Captain America

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Today was the first and the last AAC media days. Our Cardinals were voted a unanimous favorite to win their one season in the conference. It was pretty much a no brainer that a team that went 11-2, won the Allstate Sugar Bowl and returns 14 starters would be the favorite. The Cardinals received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes and had 298 points in the preseason voting of media representatives. Cincinnati received the other two first-place votes and had 257 points. That should make that “Keg of Nails” battle even more interesting at the end of the season. I’ve said it all along that game will be the biggest of the season.

Believe it or not folks this is going to be a competitive league. The top five teams in the preseason poll either won or shared their league’s regular-season championship last season. Our Cardinals will have to bring it every weekend to keep their dream alive. Nobody echoed that sentiment more than Charlie Strong today. His theme has remained very consistent and is one of playing hungry and staying humble. His final comment at the podium today pretty much said it all:

COACH STRONG: “The theme for us is going to be either we’re growing or we’re dying. If we’re growing, we’re trying to get better each and every day and we’re trying to improve the program.”

“If we’re dying, we’ll be at the program that’s just going to want to maintain. We don’t want to get better. We’ll become complacent. And that’s what we can’t do. We can’t become complacent. We can’t be self-absorbed, or we get cocky. We get arrogant. Because there’s still a lot of questions and this team still has a lot of room for improvement.”

“Like I said, we’re nowhere near where we should be and we can get better. You look at the games we lost last year, we’re sitting there, we’re playing pretty good. We’re 8-0. We go to Syracuse, they slap us pretty good. We come back at home against Connecticut. They beat us. Then we had to go into a game where we have to go win on the road against Rutgers.”

“I tell them all the time, guys, the measuring stick of this team is going to be measured to that Florida game. And we played very well in that game. So now everyone is going to expect you to play each game the way you played in that game, and it’s not going to happen.”

“So let’s not get full of ourselves and let’s not think that we have all the answers because the moment you do, you will walk into a game, you’ll get into a week where you won’t practice well and you’ll go get it put on you pretty good. And then that would be a wake-up call.”

“We don’t need any wake-up calls. We need to hit the alarm button before somebody comes in there and puts it on us really good.”

“So it’s about us making sure we maintain our focus. And the preparation has to be there, the commitment has to be there, the right attitude.”

“Our players need to have an attitude of each and every week, that attitude of myself, I want to go get better as a coach, as a player, as a whole program. And if that happens within our program then we have a chance. But we have to make sure that that happens and it happens each and every day. And if that happens, then we’ll be able to carry it on through the year.”

It’s one thing to have a team full of athletes that are capable of reaching greatness, but having a coach like Charlie Strong leading them is icing on the cake. I don’t know if we will go undefeated this season but I do know that our guys will give it their best shot and I know coach Strong will make sure of that.

Awkward AAC Media Days

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AAC Media Guide

It has already been a big start to the week for Cardinal fans with Teddy Bridgewater taking over the ESPN studios on Monday and that is just the beginning. On Tuesday the Louisville football team will participate in their first and last American Athletic Conference media days. It will be an awkward season of transition for our athletic program and I’m sure there will be some awkward moments this week at the media days. Rutgers and Louisville are here, but for just one year, one headed to the Big Ten in a year’s time, the other to the ACC. And that doesn’t even account for Cincinnati and Connecticut. Both are in the American, but both would jump in a heartbeat if a better deal came calling.

Regardless of the awkwardness football season is upon us and Cardinal fans are counting down the days to kickoff. Coach Charlie Strong will be accompanied to AAC media days by Teddy Bridgewater, Hakeem Smith, Damian Copeland, and Preston Brown. For complete digital coverage of the event, fans are asked to visit The event will also be covered live on ESPN3.

Louisville interviews start at 10:00am

Teddy Taking Over ESPN Studios

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Are you ready for some football? How about some Teddy Bridgewater to get you through your Monday blues. And if you have to work tomorrow it would be a great time to grab one of the many apps that will let you watch ESPN on your phone because the Louisville QB will spend the day at the ESPN studios on Monday.

ESPN will be must see TV on Monday morning and afternoon and will be wall to wall Teddy QB coverage. Be sure to tune in and check out what personalities like Skip Bayless and Scott Van Pelt have in store for our star QB. Should be a interesting morning and a great way to start off the week for Cardinal fans.

Here’s Teddy’s ESPN schedule for Monday:

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Coach Pitino Working Hard In July

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College basketball recruiting is the main event of the summer. Fans go crazy for the latest buzz on recruits considering their school. College sports fans go through withdrawal type symptoms during the summer months. After the NBA draft there is not anything to look forward to until college football starts. The summer really is a dead time for college sports fans. However, starting in July they can get their fix as college basketball recruits from around the country compete in AAU tournaments.

In July there are three five-day segments spread out over three weeks where coaches are going all over the country trying to see as many recruits as possible. But it’s not just coaches who are watching the recruits.
Different scouts from various online sources log thousands of miles every year going to watch high school kids evaluating them, ranking them, and following them through their recruiting process. This is something the average basketball fan cannot do. But the sports hungry college basketball fans thirst for the information. And some pay big money for it. With the combination of social media and the internet, there is all kinds of information available.

Coach Pitino has been working hard this summer and made his trip around the country during this July evaluation period checking out big guys to round out the 2014 class. He has watched Goodluck Okonoboh, Jaylen Johnson, Elbert Robinson, Leron Black, Trey Lyles, Cliff Alexander, Angel Delgado, Myles Turner and Juco Cinmeon Bowers. Coach Pitino will likely take a 4 and 5 player from this group and in my opinion we can’t go wrong with any 2 players from the bunch. You can check out their profiles on my recruiting page and I will try to keep you updated with news from multiple sources surrounding each of them.

A Year To Remember, A Video For The Ages

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I’ve been waiting a lifetime for a year like the University of Louisville’s athletic program had this past season. Like all of you I suffered through football games in old Cardinal Stadium, was tortured during the “bridge years” of our basketball program and remember when other sports at Louisville struggled to stay afloat. But this past season all of that suffering and torture was well worth it and “The Year of the Cardinal” was the best of my life. We are done thinking about those days of the past and now seem to be stuck in a vortex of greatness. There is an incredible future on the horizon for the Louisville athletic program and I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years brings.

Since we have such an incredible year to remember all we needed was for there to be someone with the artistic ability to document it. This past season there was a guy who’s videos kept our hearts pounding through every 3 point shot, every home run, every goal and every touchdown. @Crumsrevenge has captured all the moments in his incredible videos and today has released his masterpiece. Cardinal fans just had a year to remember and now we have a video for the ages. Thank you Mike for all of your hard work this past season and thank you for giving us a video we can look back on when we are in the long years of our lives. Our grand-kids will hopefully look on this past year as the spark that ignited a beast.

Folks take the time to watch this video and share it with other Cardianl fans. Mike (@CrumsRevenge) and others have also launched a new website today called the CrunchZone. Be sure to add those guys to your daily reading and visit

Governor’s Cup Luncheon Notes:

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The annual battle for state bragging rights on the gridiron won’t take place until the third week of the season, and that is far enough away that coaches and dignitaries from both Louisville and Kentucky’s program will be able to get along long enough to get a round of golf in today. But Before hitting the links during the Governor’s Cup Luncheon both Charlie Strong and Mark Stoops spoke to the media for a few minutes.

The game will take place this year on September 14th at 1:00pm in Commonwealth Stadium. The Cards will start their season as favorites to win the newly formed AAC conference while the Cats look at another season expected to finish last in a powerful SEC. Expectations for both teams will be high with the fan-bases. Cardinal Nation is riding high off of an incredible year and a big win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl while Big Blue Nation has high hopes due to the recruiting spark Stoops has put into their program over the past couple of months.

Coach Strong will have to manage his teams expectations while keeping them focused on each opponent they will face this season. Not only are they going to be big time favorites to beat UK they will probably be favored in every game this season. Here are some of Coach Strong’s comments:

Coach Strong: “I am happy with this football team, we know what is ahead of us and what needs to get done.”

Coach Strong: “You would like to think the team has matured. They understand the work ethic and they know they have to improve.”

Coach Strong: “We like the expectations. When you want to be a top notch program, this is where you want to be.”

Coach Strong seems really excited about this team and when he was asked in a round-about way about Michael Dyer he said “no new members of my program” right now. But did say in regards to transfers “Anytime we bring a young man in we hope to influence his life in a positive way”, “We need to make sure we have an impact on a player’s life. He’s going to become us, we aren’t going to become him.”

Coach Strong on the team’s overall health,“we are fairly healthy.” and notes that DeAngelo Brown has an Achilles injury & Jamaine Brooks a knee injury.

The only comments of Mark Stoops I payed any attention to was when he said “I’d like to congratulate Coach Strong, he has done a fantastic job.”

39 days Cardinal…..

Cards Turn The White House Red

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It has become an annual tradition for the NCAA Championship basketball team and football team to take a visit to the White House to meet the President of the United States. For the second year in a row there has been a team from the Bluegrass State make that trip. This time it was the Red teams turn to take the trip. And if you are like me then you know that the White House sure looks better in Red.

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President Obama seems to really enjoy these visits and maybe more so than others who have held the office. Obama is an avid sports fan and fills out his NCAA bracket every year in front of the nation. This year he picked Indiana to be the National Champion and Luke Hancock earlier in the week joked that he was going to ask the President “why he didn’t pick us.” I seriously doubt that happened as I know these young men were in awe of the moment. To many it is a dream situation to get a chance to shake hands with a President and today the young men of the Louisville Basketball team got to live that dream.

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It was a very cool moment to see those guys standing up there bursting with pride and it was a great way for the fans and that team to top off the incredible basketball season we shared. I hope this next season will bring even more special moments and maybe a repeat trip to the White House.

Basketball Team Gets Their Bling

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Back in April our Cardinal basketball team had one of the greatest moments of my adult life and It was one of the best national title games of its 75 year history. It had everything the pageantry, the stars, two great teams, two incredible fan bases and one shining moment. Our Louisville Cardinals seized the day as they beat the Michigan Wolverines 82-76 in an instant classic. The win gave our Cardinals their 3rd National Title and put them in an elite group with only 8 other programs reaching that mark. They closed out the magical season on a 16 game win streak.

Today the Basketball Team got rewarded for their efforts last season and received their Championship rings. Thanks to Stephan Van Treese for sharing the picture of what they look like with us. They are Cubic zirconia masterpieces and the guys will look sharp wearing them when they shake hands with the President.

Russ’s European Vacation

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Russ Smith will be taking a European vacation next week as he will be representing the University of Louisville on the East Coast All-Stars. Smith and the All-Stars will compete in the Four Nations Cup in Tallin, Estonia, July 25-27. Russ who averages 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assist last season for the Cards will depart for a two-day training camp, held at Fordham University, July 20-21. After two days of training, the team will depart the states and arrive in Estonia the evening of July 22.

The All-Stars will play an exhibition contest against an Estonian Club team on the 23rd and then will have a practice day before competition begins on July 25. The All Stars will play three games against the top FIBA National Teams of Belarus, Estonia, and the Slovak Republic. The 12-man roster includes two players each from Syracuse and Lycoming, and one each from Iowa, Louisville, North Colorado, Notre Dame, UConn, Providence, West Virginia and Binghamton. The team is comprised of six seniors, five sophomores and one junior.

The Louisville men’s basketball program definitely has an international theme this summer. Luke Hancock traveled to Kazan, Russia, for the World University Games with Team USA earlier this month. And Montrezl Harrell won a gold medal with the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.

This experience for these guys will pay big dividends in the upcoming season as our Cards will look to repeat as national champs.

Luke And Montrezl Talk Team USA, And Upcoming Season

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Today Luke Hancock and Montrezl Harrell held a press conference to talk about their experience representing the USA in basketball. They also talked about the upcoming season and other things related to UofL basketball.

First up to the podium was Luke Hancock and he said how great the experience was to be a part of the World University Games and how much of a valuable experience that was. He says that he feels like they struggled as a team and got exposed a little due to the fact that it was the first time that the group had played together and the other teams had been together longer and played together before. He said it was like a college team who had played and entire season playing an all-star team. Luke was asked about whether or not the experience served as therapeutic with the loss of his father and he explained to the media how hard it had been and that it was rough being away from his family and not being able to reach out to them enough. He says that he will go home after the White House trip. Speaking of the White House trip Luke said he was looking forward to shaking the presidents hand and “asking him why he didn’t pick us.” On next season Luke said that the group very much had aspirations of achieving what they had the year before and that it was about getting together as a group and working hard. He mentioned how hard it was to get acclimated to Coach Pitino’s system as a new guy. Luke was asked if he thought the team should be ranked number one to start the season and Luke replied that he didn’t care and just wanted to be there in the end. When asked about his role this year Luke said that he just wants to be a leader to the group and be a good teammate. Says that it doesn’t matter if he plays one minute or forty minutes. As always Luke was very composed and seems like a kid who really has it together. Its nice to know that we got a guy like this in the locker room.

Next up to the podium was Montrezl Harrell. He also said how great it was for them to come together as a team to win a gold medal for the United States. He said that it helped him a lot due to being around Coach Donavan last year when he played for the U-18 group and said that the competition was a lot tougher but it was the same as far as coming together as a team and playing for their country. When asked about similarities between Donovan and Pitino Montrezl said that their styles are pretty much the same in regard to pressing and running up and down the court. When asked about the upcoming season he said that it was great to win the championship last season but that it’s just the beginning for him and he is just getting started. Says that he still has a lot of goals for himself and wants to take his game to the next level this year. Talks about how they just have to work hard and come together as a team. My favorite thing about the comments made by Harrell today was when he was asked about playing against a taller player. Harrell said “just because he’s taller than me doesn’t mean he can score on me.” When asked about the White House trip he said that he was looking forward to it because he never had done anything like that before. When asked about Coach Pitino he raved about how great of a person Pitino was on and off the floor. Said that Coach really cares about his players on the court and in the classroom. Like Luke you can tell that Montrezl just has that special quality about him that every coach loves in a player. He is a hungry young man and has his eye on the prize. No doubt in my mind that he is also going to be a great leader and a great teammate.

Below is a summary of these guys during their time as Team USA athletes and some comments from their coaches:

Luke Hancock’s play in the World University Games and Montrezl Harrell for the gold-medal U-19 FIBA championship team is great reason why the Cardinals should be feeling good about being title contenders yet again in the 2013-14 basketball season. Through six games, Hancock was second on the team in scoring and in making 3-pointers. He averaged 10.8 points, 3 rebounds and hit 16-of-38 threes (.421) while adding 17 assists and 9 steals.
Montrezl Harrell scored a team-high 17 points in the championship game. He started all nine tournament games for for the U19 squad. His tourney averages were 10.5 points a game, 3.6 rebounds a game, 0.8 assists per game, 1.2 blocks per game, and all while averaging only 18.2 minutes per game.

USA head coach Bob McKillop said about Luke Hancock “He is a terrific young man, and is going to have a wonderful career this year. He represented the United States with superb character.”

USA U-19 assistant coach Shaka Smart said about Montrezl Harrell “Montrezl was as valuable as anyone and he gave us an unbelievable lift with his energy, athleticism, power and attitude every time he took the floor. The Louisville staff deserves credit because he’s gotten much better in the past year since he had him in the Under-18s. He was a great athlete, but he didn’t score much except on the offensive glass. Now he can score around the basket, he hit quite a few midrange shots and is great in the press. He’s a guy who can play the 4 or the 5 in college. He’s long and strong enough to play the 5, and is quick and athletic and shoots it well enough to play the 4.”

Luke Hancock talks about his summer:

Montrezl Harrell talks about his summer: