Thank You Muhammad Ali For Making Us Move

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I took my son to his first T-Ball practice last week. Before the practice starts I see this kid over to the side playing catch with his father. This kid was really good and catching every ball his Dad was throwing to him. Wanting to be challenged more he was yelling at his Dad “make me move”. As I’ve grown older I find myself wanting to be challenged more and am always looking for someone or something to “make me move” There aren’t very many times while we are on this earth that we will be truly “moved”

This past week we lost one of The Greatest men this world has ever known. In his lifetime Muhammad Ali was responsible for not only making those around him “move” but inspired the world to “move”. Over the past week I have been “moved” hearing the stories and seeing the impact that this Great Man had. Among my favorites are the time Ali helped a random car full of college students whose car had broken down on the side of the road, in 1981 how Ali talked a suicidal man out of jumping to his death, or the time he helped secure the release of 15 US hostages in Iraq.

I was also “moved” this past week to see the impact Muhammad Ali has had on not only his generation but many generations to come. Covering Louisville sports this week It was great to see the Louisville Baseball team wear the name “ALI” on their hats, and seeing that even in his passing he was with them and inspiring them to be great, or reading about a group of Louisville Football players who went to Ali’s childhood home to pay their respects. Even on Friday seeing that the Louisville Basketball team was together paying their respects at the Ali memorial service.

Watching the memorial service Friday afternoon I was not only “moved” but was challenged personally to “move”. The speeches were incredible and very inspiring but the thing that really stood out was how Muhammad Ali even in his post-life was able to bring a city, a state, a country and a nation together. Friday there was no black & white, us & them, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, Cards or Cats. That day we all came together to honor someone who “moved us”.

Thank you Muhammad Ali for making this world a better place, thank you in these trying times for showing us all that we can co-exist and thank you for making us “move”.

Ali “moved” me this past week and I will “move” to be a better person. I think that is his final challenge to us all.

“Don’t count the days; make the days count”- Muhammad Ali

Louisville Baseball Hottest Ticket In Town

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Louisville baseball dates back to 1909. There is no rich history and contending for conference Titles and fifth place finishes was the norm for 96 years. The program was decent but lacked the consistency to be on the other level. That all changed when Dan McDonnell took over as coach in 2007. Now hosting NCAA Regionals are the norm. The Cardinals will host their fourth straight NCAA Regional on Friday night.

Scanning the radio shows this week and the flavor was much the same. It wasn’t basketball or football conversations that dominated the airwaves. Cardinal Nation is all a buzz for Louisville Baseball. Not only are folks excited to get out and watch this team play on Friday night they are also looking forward to showing Coach Dan McDonnell some love for signing his new 10 year contract.

The Cardinals are coming into this tournament as the #2 seed in the country. Expectations are at an all-time high. This team has a roster oozing with Major League potential and seems to be peaking at the right time. With a great defense and an offense manufacturing runs at will this Louisville team will be hard to beat.

We often talk about how far the football program has come up over the years but I think one could argue that there hasn’t been a bigger rise from the ashes story than with the baseball program. If you are hoping to watch the Cardinals play tonight but don’t have tickets good luck. The Louisville session is sold out and there aren’t even any seats to be had on the secondary sites. The Cardinal Nine and Coach Dan McDonnell are the hottest ticket in town.

More on this years team and the NCAA Tournament from GoCards.com

A Humpy Day for Cardinal Fans

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To say that Cardinal Basketball fans have been held captive would be an understatement. We’ve waited anxiously for the last 2 months to hear news from the NCAA about a scandal we’ve waded through for the last 6 months. Today Louisville fans waited for another decision, and had plenty of company. Most College Basketball fans where stuck to their social media accounts waiting to hear who would stay and who would go. As most of us where just trying to get through our “Hump Day” it was also filled with many “Humpy” moments as college athletes held our nerves. As college sports fans it’s hard not to get caught up in the drama of young athletes making one of the biggest decisions of their lives. We invest a lot of time and emotion on these guys and don’t want to see them go. And we know that our team is better with them.

Chinanu Onuaku by my account is a very humble young man, and out of all of the Louisville players in that locker room he seemed to dislike the media attention the most. Many times the sounds of a post-game locker room drowned out his soft tone during interviews. I’m not going to blame him for having his moment, but these decision day platforms are frustrating. The NBA needs to find a better way to recruit their talent and aren’t doing these young men any favor. The other professional sports have it figured out give them a call.

After all of the ups and downs and plot twist of a daytime soap opera Chinanu did make it official Wednesday evening on his Instagram account:

“After talking to my family and going through the NBA process, me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft,” Onuaku wrote on his Instagram post. “I will take the Terry Rozier route and work my way into the first round. I have talked to Coach Pitino and he is behind me 100 percent.”

I wish him all of the best this world has to offer and hope he can grab a hold of success at the next level. He was a great Cardinal and helped win a lot of basketball games.

There was also another young athlete who made a big decision today. Tadarrius Patterson, a three-star outside linebacker from Birmingham (AL), committed to Louisville Wednesday afternoon. Perhaps not grabbing the attention it deserved this was big news. We pulled this kid straight from the jaws of the mighty SEC. This kid held offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Kentucky. He also held the attention of Alabama and other SEC schools.

ESPN breaks down his talent:

Size-Strength-Range
Adequate height with good length and range. Runs well and covers ground quickly. Lacks strength and power at the point of attack at this stage.
Instincts/Take On Skills
Above average recognition skills finding the ball, plays fast and reads on fly. Will occasionally over run the ball or take and inside angle and lose contain. Feels routes develop well in coverage. Lacks an strong anchor versus the run and can continue to develop strength and improve power-base. More effective slipping blocks then then taking on and shedding.
Tackling
Reach and grab tackler, not a wrap and drive through type. Would benefit from coming in lower as he tends to grab high for drag downs.
3rd Down Capabilities
Shows raw ability as a pass rusher, quick with hands and has the athleticism to make an inside move or redirect to beat blockers. Flashes of effective speed-to-power. Shows good savvy and range dropping and closing in zone coverages.
Bottom Line
Patterson is an active defender with good range and athleticism. Big upside given his frame and lack of great run support strength at this stage. Has the tools to develop into a three-down linebacker in time.

We lost a great basketball player today but gained a great football player. I couldn’t be happier about the progression of our football program. Coach Petrino and his staff are at the top of their game, and this thing is on a collision course.

As humpy as this day was for many Cardinal fans it still turned out pretty good. We got a verbal commit from a great football player and the Cardinal 9 keeps rolling on. GO CARDS!

Trey Lewis sends Powerful Message through Faith

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I have wrote several articles about Trey Lewis and his time as a Louisville Basketball player. Those stories often revolved around how many baskets he scored or his dedication to his team and to the Louisville program. But those things are nothing compared to his passion and dedication to his religious beliefs. His faith is an inspiration and it is impressive that a guy his age isn’t afraid to share it with whomever will listen.

We sometimes forget that the trophies we win here on earth are not anything compared to the ones we get when our work here is done. Yes, Salvation is the ultimate trophy. The University of Louisville’s FCA gives athletes like Trey Lewis an opportunity to share their testimony in an attempt to help fellow athletes reach that ultimate prize. There have been many athletes who have accepted Christ into their lives and have been baptized thanks to this program. Sports has the power to change lives but the FCA program has the power to change souls.

I want to send out kudos to Trey Lewis for his powerful testimony and to all those involved with the FCA at the University of Louisville. Thanks to Chaplain Chris Morgan for the work he is doing for the student athletes on campus. Also to those athletes who are being spiritual leaders on and off the field of play using their gifts to bring glory to Christ. We have a great group of athletes to cheer for at the University of Louisville and things like this should not go unnoticed. Kudos again guys!

Be sure to give the University of Louisville Chaplain Chris Morgan a follow on twitter @UofLfca to follow the great work he is doing on the campus and with our student athletes. And I’m sure they would also be thankful for our prayers as well.

The Battle for the Bourbon Barrel

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The Cardinals and Commodores played their last game against each other last May. It was Vandy that came out with the hot bats in that game taking an early 5 run lead before a little rally in the 6th by Louisville. It was Vandy who walked away with the win in that game 5-2. Before that these teams had last played in Omaha back in 2014 where Vandy eventually went on to win their first National Championship. That is a grand trophy indeed, but when it comes to the Louisville Vs Vanderbilt series there is another trophy that is one of the coolest in all of college baseball “The Barrel”

The Cardinals and the Commodores are far from strangers to one another. In fact this has become one of the most competitive rivalries in college baseball. The programs, separated by only 175 miles, became regular foes in the NCAA Regionals (4 times in last 7 seasons) due to the close proximity. From that “The Battle of the Barrel” game was born in 2012. What started as a typical midweek game has evolved into something much larger a true rivalry.

Louisville is just 7-24 all-time against Vanderbilt in a series that dates back to 1971, and our Cardinals have come out on the losing end lately dropping the last two. The Cards do hold a current 3 game win streak in Nashville. Today at 5:00pm this great college baseball rivalry will again take center stage its “The Battle of the Barrel”. Be sure to tune in to see who walks away with this super masculine emblem of greatness. Go Cards!

The game, originally slated for 7 p.m., but adjusted due to the threat of inclement weather, will be televised on ESPNU. Radio coverage of the game will begin on 1450 WXVW and transition to 93.9 The Ville at 6 p.m. Live stats for all Louisville baseball games are available at GoCards.com.

Louisville Football Springs Into Action

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It was a beautiful day for some Louisville football. Over 16,000 fans came out to cheer the Cardinals on as they wrapped up the spring session with a very competitive scrimmage. The first team offense dazzled scoring 73 points while the first team defense locked down the white team holding them to just 7 points. Cardinal fans got everything they expected and more from this year’s team.

I expected a lot from Lamar Jackson today and he did not disappoint. Shining just as bright as the sun over Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium he lit up the football field throwing for 519 yards and 8 touchdowns. As impressive as he turned out last year with just a limited time to adjust to the program the writing was on the wall as to just how good he would be after a full season. While now also getting to spend the entire off season in the strength, skills and conditioning program. The improvement is noticeable with better accuracy, arm strength and field command. I can’t wait until September to see him take the College Football world by storm.

As far as the other skill players are concerned it was a big day for the receiving corps. James Quick led this group with 150 yards and a touchdown. His highlight moment was when he and Lamar Jackson hooked up on an 85 yard bomb.

I was looking forward to seeing Jamari Staples today as he finished last season on such a high note and he also looked very good out there. His highlight moment was when he and Jackson hooked up for a 54 yard score.

Another guy you’re going to want to keep an eye on this season is Cole Hikutini. He will be a very important part of the Cardinals passing game. Today he hooked up with Jackson for two scores finishing with 75 yards. He has great hands and really gets himself in good position coming out of his routes. I think he could end up being one of the best tight ends in the ACC.

The Cardinals are once again going to have a stable of very good running backs. Brandon Radcliff has an extra gear when he hits that sideline, and with his work ethic and drive he’s in for a big year. Jeremy Smith and Malin Jones are also very capable backs. Jones had a very impressive 65 yard trot for a score in the scrimmage.

On the defensive side of the ball it was some of the usual suspects on the field flying around making tackles. I was most impressed with Stacy Thomas, Chucky Williams, Alphonso Carter, and Zykeisis Cannon. These guys combined for 30 tackles. Josh Harvey was a guy I was watching closely and he had 2 tackles. I look for him to step it up this season as he really wants to play at the next level.

These Spring scrimmages aren’t a be all end all predictor of how the upcoming season will look, but it is a great opportunity to see how certain players have improved their games and gives you an idea of just what the offense will look like come September. Today in the post-game pressor Coach Petrino said that he welcomes high expectations and said to “bring them on”. He surely will get his wish as I know mine are thru the roof and if you were at the spring game today I’m sure yours are as well.

See you in September Cardinal fans…!

SPRING FOOTBALL GAME 2016

Culmination of Hard Work & Dreams Realized at Derby Basketball Classic

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I just finished covering another Derby Basketball Classic and it was three days of great hoops action played by some of the most talented High School seniors in the country. There were dunks, three point shots, alley oops, and give and go’s. But there were also many years of hard work on display and this all-star game like them all was a culmination of hard work and dreams realized for the players. There were several big-time college basketball programs represented in the Derby Basketball Classic and also a few central Kentucky counties. I spent my three days of the Classic covering Bullitt East High School’s Tyler Sharpe who will be attending the University of Louisville as a preferred walk-on and Owen County High School’s Carson Williams who will be playing for Northern Kentucky University.

Located just south of the city of Louisville Bullitt County is included in the Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Area, commonly known as Kentuckiana. Tyler Sharpe a 6-1 guard played for Bullitt East High School. He has several scholarship offers, including Pikeville, and Kentucky State, but like many kids in the area he grew up a Louisville Cardinal fan. He could have chosen to go to one of these other schools but when he was offered the coveted preferred walk-on spot at the University of Louisville he jumped at the opportunity. Watching players like Elisha Justice, Tim Henderson, and David Levitch have success in this walk-on spot over the last six years was all the motivation Tyler needed. Watching Tyler Sharpe compete in the Derby Basketball Classic events over the last three days I can tell you that he is a very humble young man who is a decent athlete with surprising leaping ability. He had an off shooting night in the Classic but he has a very nice jump shot. This young man has spent his life dreaming of playing in front of the Louisville crowd and in the Derby Basketball Classic he got to realize some of that dream.

Carson Williams played his high school career for the Owen County Rebels in Owenton Ky. In that small rural Kentucky town you never hear the words “real deal” when it comes to the athletes that play sports there. Don’t get me wrong there are some very good athletes that have played for Owen County over the years but nothing like Carson Williams. This kid first made waves when he was running the floor, making plays, and dunking a basketball as an 8th grader. Folks in that small town started to realize then that he was going to be special. Carson is an athlete that has been dedicated to the sport of basketball and worked really hard to gain recognition in such a small town. Winning Mr. Basketball in Kentucky was a surreal moment for Carson and everyone who has followed him along the way. And being able to play in the Derby Basketball Classic just put an exclamation point on a very successful high school career.

Carson Williams represented himself very well this week in the Derby Basketball events. He won the 2on2 Championship with Jared Harper who will be attending Auburn University at Night of Future Stars and also made it to the Finals of the Slam dunk contest. He finished the Derby Basketball Classic with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assist. Not only was Carson representing himself in Louisville on Friday night he was also representing a very tight knit community. Owen County fans have traveled thousands of miles watching and supporting Carson Williams during his career. One of those fans was Chase Duvall. Chase the brother of Owen County basketball Coach Devin Duvall passed away suddenly on Wednesday afternoon right before Carson left town for the Derby Basketball festivities. On Friday night Carson wore a special band on his Derby Basketball uniform to honor Chase. That’s the kind of young man Carson Williams is and nobody deserved to have his moment more than he did at the Derby Basketball Classic.

“It’s always basketball season in Kentucky,” said Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry. “We have the most dedicated fan bases in college basketball. Tonight they were treated to a game with outstanding talent and we’ll be watching these young players closely as they continue their careers.”

I know I can’t wait to see how Tyler Sharpe and Carson William do in the next phase of their basketball careers and I will be watching and supporting these two great young men as they continue to live out their dreams.

Night of Future Stars

Derby Basketball Classsic





The Smell of Pigskin is in the Air

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I had the chance to get out and enjoy a beautiful spring afternoon with the Louisville Football team today. We still have six months before another year of Cardinal Football but there is a lot of excitement already building for the season ahead. There was a lot of buzz around the practice field today with a great crowd and a lot of high school prospects taking in the action while on spring break. There were also several members of the Louisville media out covering the action.

Heading into year number three of his Louisville sequel with 17 wins and two Bowl games under his belt Bobby Petrino has the Louisville program rolling right along. You could tell by the atmosphere of this practice that the team and assistant coaches know exactly what is expected of them by the head man. The practice today was run at a frantic pace and guys were in a dead sprint as they switched from one drill to the next. Things seemed to be running like a well-oiled machine. They say you play like you practice and if that’s true you can expect this Louisville football team to come out and perform at a professional and high level next season.

There were a lot of great athletes spread all around the practice fields today. The Cardinals have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball heading into the 2016 season, but one guy in particular will be poised to take the college football world by storm. I call him “Hurricane” Jackson but you can also call him Lamar. I was really excited to see this guy go through some of his drills today and he did not disappoint. I didn’t think it would be possible for him to look any faster but he did today. After a full year playing at the college level he has learned to be more efficient on his cut and runs. He appears to be stronger and looked very good running the offense that appears to be more built around him and his abilities this season. He made some very good throws today and it appears that he has taken this part of his game to the next level as well. If he stays healthy and continues on this upward trend he will be a show stopper.

Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of inconsistency along the offensive line. As I watched this group today the one thing that stood out to me was how much bigger and athletic this year’s group is. They really look impressive and Coach Klenakis deserves a lot of credit for the work he has done with them. They sure do look the part this spring and if they can carry some of that positive momentum they had when the season ended at the Music City Bowl then Cardinal fans will be very pleased. Some guys that stood out to me today were Chandler Jones (6-4, 300lbs), Geron Christian (6-6, 314lbs), Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 313lbs) and Toriano Roundtree (6-7, 305). These are some big, tough guys. And keep an eye out on the Roundtree kid he is going to be a beast.

I’m also excited about the group of wide receivers we have returning this season. These guys looked really good going through their reps today. This is going to be a special year for Jamari Staples and he stood out to me the most. His length, speed and athleticism are on a different level. You can also expect a big year out of now senior James Quick. He made some nice catches today. Traveon Samuel may not stand out as much because he is surrounded by all of these tall guys but I really like him. I think he will have a solid season and will do well in the Petrino offensive scheme. I was also really impressed with Cole Hikutini and he was making impressive grab after impressive grab during this practice. He is going to see his number called a lot this year.

The Cardinals also have a pretty good stable of running backs returning for this season. I expect another solid year out of Brandon Radcliff and really think we will see Jeremy Smith come into his own. I really like what I seen out of him today. L.J. Scott will also see his fair share of reps. All of these guys are capable of gaining big yards.

I’ve heard a lot about how hard Reggie Bonnafon has worked during the off season and there isn’t a guy on this football team who loves it more than he does. Along with his physical gifts he has a heart the size of a football field. I really wanted to watch this guy go through his reps today and it took some effort following him around the practice field. He did work with the running backs, and wide receivers. He has gotten a lot bigger physically and seems to have added some foot speed. This guys is one of the best football players on this team and the Cardinals need him on the field anyway they can make that happen. I’ve never been surprised by what I see out of this young man and he didn’t let me down watching him today. Reggie will have a great year.

The Louisville football program has probably lost more on the defensive side of the ball over the past two years than anywhere else. And we are talking about guys who are now playing on Sundays. But don’t think for a second that the Cardinals won’t be just as good on this side of the ball as they have been. We still have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Guys that stood out to me today were DeAngelo Brown, Josh Harvey and Shaq Wiggins. DeAngelo Brown is a big, tough guy and he has really worked on himself. He will be a beast along the defensive front. Josh Harvey had some times last year where it appeared he took plays off. This will be an important year as it relates to his future and he was very focused today in practice. Last season Shaq did a lot of talking but has vowed to let his game do the talking this year. He was also very focused today. This will again be one of the best defensive units in the ACC.

I had a really good time being back around the football team today and it really has me looking forward to that spring game here in a few weeks. Year number three of the Bobby Petrino sequel just might be one of his best yet.

Louisville Spring Football 2016

Louisville Senior Night Was Special

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2015/16 Cardinals Get Their one Shining Moment

Amidst all of the chaos and controversy surrounding the University of Louisville men’s basketball team there is a group of young men who have endured and shown some impressive perseverance throughout the season. They remained united and it brought them closer together.

On Tuesday night the leaders of this incredible group of guys were honored. Coach Pitino and the University have received much criticism about the self-imposed ban and how it was very unjust to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. I think that the University and Coach Pitino redeemed themselves with a sendoff like none we’ve ever seen before. Not even for the winningest senior class in the history of the program.

The night was all about Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. The team wore warm-up shirts that honored the two, a half time show was dedicated to them, the night was concluded with recognition of their in game achievements by presenting game balls and then they were presented with special rings to signify just how much their efforts were appreciated. Then this Louisville team got their one shining moment.

Under the circumstances I think that the University of Louisville did the best they could to not cheat the current team and seniors out of the accomplishments of their season. I think it was a great evening for all involved including the fans and I say kudos to Kenny and the entire athletic department for putting it all together.

Here are all of the videos and photos from Senior Night 2016:









Louisville Senior Day 2016

Saying Good-bye to Damion Lee & Trey Lewis

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We have reached the part of the college basketball season where teams are winding up conference play and gearing up for the post season tournaments. Years of hard work hang in the balance as seniors across the country near the end of their college basketball careers, and programs across the country are having their Senior Night/Day ceremonies.

Things are going to be a little different for the two Louisville players who will soon be playing their last college basketball game in front of the home crowd. On Tuesday night the University of Louisville will honor Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Two graduate transfers who chose to forgo the traditional route and finish their careers in Louisville. These guys will lace em up in that locker room for the last time, will come charging out of that tunnel to the Alma mater for the last time, and will get the love and admiration from the Yum Center crowd for the last time.

These guys made me eat my words. I have been very vocal about the one and done players. I have always said that I didn’t see how fans of a school could have so much admiration for a player that was only involved in their program for one year. Now granted Damion and Trey aren’t typical one and done players but they like those players were only in our program for one year. Boy was I wrong… Not only have these guys captured the love and admiration from Louisville fans during their one year, but they have also left such an impression that they won’t likely ever be forgotten.

For a lot of seniors around the country who are playing for major programs the end of the regular season means March Madness and a chance at getting their one shining moment. But Damion and Trey have had many moments this season where they have shined. These guys won’t get a post season due to the self-imposed ban but the way they have handled themselves in the face of this adversity will be something that is never forgotten. These guys have shown so much maturity, humility, loyalty, perseverance and dedication that they will leave a legacy at Louisville that is felt for years to come.

In successful programs like the University Louisville the players leave but the tradition never graduates. This program is rich and vibrant because many guys like Damion and Trey have cared enough to give their very best. There are still many chapters that have yet to be written, but these guys have added to the outstanding tradition of Cardinal Basketball.

Damion Lee said that the best basketball advice given to him was to “Stay humble. As quick as you rise is as quick as you can fall.” He has had to lean on those words this season. Along with his leadership and his offense this looked like a Louisville team that could not only compete for a championship but also had a legitimate shot at winning one. And right as things were looking so promising the news came that took all of that away for him. But Damion stayed humble and continued to give it his all every time he took the court. He never uttered a negative word and has remained positive throughout. This guy is a class act and I really admire and appreciate his example. Damion said at the beginning of the season that his personal goal was to “win a national championship and become part of a family.” He won’t get that championship but he will be a part of the Louisville family for the rest of his life. Thank you Damion!

Trey Lewis said that the best basketball advice given to him was “great players make everyone around them better.” Trey Lewis took that advice to heart and he has made every player on the Louisville basketball team better. Not only better competitors but also better people. Trey is a God fearing young man and he will quickly tell you that he finds his strength in the almighty. He has used his platform to not talk or brag about himself but to give glory to his beliefs. To have that kind of faith at his age is remarkable and he has been an example to everyone around him. At the beginning of the season Trey said that his personal goal at Louisville was to “earn my master’s degree, become the best point guard in the ACC and lead the Cards to a national title.” He won’t be able to reach that last goal but two out of three isn’t bad. And sure there may be a better point guard in the ACC but there isn’t a better person playing point guard in the ACC. Thank you Trey!

We will honor Damion and Trey on Tuesday night in the final home game of their careers, but the program will continue to count on their leadership. We’ll surely miss these guys but will never forget them. In a season full of chaos and turmoil surrounding the program their example shined so bright that even the darkness of all of that couldn’t get us down. Damion Lee and Trey Lewis Louisville First Cardinals Forever…