Changing the trend


There are two teams that this Louisville Program plays where they just can’t seem to get on the winning side. One of those teams I won’t mention and the other is Virginia. The Cardinals have won 9 in a row but it is Virginia that has won their last 9 against Louisville.

This is not the same Virginia team of years past, as teams have been able to figure out the Cavaliers pack-line defense. Teams that have been able to produce some consistent offense in games against the Cavaliers have been able to get the lead and keep it. Exposing the Cavaliers offense that is near the bottom in scoring offense, field goal percent, and 3-point offense.

The Cardinals should have enough firepower to take advantage of this one. I think another thing that will help this Louisville team against Virginia is that they understand the principles of the pack-line defense now that they themselves play a Coach Mack version of it. They go against this version every day in practice.

In order for the Louisville program to really arrive in ACC play, they’ve got to level the playing field in this rivalry. With a return trip to Charlottesville coming at the end of the season, it is also important to at least split one in this series for a chance at an outright regular-season ACC Championship.

This team wasn’t able to buck the trend in a game with that other team this season but have another chance to change another trend today. I’m tired of losing to the Cavaliers. I think this Louisville team is as well.

Change the trend today. Go Cards!

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Things will only get tougher after this one


Our Cardinals head into the Yum Center tonight looking for their 20th win of the season. It will be the first time a team has reached 20 wins this fast since back in 2004-05. That team finished 33-5 and lost to Illinois in the Final Four.

That team like our current team had some guys that could flat out shoot the rock. The current Louisville team is 6th in the country in three-point field goal percentage and 49th in field goal percentage. Thanks in part to guys like Jordan Nwora who is shooting a cool 47% from deep in the last nine. And Ryan Mcmahon who hit seven three-point shots his last time out.

This team is also getting it done on the defensive side of the floor ranked 5th in the country in field-goal defense. Behind players like Malik Williams who has six blocked shots in the last five games and an energized Darius Perry who has had five steals over the last four games.

This team is doing everything pretty good right now and the reason I think Wake Forrest will be running into a buzz saw tonight. Wake is a team that has got some pieces back but one with a defense that ranks 200th in field goal defense and 251st in scoring defense. The Deacs have been poor on the road, having gone 1-6 in true road games this season.

I told a guy on the Fan Page this week that I don’t think this team looks back now. I think they are past blowing games like this one. If not it would mean taking several steps back. Not what you want to see a team do in February.

It doesn’t get any easier after tonight with the heavy part of the schedule still ahead. Cards need to come out take care of this one and get themselves ready for the final push.

It should be a night with no drama. But as confident as I am in this one I wouldn’t be surprised at anything. Go Cards!

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Wolf Pack down…


My son and I were at a Louisville Football game two years ago. It was during the Petrino debacle and NC State beat our brains out that day. Towards the end of the game, the NC State mascot came over by our section. My son who was 6 at the time ask me if he could get a photo with it. I said “Sure!” He ended up getting that Wolf good. I ask him after the picture “what was that?” He said, “I wanted to do Wolf Pack down Dad”. We’ve had an agreed dislike for NC State since. It’s always Wolfpack down at our house.

We will be watching on Saturday afternoon as the Cardinals take their seven-game win streak and best-ever conference start into Raleigh. The Wolfpack will be a hungry team after losing two in a row including a tough one to their arch-rival UNC. They are going to see this game as pivotal to their NCAA resume. And it probably will be.

I have seen that some of the talking heads are predicting the upset here. I guess they haven’t seen what we have over the last few weeks. This Louisville team has stepped up and has rolled through their conference schedule at this point. Guess it just comes down to proving it again. I think folks are waiting for this Louisville team to show their flaw.

I think they are beginning to become one of those teams that can win despite some of those flaws. I don’t think there is a team in the country that doesn’t have a chink in the armor. It will be the team that has the ability to grind through tough ones and overcome that who will be raising the trophy in April.

Coach Mack has talked about how his team is starting to fill into roles and how they’ve been playing together. One of the most impressive things about this current win streak is how it has featured different guys each week.

The emergence of David Johnson, the resurgence of Malik Williams, Sam Williamson coming into his own and Darius Perry’s recent contribution. And got the best player in the country Jordan Nwora who just had a career outing with 37 points, 9 rebounds, while adding 1 assist. Who will be the guy on Saturday?

The Cardinals converted on 12 3-pointers in their last game against BC. They are currently ranked 12th in the country in 3-point percentage, while NC State ranks 130th in defending the three. I think the long ball will play a role in this one as it always does especially on the road.

This NC State team got beat up pretty good on the boards against UNC 42-31. This is another area where Louisville can pounce. Our guys have rolled up their sleeves and have been owning the glass. Currently ranked 19th in defensive rebounding and 45th in total rebounds. Have to look way down the list for the Wolfpack ranked 176th in defensive rebounding and 162nd in total rebounds.

There is a reason why this Louisville team is winning. They are winning the hustle stats. I can’t remember a team that got after it on the glass-like this bunch does. Prolly would have to go back to that 2013 group. If they keep doing the dirty work they will win Saturday. And got a shot to win it all.

This Louisville team is on one of the best runs in college hoops and that just puts a bigger target on them. Just like at BC in the last one I expect NC State to come out and play out of their mind. With a rowdy home crowd in tow. Same recipe as the last one for the Cards. Just go prove it. Wolfpack Down! Go Cards!

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Cards will have their mettle tested


Coach Mack talked about his team yesterday with Louisville media. During that conversation, he said that his team was only as strong as their weakest link and that if one of five doesn’t carry their weight it falls apart, but says he’s been seeing five guys all doing their jobs on the floor together during the recent six-game winning streak.

Over these last couple of weeks, I have been writing about these players finding their roles on this team and it sounds like Coach Mack is starting to see that develop. But also knows that if just one decides not to show up it could mean trouble for his group.

Now that they are settling into those roles and coming together as the team we knew they could be the final stretch of conference play is going to test that. Sometimes over the next few weeks, that’s going to mean playing better than other teams who are also starting to find it and in the case with games like tonight not playing down to teams who haven’t.

Ryan Mack also talked with the media yesterday. He talked about the February trip to Boston College last season. That game was also a 9:00 pm start on a Wednesday night. A game where a more talented Louisville squad came out and played down to their opponent.

Boston College’s gym also doubles as a hockey rink. Ryan talked about it being cold and how there was no energy in the building that night. He talked about how they let that dictate their gameplay that evening and how that resulted in a loss.

I think games like tonight at BC will test this team’s mettle. Will they let some of those bad habits from earlier this season and last season slip back in or will they come out and continue to build upon the successes they have had recently and can they keep building on that until Tourney time.

Our Cardinals will have the upper hand in this match-up. They have the 33rd ranked scoring defense in the country allowing on average just 62 points a game. The Eagles don’t have a potent offense and are averaging less than 65 points a game ranked 321st in scoring offense.

Another big advantage for this Louisville team tonight will be on the boards. They dominated Clemson on the boards over the weekend, outrebounding them 41 to 29. The Cardinals rank 37th in the country in offensive rebounding while BC ranks 316th in defensive rebounding. There should be plenty of second-chance opportunities for our guys tonight.

The Cardinals have won 6 straight, while the Eagles have won 4 of their last 5 games. Louisville has won those games by coming out and playing up to their abilities while this BC team has relied upon teams to play down to those abilities in order to grab one. There is so much disparity between these teams that it really shouldn’t be that close.

If this Louisville team is starting to reach their potential then it will really show in games like this one. Have they moved past the clunkers? We’ll find that out starting tonight.

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Cards need to come out swinging Saturday


The Cardinals have won 5 straight, with wins over Miami, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Duke, and Georgia Tech. They are 11-1 at home this season, 16-3 overall and 7-1 in the ACC. This team is getting it done but at times appear to ”just be getting it done”.

This Louisville team didn’t come out swinging in the last game. They played a sluggish brand of basketball letting the Yellow Jackets hang around until the very end. Due to the Cardinal’s effort on the glass (14 offensive rebounds) and their active defense down the stretch forcing 17 Tech turnovers they were able to survive.

I get it… I have days I don’t really want to be at the office. Athletes are no different. They aren’t robots that can be programmed for maximum effort every time they play. While I’m not concerned with this team playing down to the competition right now it is an ugly habit that can cause a team to have an early exit come Tourney Time.

I think Coach Mack would love to see his team come out with elite effort and win these types of games without the dramatics. Saturday is another opportunity for them to do that. Even tho Clemson has struggled away from home, posting a 2-4 record they have put together a nice little stretch of basketball winning three of their last four. During that stretch, they’ve beat NC State, UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest.

This Clemson team doesn’t really do anything that great with a defense ranked in the 100’s and offense ranked in 200’s but they have some scrappy guys who are playing some clutch basketball at times. They’ve had several come from behind wins this season. They are that team that hopes you come out sluggish and not ready to play. Clemson is 45-2 when teams score 50 or less on them.

We wanted to see more weapons emerge for this Louisville team. David Johnson and Malik Williams have been those guys. David has been a breakout star while Williams has been clutch over the last couple of weeks. He recorded 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots leading Louisville against Tech.

Now I think we’d all like to see this team start to put all of it together.

They are doing a lot of the tangible things well 67th field goal percentage, 18th three-point field goal percentage, top 100 scoring offense, 37th scoring defense, 8th field goal defense, 30th three-point field goal percentage defense, 67th rebounds and 67th in assist/turnover ratio.

It’s the intangibles that start to separate the great team’s from the good ones down the stretch. Things like attitude/effort and coming out every game playing to their ability regardless of the opponent. If this Louisville team can improve upon some of the little things it could mean big things ahead.

They can start doing that on Saturday. I hope this team comes out swinging because I could also use a break from the dramatics. I want to see one of those coast to coast victories in this one. Go Cards!

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Cards need to keep the mo in the ACC


The Cardinals return home tonight to play Georgia Tech. They built up a lot of positive momentum during the road trip and have everything headed in the right direction. The key in this game tonight is to keep building on that momentum as they continue down the road in conference play.

Freshman David Johnson has come into his own over the last few weeks and is starting to make a name for himself not only amongst the Cardinal faithful but on a national level as well. I wrote last week that I was looking forward to seeing what he had against Duke’s elite freshman. He dominated.

Johnson converted on 8 of 12 attempts, hitting 2 free throws, finishing with 19 points and 7 assists. He is that final piece of the puzzle for this Louisville Basketball team. He makes his team better. Want to see him continue to build on that. Now he will start being one of those names circled on the opposing team bulletin board.

A guy that has had his name circled on that board all season is Jordan Nwora. Some teams are going to be successful in slowing him down but his ability to still have an impact is a difference-maker for this team. He only had 6 points and 2 assist at Duke but led his team grabbing 8 rebounds. This is a great stat for him and shows that this dude is a gamer.

Jordan is the dude. Things will only get better for him the more his other teammates start to come around. Can’t circle them all.

Another one of those guys that appears to be getting his game to come back around is Malik Williams. Slowed down by an injury to start the season Malik has 37 points, 26 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in the last four games. Heading into this season I thought he could be one of the best post defenders/shot blockers in the country. He is starting to show some of that.

Louisville has won four straight and is one of the hottest teams in the country right now. It’s due to guys starting to understand and fill some of those roles that were expected of them. Good things are ahead if this team continues to build on that.

I only mentioned a few guys here but others are starting to find their rhythm as well. Fresh, Ryan and Darius come to mind. These guys all have that one thing they do well and are starting to do that for their team. Fresh providing quality minutes at the point, Ryan hitting clutch threes, and Darius playing lockdown D.

Tonight’s game is about keeping all of that momentum rolling in the right direction. Georgia Tech will try to stop that momentum with its deliberate attack on offense. The Yellow Jackets’ slow-paced offense will eliminate possessions for Louisville. Due to the slow pace, I expect Tech to hang around in this one for a bit.

It will come down to the three-point shot. Louisville who ranks 13th in the country in three-point percentage will make enough of them to pull away while Georgia Tech who ranks 322nd in three-point percentage will not be able to hit enough of them to stay in this one.

Not really about the final margin of victory here tonight and more about the things the Cardinals do to get it. Have to keep that Mo.

Go Cards!

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Game Day. Game On.


If you been following along then you know that I talked about this Louisville Basketball team finding themselves during this three-game road trip. So far they’ve held on to get a tough win in Southbend, came back with a gutsy overtime win in the “Zoo” at Pitt.

I’m not ready to say this team has found themselves just yet. But do think they’ve come a helluva long way over the last couple of weeks. And I do think they have found a young point guard along the way.

David Johnson has 16 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and a blocked shot in the last two games for Louisville. He was clutch in that win at Pitt and made some big plays in both of the Cardinals last two hard-fought victories. Today he’ll have that momentum tested and can’t wait to see him take another step forward. We need David to be ready for that run.

Speaking of runs this Louisville team has a decent one going. They’ve won three straight and 5 of the last 7. They are one of the better offensive teams averaging 74.6 points per game which ranks 108th in college basketball while shooting 46.1% from the field and are one the best three-point shooting teams in the country with the team shooting 38.2% from beyond the arc.

They also boast one of the better defenses in the country. Louisville’s defense has held opponents to 61.6 points per game to rank them 34th in the college basketball while opponents are shooting just 36.8% from the field and 29.5% from three.

Have they found themselves? They are coming around with maybe the biggest test of the regular season today.

Duke got a pretty good team themselves. The Blue Devis offense is one of the best in the country this season averaging 83.1 points per game to rank 5th in college basketball. Duke is very efficient this season shooting 48.9% from the field which ranks them 9th in the NCAA and 36.9% from the three-point line. They got a pretty good freshman on their team also. Vernon Carey who averages 17.6 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, both of which lead his team.

Duke also solid on defense. Duke’s defense is allowing 63.8 points which rank 59th in college basketball, Duke opponents are shooting 41.6% from the field and 30.3% from the three-point line. Their guys are very athletic and quick on both sides of the ball.

Looking forward to watching these teams go at it today. Looking forward to seeing how David handles himself against not only some other freshman but elite freshmen in the country. Also looking forward to that battle with Enoch and Carey down low. This is the big stage. The first College Gameday of the College Basketball season. Jordan Nwora has missed his opportunities so far this season in these types of games. He could really put himself in a good position for the POY in this game today. I hope he makes it count.

I hope this team makes this one count. Go Cards!

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A stop by the Zoo on the road swing



The name “Oakland Zoo” is used for the basketball student cheering sections at the Petersen Events Center. The Oakland Zoo has been noted as being one of the most formidable students cheering sections in college basketball. But over the years Louisville has turned it into a Petting Zoo on their visits. The Cardinal’s are 7-2 in that gym in a series they have pretty much dominated winning 14 of the last 15 meetings.

I think that Coach Jeff Capel has turned the vibe around at Pitt and has them headed in the right direction. You can bet that he has invested in getting that student section involved again as well. The Cardinals will face another stout conference road game tonight.

The Cardinals have scored an average of 74.8 points per game while allowing 61.2 points per game. The Panthers have scored 66.2 points per game while allowing 61 points per game. In their last 5 games, the Cardinals are 3-2 and have won 2 games in a row while the Panthers are also 3-2.

The Pitt guards Johnson and McGowan are the kind of guys that can take over a game. They combine for around 23 points and 10 rebounds a game. The Cardinal defense doesn’t want to give these guys any momentum tonight.

I think this is another great game for this Louisville team to grow. They battled in a tough environment for a win in the last game and just might have to do that tonight. Hope to see David and Sam get more reps. We need those guys.

Not sweating this one but don’t think it will be a cakewalk either. I think those days are over at Pitt. Cards will win another grinder.

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Cards hit the road. Will hopefully find themselves along the way.


This Louisville team is looking to build some momentum as they head out for a three-game road trip. Even tho this team has won some of the games they were supposed to there still seems to be something a little off. I don’t think Coach Mack has found the five players he’d have on the floor with the game on the line. Or at least a group he’d be one hundred with.

I don’t think there is a group of five players who really groove together on the court yet. It’s one thing when the coach doesn’t feel it but a bigger issue if the players can’t find it. I’m hoping this team finds whatever “it” is during this road swing. We’ve had many Louisville teams find themselves on the road during conference play.

We’ve had a few Louisville teams start that journey in South Bend. The game with Notre Dame has provided some entertainment over the last decade. There have been two overtime games, a double-overtime game and one that took five overtimes to settle. Louisville leads this series 24-15 and the Cardinals have had the upper hand lately winning the last four. It’s never an easy game with them and won’t be Saturday afternoon.

The Irish have made a name for themselves playing very efficient basketball on both ends of the floor. The names on the jersey change over the years but that program’s vibe stays the same. They are gonna take and make sure their teammates get good shots while protecting the basketball. They are hovering around the top 50 ranked 54th in offensive efficiency and are ranked #1 in assist/turnover ratio.

Notre Dame always has that big 6-9 white dude that becomes a floor general for them. This year’s version of that guy is senior forward, John Mooney. Mooney is leading the Fighting Irish in scoring and rebounds, averaging 15.8 points per game and 13.6 rebounds per game. Mooney is a beast.

Jordan Nwora is Louisville’s floor general averaging 20.9 points per game and grabbing 7.7 rebounds per game. This dude is shooting 48.7% from the field. But at times I don’t think he knows he’s the floor general and lets himself get in a funk. It all goes back to finding the guys to put on the floor who all feel confident about their roles on this team. And feel confident in each other.

Coach Mack had multiple combinations on the floor in the Cards last game as was expected but Cardinal great Luke Hancock said it best on Twitter. The best lineup Louisville has is Enoch, Nwora, Williamson, Perry, and Johnson. I think Sam and David have to come along for this season to be what a lot of us expected. And can this group learn to play together? This group proved to be pretty efficient in the game against Miami when on the court together. This is it.

The teams who will be cutting nets down in March are the ones who will learn how to play together in the most confident and efficient way over the next two months. The road can be unkind in conference play but it can also be a battleground where these guys bond during those battles. This Louisville team can use these next three games to build some great momentum heading towards that goal.

Hoping for a good game but a win in South Bend on Saturday. Please, no Overtime. Go Cards!

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Time to hit the reset button not the panic button


It’s been a rough few weeks for Louisville Basketball. Another tough loss to arch-rival Kentucky put a stink over things like I hadn’t seen in a while. Things had been pretty positive and the team as a whole appeared to be on an expected trajectory.

In that expected trajectory if you didn’t expect some set back you were wrong. I think many of us myself included forget that the nucleus of this team is a group that has been through hell and back.

NCAA sanctions, FBI scandal, and multiple coaching changes have been the norm for our 5th year senior Ryan Mcmahon. And our junior class lost the guy that recruited them a few weeks before the start of their freshman seasons.

This is not taking into account what these guys have faced off the court with injury and personal battles. Sports folks like to talk about stats and the X and O’s of it all but there is a human element.

I love this group of guys and will never forget their loyalty to our program during some pretty tough times. We’d been hurting if we had lost them all to transfer. They are and will remain the foundation of the rebuild.

We are just a year and a half through that rebuild folks. Still, a lot going on here and a lot of moving pieces. Coach Mack has this program heading in the right direction and doing it the right way. The last thing this program needed was some quick fix artist and the bullshit that follows that. Would have just meant more trouble.

This team has to hit the reset button but it’s not a time for the panic button. I think they have a very fragile psyche. It’s easy for this group to bottom out and they do lack a killer instinct at times. Don’t know if they’ll overcome that. Coach Mack said this week it was on them to decide not to fall back into some of those old patterns. I agree.

They’ve lost two tough ones in a row but this Louisville team is still doing some things right. Louisville is a top 50 field goal percentage team, top 30 in scoring defense, top 100 in scoring offense, top 40 defensive rebounding, top 100 offensive rebounding and regardless of that shit show at Rupp still around 120th in free throw shooting.

Good game tonight to get back on track. The Cardinals have won 7 of the last 9 matchups against the Hurricanes. The two teams faced off at the beginning of the season and Louisville took home the 13 point road win.

Miami was just routed by Duke and they got some areas that this Louisville team should expose. Miami ranks 273rd in scoring defense, ranks 299th in field goal defense and ranks 314th in defensive rebounding. The Cardinals should get good looks at the basket tonight and plenty of second-chance opportunities.

I have seen it on this page this week and Coach Mack even mentioned it in his pre-game press conference this week. Jordan and the rest of the team need to get synched back up. Think we see that tonight. Good games all around.

I’m ready to hit the reset button. Time to get back on the winning side of things.

Go Cards!

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