-Early Birds w/Coach P, Siva Scholar-Athlete, Cardinal Caravan
Our basketball coach Rick Pitino called into the early birds this morning on Sports radio 790am with Drew Deener. Drew and coach talked about several topics. The first thing up was Pitino’s thoughts on the NBA finals. I don’t really care about the NBA so I tuned that out.
Next issue was about the Rakeem Buckles transfer. Coach explained what I mentioned yesterday in my comments about the situation. He said that it came down to playing time with Rakeem. He wanted to go somewhere he could be a major contributor and give himself a chance to play at the next level.
Rick was also ask about the Stephan Van Treese situation. Sounds like he was given the option to go to Bellarmine and then return to Louisville. Coach Pitino said that Stephan and his father wanted to do their own thing.
Next topic was about new recruit Montrezl Harrell, and Coach Pitino seems very impressed with his newest young recruit. Says that he is a very aggressive player with a motor that won’t stop. Coach Pitino seems very confident in his ability.
Coach was asked about the current players and how their development over the summer was going. Coach said that the players that have improved the most are Russ Smith and Kevin Ware.
It was very good to hear Coach P this morning talking about the upcoming season that will be here in about a 114 days. I can’t wait. Been a long time since I’ve been this excited for a season to start.
(Courtesy Sports Radio 790am & Drew Deener)
In an example of brains and braun we found out today that our star point guard Peyton Siva has been named the recipient of the 2011-12 BIG EAST Conference Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award for men’s basketball. The award recognizes academic and athletic achievement as well as community service. Siva has a 3.41 Gpa and was named to the 2011-12 Capital One Academic All-District 2 men’s basketball first team. We all knew that this young man was special. He is going to be very successful in what ever he does.
(Courtesy of UofL Sports)
And last but not least the announcement was made today about the 2012 Cardinal Caravan. We learned that the Caravan will make five stops this summer and will kick off in my neck of the woods Frankfort Kentucky. Was very excited to learn that among those traveling around with the Caravan are Cardinal basketball players Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, and Gorgui Dieng. Very excited to meet those guys and to wish them the best for the upcoming season. If you haven’t been to a Caravan event I would highly suggest it. Great way to get up close and personal with the Cardinal athletic program.
Cardinal Caravan 2012: Register for any one of the Cardinal Caravans!
(Courtesy UofL Sports)
-Buckles & Billboards
We learned today that Rakeem Buckles is transferring from the Cardinal program and will join head coach Richard Pitino, a former Louisville assistant, at Florida International. Buckles is the third injury-plagued player to transfer from Louisville this season, following Stephan Van Treese and Jared Swopshire out the door.
There are many folks buzzing today about the way Coach Pitino is handling the recruitment process within the Louisville Basketball program. I guess they have a right to their opinions but I don’t see an issue here. Those young men were given the opportunity to play for one of the greatest basketball programs in the country and to learn from a Hall of Fame Coach. Now they have a chance to take what they have learned and be big time contributors at their next stop. No basketball player wants to sit on the bench and watch someone else play in their spot and that would have happened if these players had remained at the University of Louisville. I truly believe that this move was the best for all involved. Louisville will be a stronger, deeper team because of it.
(Courtesy UofL press release)
We also learned today that the billboard wars are on. After @BigTimeYurts reached their goal of selling 900 bumper stickers for the #LexingtonIsForTheBirds billboard the company that agreed to host the billboard backed out of the deal saying it was degrading.
But don’t worry Cardinal fans the company Lamar advertising called today and said that they had changed their minds. Ha! The power of media persuasion I guess. The billboard is set to go up on I-64 westbound close to Frankfort. I can’t wait to see it on my way to work every day.
(Courtesy Whas 11 & @BigTimeYurts)
– Coach P and ESPN Andy Katz discuss upcoming season
In an interview on Tuesday night Andy Katz talked with Rick Pitino about the high expectations of the upcoming season and asks his opinions on the final seasons of Pitt and Syracuse in the Big East.
Coach Pitino says in the interview how it will be much harder to get to a Final Four when the team is expected to get there. Also talks about his team finally getting healthy. He also speaks about his big men and about what they need to improve on this summer. When ask about the newest member of the Cardinals squad Montrezl Harrell Rick said that he would push Behanan and Gorgui to get better, but would not take their spot.
Rick was also asked about Pitt and Syracuse final season in the Big East. Rick says that he thinks Pitt will do ok but can’t see how Syracuse survives anywhere but the Big East.
(Courtesy of ESPN, and Andy Katz)
Very interseting read indeed, and some very interesting comments from Coach Pitino. Gets me in the mood for some college basketball and I can’t wait until the march to the Final Four begins.
– The Future looks bright.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been hearing some great things about a couple of Louisville commits. Anton Gill, a 6′-3″ shooting guard from Ravenscroft (NC) and Quinton Snider a 5’-11” point guard from Ballard (KY). These guys made a huge impact on the recruit scouts in attendance last weekend at the 2012 NBPA Top 100 Camp. Here is just a brief summary of how a few of those scouts felt about this duos performance.
(Courtesy of NY2LA Sports)
Gill is firmly a shooting guard in the high school ranks, but there’s reason to believe he can also help out at point guard, if the Cardinals’ 2011 signee, Terry Rozier, struggles in that role. Gill has a scoring edge though, and his role at shooting guard would play to his strengths. He can create off the dribble, and has significant range with his shot.
Pitino landed Gill from the basketball rich Triangle region of North Carolina, where he held offers from NC State, Wake Forest and others. He is considered by most to be a top-50 prospect nationally, and could continue to rise up the charts.
Snider is not physically ready to compete at the D-1 level, but he does exhibit signs of being a high-level point guard prospect. He’s quick and makes good decisions on the break, and does show some shooting range. The next few high school years will give him the opportunity to develop physically in order to play in the Big East. The 5′-11″ point guard is considered to be among the Top 100 prospects in the Class of 2014, nationally.
The future really does look bright with this duo bound for the Louisville campus. Additionally, if Quentin Snider can convince his grassroots basketball teammate D’Angelo Russell to join them, the Cardinals will have something really special in the making.
1 – THE DREAM GAME “Geaux Cards”
Over the past week the world and the folks around this area have been buzzing about the mini series shown on the History channel about the Hatfield & McCoy feud. But a few months ago in March there was a buzz about a different feud. The University of Louisville and University of Kentucky had both made it to the Final Four in New Orleans and would face each other for the first time ever in the national semi-final game.
Kentucky blew through their NCAA competition to reach the big game but it was a different story for our Cardinals. They won four games in four days to win the Big East. Then they avoided close calls against Davidson and New Mexico during the first weekend to advance to the West Regional. There they knocked off West number one seed Michigan State and then defeated Florida to reach the Final Four.
There’s only one game for bragging rights in Kentucky every year but this season it would be two. The Battle of the Bluegrass would take over New Orleans. UK and UofL fans would take over the city for perhaps the biggest chapter in this rivalries history. The original “Dream Game” happened in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. That year Louisville defeated Kentucky 80-68 in the Mideast Regional Final. The game took place in Knoxville Tennessee. I wasn’t old enough to appreciate that game, but this time I took full advantage of the moment.
I wore my colors proudly all week. Then loaded up and headed to the Big Easy with a group of guys I had grown up arguing this rivalry with. One side of the car had a blue flag and the other side had a red one. When we reached Tennessee we stopped at a local restaurant for a meal. We walked in decked out in our colors and sat at the bar. Some of the local patrons asked if we were headed to the big game and then asked how we could all be friends while cheering for opposite teams. We explained to them about how that made this rivalry so special, and this game so big.
We reached New Orleans early Saturday morning and had an awesome time that day partaking in the festivities of the French Quarter. While there we met up with other friends and family to celebrate our teams’ achievements. Later that night we would attend the Dream Game. My Cardinals gave a valiant effort and came up short against the arch rival Cats losing the game 69-61. But on this night and on this weekend in March there were no losers. It was an awesome time to be a college basketball fan in the state of Kentucky. And that’s why this is my #1 moment over last 5 years of Louisville basketball.
– Updates from the big recruiting weekend and other Cardinal News
The big recruiting weekend turned out great for our Cardinals. Rick Pitino and his staff signed the nations most highly unsigned prospect of 2012 in Montrezl Harrell. He is rated the No. 72 prospect in the Class of 2012 by Scout.com, No. 82 by Rivals, No. 89 by ESPN. But his play at the U-18 trials suggests Harrell might just be better than all those numbers suggest. The big man survived the difficult first cut at USA Basketball training camp from the initial group of 23 prospects by performing with what Draft Express analyst Jonathan Givony described as ”a terrific combination of length, athleticism and intensity, which allowed him to be a consistent force attacking the rim with ferocity and often finishing in highlight-reel fashion.”
We also found out this week where the scholarship given to Harrell will come from. Reserve big man Stephan Van Treese has been given his release. Van Treese, who missed all but three games last season because of a left knee injury, likely would have played sparingly next year as a backup. I really appreciate the hard work that Stephan put in as a member of the Cardinal squad but I have no problem with this situation. Sometimes you have to cut a man loose. Especially if you can upgrade in the talent level like Louisville did with this move.
We also heard from head coach Rick Pitino this week as he added to his blog. Rick updated us about summer workouts and gave us his take about the Harrell recruitment.
Summary of the blog update:
-“Montrezl Harrell – 6-8 with a 7-4 wingspan. Plays every minute like it’s his last on Earth. Just a tremendous addition to our front court. He will compete and make Chane, Gorgui and Zach better every possession. One of the aspects of great players is they influence each play in some positive way. This young man flat out plays hard. I’m extremely excited to have him in our program.” -Pitino
-Peyton Siva: Working of shooting form, strength and conditioning
-Russ Smith: Working on shooting form, and not taking as many off balanced shots, also strength and conditioning
-Kevin Ware: Working to improve shot, strength and conditioning
-Chane Behanan: Working on Jump shot/stop leaning, and breaking old habits
-Angel Nunez: Working on upper body shooting form, passing skills, and off the ball defending
-Zach Price: Working on trajectory with jumper, and low post moves
-Wayne Blackshear: Working on ball placement with jumper, driving with the ball, and staying healthy
-Tim Henderson: Working on shooting
To read Rick Pitino’s latest blog entry visit www.rickpitino.com
To read more comments and news from the big recruiting weekend check out my recruiting page.
-Big recruiting weekend for the Cardinals.
This weekend could be a big one for the Louisville Cardinal Basketball program. The Cardinals will host six big time recruits on campus this weekend. The players consist of a transfer, one player from the 2012 class, two players from the 2013 class, and two players from the 2014 class.
-The transfer from Virginia Tech considering the Cardinals is Dorian Finney-Smith. The 6-foot-8 small forward from Portsmouth, Va., opted to transfer after Coach Seth Greenberg was fired. He was on the 2012 ACC all-freshman team; He averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds as a freshman. He started 30 of 33 games. Smith is a very skilled forward who shows the ability to play outside/in. He has a smooth handle that allows him to get by his man from the perimeter, and be a secondary ball handler against pressure. He makes very good decisions with the ball.
-The player out of the 2012 class is Montrezl Harrell. Harrell was also committed to play for Virginia Tech but ask for his release from his commit after Coach Greenburg was fired. After he was granted the release Harrell opened back up his recruitment and has narrowed his school choices down to 4 but will only take three visits. Harrell earned MVP honors at the 2012 Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game in Charlotte, N.C. in April. He is athletic and naturally strong. Being the star player in a small town, he’s learned how to carry a team and deal with the attention. Harrell’s game is a mixture of explosiveness at the rim and perimeter ability that extends past mid-range.
-The two players out of the 2013 class are Jajuan Johnson and Jordan Mickey.
Johnson is a prospect who is turning himself into a player. Everyone reporting on this young man say that they can see the natural talent and that his confidence is yielding more production. He has a tremendous wing frame and his scoring package is diverse. He’s got game to three-point range.
Mickey’s upside is one of the most attractive things about him. The scouts say that he gets better each time they see him. Although his game is currently more suited to being an interior player he has showed some improved ability to play as a face-up 4-man and his length and athleticism are a plus.
-The two players from the 2014 class are Malek Harris and Keita Bates-Diop.
For Harris the recruiting process has moved quickly in recent weeks with Louisville and Indiana being the major players. He has been blowing up lately with his aggressive play. He plays hard, rebounds, is athletic and has some skill.
Bates-Diop has also been making some noise. The long and athletic power forward has good hands touch around the rim and runs the floor extremely well. He finishes over defenders with length as opposed to strength at this stage of his game. He scores in the low post with turn shots and faces with short quick attacks.
I hope these guys enjoy their visit to the Cardinal campus this weekend. Good luck to our coaching staff. Go Cards!
-To see more on these recruits and to watch video of them check out my basketball recruiting page.