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Our Louisville Cardinals got back to their winning ways Monday night. With a starter and a reserve out for the game the Cards got the monkey off their back beating Pittsburgh 64-61. Louisville has now won four straight over the Panthers, leading the all-time series 8-5 and are now 5-3 in the Big East.

When the polls came out early Monday afternoon the voters showed their confidence in the Cardinals. After their 3 game losing skid the Cards still received enough votes to remain just outside the top 10 ranked at 12 and 13 respectively. The Cards responded well to that confidence Monday night as they got back to doing the things that had them sitting at the top of those polls a few weeks ago.

It all starts with defense when you are talking about success with the Cards. And Monday night the defense did a good job at disrupting a very efficient Pitt offense. They forced them into taking quick shots at times and forced 15 turnovers with 7 steals. For much of the game the Cardinals didn’t let Pitt get into any kind of offensive rhythm. Peyton Siva looked a lot more like himself as he was coming off screens, getting into creases and dishing it off to open teammates. He ended up with a very impressive 10 assist. Russ Smith was back to being “Russdiculous”. He had that competitive ego back making athletic plays all over the court both defensively and offensively as he finished with 20 points. Gorgui Dieng looked as confident as I’ve seen him since coming back from his injury. He was very aggressive in the post and went blow for blow with a very tall and competitive Pitt front court. He had his 5th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He also had 5 blocked shots. Luke Hancock is ranked 6th in 3 point field goal percentage in the Big East and we know he can shot the ball but tonight he showed that he could also play some solid defense making some great plays. He had 3 steals and played a very effective role in the press. Chane Behanan seemed to have some of his swagger back as he was hitting the boards and making plays in the paint. He scored 12 points and grabbed 5 boards. The bench scored 11 points with Montrezl Harrell again leading the way with 8 points. Tim Henderson scored 3 points as he and Michael Baffour provided some quality minutes in lieu of Wayne Blackshear being out with a shoulder injury and Kevin Ware’s suspension.

Coach Pitino: “This was a great win for us. We needed it. Obviously you don’t want to lose at home. But we’ve got another great game coming up.”

It was really nice seeing our Cards get back to their winning ways and to do it against one of the Big East’s hottest teams was even more impressive. Hopefully this restored some of the confidence lost and they take that into Sunday as it will be another tough battle against Marquette.


GAME #21 BEAK BREAKDOWN “The Panthers”

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Our Louisville Cardinals (16-4, 4-3 Big East) find themselves needing a win more than any other time this season as they face the Pittsburgh Panthers (17-4, 5-3 Big East) Monday Night in the Yum Center. This will be a battle of two Big East foes going in different directions. Our Cards are trending downward having lost their last three games in conference play, but the Panthers are playing some of their best basketball of the season winning their last four games in conference play. Their 38 point win against DePaul on Saturday was their biggest margin of victory ever in a Big East contest. In the Cards loss on Saturday they were held to their lowest point total of the season.


Jamie Dixon is in his 10th season leading the Panthers. Over the last 11 years, Pitt ranks among the nation’s top five programs in winning percentage (.761, 312-98). During that remarkable run, the Panthers never reached the Final Four. But they did go to the NCAA Elite Eight once, made five Sweet 16 appearances and won six Big East titles. They didn’t make it in the NCAA Tournament last year due to some injuries to key players. They are healthy this year and their 10 man rotation that includes returning players Tray Woodall, Dante Taylor and Lamar Patterson have the Panthers back to their winning ways and in sole possession of third place in a chaotic Big East Conference. The Panthers have a very balanced attack on offense having 3 players averaging in double figures and 4 others averaging over 6 points a game. They rank 11th nationally in field goal percentage, 7th in scoring margin at 17.7 and 6th in assist per game at 17.6. Kenpom has their Adj efficiency on offense at 117.5 ranked 8th.
They can also get after you defensively as this team ranks first in the land in defensive rebounds allowed at just 23.8 per game, and sixth in total points allowed at 54.4 per night. Kenpom has their Adj efficiency on defense at 87.1 ranked 21st. He has them ranked 6th overall. Their current RPI is 47.

In-conference offense: 3pt-34.2%, 2pt-44.9%, FT-64.8%
In-conference defense: Turnovers-14.8pg/4th, Steals-7pg/6th, Blocks-4.5pg/4th

Coach Jamie Dixon: “I think our guys are recognizing what we’ve been trying to get across to them defensively.”

The Panther Players:

-Projected Starters

Lamar Patterson JR (10.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.3 apg) 6-5 F a guy with soft hands who is both comfortable with and effective at distributing the rock. He is also a great defender, rebounder and shooter. He ranks in the Big East 13th 50.8/FG%, 15th 37.9/3PT%, 10th 1.8/steals,

Talib Zanna JR (11.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.7 apg) 6-9 F is a strong, physical athlete who combines skill and athleticism to create matchup problems. He loves to attack off the dribble from the outside and is an aggressive and physical rebounder. He is shooting 55.9/FG% and 67.4/FT%.

Steven Adams FR (6.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.6 apg) 7-0 C His defensive play has been compared to that of Greg Oden, and he emerged as a consensus top 10 recruit. ESPN tabbed him a five-star player, the No. 4 center and the No. 6 player overall in the class of 2012. Last year Big East opponents ate the Panthers alive in the paint, making 51 percent of their twos with Adams patrolling the paint those days are over. Or at least until he’s picked in the NBA draft. He ranks in the Big East 13th in rebounding, 4th in blocked shots at 2.1pg. He is shooting 58.2/FG%, and 35.9/FT%.

Tray Woodall SR (10.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 5.8 apg) 6-0 G is back on the court for his senior season after a frustrating year in which he battled through a severe abdominal injury. He has a knack for hitting clutch shots, leads the Panthers in assists this season. He ranks in the Big East 5th in assist, 11th in steals at 1.6pg, 3rd in assist/turnover ratio at +2.9. He is shooting 47.6/FG%, 37.3/3PT% and 75.7/FT%.

James Robinson FR (6.7 ppg, 2,0 rpg, 3.9 apg) 6-3 G is nicknamed “Mr. Consistent,” Robinson was a member of the 2012 USA Basketball U18 national team. ESPN rated Robinson a four-star recruit and the No. 4 point guard in the country. He is shooting 38.3/FG%, 33.3/3PT% and 77.3/FT%.


Dante Taylor SR (4.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.6 apg) 6-9 F is one of the finest offensive rebounders in the country. The former McDonald’s All-American provides a good spark off the bench for Pitt. He shoots 56.1/FG%, and 65.5/FT%.

Trey Zeigler JR (6.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.1 apg) 6-5 G/F is unlike most shooting guards in that he’s not big on chucking 3-pointers he’s taken just three all year and instead relies on slashing to the rim or pulling up for a midrange jumper. That means he’s around the basket quite a bit, making him an effective rebounder. Nearly half 14 of his 39 boards have come off the offensive glass and he’s shown a knack for tipping a ball to a teammate for an easy put back. He is shooting 52.2/FG% and 55.6/FT%.

J.J. Moore JR (9.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.5 apg) 6-6 F is a constant scoring source off the bench for the Panthers. He is a great athlete and has 37 inch vertical leap. He can score from all over the floor. He is shooting 43.4/FG%, 27.8/3PT% and 85.5/FT%.

Cameron Wright SOPH (4.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 apg) 6-4 G enters his third and redshirt sophomore season at Pitt after contributing primarily at the off-guard position last year. A quick and athletic defender with size, Wright is described as a “complete” package who fits perfectly into Pitt’s style of play. He is shooting 52.9/FG%, 60/3PT% and 47.6/FT%.

Durand Johnson FR (4.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.7 apg) 6-6 F is a terrific shooter with NBA range who can make big shots and score at a high level. Johnson is as smooth a shooter as they come. He has a great shot fake, range on his jumper and quick trigger with the ability to pull off the catch or step back. He is shooting 39.2/FG%, 36.4/3PT% and 72.2/FT%.

Coach Pitino said “We have to get this win. It‘s a must game for us.” And while agree with this statement for the mental health of the team I don’t necessarily think it is a must win from a season standpoint. Granted we have lost 3 in a row but if you look at those losses closely you will see that they aren’t that serious in the big picture. Cuse is one of the best teams in the country, GTown is also a very good team especially at home and Nova is trending upward after beating Cuse.

I think the recipe for a win is quite simple. This team just needs to play the game they are capable of. Despite the misfortunes of the past week this Cardinal team is still a very talented group. We got a player in Russ that is 10th in the league in scoring, Gorgui is #1 in the league in rebounding, Chane is 8th in the league in rebounding, Chane is also #1 in the league in steals, Peyton is 4th in the league in steals, Luke is 6th in the league in 3PT%, Gorgui is 2nd in the league in blocked shots, Peyton is 7th in the league in assist/turnover ratio, Gorgui is 1st in the league in offensive rebounding, Chane is 4th in offensive rebounding and Gorgui is 1st in defensive rebounding.

With this many players in the top 10 of the statistics in the league there is no need to panic. They just need to refocus. And Monday night I think you will see that group of focused, hungry athletes we watched earlier this season.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 78 Pittsburgh 69

Just a typical January in Louisville

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It was another rough Saturday for Louisville fans as our beloved Cardinals lose to Georgetown 53-51 and drop their third straight game in Big East play. The last time the Cardinals lost their third game straight it was against Seton Hall on January 21st 2010.

For as long as I can remember Louisville Basketball has always had times during the regular season when they hit a bump in the road. Even when Coach Crum was at the helm I can remember him reassuring Cardinal fans during those rough stretches that the team would be ready for March. It seems to be a constant theme throughout my time being a fan. Today Coach Pitino said after the game “Some people panic. We don’t panic at Louisville. We’re judged in March.” And after last season why would we doubt this?
Last year the Cardinals started the season 12-0 and rose to No. 4 in the nation in both major polls. They ended the year in the Final Four; of course, riding an 8-0 run that included a Big East tournament title. In their other 20 games the Cards went 10-10. If you take out those two losses to that great UK team the Cards were 10-8. In other words, the games the Cards played during the Big East regular season. You can go back and see this pattern play out many times in the past. Coach Crum always had this program peaking at the right time and Coach Pitino has carried on that legacy.

The story of the game today however, was the overall struggles of the Cardinals’ offense. The point total for Louisville ended up being a whopping 24 points below their season average. Our Cardinals set season lows for field goals made and total points. I really don’t understand how a player of Peyton Siva’s caliber only attempts 2 field goals and goes scoreless. But I have no doubt that he will get it together. It was good to see Luke Hancock have a good shooting day, but Wayne Blackshear was 0 for 5 from the three. Would like to see these guys jump into the role that Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith played last year. Those guys hit 36 percent of their 399 attempted threes last season. If we could get that type of production out of Luke and Wayne it would be huge for this team. And those guys are very capable. The free-throw shooting was better for the first part of the game today as the Cardinals went 12 for 12 from the line in the first half but just 4 for 10 in the second, echoing a problem from recent games.

Even though the offensive struggles of this team have been very apparent during this three game losing streak the defense seems to be holding steady and is a big reason why Cardinal Nation should remain optimistic. The Cardinal defense held the Hoyas to 38% from the field, 29% from 3, had 10 steals and forced 16 turnovers. The Cards defense still ranks 2nd in the nation in turnover margin at +7.2, 3rd in steals per game at 11.3 and they are in the top 20 in the nation in scoring defense.

Defense wins in the post season folks and if you have any doubt about that all you have to do is look to last year. The Cardinal offense during that incredible 8 game post season win streak was dismal as they were averaging basically one point per possession and were just 140-for-315 from inside the arc. Guess what they won anyway because their defense was great.

Hopefully this team and the fan base can put this past week behind us and move forward. We get to return home to the friendly confines of the Yum Center to face Pittsburgh on Monday.



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The Big East grind rolls on Saturday as our #5 Louisville Cardinals (16-3, 4-2 Big East) travel to the nations capital to face the Georgetown Hoyas (13-4, 3-3 Big East). The Cards are hoping to end a two game losing streak and the Hoyas hope to continue their winning ways after they beat Notre Dame Monday. In that win, they held the Irish to their lowest point total since 1972.


John Thompson III’s Princeton offense has been inconsistent at times this season and the Hoyas have been an impossible team to figure out. They have had big wins and had one of their worst losses ever. The one constant for them has been their defense. Georgetown is long-armed and athletic and can really guard people. They are 11th in the nation in scoring defense at 56.3 points per game and 1st in scoring defense in the Big East at 57.7 points per game. They are 31st in the nation in field goal percentage defense holding their opponents to 38.5% a game and 5th in Big East in field goal percentage defense at 39%. They are 1st in Big East in rebounding defense at 30.7 per game. Kenpom has their Adj efficiency on defense at 86 ranked 10th. The Hoyas play a lot of man-to-man but will play some zone, largely because they have the length and athleticism to do it, and it takes away having to guard so many different actions, which helps a young team. Georgetown may not have any seniors, but the Hoyas do have talent and experience. Markel Starks and Nate Lubick, both juniors, give Thompson two returning starters. Otto Porter started eight games as a freshman and averaged 29.7 minutes per game. Jabril Trawick played in all of Georgetown’s 33 games at 11.4 minutes per game. A lot of the Hoyas success depends on Thompson’s 3 sophomores Porter, Trawick and center Mikael Hopkins.
The bad losses the Hoyas have suffered this season are because of their struggles on offense. The Hoyas rank nationally 256th with 64 points per game, 253rd with 33.2 rebounds per game, 60th with 15 assist per game and 47th in field goal percentage at 46% a game. Kenpom has the Adj efficiency on offense at 101.3 ranked 145. He has them ranked 43 overall. The Hoyas current RPI is 39 and they are currently ranked 7th in the Big East.

In-conference offense: 3pt-36.3%, 2pt-45.8%, FT-68.5%
In-conference defense: Turnovers-10pg, Steals-5.3pg, Blocks-3.3pg

Coach John Thompson III: “Without a doubt, this is a younger team,” “But if this is possible, we’re young but experienced. Our sophomores and juniors have played significant minutes in big-time games and big-time atmospheres. At times, we had four freshmen on the court at the same time. We got a lot out of our younger players in last year. We’re going to count on them even more this year.”

The Hoyas Players:

-Projected Starters

Nate Lubick JR (7.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 apg) 6-8 F is an excellent passer who’s also a capable rebounder at both ends of the floor. While there are more athletic and offensively gifted forwards on the Georgetown roster, Lubick remains a key factor in the frontcourt because of his toughness and work ethic. His experience as a returning starter is essential to this team. He is shooting 62% from the field and 72% from the free throw line.

Mikael Hopkins SOPH (6.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.4 apg) 6-9 F arrived in DC last year with much recruiting hype and has all the tools to be a threat on the interior. He is just inconsistent at times. He is a decent shot blocker and ranks 10th in the Big East in that Stat. And is also a decent rebounder. He is shooting 37% from the field and 57% from the free throw line.

Markel Starks JR (11.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.8 apg) 6-1 G is very crafty for his size and is a good scorer who is also becoming a capable playmaker. He ranks 14th in the Big East at 3.5 assist per game and ranks 11th in assist/turnover ratio at 1.9. He is shooting 45% from the field, 41% from 3 point line and 84% from free throw line.

Otto Porter Jr. SOPH (14.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.6 apg) 6-8 F is one of the guys that coach Pitino will game plan for and In my opinion is the best player on the floor for the Hoyas. We won’t play against many better this season. He ranks 6th in the Big East in scoring at 16.8 ppg, 5th in rebounding at 7.7 pg, 12th in field goal at 52%, 5th in 3 point Field goal at 47%, and is 2nd in defensive rebounding behind Gorgui at 6.5 per game. He is also one of the 25 players remaining on the list for the Wooden Award with our Russ Smith.

Jabril Trawick SOPH (5.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.5 apg) 6-5 G “He brings a toughness to our team,” Thompson said. “He’s willed his way through many situations. He’s got a competitive, doggedness nature.” He is shooting 46% from the field, 32% from the 3 point line, and 68% from the free throw line.


Aaron Bowen SOPH (1.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.3 apg) 6-6 F only plays about 7 minutes a game. He is shooting 42% from the field and 40% from the 3 point line.

Moses Ayegba JR (1.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.6 apg) 6-9 C redshirted last season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in August. He provides some size off the bench and rebounding averaging 2.3 a game. He is shooting 47% from the field and 45% from the free throw line.

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera FR (6.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.3 apg) 6-3 G is a shooting guard from Indianapolis by way of Oak Hill Academy, he turned down an impressive list of suitors (including Michigan State, Louisville, Florida, and Memphis) in order to say yes to the Hoyas. ESPN rated him a four-star recruit and the No. 10 shooting guard in the country, but he’s got a lead-guard mentality. He is a scoring guard who likes to get his team involved. He is shooting 38% from the field, 32% from the 3 point line and 72% from the free throw line.

Last year the Cards were ranked in the top 5 when the Hoyas came to the Yum Center and beat them for the third straight time. And Georgetown is the only team in the Big East that owns a winning record against Rick Pitino. The Cards will be looking to avoid losing four in a row to the Hoyas and losing their third straight game in Big East play. The trend in league play this season has been that the teams with their backs against the wall have pulled out the victory. I really hope that trend continues Saturday but the Cards are going to have to get back to doing the things they do best which includes scoring points in transition, hitting free throws and getting penetration in the lane to find guys for easy shots. Those things won’t be easy against a very good Georgetown interior defense but hopefully the Cards depth and defensive intensity will wear on them. Don’t think it’s gonna be easy to turn the losing slide on the road but I expect our guys to get it done.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 69 Georgetown 61


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Our Cards have now dropped 2 games straight after climbing to the number one spot in the country. Losing last night to Villanova 73-64. The Wildcats are now 10-2 on this season when holding their opponents under 70 points.

Very disappointing night for Louisville fans and maybe a hard dose of reality as well. This is the time of year when a team’s flaws start to come into focus and in my opinion when the real basketball season begins. Our conference foes know Louisville just as well as they know themselves. And they know the recipe for beating our Cards. It looks like that recipe is pretty simple just protect the ball and keep the Cards from getting out in transition. Force them to beat you in the half court. It also seems that Louisville is losing focus at the end of games and is struggling to close teams out. They had two very crucial turnovers in the last two minutes against Cuse and had two key turnovers last night in the closing minutes. It just adds to this teams struggle when they don’t take care of the ball. Last night they turned the ball over 17 times, up from their team average of 12. Our All-American/Player of the year backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith combined for eight of those turnovers. Another big part of this Louisville team’s success is getting to the free-throw line. Last night The Cardinals forced Villanova into foul trouble and got to the line, but was unable to convert shooting just 12-of-24 for 50 percent. To me missing free-throws is the ultimate sign of loss of focus.

Not all was lost last night as Peyton Siva had 13 assist, and the Wayne Blackshear I’ve been looking for all season finally showed up and seemed to have what was his best effort of the season. He was 5 of 8 from 3pt range and had 4 steals to go along with his 17 points. I hope this was his coming out party and we will see this type of production out of him going forward. And Montrezl Harrell continues to provide quality minutes off of the bench as he grabbed 6 rebounds and scored 6 points. But his good deeds are being overshadowed by his poor free-throw shooting.

It’s time for all the hype talk to stop and please Sports Illustrated stay away from our team. It’s time for these guys to regroup, refocus and get back to work. It’s not time to hit the panic button as this time last year the Cards had a 16-5 record and were 4-4 in the Big East. And we all know how that worked out. I just think this team needed a reality check. Hopefully these last two games have gotten their attention.

It never gets any easier when you play in the Big East and our Cards will continue the battle Saturday as they will travel to Washington DC to face Georgetown. Another team with their back against the wall and looking for a quality win.


GAME #19 BEAK BREAKDOWN “The Wildcats”

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After a tough home loss to Cuse the Cards (16-2, 4-1 Big East) must regroup as they go back on the road in Big East play to face Villanova (11-7, 2-3 Big East). They have lost three straight after a seven-game winning streak. This game will be the first of three games that the Wildcats have scheduled to play at the Wells Fargo Center.


Jay Wright is terrific and has been that for Villanova, which is why the Wildcats’ drop in the Big East is a little surprising. They have had a rough go of it the past couple of seasons and it doesn’t look like that is gonna change this season. Their 69 points per game being a deceiving statistic. The Wildcats barely top 40 percent from the field and turn the ball over 16 times per game. They have turned the ball over more than their opponents in the past 5 games. Add in having just over 12 assists per game, and you get a team whose offense can leave a lot to be desired at times. They are a decent defensive team and when they hold opponents under 70 points they are 9-2 on the season. However if they don’t make up for their poor offense with their defense and let opponents score over 70 points they are 3-5 on the season. They have recorded fewer steals than their opponents for the past 4 games. The Wildcats have a positive rebounding margin on the season, although they have been out rebounded in their last two losses. This is a inexperienced group and Villanova’s problem offensively isn’t complicated. The Wildcats don’t have a “go-to” guy. Jay Wright’s roster is full of complimentary parts, but lacks someone you can give the ball to in big spots and expect to come through. They rank nationally 137th in points per game at 69, 84th in rebounding per game at 38, 234th in assist per game at 12 and 291st in field goal percentage per game at 40. Kenpom has their adj efficiency on offense 102.3 ranked 128th and on defense 93.4 ranked 72. He has them ranked 89 overall. Their current RPI is 69 and they are ranked 11th in the Big East.

In-conference offense: 3pt-29%, 2pt-45%, FT-73%
In-conference defense: Steals-5.8pg, Blocks-4.4pg, Turnovers-13pg

Coach Jay Wright: “I just think it’s a team that is inexperienced, has a lot to learn,” “I think they’re going to be good. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I think they’re going to be good. But we’re not good enough right now.”

The Wildcat Players:

– Projected Starters

Mouphtaou Yarou SR (7.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) 6-10 F is their most experienced player, has had a down year. The Wildcats needed him to be their best player, or at least close to it, but his scoring, rebounding and field goal numbers are all down appreciably from last season. He has scored 140 points this season, grabbed 106 rebounds and has 18 assist in 428 minutes of play.

Daniel Ochefu FR (4.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) 6-11 F was a top 100 prospect and is touted for his shot blocking and rebounding. He has some promising offensive skills but is adjusting to the physical nature of the Big East. He has scored 76 points this season, grabbed 88 rebounds and has 16 blocked shots in 328 minutes of play.

James Bell JR (9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg) 6-6 G has showed flashes of being a pretty reliable scorer and defender but not enough to consider him a star in the making. Also has a hard time staying out of foul trouble. He has scored 165 points this season, grabbed 79 rebounds and 27 assist in 497 minutes of play.

Darrun Hilliard SOPH (9.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg) 6-6 G has had his big moments in a few of Nova’s games this season but the problem has been his consistency to perform every night. Especially in a rugged Big East haul. He’s a pretty good defender and has 28 steals on the season. He has scored 179 points this season, grabbed 53 rebounds, and has 21 assist in 512 minutes of play.

Ryan Arcidiacono FR (11.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg) 6-3 G was a top-100 recruit as a point guard out of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and according to Coach Wright has “the opportunity to become the next great Villanova guard.” He has scored 209 points this season, grabbed 33 rebounds and has 60 assist in 591 minutes of play.

– Bench

Maurice Sutton SR (5.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 6-11 F/C is a fifth-year senior, will spend more time in the low post. The team’s best shot-blocker. He has scored 95 points this season, grabbed 77 rebounds and has 28 blocked shots in 267 minutes of play.

Tony Chennault JR (3.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg) 6-2 G is a Wake Forest transfer who was the Demon Deacons’ starter at point guard last season, Chennault was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA and will be eligible immediately. He is a very solid player for Nova and gives them leadership when on the court. He has scored 63 points this season, grabbed 31 rebounds and has 29 assist in 318 minutes of play.

JayVaughn Pinkston SOPH (13.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) 6-7 F is Nova’s best offensive player. It really isn’t close in my opinion. Pinkston is the only player on the team who can consistently get his own shot and get to the foul line. He’s attempted 50 more free throws than any other Wildcat and he’s fifth on the team in minutes played. Foul trouble and defensive lapses can lead to Pinkston sitting on the bench. And is a big reason he doesn’t start. He has scored 240 points this season, grabbed 80 rebounds and has 28 assist in 430 minutes of play.

Achraf Yacoubou SOPH (4.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg) 6-4 G is a solid player that will provide some offensive spark of the bench. He loves the 3 point shot and is making 39% of attempts. He has scored 77 points this season, grabbed 64 rebounds and has 11 assist in 273 minutes of play.

Mislav Brzoja FR (0.3 ppg, 0.4 rpg) 6-4 G spent his summer averaging 15.0 points in helping lead Croatia to victory in the under-18 European Championships. Brzoja gives the Wildcats another 3-point threat but only plays sparingly. He has only logged 26 minutes this season.

This Wildcat team seems to be in rebuild mode and that is evident by their inconsistent play so far. They find themselves staring at the possibility of a potential six or 7 game losing streak that will start with a rough game against our Cards. I really do not like the thoughts of playing a Big East team with their backs against the wall, especially on the road. However, our Cards specialize in forcing turnovers, so that could be a particularly bad matchup for them. And I really don’t think our guys are very happy either after Saturday. Don’t think they’ll want to lose focus and drop a game to a team that will probably struggle to finish .500 in the Big East. I’ll give them their due and say they are capable of putting together a great game. But this years Cardinal team just isn’t losing ones like this even if they get Nova’s best shot.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 Villanova 69


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The winning streak and the #1 ranking ended yesterday in the Yum Center as our Cards were knocked off in a tough one to a gritty Syracuse team 70-68. Cards are now 16-2 and 4-1 in the Big East. It was a great big time atmosphere with 22,814 Cards fans screaming the whole time.

After getting showered and dressed yesterday, Russ Smith was walking back into the locker room and was asked, “How long will it take you guys to get over this?” His answer, “I’m already over it.” I loved seeing this yesterday when Eric Crawford posted it on his Facebook page. I think we all got over it pretty quickly. It was tough to watch our Cards lose that number one ranking but when you put things in perspective, it really isn’t that big of a deal at all. This time last year, Louisville was coming off a difficult 74-63 loss at Marquette and was 14-5 with a 2-4 standing in the Big East. And we all know how last season finished out. The team this year is miles ahead of where that one was last year.

The Cards had several opportunities’ to finish out that game yesterday but lack of execution and missed free throws were the reason they did not. And I’m sure that all of those things were addressed in the post game meeting with Coach Pitino and the team. When a team is winning and ranked number one in the country there aren’t many opportunities for those teaching moments that coaches love. After yesterday, there will be plenty of teaching moments for Coach Pitino. The Defense looked great and the job done on that end of the floor was worthy of a victory. The Cards scored 21 points off 16 turnovers and had 12 steals. Our bench had a solid showing yesterday as well as that group scored 18 points and provided some solid minutes. It seemed like Coach Pitino used guys more than usual. He may be at the point in the season where he is going to start developing other players for the end of the season run. Russ Smith had another solid performance and was the player of the game for the Cards. He had 25 points, 4 assist and was 7-7 from the free throw line.

Time to move on from this one with another tough Big East game looming on Tuesday night as the Cards will go on the road to face Villanova. If there was, any doubt that this years Big East would not be as tough as previous seasons it was put to rest yesterday. Our loss to Cuse, USF beat Georgetown, Providence beat Nova, and Cincy took down Marquette. Yup!




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With Signing Day less than a month away, The Cards look to put their best foot forward with some of the big names left on their recruiting board. Louisville will host 7 big name targets this weekend, and they’ll also try to shore up their standing with several commitments who are also visiting.

U of L commitments visiting:

Photobucket-Kyle Bolin, QB, (Lexington, Ky.) has been committed to Louisville since September. After receiving interest from schools around the country, Bolin didn’t need much time to make a decision. The Lexington Catholic signal-caller decided early in his junior season that he wanted to attend Louisville.

Is a prototypical pocket passer, he’s also able to make plays with his feet.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Derrick Calloway, DT, (Bradenton, Fla.) Bradenton Manatee defensive tackle Derrick Calloway officially committed to Louisville a few weeks ago during the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Houston. He picked Louisville over South Florida and Missouri. He also had offers from Arkansas, Ohio State, Florida State, USC, Texas A&M and several other Division I schools.

He does display the ability to be a good run defender and interior pass rusher.(ESPN

Photobucket-Skylar Lacy, OL, (Greenwood, Ind.) The Center Grove offensive tackle committed to the Cards back in early May. He held scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Ball State and Western Michigan. Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue showed interest.

This guy is a tough customer who works to finish blocks and punish defenders when the opportunity presents itself.(ESPN)

Photobucket-De’Asian Richardson, DE, (Orange Park, Fla.) The Orange Park defensive end flipped his pledge to Louisville from West Virginia in early January. He held offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, UCLA, Michigan State, Pitt, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

He’s a physical, wrap-up tackler who can attack ball carriers high. He could be a disruptive interior pass rusher with his good initial burst.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Terrence Ross, Safety, (Apopka, Fla.) The Wekiva High School defensive player committed to the Cards back in early May. He held offers from Cincinnati, North Carolina State, Wake Forest.

He is a scheme versatile defensive back who brings good instincts and athleticism to the safety position.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Keith Towbridge, TE, (Toledo, Ohio) The Central Catholic High School TE committed to the Cards back in early April. He held offers from Bowling Green, Nebraska, Toledo.

He will line-up as a wing and come around and lead on plays and is agile enough to block well on his feet in space and get a piece of moving targets.(ESPN)

UofL Targets visiting:

Photobucket-Jermaine Grace, LB, (Miramar, Fla.) The Miramar High School LB has offers from Miami (FL), Tennessee, Bowling Green, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Marshall, Nebraska, North Carolina, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, South Florida, Syracuse, Texas A&M, UCF, West Virginia, and Louisville.

Grace is a tough customer who is capable of aligning in a variety of positions and causing havoc in the opponent’s backfield. He can turn and change direction without losing a step and is very effective against the outside run, showing excellent sideline-to-sideline range. He shows very efficient skills as a zone coverage defender.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Ro’Derrick Hoskins, LB, (Orland, Fla.) The Maynard Evans High School LB is committed to Florida St. but holds an offer from Louisville and Coach Strong and staff will be trying to change this young mans mind this weekend.

His flexibility, agility and balance allow him to play effectively both on and off the line of scrimmage. Hoskins has the ability to make game-changing plays anywhere on the field and has the talent to see early playing time at the BCS level of play.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Keith Kelsey, LB (Gainesville, Fla.) The Gainesville High School LB has offers from South Florida, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Iowa State, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue, South Alabama, South Carolina, Temple, UCF, Utah, Wake Forest, Weber State, and Louisville.

This prospect plays downhill, showing the ability to take on blockers at the point of attack; moves through traffic well flashing the ability to turn and change direction with better than average range. Does a good job as a coverage defender; is alert, demonstrating good route awareness; picks up receivers out of the backfield, is effective getting his hands on receivers and disrupting their routes.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Lamar Robbins, CB, (Miami, Fla.) The Miami Southridge Senior High School CB has offers from Purdue, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Auburn, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Marshall, Memphis, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Texas A&M, UCF, Virginia.

Shows flashes of good ball skills but needs to show more consistency. Range and ability to cover ground make safety a likely possibility if he can add size and become more physical on run support. High-cut and long helping his good high-point skills and ability to cover ground but hinders crisp movements at corner and ability to mirror receivers tightly in man-to-man. Long arms for effective reach tackles but tends to catch as a tackler instead of driving through with force and firm wrap-ups.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Chucky Williams, CB, (Hialeah, Fla.) The Champagnat Catholic High School CB is committed to Ole Miss but has offers from Nebraska, Arkansas, Boston College, Bowling Green, Clemson, Florida International, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Purdue, South Carolina, South Florida, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, and Louisville.

He transitions smoothly and quickly when turning and running with receivers. He possesses good recovery speed and it is very difficult to create separation on him. He pursues, runs well, takes proper angles and shows good open field tackling skills. His movement skills allow for him to get from the hash to the sideline in a hurry. Williams is a good football player who adapts to the role he is put into, but he lacks great top end speed.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Sean Avant, CB, (Miramar, Fla.) The Miramar High School CB is committed to FIU but holds offers from Bowling Green, Marshall, South Alabama, Syracuse, Temple, UCF, Wake Forest, West Virginia.

Shows he can come off the line with good surge and get up the seam quickly on vertical routes as well. Needs some polish as an intermediate route runner but will go up and get the contested jump ball or make the occasional catch in traffic over the middle. Will pluck the ball in stride and get North without gearing down much. Most of his damage is down underneath though. Excels at turning the short pass into a big gainer. Shows the ability to change direction quickly after the catch and flashes above average up-field burst. Slips tackles and despite not being overly strong or explosive, he can get a few tough yards after the catch and absorb a hit.(ESPN)

Photobucket-Cameron Fraser, OL, (Phenix City, Ala.) The Central High School OL is committed to South Florida but has offers from Arkansas, Jacksonville State, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, South Alabama, UAB.

His initial punch and extension are positives. This guy is a tough customer who finishes with the nasty attitude we like to see from offensive linemen.(ESPN)

A lot of work and planning go into hosting these types of recruiting weekends. I hope Coach Strong and his staff have some success and I’m looking forward to hearing about some big time commits by the end of the weekend.


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Our Cards made it to the top of the college basketball rankings today for the second time in program history and only the first time during the regular season. And tonight was the first time they have had to defend a number one ranking in a regular season game. And they did just that as they outscored Uconn in the second half 45-24 to cruise to a 73-58 victory and now lead this series 8 to 6. Cards have now won their 11th straight and are 16-1 on the season, 4-0 in the Big East.

It was a very impressive win for the Cards. A quick turnaround after just playing on Saturday, on the road in hostile environment, good Uconn team, flew into Connecticut this morning, didn’t have a shoot around, and overcame a 10 point deficit at halftime. That is what you would expect from a great team. Behind every great team is great players. Russ Smith was on a mission tonight and he single-handedly kept the Cards in the game tonight in the first half. He finished with 23 points in one of his most impressive games of the season. ESPN’s Jay Williams said after the game “Can we start talking about Russ Smith in the POY conversation? Can we? I mean, he’s the POY right now.” Chane Behanan was another guy with passion in his eyes as he dominated the paint area on the offensive end of the floor. He had 16 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assist. Gorgui Dieng is proving to be a rebounding machine as he now has 57 in Big East play. He tied his season high tonight with 16. It looked like Peyton was going to be slowed down tonight as he picked up some cheap fouls early in the first half and spent most of it on the bench. But he came out and did a great job in the second half leading the Cards to the victory. He finished with 11 points and 4 assist. He is now tied for second all-time in assist with TWILL. LaBradford Smith is the top assist guy in the history of Louisville basketball with 713. There are 168 assist separating him from Siva and Williams. The Cardinal defense came up big again tonight as they forced 16 turnovers and had 10 steals. Really good job on the boards out-rebounding the Huskies 33 to 25. Cardinal bench was quiet tonight as Luke Hancock was the only scorer with 8 points.

Cardinal fans have to be very excited about this team and about the opportunity it has to become one of the best ever. But still a long way to go and the schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Cards will return home this Saturday to face #6 Syracuse.



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Our Cardinals have a quick turnaround this week after their game on Saturday and will now travel to Hartford for a Big Monday match-up on Espn with UCONN. Cards should be ranked #1 and will be looking for their 11th straight. Will also be looking to start 4-0 in Big East play. UCONN could possibly be ranked and they will be looking to keep their momentum going after a huge win on the road against #17 Notre Dame Saturday.


It was a chaotic off season in Storrs as they dealt with NCAA sanctions, players leaving for the NBA, players transferring to other schools and the biggest surprise of all coming when Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun decided to retire. UCONN now has a roster that includes only 10 scholarship players. Depth, especially along the front-line, is a concern. Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander and Niels Giffey are the only players remaining from the national championship team. But putting all that stuff behind them new head coach Kevin Ollie has the new era of UCONN basketball heading in the right direction. He has his team playing with a lot of heart and has them at 12-3 in a 3 way tie for 4th place in the Big East at 2-1. They are coming off of a big win at #17 Notre Dame ending their 17 game win streak. In fact, ND boasts the second best home-court advantage (Kansas being #1) in terms of win percentage over the last seven years. The Fighting Irish had won 111 out of their last 118 games, good for .940 winning percentage before that loss on Saturday. The Huskies have also improved on what was their biggest weakness this season and that’s rebounding. The Huskies entered last Tuesday’s game with DePaul being out-rebounded by 5.8 rebounds per game, the worst mark among Power 6 conference schools. They had been out-rebounded in 11 of 13 games. But that has changed and they have out-rebounded the Blue Demons 46-26 and the Irish 30-22 in their last two contest. The Huskies rank nationally 76th in points per game at 72.5, 277th in rebounds per game at 32.5, 131st in assist per game at 13.6 and 42nd in field goal percentage at 47%. Kenpom has their adj. efficiency on offense at 108.4 ranked 43 and on defense at 91.8 ranked 51. He has them ranked 43 overall.

In-conference offense: 3pt/35% (3), 2pt/53% (1), FT/71% (7)
In-conference defense: Turnover% 15.7 (10), Block% 6.5 (12), Steal% 9.5 (6)

Head Coach Kevin Ollie: “We just talk about hanging in there and hanging around. Good things are going to happen to a team that sticks together and for a team that plays for each other.”

The Huskies Players:

-Projected Starters

Tyler Olander JR (5.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg) 6-9 F is the front court player with the most experience. He has improved as a rebounder and can score on the block. His efforts on the defensive glass were a big factor in the Notre Dame upset. He has 80 points this season grabbing 61 rebounds, and blocking 20 shots in 316 minutes of play.

DeAndre Daniels SOPH (11.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg) 6-8 F is a very strong and good defensive wing player. He is also very solid on the offensive end of the floor. He had 9 rebounds in that big win over Notre Dame. He has scored 165 points this season and grabbed 70 rebounds with 19 blocked shots in 392 minutes of play.

Shabazz Napier JR (17.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) 6-1 G is UCONN’s leading returning scorer. He is a very smart and crafty guard who can score the ball. He shoots 45% from the field, 40% from 3 and 83% from the charity stripe. Also very good defensive player who led this team in steals last season. He has 33 this season. He has scored 262 points and has 60 assist in 554 minutes of play.

Ryan Boatright SOPH (16.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg) 6-0 G came off the bench last season but has become one of the go to guys in this UCONN three guard line-up. He shoots 48% from the field, 35% from 3 and 74% from the charity stripe. He has scored 241 points this season and has 68 assist in 520 minutes of play.

Omar Calhoun FR (10.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg) 6-5 G is considered a Top 10 shooting guard. ESPN rated him a four-star prospect and the No. 7 two guard in the 2012 class. Gatorade Player of the Year and New York player of the Year are a few more of this guys accolades. He rounds out this three guard line-up. He shoots 41% from the field, 29% from 3 and 76% from the charity stripe. He has scored 151 points this season and has 18 assist in 449 minutes of play.

– Bench

R.J. Evans SR (4.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg) 6-3 G is not a big scoring threat but does come off the bench and provides some good defensive play. He is averaging 1.3 steals a game. He has scored 52 points this season and grabbed 17 rebounds in 204 minutes of play.

Niels Giffey JR (3.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) 6-7 F is a smart player who makes others around him better. He has had moments of brilliance but often isn’t noticed when he’s on the floor. He is a 92% free throw shooter. He has scored 57 points this season and grabbed 48 rebounds in 292 minutes of play.

Enosch Wolf JR (3.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg) 7-1 C is UCONN’s only true center, but he remains a project and has seen very little action. But he is effective when in the line-up shooting 64% from the field. He has scored 56 points this season and grabbed 54 rebounds in 204 minutes of play.

The XL Center will be rocking and our Cards will have their work cut out for them in this one as they will be facing a team who is playing their best basketball of the season. The Huskies will be fired up to knock off a number 1 team on their floor and remember this UCONN team can’t play in the post season, so games like this are their season. The Cards are scoring over 30% of their points off turnovers and they will have to step it up defensively in this one to force the three guard line-up of UCONN into mistakes. It will be fun to watch the Napier, Boatright, Siva and Smith match-up as this will be two of the best back-courts in the nation going head to head. Rebounding will be a huge in determining the outcome. Our front court guys will have to get to the boards especially on the offensive end as this UCONN group demolished the Irish in that stat. UCONN used less than 60 possessions in their win over the Irish, and perhaps the key takeaway from the win was their ability to control the glass. Per Ken Pomeroy, opponents grab nearly 36 percent of their misses, but in the win, UCONN managed to snag 73 percent of Notre Dame’s attempts, controlling the glass and not allowing easy points.

The guard play in this game will be world class but what separates Louisville from UCONN in my opinion is depth and the huge advantage the Cards have in skill in the front-court. With that said this will be a battle to the end and will have us hanging on the edge of our seats. But our Cards will pull this one out.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 70 UCONN 64