Montrezl is not “That Guy”

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My father once told me that a person can do a thousand things right, even ten thousand things right, but you do one thing wrong, just one, that’s all people will ever remember, and you don’t want to be that guy. Throughout my life I have watched this old cliché play out many times. I think it’s even more relevant now during the age of instant news and social media. People in the world today can’t wait to jump on their moral high horse and take someone to task. It is a hobby for some.

Saturday during a basketball game against Western Kentucky Montrezl Harrell was poked, prodded, pushed and at one point ganged up on by five of the Hilltopper players. When that happened Montrezl lost control of himself and came very close to throwing a punch during a scuffle at the end of the first half. Montrezl was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul. After watching the video for several minutes the referees in charge of the game determined that while Montrezl came very close he did not throw a punch. And it was also ruled that he did not fight. So this should be the end of this right?

While watching the game I was very critical of Montrezl’s behavior and even made my sentiment known via my twitter account. But after watching video and looking at several photos of the incident after the game was over it is clear that Montrezl was just defending himself from a mobbing by the Hilltoppers. And it was also very clear to me that the incident would have never happened if the referees had intervened effectively. It is their responsibility to make sure the players feel safe and protected while on the court. So why aren’t they being scrutinized?

Montrezl Harrell has been the epitome of class. He has always carried himself with dignity and set the right example academically, socially and spiritually. He has respect for the game of basketball and plays it with more passion, desire and enthusiasm than most of us have ever seen. When he was winning a gold medal for this country a few summers ago the announcers made comments during the game that they had never seen a player go harder. They called him “Enthusiasm Personified”. One could say that during his basketball career Montrezl Harrell has done a thousand things right.

After the game today Montrezl took ownership of his behavior during the incident. He didn’t blame anyone, he didn’t make excuses and he owned it. One of my readers shared a story of what Montrezl did after he left the locker room and it is what should be remembered.

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After the game on Saturday Montrezl spent 20 minutes signing autographs for kids and making a little time for each of them. As the reader wrote “He signed autographs until they made him get on the bus”

This made me remember the time last year when a 9 year old Louisville boy Cruz Colvin was fighting long odds for a bone marrow match. The Louisville third graders family and friends were recruiting the public to be potential donors. When Montrezl got word of this in the local news he took the time to visit Cruz and also took the time to join the National Bone Marrow Registry.

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It also made me think of that image last year of Montrezl taking the time to hug a special needs child at a women’s basketball game.

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I have seen a lot of negative things thrown out towards this young man today; he has been called a thug, and much worse. Some members of the national media are also jumping on this negative bandwagon. Montrezl has worked his butt off putting in the hours, making the right decisions, doing the right things. Are we so caught up in this punishment mentality as a society that we would take all that away for almost throwing a punch?

This young man is on pace to be an All-American this season, and if anyone deserves that title it’s Montrezl Harrell. This one time can we do the right thing by him? Can we not forget about those ten thousand things he’s done right? Hey national media can we not make Montrezl that guy? Let’s think about the guy after the game signing all those autographs with the kids, let’s remember the time he helped Cruz Colvin, let’s remember the time he took a moment to make a kids night, and write about that. Montrezl is a good guy, not THAT guy….

Cards Win a Squabble in Diddle

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The Louisville and Western Kentucky basketball programs have now played 78 times and the series is tied at 39 wins for each. After today I don’t know if we will see these teams play many more in the near future as ugly as it got in Diddle Arena. Nevertheless the Cards win a good battle in a hostile crowd and are now 10-0 on the season with a big game looming next weekend.

Would have loved to hear from Coach Pitino after the game, but he headed directly to the airport to catch a plane and headed out recruiting. It’s probably for the best. He wasn’t completely thrilled about his trip to Diddle Arena. Will be interesting to hear what he has to say this week.

I knew that the Western Kentucky team would come out today and play like a group of starving dogs, but I didn’t think they would literally be like a bunch of starving dogs. It was pretty obvious that part of their game plan today was to get into the heads of the Louisville players and especially Montrezl Harrell. In no way do I condone throwing a punch in a basketball game and think it was way out of Montrezl’s character to do it. Looking at some of the post-game pictures of that incident I don’t know that I would have done any different had I been put in that situation. He is a kid that really respects the game and himself. It was announced after the game that he was given a flagrant 2 and was not thrown out for fighting which means he will not be automatically suspended for the next game. The ACC will review the tape and determine if there needs to be further action. Even though he only played the first half he still scored 14 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.

With Montrezl out of the game in the second half it really tested the metal of this team and I really think it gave some other guys the chance to step up and prove their worth. One of those guys was Anas. He had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in 23 minutes of action. I think that is the most time he has logged in a game this season. He gained some more confidence today and that could pay off later in the season. I really liked his effort, and the moxie he showed by holding Montrezl back so he didn’t get himself into more trouble.

Many of the “so-called” professionals in college basketball said in their pre-season assessments that this Louisville team would be missing a superstar and leadership. Well today a superstar and a leader emerged for this basketball team. Terry Rozier rose to the occasion under hostile circumstances. He is not a vocal leader but one that lets his game do the talking. He’s been pretty consistent all season but today he took over this game and the stage was his and his alone. He scored 32 points on 9-16 shooting from the field for 56%, 3-6 from the three for 50%, and 11-13 from the free-throw line for 84%. He also had three steals. A basketball player must have different areas of expertise. These areas of expertise include but are not limited to, rebounding, shooting, dribbling, communicating, playing defense, cheering, knowing the game, knowing the plays, boxing out, screening, and hustling. All of the players on the team must possess some ability in each, but it is only the very special player who has a vast amount of ability in all of them. Terry is that player. The running story-line throughout Rozier’s career is that he idolizes and molds his game after Dwyane Wade. He looked like him today for sure.

Those really were the biggest story-lines in the game today, but the biggest takeaway from today is that this team was put into a situation where they were forced to come together to win the game with one of their teammates not on the floor. This game was huge for this team in terms of bringing them together. Nothing brings a team together more than when that us vs them mentality plays out as hostile as it did today. It wasn’t very pleasant to watch at times and nobody wants to see a basketball game or any sport get out of hand, but it’s just what the Cards needed. One of the biggest games of the regular season looms. And it will take a team effort to beat that Kentucky bunch. Go Cards!

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Hilltoppers

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In the state of Kentucky there are two basketball programs that tend to grab most of the headlines, but the truth is that this state is full of tradition rich programs and down in Bowling Green the Western Kentucky program is one of the best in the country. The Hilltoppers basketball program has the 16th most victories in the history of the NCAA and has attained the 8th best winning percentage in NCAA history. The Street & Smith’s publication recently ranked the “100 Greatest Programs”, and WKU came in at #31.

In that rich history the Louisville program and the Western program share a common thread. In 1944 Bernard “Peck” Hickman was hired as the Cardinals head coach. Hickman was a star guard for WKU and Coach Ed Diddle during his college playing days. He was the first coach to lead our Cardinals to a championship on a national level winning the NAIB Championship in 1948. He never had a losing season in his 23 years as the Cardinals head man. The Cardinals and the Hilltoppers have played 77 times in their history and the battles have been pretty consistent through the years with WKU leading the series 39-38. The Cardinals have won the last five straight in the series including 79-53 last season at the Yum Center.

“We play them because of the amount of respect we have for their tradition and their basketball abilities. Why start a series with say a Memphis or Cincinnati when you’ve got a great school right down the road in state with unbelievable tradition. Why not do that? That is what I have always believed in and Western Kentucky is one of the great traditions in college basketball.”-Coach Pitino

The Hilltoppers are 5-4 this season winning four of their last five games. The key to their recent winning streak is their improvement in taking care of the ball. They have just 17 turnovers in their last two games after averaging 16.7 in their first seven. They are averaging 68.4 points a game shooting 43.2 percent from the field, 35 percent from three, and 68 percent free throws. Defensively they are allowing 68.8 points and their opponents are shooting 42.3 percent. T.J. Price is averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds to lead the Hilltoppers. Chris Harrison Docks is averaging 12 points, George Fant is averaging 11.2 points and 7.1 rebounds, and Trency Jackson is averaging 9.9 points. Western Kentucky hasn’t played a ranked team this season and the Cardinals will be the highest ranked team to come to Diddle Arena since #2 Georgetown on December 4th 1982.

“They are a pattern team and a great shooting team. They were down 18 at Ole Miss, a very good team this year, and came back and won the game because they shoot the three great. They like to control the tempo of the game, they are playing great basketball right now. The young man Price, their small forward, is playing outstanding. They shoot the ball real well and they have Fant inside, another senior – great size. So we have our work cut out for us getting ready for this first road game.”- Coach Pitino

WKU 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS Offense | Defense

OFFENSE
-POINTS PER GAME
68.4
182nd
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
36.1
142nd
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
14.0
107th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.432
193rd
OVERALL

DEFENSE
-POINTS ALLOWED
68.8
229th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
25.3
114th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
3.4
182nd
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
4.3
336th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #128
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-100.2 ranks 165th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-103.2 ranks 97th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 73-61 based on his indexes.

Our Cardinals are averaging 77.1 points a game and they are shooting 44 percent from the floor, 27 percent from three, and 60 percent from the free-throw line. Defensively they are allowing 52.9 points and their opponents are shooting 34.1 percent from the field. Montrezl Harrell has been leading the way averaging 17 points and 10.4 rebounds. He has had five straight double-double outings. Terry Rozier is averaging 15.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, Chris Jones is averaging 12.9 points, and Wayne Blackshear is averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. The Cardinals had a dismal performance in their last game and will need to come out from the start of this one playing inspired basketball if they want to take care of WKU on Saturday afternoon.

“More than anything we had some work to do to get ready for the road game. What we like to do right before conference play is go into a hostile environment, last year it was Kentucky and now it’s Western Kentucky, to get ready for conference play. It is going to be a very difficult game, they have a senior team, they are playing great basketball right now.”-Coach Pitino

This is Louisville’s first true road game of the season, and Diddle arena will be rocking. Those guys are going to be playing like starving dogs wanting to pull off what would be one of the biggest upsets at Diddle Arena in their history. Coach Pitino has made it very clear that he wanted to send a message to his guys this week. I really hope that message was received loud and clear because this one concerns me a bit. If our guys don’t come out and match the tenacity and intensity on Saturday they will get beat. If they can come out and take care of their business in what will be a very hostile environment the experience will be valuable heading into the conference slate.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 WKU 69

Cards Edge Out UNC Wilmington on the Court and EGO in the Locker Room on Sunday

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The Cardinals edged out UNC Wilmington on Sunday evening 68-57 in what was a very lackluster performance. It might have been the most uninspired basketball that the Cardinals have played all season. The positives are that the Cardinals are 9-0, have won 34 consecutive games at home against non-conference opponents, and coach Pitino got his 350th win as head coach. His record at Louisville is now 350-117. With the win over coach Keatts he is also 38-10 over his former assistant coaches.

Coach Pitino was interested in any silver lining tonight and his disgust with his team was very evident in his post game press conference. It was his shortest one of the season. In his post game radio interview with Paul Rodgers he said the team “would pay tomorrow”

Montrezl Harrell had his 5th straight double-double in this game and was really the only guy in a Louisville uniform that went all out from tip to the final horn. He had 17 rebounds, 19 points, 1 assist, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. He is putting up all-American type numbers and the Cardinals needed them in this one. As the leader of this team he was also very upset in his post game interview.

Terry Rozier hit some big shots to break up that late 15-0 run by UNC Wilmington and also grabbed a few big rebounds in the game. He helped Montrezl carry the load tonight scoring 19 points but did have a few turnovers and not a single assist. He was not happy in his post game either.

Wayne Blackshear has been playing like a battle tested senior this season, and in the first half of this game he was resembling that player a little. He grabbed 8 rebounds and scored 11 points most coming in that first half. Then he disappeared in the second half. He had 1 assist, 2 blocks and 2 rebounds in the second half.

The big win in MSG against Indiana had this team and the fans feeling pretty good, but they and the fans were quickly reminded on Sunday night that there’s always work to be done. The silver lining in this game may be the fact that coach Pitino now has the full attention of his team again. He is going to have them for one full week before they head to WKU next Saturday. It’s not going to be a fun week at that practice facility.

One of coach Pitino’s former players and current Samford Coach Scott Padgett tweeted out the hash tag #DeadMenWalking knowing what is in store for the Cardinals.

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If our guys were going to throw a clunker I’m just glad it was against a team where they were still able to get an 11 point victory. The game against WKU will be the first true road game of the season and our guys will need the focus they will gain this week. And UK is right around the corner. So the timing of this wake up call couldn’t have come at a better time really.

Looking forward to some of the big games ahead and think our guys will be fine. Go Cards!

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Seahawks

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Tomorrow in the KFC Yum Center the Cardinals will face UNC Wilmington. It will be a homecoming for the Seahawks head coach who is former Louisville assistant coach Kevin Keatts. Keatts is in his first season at UNC Wilmington and he has them off to a solid start. This will be the first meeting between these teams and the Cardinals will have a chance to win their 34th straight game against a non-conference opponent at home. This streak is the 5th largest in the country. This game will be part of the 13th Annual Billy Minardi Classic. Every season the Cardinals Basketball Program uses this special event to honor the memory of Billy Minardi, brother-in-law of Coach Rick Pitino who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Coach Pitino will be going for his 350th win as the Cardinals head man. He has won half of his college basketball games while in Louisville.

The Seahawks are 3-2 and coming off of a 105-47 manhandling of the St Andrews Knights. They have been scoring at a frantic pace this season, and have posted at least 80 points in every game. They are shooting 52.3% from the field (ranked 8th in nation), 43.2 from the 3 point line (ranked 8th in the nation), and are averaging 80.8 points a game. Their opponents are shooting 40.4% from the field, 33.9% from three and averaging 72 points a game. The Seahawks are led by top scorer Freddie Jackson who is averaging a very efficient 18 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2 assist a game. He is followed by Addison Spruill (14 PPG, 5.2RPG & 2.4APG), Craig Ponder (12.0PPG, 2.6RPG & 4.0APG), Cedrick Williams (11.4PPG, 8.8RPG & 1.2APG), and Dylan Sherwood (10.0PPG, & 2.7RPG). They have five guys who are averaging double figures. Coach Keatts has employed his own brand of offense at UNC Wilmington, but the defense will look very familiar on Sunday afternoon. They will use different presses to speed up the Cards and then drop back into match up zones. They are averaging 9.6 steals a game good for 17th in the nation.

UNC- Wilmington 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS
Offense
-POINTS PER GAME
80.8
22nd
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
37.6
85th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
16.0
35th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.523
8th
OVERALL

Defense
-POINTS ALLOWED
72.0
291st
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
26.2
75th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
4.8
66th
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
9.6
17th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #222
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-100.8 ranks 187th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-97.1 ranks 236th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 86-60 based on his indexes.

This Louisville basketball team has established an identity of playing well rounded basketball. They play imposing team defense ranked nationally 4th in FG%, 7th scoring defense, 4th in steals, and 8th 3pt defense. And they are making the most out of their scoring opportunities currently 33rd in the country in scoring offense. This Louisville team has been glass cleaners and are second in the nation in rebounding per game.

Montrezl is playing like an all-American, Terry and Chris are playing like the best back-court in the nation, Wayne is playing like a battle tested senior, and Mango is coming around the same way Gorgui did for this UofL team. We have a solid group of freshman that are finding their way. Nanu has been a solid contributor, while Quentin, Jaylen and Anas are getting more confident every game. The game on Sunday afternoon will be a good chance for these guys to continue to gel and work on their offense and defense in preparation for the tough months of January and February.

I have no doubt in my mind that coach Keatts will have UNC Wilmington on the road to success in no time, but Sunday will not be their day. These Cards are rolling right now and they will continue to handle their business.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 87 UNC-Wilmington 58

The Bird Battalion Rolls Over IU

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A little late with my post game due to a great night of television. Before the beat downs on the series finale of Sons of Anarchy and before Jax Teller met Mister Mayhem it was Indiana who was catching the Beat down and dealing with the Mayhem of the Cardinal defense. Our Cardinals looked great on the grand stage of The Garden last night beating the Hoosiers 94-74. With the win the Cardinals cut the Hoosiers lead in the series to 10-7, and our Cardinals have now won 9 straight games in MSG. The Cardinals have the highest winning percentage in the nation in neutral site games at 83.3%.

For all of the talk about Platoons in college basketball I think folks need to start paying a little more attention to what looks to be a pretty good Bird Battalion in Louisville. This is a team that comes at you in waves. If they aren’t confusing teams with their multiple defensive sets they are dominating them on the glass and are currently #1 in the country in that category. Last night it was the Indiana Hoosiers who were the latest casualty of the Bird Battalion. The Cardinal defense forced 19 IU turnovers, had 10 steals, and 8 blocked shots. They out rebounded the Hoosiers 49-34.

The leaders of this Bird Battalion Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear & Chris Jones combined for 85 points and 33 rebounds last night. In my pre-game I said that these guys would need big nights and they had one of their best games of the young season.

Montrezl Harrell had his first breakout performance of his Louisville career in the Big East Title game a few years ago against Syracuse at MSG. It was only fitting that he would have a record breaking performance in his return to the Garden. Montrezl became the all-time dunk leader in school history last night. He had 7 dunks on the Hoosiers and now holds the school record with 163 in his career. He had 21 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 blocked shot to go along with his record breaking moment. Also his 4th straight double-double.
Montrezl Post Game

Terry Rozier led all scorers with a career high 26 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. He was a very impressive 8-17 from the field, and 5-8 from the 3 point line. Last night we all seen the Rozier that folks raved about during his summer workouts. His shot had been inconsistent through the first 7 games but last night it looked effortless for him.
Terry Rozier Post Game

Chris Jones or “Memphis Moxie” as I like to call him was 8-17 from the field for 24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assist, 3 steals, and 1 blocked shot. Another guy who had been playing with some inconsistency really stepped up in his very first game in MSG. Jones had been criticized by Coach Pitino for staying on his phone too much. Jones got the message and said that he had taken his coach’s advice. It paid off last night.
Chris Jones Post Game

Wayne Blackshear also enjoyed his return trip to MSG. He had 14 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocked shots. “Big Game Wayne” is showing what hard work and dedication in the off season can do for a players game. He has paid his dues and is now reaping the benefits. I couldn’t be happier for him.

My shout-out of the night would have to go to Mango.. On a sore ankle he came into the game off the bench and put it all on the line. He had 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. I really think he could be one of the best shot blockers in college basketball. He has that great wing span and has great timing.

Last night the college basketball world was formally introduced to the Bird Battalion. I think that has a much better ring to it than platoon. I know some won’t adapt this name but I like it. And like I mentioned above the way this Cardinal team comes at their opponents in waves I think it is fitting. If they don’t hurt you in one area of the game chances are they will find another way. Coach Pitino has always got a few tricks up his sleeve and he again has a group to utilize them. That game last night made a big statement to the rest of the college basketball world. Louisville is going to have something to say about how the season pans out. Don’t count the Bird Battalion out…. Go Cards!

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Hoosiers

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An old rivalry will be renewed when Louisville makes its return to MSG for the Jimmy V Classic. The Cards and Hoosiers will do battle for the first time since playing a game on February 1st 2003. It was the Cards that came out victorious in that game 95-76. This game will mark the 17th meeting between the two schools in history with IU holding a 10-6 advantage. The teams have met three times since 1990 with IU holding a 3-1 edge in those games. The game is not part of an ongoing series but is instead a one-game contract between the two schools. Coach Pitino has been working hard to get a home and home series with the Hoosiers but that hasn’t came about yet. Let’s all hope that the game on Tuesday night will spark up the old feud enough to make this a annual meeting. This will be assistant coach Kenny Johnson’s first time meeting his former team since leaving the Hoosiers for the Cardinals.

This will be the 19th meeting against Louisville for head coach Tom Crean, who has eight wins against the Cardinals. The Hoosiers will bring one of the nations best offensive teams to the floor on Tuesday night. They are averaging 88.4 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the field, shooting 74.7 percent from the line and 43.9 percent from beyond the arc. The Hoosiers have won three straight and looking for their second win over a ranked team. They beat then ranked #22 SMU back on November 20th. They have also beaten fellow ACC member Pittsburgh on December 2nd 81-69.

Leading the way for the Hoosiers is a very talented group of players. James Blackmon Jr. leads Indiana with 19.5 points and 5.1 rebounds while Yogi Ferrell is averaging 17.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. Troy Williams is averaging 12.2 points while shooting 61.2 percent from the field and 5.3 rebounds. Robert Johnson is averaging 11.1 points, 3.9 assists per game, and 4.5 rebounds a game. Their bench is averaging 29.9 points a game.

Since 2011-12, Indiana leads all major conference teams in field goal percentage (47.9), three-point field goal percentage (39.8) and free throw percentage (74.6). IU also is fourth nationally in scoring (77.1), and second in free throws made (2,051). The Hoosiers 38.6% 3-point field goal percentage since the start of the 2010-11 season is the highest among major college conference schools in that time frame. They leads the Big Ten in scoring, field goal percentage and three-pointers made per game (9.7). IU is second in the league in three point field goal percentage and fourth in free throw percentage.

For all of the good things they do on the offensive end of the floor Indiana’s defense could use some work. They are forcing just 13.5 turnovers per contest and have allowed 70-plus points in three of their last five games. They are allowing 69.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field, and 32.7% from the 3-pt line wile giving up 6.5 makes from there a game.

2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS
Offense
-POINTS PER GAME
88.4
4th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
37.4
98th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
16.5
27th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.524
9th
OVERALL

Defense
-POINTS ALLOWED
69.3
236th
-OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
25.6
100th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
3.3
207th
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
6.9
134th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #50
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-99.1 ranks 156th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-110.9 ranks 12th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 78-68 based on his indexes.

Our Cardinals will look to remain undefeated on Tuesday night and will have to rely heavily on a defense that is forcing 19 turnovers per game and holding teams to 22.8 percent shooting from deep. Louisville is also the second-best rebounding team in the country with 46.3 boards per game. They must win the battle of the boards against the Hoosiers and not allow their great offensive guys to get second or third opportunities. They will also need to speed the Hoosiers up and make them take quick shots with a hand in their face.

Montrezl Harrell leads the Cardinals with 16.1 points and 9.4 rebounds while Terry Rozier is averaging 13 points and 5.7 rebounds. Chris Jones is averaging 3.3 assists and Wayne Blackshear is shooting 39.4 percent from the field. These guys have been leading the way all season and will have to step up big again on Tuesday night. Montrezl and Wayne are the only guys on the current roster that have ever played at the Garden, so nerves could play a roll early on for Terry and Chris. We will need Nanu to have a big game and hopefully Anton Gill’s hot shooting streak from last Friday night will carry over in this game. Coach Pitino was very concerned about his teams ability to find the open man and the passing game. He said that was something they were going to work on in preparation for this one.

This will be another great chance at another quality non-conference win on a neutral court, and will take the best defensive and offensive effort of the season to get it. This should be a great game in a great venue and it is a very special event. This one makes me nervous and it is going to be gut check time. Cards will squeak out a close one.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 Indiana 77

A Win Over FIU and a Happy Birthday For Gill

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Our Cardinals moved to 7-0 on Friday night and have now won 33 straight against non-conference opponents at the Yum Center. The Cardinals beat a very scrappy FIU team 82-57 and now lead the series with them 4-0. The Cardinals came out of the gate tonight ice cold and FIU was able to keep it close until about the 9 minute mark in the first half before the Cardinals would take the lead for good and never looked back.

The defense was again solid tonight holding FIU to just 37% from the field, 33% from the three point line, forcing them into 25 turnovers, with 14 steals and 12 blocked shots. The Louisville offense muddled along tonight most of the first half but it did get better in the second half. Coach Pitino was really disappointed in his teams ability to find the open man, and really came down on his team for not passing the ball as much as they should. With the Christmas break coming up it is the time of year that Louisville teams really improve on offense, and when I asked Coach Pitino about things they would work on during the break he said “Passing”.

It was Anton Gill’s birthday on Friday night and he played like it. He lead all scores with 15 points and was 3-5 from the three point line. He let his positive momentum carry over to his defensive effort also and it was his best effort this season on that end of the floor. I really feel like Gill is a player that can be a triple threat on the perimeter for this team. He can knock down the three, he knows how to drive to the basket and finish and he is great at threading the needle (see photo below).

Montrezl Harrell had his 19th consecutive game scoring in double figures and had his third consecutive double-double scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. He was disappointed that he had 5 turnovers. Montrezl has set the bar high for himself and his team-mates.

Wayne Blackshear had another solid outing. He had 12 points, 2-8 from the three, had 6 rebounds and a team high 4 steals. I really like Chicago Wayne.

Chris Jones said that he had heeded the words of Coach Pitino and had stayed away from his phone this past week. He had 11 points, was 2-4 from the three point line, and had 3 steals. Chris seemed more confident tonight and was again great on the defensive side of the ball.

Shout out of the night goes to Chinanu Onuaku.. He led the team tonight with 5 assist and is probably the best passer on this team. He really played well in the paint also. This kid keeps progressing and watch out come March.

It was another win and that’s always good. A lot of guys got some quality minutes and it seems like we had a guy who gained a lot of his confidence back in Gill. The defense is awesome and I think the offense looked better and will be a lot better here in a few weeks. Big game against IU coming up next week and these guys seem very excited to get back to the Garden. It will be the first trip for several of them. Will be good to see our Cardinals back on that big stage. Go Cards!

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The Beak Basketball Breakdown: FIU

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Our Cardinals will be looking to move to 7-0 and get their 32nd consecutive win over a non-conference opponent at the Yum Center when they host FIU on Friday night at 7:00pm. This series was started when Richard Pitino was the Panthers head coach. These teams have played three times with Louisville winning all three games. The Cardinals beat the Panthers last season 85-56 in Miami.

Coach Pitino FIU Press Conference

Leading FIU on the offensive side of the floor is senior G Dennis Mavin who is averaging 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Junior C Adrian Diaz is averaging 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. He is 39th in the nation in blocked shots with 2.5 a game. G Dominique Williams is averaging 7.8 points and 4 rebounds a game.

FIU has been strong on the defensive side of the ball through their first eight games, ranking 26th nationally in scoring defense (55.0 ppg), eighth in three-point field goal percentage defense (.215) and 90th nationally in
steals (9.0 per game). In their last game FIU limited Kennesaw State to 26.9 percent from the field, forced 15 turnovers and held a +10 margin in rebounding.

FIU 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS Offense | Defense
-POINTS PER GAME
62.1
279th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
36.6
128th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
12.9
166th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.425
200th
OVERALL
-POINTS ALLOWED
56.1
25th
OVERALL
-D REBOUNDS PER GAME
26.0
88th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
4.3
107th
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
7.5
90th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #243
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-98.8 ranks 144th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-93.7 ranks 299th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 73-50 based on his indexes.

The Cardinals are a 30 point favorite tonight so don’t expect this one to be very exciting. It will be another one of those tune-up games against other competition and will be good for working on some things offensively while getting our bench some valuable playing time. Montrezl Harrell will be going for his 19th game in a row scoring in double figures and currently leads the ACC in that category. I would like to see Chris Jones have a better night and think that would give him a confidence boost.

Tonight is the last game before the end of classes on December 8th. This is typically the time of year coach Pitino gets these guys in the gym and really starts ironing out issues on both defense and offense getting them prepared for the conference run. Hopefully he can get Shaqquan back during this time as well. Things are really going to start picking up and the level of competition will also. But that won’t be the case tonight. Cards will cruise to 7-0…

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 FIU 49

Cards Will Play In a Special Event Next Week

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It is Jimmy V Week and as the sports world remembers the life of one of it’s own we can all reflect on loved ones that have been taken or affected in some way by cancer. During Jimmy V week millions of dollars are raised to help fight cancer through cutting edge research and other programs. On Thursday morning Bob Valvano was interviewed by phone on ESPN. He talked about some of the new research programs and even talked about a guy in Louisville with brain cancer who’s life had been extended due to research from funds of the V Foundation. This organization is making a difference. Jimmy V Week culminates next week with the Jimmy V Classic and our Cardinals will again be a part of this special event.

The Jimmy V Classic is one of my favorite events of the college basketball season. No Championship is on the line, and no tournament berths are at stake. Instead, the basketball world comes together for one night to celebrate the life of one its own, and help to save the lives of many more. It is rare that there is a charity where 100% of everything you contribute goes to research and the Jimmy V Foundation does just that. They received an endowment which allows them to give all of the donations to fight against cancer, not to pay bills. As I am sure is the case with many of you, a lot of people I know have been touched by cancer including my family. Some have fought and won, others have fought and lost. I hope for a day when we can eliminate the second group and everyone fights and wins. The Jimmy V Classic has been played since 1995.

That last time the Cards were in this event was back in 2006. That was a time when Louisville’s luck wasn’t as good in The Garden as it is nowadays. They played Arizona in their first and only appearance in the Classic losing that game 72-65.

An old rivalry will be renewed when Louisville makes its return to MSG for the V Classic. The Cards and Hoosiers will do battle for the first time since playing a game on February 1st 2003. It was the Cards that came out victorious in that game 95-76. The game will mark the 17th meeting between the two schools in history with IU holding a 10-6 advantage. The teams have met three times since 1990 with IU holding a 3-1 edge in those games. The game is not part of an ongoing series but is instead a one-game contract between the two schools. Coach Pitino has been working hard to get a home and home series with the Hoosiers but that hasn’t came about yet. Let’s all hope that the game on December 9th will spark up the old feud enough to make this a annual meeting.

I’m looking forward to next Tuesday and I’m glad that the Cardinals are going to be a part of helping such a worthy cause. Be sure to visit the Jimmy V website this week or next and make a donation. I can’t think of a better way to spend your money this holiday season.