As Always There Is Mixed Reviews Over Louisville’s New Football Swag

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We have heard the term unleash the beast but now it’s time to Uncage the Birds!!!

So the new “Uncaged” Adidas football uniforms for the Auburn game were released today to a flurry of mixed reviews. And while these new crazy uniform styles may not appeal to the adult crowd you have to keep in mind that they don’t design them with a middle aged man or woman in mind. In the end, the new uniform is all about creating a product that can be marketed and enticing to 17-18 yr olds. Not only to encourage them to buy the Adidas product, but also updating the look and feel of the uniforms to give the athletes that sizzle factor. For apparel companies to grab the attention of the younger audience nowadays the crazier and louder the better. Just look at some of the shoe designs of today.

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Consumers no longer buy sports apparel just to show support for their team, as fashion and wearability have become the new standard for buyers’ purchasing decision. Often a team’s success on the field is irrelevant to the buyer. More often color scheme, and perhaps more often, the color scheme’s impression determine a uniform’s selling ability. The image that different colors portray is a huge factor. Gone are the days when uniform color was purely symbolic. Today, colors are both symbolic and psychological.

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The psychological impact of logo and color usage has made an impact upon opposing teams giving an illusory impression of speed or tenacity. I wouldn’t want to be bringing the ball up the field facing Louisville’s nasty defense combined with those crazy and loud uniforms. Look at how the crazy infrared uniforms helped get our basketball team rolling a few years ago. And the uniforms were a factor. I remember being a junior in high school and our basketball team was given the new baggy style uniform that was inspired by the Fab Five of Michigan. When I put that uniform on it immediately gave me a feeling that I could run faster and jump higher. I went from just being able to touch the rim to being able to grab and hold on to it. There is no denying the psychological affect.

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So no matter what you think about these new and crazy looking uniforms just try to keep an open mind about it and realize that a lot of research and development go into the design process. Adidas wants their product to be successful and they want the teams that wear their products to be successful. And if they can give a slight psychological or physical advantage to our Cardinals with some new material and a crazy color scheme then I’m all for it. I’ll paint my face with that crazy bird on it if it will help our guys beat Auburn. Go out and buy some of this gear and lets help Adidas UNCAGE THE BIRDS….! #L1C4

Cardinal Paradise: Louisville will return to Atlantis in 2016

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We’ve learned this week that our Louisville Cardinals will be participating in the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis pre-season Tournament. It will be determined later this summer who the Cardinals will face in their opening game but Florida Gulf Coast, Michigan State, St. John’s, VCU, Baylor and Wichita State, are the other teams who have been added so far. This is considered by most to be the best preseason tournament of the year. 

Louisville last played in the Battle 4 Atlantis during the 2012-13 season where they went 2-1 in the tournament beating UNI and Mizzou before losing to Duke in the title game. The Cardinals would get their revenge on the Blue Devils a few months later beating them in the Final Four in route to a National Championship. It’s ironic that the Cards will play in Atlantis in 2016 because like that 2013 group this group will be a favorite to win the National Title. I certainly wouldn’t mind a little déjà vu here…

The Battle 4 Atlantis is a Kerzner International owned and operated preseason college basketball tournament that takes place in late November of each year, at Atlantis Resorts on Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas usually the week before Thanksgiving. The tournament is known for being the richest Division I Men’s pre-season college basketball tournament. Teams are awarded 2 million to participate in the event.

No doubt this will be a great preseason tournament to start the college basketball season and will be a great gauge to see just how good our Louisville Cardinals will be to start the season. I can’t wait!

2012 Battle 4 Atlantis promo:

Cardinals land 5 Star VJ King

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Coach Pitino and his staff have started their 2016 recruiting class off with a bang landing the #2 SF in the country today VJ King. King who is ranked #16 by 247Sports, #18 by Scout, #11 by Rivals and #25 by ESPN picked the Cardinals over UCONN and UK. Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson is a former assistant at King’s high school and this is thought to have played a big role in his decision.

I had a chance to check out King first hand at EYBL in Lexington this spring. He is a very nice player and was making some very nice plays. He has a great looking jump shot and can handle the ball very well for his size. His skill set makes him very hard to guard.

Talk about a stat stuffer in the Friday session I watched he had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He is also a very crafty defender. During the second session on Saturday night Coach Balado and Coach Padgett were there scouting out King for Louisville. King had another very impressive performance again at this session scoring 18 points while showcasing his multidimensional game. He has growing to do and will need to add some bulk to his frame. Once he does watch out. This kid is an elite player and I’m glad the Cardinals staff spent so much time on this kid. He’s going to be an immediate impact guy.

ESPN:

Strengths:
King is a long athletic and skilled wing with a very smooth game. He can handle, pass and shoot with accuracy from a variety of areas on the floor. He excels on the break by running the floor and making acrobatic moves around the rim. He uses his length well to shoot deep jumpers over smaller defenders with ease. King has the ability to get into a groove and hit two or three jumpers in a row. He has the length and athletic ability to be a capable multiple position defender as well.
Weaknesses:
King will need to add strength and work to improve his shot selection at times. He also will need to work on beating his defender off the dribble when pressured and not have his mind made up to shoot the jumper regardless of what the defender does. King could also improve as a rebounder and finisher in traffic all which he is more than capable.
Bottom Line:
King is a very athletic and skilled wing that has all the tools to be a special player he will need to continue to hone his skills and build his game and productive in other phases of the game. King’s calling card is his ability to score with his jump shot. King has incredible upside.

Young Cardinals already embracing tradition

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All of the 2015 recruiting class has reported to campus and they are ready to start the next phase of their lives. In successful program the tradition never graduates and it is now time for these new guys to start embracing that tradition. The Louisville athletic program is rich and vibrant because many guys before them have cared enough to give their very best. Many chapters have been written and now it’s time for this 2015 group to start on theirs.

The one thing that’s always been very apparent within the University of Louisville’s athletic department is how the teams of each sport come out and support the others when it’s possible. We’ve seen many examples of this over the years and it too is a part of the tradition. The young Basketball Cardinals have gotten off to a great start as far as this is concerned and they were out in full force over the weekend to support the baseball team in their quest for another College World Series.

Below are some fan tweets and pictures of Ryan McMahon, Deng Adel, and Donovan Mitchell hanging out at Jim Patterson Stadium with captain Mango….

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It’s great to see these guys out already embracing the tradition, fans and supporting the baseball team. This group seems very happy to be here. There are a lot of big smiles on those faces. I got to be around them during the Derby Basketball Classic and they really are wonderful kids. I’m already looking forward to the six games against the Puerto Rican national and junior teams and the Dominican Republic national team. That trip is slated for Aug. 10-17.

The Cardinal Nine’s Time To Shine

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I remember when coach McDonnell first got things rolling with the Louisville Baseball program, and remember the first time the Cardinals made it to the College World Series. Then Louisville baseball fans were just happy to be a part of the June Classic. Now here we are on the cusp of making the trip back to the College World Series for a third consecutive year and this time I think most of us including the team expect to contend for College Baseball’s ultimate crown.

Third year and winners of three conference regular season crowns our Cardinals did what most pundits said couldn’t be done and just made a mockery of the powerful ACC. The only team still alive to have appeared in the last two College World Series events our guys just reloaded this season and got the job done. They went through fourteen weeks of playing in every type of climate, they battled slumps, injuries but were able to maintain that level of consistency and now find themselves knocking on the door of a legendary run that could end with three consecutive College World Series appearances and hopefully a Championship.

This Louisville baseball team is here because of grit, intensity and determination passed down to them by a great coaching staff. They have made this incredible run with clutch hitting from guys like Nick Solak, speed from guys like Corey Ray, and the power arms of guys like Kyle Funkhouser, Brendan McKay and Zack Burdi. It will take these things and getting the bats hot at the right time for this Louisville team to make history over the next couple of weeks.

For the seniors four years of hard work hang in the balance and for the younger guys the building of something very special will continue. For all of these guys this is the time to prove to themselves that they are ready physically, mentally, and emotionally to challenge the big boys of college baseball and prove yet again how Louisville belongs with that group. Coach McDonnell and his staff have these guys well prepared and this whole program has put in the work, now it’s time play. Bring it home guys! GO CARDS!

A Regional Final Rematch in ACC/BigTen Challenge?

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Two legendary coaches in Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo along with two elite college basketball teams in Louisville and Michigan State we’ve seen some great battles between these coaches and teams in the NCAA Tourney in recent years. With the latest coming a few months ago in the Elite 8 when Michigan State evened up the tourney series to 2-2 when they beat our Cards in overtime to advance to the Final Four.

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We have grown accustomed to the possibility of these teams facing off in the NCAA Tournament every year, but now these teams are headed for an early match-up in the 2015 season. This morning on Twitter the Courier Journal’s Jeff Greer said that per a source we could see a Louisville vs Michigan State match-up in this coming season’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Then not too much later it was made official.

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The Louisville vs Michigan State head to head record stands at 5-4. These teams first met in 1959 in the Mideast Regional final with the Cards winning that game 88-81 with the most recent game back on March 29th in the Regional Finals where Michigan State prevailed in Overtime 76-70 against the Cards.

Now these teams are set to face off on December 2nd in East Lansing. It will top off one of the best and toughest road game seasons in the history of Louisville basketball. That would mean Louisville has games at UK, at Michigan State, at Duke, at UVA, at UNC, at Pitt, at Notre Dame, at Miami, and at NC State. That is some great basketball indeed. Stay tuned for more details about this match-up with Michigan State and more about 2015 Louisville basketball later this summer. Go Cards!

The Battle of the Barrel

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The last time the Cardinals and Commodores met was in the opening round of the 2014 College World Series. It was Vandy who walked away with the win in that game 5-3 and 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 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 7-23 all-time against Vanderbilt in a series that dates back to 1953, but our Cardinals have come out on the winning end lately and currently hold a three to one edge against them in recent contest. The Cards swept them in 2 games in the 2013 Regionals and won the “Battle of the Barrel” game back last May. They lost their match-up in the CWS and it was the 4th time the programs have met in the postseason in the last five seasons.

Today at 6:00pm this great new 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!

You can hear the game on FM 93.9 The Ville or tune into ESPN3.

The Beak EYBL Review Day #2

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Once again on Saturday the nations top 2016 and 2017 prospects were on display at the EYBL event in Lexington. It was another great day of hoops.

I started off my morning on court #1 where I watched Charles O’Bannon Jr and Troy Brown Jr of the Las Vegas Prospects. Both are prospects in the class of 2017. Brown has a scholarship offer from Louisville and I really think that O’Bannon could get one eventually. In a recent interview with Prime Sports he was asked: When you think of College Basketball what are the first five schools that come to mind? His answer: UCLA, Louisville, Arizona, North Carolina, & Duke. Sounds like a kid that might have some interest.

Troy Brown Jr plays at such a high level for a young guy and made plays from many different spots on the floor. Great dribble drive, pull up jumpers and solid in the post. This kid has a 6-9 wingspan and uses that to his advantage both on the offensive and defensive side of the floor. I enjoyed watching this young fella play. He had 8 points and grabbed 6 boards. I hope the Cardinals stay in the mix for this kid.

Charles O’Bannon is another very skilled player for his age. He was very crafty in the game I watched and was able to create his own scoring opportunities with many different moves. He is a long and rangy kid that thrives in transition and has a nice jump shot in the half court set. Like his father he is a very savvy player who plays with a lot of energy. Really would like to see the Cardinals get into the mix here as well. I do think it will happen.

After checking out these two young prospects I headed over to court #4 to check in again on my favorite 2016 prospect Carson Williams and his Travelers squad. These guys are playing the role of the home team this weekend featuring some of the states best players. In this game Carson sure put on a show for the home crowd scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. It was one of his best performances in the EYBL and it did not go unnoticed as there were several big time programs scratching notes in their note pads while watching the big fella muscle his way to the basket on many occasions.

I sit amongst the coaches this morning and heard one of them say “I didn’t expect that” as Carson flew through the air on a big-time dunk. He was playing above the rim the whole game. Carson was rewarded for his big performance with a scholarship offer from EKU, and this is just the beginning. I really believe this kid will get the chance to play in a major conference. His Travelers lost this first game but came back to the night session and got themselves a win against Playground Elite on the main court. I noticed a lot of the same coaches back to watch this second game. Carson had a good stat game in this one with 4 points, 7 boards, 3 assist and a blocked shot. It was a great day at EYBL for the country boy from Owen County.

I finished off my night gathered around court #3 with all of the big name programs to watch rising star VJ King. Coach Balado and Coach Padgett were there scouting out King for Louisville. He will be taking his official visit to campus on May 19th. King had another very impressive performance again tonight scoring 18 points while showcasing his multidimensional game. He has growing to do and will need to add some bulk to his frame. Once he does watch out. This kid is an elite player and I’m glad the Cardinals staff is paying close attention.

I have had a great time watching basketball over the past couple of days and am looking forward to what the final day has to offer.

The Beak EYBL Review Day #1

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Went out and covered the first night of the EYBL in Lexington tonight and it was a packed house at the Basketball Academy. Coaches, fans and basketball players from all over the country were packed in that gym with a 300 capacity. They were actually holding patrons at the door and people were waiting for their chance to watch some of the most talented basketball players in the country. It is a great event and night one was an exciting one.

I started off my night at Court #2 to check out my favorite recruit in the class of 2016 Carson Williams of the Travelers. Carson hurt his foot in the first EYBL session and didn’t really get to have much of an impact during the event in Hampton. You could tell that he was hungry to get into the mix tonight. He came up big for his Travelers squad leading them in scoring with 11 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. This is a big summer for this young man and it is his chance to show some of the bigger D1 college programs that he could be a solid player for them. His game reminds me so much of Stephan Van Treese. Carson does all of the dirty work and really does all of his damage around the rim. He loves to mix it up inside and has a knack for the basketball. He is a rebounding machine. He did all those things tonight and was one of the most active guys on the court. He is set to have a big weekend and started it off with a bang. He is a great young man on and off the court.

After watching Carson I headed on over to court #1 for the 8:00pm game that featured one of the top Louisville targets in the class of 2016 Abdul Ado and his Georgia Stars team. He really strikes me as a kid that will be a solid 4 year guy and he is still a very raw basketball player. He has excellent size and a great wing span. This makes him a great defensive guy in the low post, and he showcased that tonight. He does well in transition and had some decent finishes. He is on a team with some very talented big men including 6-11 Udoka Azubuike so he doesn’t have that much pressure to be a major contributor. He did finish the night with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. I like this kid and he has all of the physical attributes to be a dominate player when he works his way to a finished product. This is just the type of kid that coach Pitino loves. I will be surprised if Ado is not wearing Red in college.

After watching Ado I went over to court #5 to check out a couple of other guy’s with potential Louisville interest in 2016 VJ King of Team Takeover and Marques Bolden of Proskills. This was a very good game that went back and forth and these kids were playing some ball. VJ King is a very nice player and was making some very nice plays. He has a great looking jump shot and can handle the ball very well for his size. His skill set makes him very hard to guard. Talk about a stat stuffer… He had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He is also a very crafty defender. Marques Bolden is another Big Man who when he fills out and hones his skills will be a beast. He is a big body kid that takes up a lot of space in the post where he is very active around the rim both scoring and grabbing offensive rebounds. I really liked his mobility and dexterity inside. He is also a very good defender and had 6 blocked shots in this game. He also had 11 points and 7 rebounds.

I finished off my evening going over to court #3 to watch the end of the E1T1 game that featured a very hot target lately in Maverick Rowan. This kid is everything as advertised and is a beast on the basketball court. He demands the ball and wants it in his hands. His jump shot is so smooth and effortless. He has all of the stuff spotting up for big threes, stopping and popping in transition and coming off the screen to score. There were several big names sitting court-side watching him put on a show scoring 23 points. Since he has been such a hot topic lately and with all the speculation surrounding his re-class decision I decided to try and get some video with him after the game.

Steve Jones of the Courier Journal started off the interview and it was the most uncomfortable 4 minutes that you could imagine. Rowan didn’t seem that excited to be speaking with the media and seemed like he would rather be left alone. In the interview below you will see a kid that seems much undecided and one that will probably stay in school for his senior season. I’m not a recruiting expert and never claimed to be one, but in my opinion Rowan will end up at a school not named Louisville and it won’t be in 2015. In the video you will also here a voice of a coach that refused to let Rowan be asked about Louisville. I have edited the video per EYBL request so as to protect the coach’s identity. You will hear Steve ask about not being able to talk about Louisville. It was a very awkward moment to say the least. I had a great night but have to admit this interview really left a bad taste in my mouth. There were several other guys around including myself waiting to ask Rowan a few questions but after Steve got finished Maverick was rushed away by the coaches.

Looking forward to getting a chance to check out some other potential Louisville guys this weekend and will have my updates every evening. Thanks for reading…

Future Cardinals Represent at Derby Basketball Classic

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I had a great time covering the three days of the Derby Basketball classic. It was great having the opportunity to watch and cover Ryan McMahon, Deng Adel, Donovan Mitchell, and Ray Spalding. I can tell you from being around these guys for three days that they are all great kids and they all represented themselves and the University of Louisville very well. Watching their interactions with the other players and with the adults you can tell that each of them were raised very well and the phrase yes sir and yes ma’am were commonly spoken between the four. And as far as their play on the basketball court they all are going to be very good and each of them has something to bring to the table.

Ryan McMahon isn’t a 6-7 guard but he sure plays like one. This kid is a very crafty player for his size and when he goes to the basket he means to score or make a play. The word fearless is the word I would use when Ryan gets a basketball in his hands, and he is very confident in his shot. It was awesome watching him break the record in the first round of the three point shooting contest and it just reassured everything that I had originally thought about his game. I can’t wait to watch him make big shots in a Cardinal uniform.

Ray Spalding has a ton of upside and when he adds more muscle to his athletic frame he is going to be big-time. He is a very versatile player who has good hands and can handle the ball well for his size. He is very good in the lane and can even step out and shoot the three. He’s got that very laid back personality like Wayne Blackshear and I do think he is going to be the biggest project out of this group but once Coach Pitino brings him along watch out.

Deng Adel is college game ready and is a fast developing forward. He plays very hard on both ends of the floor and kind of brings that energy that we were used to seeing from Montrezl Harrell. With added strength and some honing of his skills he is going to be a nightmare match-up for opposing teams. He is a player that can lead the break and stop and pop from long or mid-range. And can finish around the rim. He will see the floor next season on the wing.

Donovan Mitchell is one of the most college ready players that coach Pitino has ever recruited. Right now most of his scoring threat is finishing in the lane and around the rim. Once he adds to his skill set and polishes his mid-range game he is going to be a very good player. No doubt in my mind that this kid is going to be an instant fan favorite and he’ll play hero in more than his fair share of games in the future.

These guys were all under-evaluated, and under recruited at times in their high school careers. They are all guys that really came on late in the recruiting process and are all considered diamonds in the rough. Nothing like guys who play with that chip on their shoulder and I think all of these guys think they have a lot to prove not only to themselves but to everyone who ever doubted them along the way. We had a guy like this in Terry Rozier and we know how that worked out. If L1C4 was defined in the dictionary a picture of these guys would be in the footnotes. You are going to love these kids Card Nation…

Below are photos and videos over the last three days of the Derby Basketball Classic:

DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC PRACTICE COVERAGE:




NIGHT OF FUTURE STARS COVERAGE:

DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC COVERAGE:




JAYLEN JOHNSON AND ANAS MAHMOUD INTERVIEW AT DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC:

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