Sunday evening.  Angel Mccoughtry played her worst half of the season in the first half against the Sooners and played the most memorable half of her career in the second half as she led Louisville on a charge against Oklahoma.  A charge where the Lady Cards were able to grab the lead by as much as six points and coast to victory, despite a very late push by OU.

Becky Burke, Candyce Bingham and Deseree Byrd all played tenaciously on both sides of the court in the comeback.  Coach Jeff Walz ripped the team at halftime and told his All-American, Mccoughtry that she was an embarassment.  They came out with something to prove and left the Oklahoma Sooners shocked and in tears at the end of the game.

Some say that Oklahoma became too comfortable after their big halftime lead.  Some say that Jeff Walz might be the best motivator in the country.  But no one can deny that Louisville has earned their spot in the NCAA national championship and has catapulted themselves in the national spotlight as this team has become the story of the year in NCAA women’s basketball.

Louisville enters tonight’s game the underdog once again.  Not just expected to lose to the Huskies but many “experts” and fans expect Connecticut to blow them out of the water.  It’s possible.  Connecticut seems to be on an entirely different level from the rest of women’s college basketball this year.  The entire season, they’ve proven that they’ve been the best team in the country.  The program hasn’t won a national championship since the 2003-04 season, and you know they’re hungry for one.

Whatever happens, I will make one guarantee and that is that regardless of whether they’re winning by 20 at halftime or losing by 30, Louisville won’t give up until the final buzzer sounds.  They’re going to give it their all tonight as they have nothing to lose.  The Lady Cards want this as bad as anybody and they’re not going to let anybody crown the Huskies the champions just yet.  Remember, they have heart.

Jodie Meeks To Test NBA Waters…… YAY!

jodie-meeksThe good news is that Jodie Meeks is going to submit his name to the NBA draft and get some predictions on where he will fall, how much he will make, etc.  The bad news is that Jodie Meeks isn’t going to hire an agent, an action which would pretty much cancel his NCAA eligibility.  A lot of players do this, some of them turn pro, some of them return to school.  Regardless, you can bet that every Louisville fan, myself included, is hoping to see this guy’s name somewhere on the television screen on June 25th.

Meeks averaged an SEC-best 23.7 points for the Wildcats this past season and set a school record by scoring 54 points against Tennessee.  If Meeks doesn’t remove his name from the NBA draft by June 15th.  He automatically forgoes his senior season of eligibility and won’t be allowed to return to UK (at least to play basketball).

I say go pro Jodie.  Even if you have a bad outing at the workouts, the Knicks will still take you.

What To Read (or watch)…

Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Lawrence gives us five reasons why he thinks Louisville can, and will, beat Connecticut tonight and win the NCAA tournament.  He pointed out several factors that help Louisville including revenge, undefeated teams falling before in the championship, and the fact that Louisville has nothing to lose.  Let’s hope he’s right.

Charlie at the UofL Card Game blog wants you to write ESPN and complain about how awful Doris Burke is.  He makes a good point.  She practically seemed like she was flat out cheering for Oklahoma in the Final Four game.  She completely lacks professionalism.

Rick Bozich of the Courier Journal and some other guys covering the national championship game last night sat around afterwards and came up with a top 10 for 2010.  Syracuse seems to be the darling pick for next year, after their six-overtime triumph they have become America’s team.  Louisville’s missing but that’s expected.  At least they didn’t already give the title to UK like  half of the amateurs out there.

The Arena Authority also released a tour video of the new Downtown Arena.  While it’s going to be hard to leave Freedom  Hall, this new arena is going to be sweet.  Not only can I get my UofL basketball on, I’ll also be able to get my Arena Football and my Mick Jagger on as well.  I can’t wait.

John Yarmuth is getting the short end of the stick with a wager he placed on tonight’s national championship game with Connecticut representative Joe Courtney.  If Connecticut wins, Courtney gets a Slugger baseball bat, a bottle of Woodford and a bucket of KFC.  If Louisville wins, Yarmuth gets salami, lemonade, wine, cigars some chocolate bars and some syrup.  There are two reasons Yarmuth is getting the short end of the stick.  One, we can get any of this stuff at Kroger.  Two, we can’t riot with this stuff the way you can riot with a baseball bat, a bottle of bourbon and a bucket of fried chicken, if we were to win.

Last but not least, a pretty good article from the Sporting News on the Louisville men’s basketball team’s tremendous season.  We sure had a fun ride, even without meeting our expectations.

Angel McCoughtry Named All-American

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Louisville Senior Angel McCoughtry has been named first team All-American by both the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.  McCoughtry is a now a three time All-American after making the AP second team in both 2007 and 2008.  She has had an absolutely outstanding season averageing 23.2 points-per-game along with 9.3 rebounds-per-game and 4.2 steals per game as she has led the University of Louisville Women’s basketball team to their first ever Final Four appearance.

Congratulations Angel!

Tony Kornheiser and I Share A Very Similar Sense of Humor

Earlier, as an April Fools joke I posted an article about Pitino going to Arizona.  Well earlier today on PTI, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon opened their show with news that Rick Pitino had reportedly talked to Kentucky and told them that they wanted to come back.  Hilarious.  Not jut because of the joke but all of the underlying humor.  The fact that so many Kentucky fans think that UK could just get Rick Pitino at their own will.  Not True.  Enjoy everyone.

Is The Commonwealth of Kentucky Big Enough For Pitino And Calipari?

p1_pitinoWhat’s the old saying?  If you can’t get your old successful Italian basketball coach to come back to you, go out and get another successful Italian basketball coach?  Well, I don’t think anyone ever really coined that phrase but that is exactly what Kentucky is doing.

Amid all of the rumors of Kentucky trying to land Rick Pitino back at their program, they were aiming for another legendary coach.  Anyone that knows anything about college basketball and has half of a brain knew that Rick Pitino would not go directly from the Cardinals to the Wildcats, I was a bit surprised to see Memphis head coach John Calipari had taken interest in the open position at the University of Kentucky.

After moderate success (by University of Kentucky standards) under Tubby Smith and a complete train wreck (by University of Kentucky standards) with Billy Gillispie, I thought that it might be time for Kentucky basketball to re-evaluate itself and look back to hiring within the program.  A coach such as Travis Ford or John Pelphrey would be a perfect fit.  They both played at Kentucky.  They both have led successful careers and are enjoying fine stints at Arkansas and Oklahoma State.  They’re both young.  In fact, I’m downright confused as to why Kentucky hasn’t courted either one of them.

Wait, I’m not confused at all.

Kentucky wants to win right now.  They’re not interested in rebuilding a program because as far as they are concerned, they could win it all with the players they have.  Calipari is an excellent recruiter and an established winner.  He took UMass and Memphis and transformed them into national title contenders, at least while he’s been at either one of those schools.  With young, more unseasoned coaches such as Ford or Pelphrey, there would have to be a margin for error for either one of them.  Kentucky would be seen as rebuilding their program, not competing for a title.

Billy Gillispie isn’t a bad coach.  I’ve heard a lot of Kentucky fans that would tell you the same thing.  He just wasn’t the right fit for the program.  When Kentucky hired Gillispie, they thought they had hired a coach of Calipari’s caliber.  The man went to UTEP and Texas A&M and turned them around instantly.  What Kentucky didn’t realize was that he took those football schools to NCAA tournaments and had hardly any pressure on him.  He could have taken A&M to the second round every year and been guaranteed an entire career there.

That’s not the case at Kentucky though.

billy-gKentucky lives and dies for basketball.  As much as a Kentucky fan might tell you they care about football, they don’t.  It’s just something to pass the time until Big Blue Madness rolls around.  Billy Gillispie simply had too much pressure put on his shoulders.  He was rebuilding a team, and UK wanted to win instantly.  Forget the fact that they didn’t have a point guard, a good forward or any depth.  In their minds, Meeks and Patterson, perhaps one of the nations best duo’s, could take them deep into the tournament.  That just wasn’t the case though.  Billy Gillispie just couldn’t get that point across to the fans either.  Billy Gillispie was thinking long term while the fans and boosters were thinking short term.

That’s the the case with Calipari though.  While Gillispie was going out and looking and 9th and 10th graders, Calipari will go out and look at 12th graders who want to be going straight to the NBA, recruit them, use them for a year, then move on.  Calipari has seen great success at Memphis by treating the program like a semi-automatic gun where every year is a different bullet.  He simply reloads, reloads, reloads.  He took Memphis to the national championship game, just imagine what he could do with Kentucky.

While nothing is official, it seems certain that Calipari will be the next coach at the University of Kentucky.  He will more than likely find instant success, and be named the savior that UK thought they were getting when they landed Billy Gillispie.

Calipari at UK will only enhance basketball in the state of Kentucky.  While Pitino has Louisville in a prime position to be a national title contender for years to come, you can bet your bottom dollar that Kentucky will soon be where they once were, at the pinnacle of the college basketball world.  The UofL-UK rivalry will soon become a slugfest and the most dramatic rivalry in the country. Two of the best recruiters in college basketball will be situated only an hour apart.

Our state will no longer hear the sound of Gillispie’s deep Texas drawl and soon sound like two New Yorkers arguing over a girl at a bar.  Regardless of how annoying this may get, we’re about to witness a complete war.  You better believe that  the Commonwealth of Kentucky is about to become the center of the basketball universe.  The North Caroline-Duke game will look like a church league intramural match compared to the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry.

Welcome to a new era of basketball.

Five Reasons Why Louisville Could Win The Tournament.

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As a Louisville fan, it’s been very hard to not expect a lot from the Cardinals this March.  It’s also extremely scary to know that one missed shot, one bad play, or a few bad minutes could cost any team, including Louisville, the national title.  March is not an easy time to play, just take a look at the Sienna game on Sunday.  Every team comes out pumped up and hoping to cut down the nets at the end of the tournament.  The Cardinals have played in the shadows of other teams all year.  Pitt and UConn still seem to garner more attention than the Cardinals even after Louisville took both the Big East regular season and tournament titles.  ESPN will never mention any other program in the same breath as North Carolina or Duke, not even UCLA, UK or Kansas.  Even Kentucky seemed to make more headlines than UofL because of how bad they were playing.  UofL has been playing with something to prove all season, whether they had just beaten Pitt or lost to Western Kentucky, they’ve known that they’ve had something to prove.  While you must play one game at a time, you still have to keep your eye on the prize.  The Cards might not be the overall favorite even with the overall number-one seed, at least according to the national media.  Everyone seems to love the darling North Carolina Tar Heels this time of here, UConn might be the new favorite after blowing out the competition in their first two rounds.  Even Memphis and Oklahoma are turning a lot of heads, but there are a lot of reasons why Louisville has just as good of a shot as anyone else.  Five really, really good ones.  

1.  Fresh Legs

Louisville may have one of the best benches in the entire country.  Between Edgar Sosa, Andre McGee, Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles they can constantly put in rested players to perform that press that they’re known for.  Coach Pitino can even throw in three guards if he needs to to give Terrence Williams a rest.  While the story in the paint isn’t quite the same, Terrence Jennings isn’t a bad guy to have coming off of the bench, even for a freshman.  He can play in the four or the five position and he can maintain quality play while at least one of the big men are taking a breather.  As they showed through the Big East Tournament, they can simply wear teams and run away with the game in the second half.  Sosa, McGee, Smith and Knowles all average over 16 minutes per game.

2.  Defense

Those fresh legs that were just mentioned is the key to the Cardinals’ defensive ability.  The Cards have fresh players to press for the entire game and they can also switch back at half-court and play a pretty good 2-3 zone.  Statistically, they’re one of the top defensive teams in the country allowing just 61.7 points per game.  Back to the bench, they can have five quality defensive players on the floor at any given time and they’re not afraid to dive for balls, intercept passes and block shots.

3.  Location, Location, Location

The Cardinals opened up the tournament playing two games in Dayton, Ohio, a little over two hours from Louisville if you drive like a sane person.  For regional play, the Cardinals have an even better location in Indianapolis.  Just 114 miles from the ‘Ville, Indy is a very short drive, especially for UofL fans who are known to travel in large groups.  Arizona also went 2-9 when not playing at home throughout the regular season.  Provided the Cardinals advance to the Final Four, Detroit is about 6 hours away from Louisville.  Not quite as close as the other two venues but Cardinal fans would be more than willing to make a weekend trip to the Motor City and pack as many fans as they possibly can in Ford Field.

4.  Versatility

Louisville Kentucky Basketball

No other team in the country has a player like Terrence Williams.  He’s the most versatile player in the country, no questions asked.  While his stats aren’t particularly mind blowing in any category, he has high marks in nearly all of those categories.  With 12.7 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.4 steals, he can do anything and everything on the hardwood.  If that’s not enough, he’s the team’s emotional leader and steps up when he needs to.  He’s cool, calm and collected but often wears a smile on his face and performs silly antics.  He goes out and enjoys playing the game.  He’s the reason Louisville is won the Big East and the reason they earned the top seed.

5.  Experience is Key

If experience is what it takes to win, the Cardinals definitely have it.  Their past two years in the tournament, they have advanced two games further each time.  They’ve seen every offensive and defensive set they could possibly see.  They’ve played the best competition in the country through their grueling Big East schedule.  Rick Pitino’s been to plenty of final fours and always seems to have his teams playing their best ball come tournament time.  The Juniors and Seniors in this group have now played in a total of eight NCAA tournament games.  They have just as much experience as any other team in this tournament and they’re as prepared as anyone else in this tournament.

There’s what they can do, now they just have to go out and do it.