Another Scrappy opponent on Saturday

Louisville fans are counting down the days for the annual Battle of the Bluegrass now just 14 days away. Also, conference play is right around the corner. If planned out correctly I was always a firm believer that the early nonconference schedule was critical in getting a team ready for the conference grind. This Louisville team should be ready when conference play starts. They have played against talent, different styles, have played in close games, have played in overtime, and have played some scrappy opponents. 

This season’s nonconference schedule has had it all. And They’ll get another scrappy opponent on Saturday afternoon with Kent State coming to town. The Golden Flashes come into this game playing some solid basketball. They’ve won 6 in a row, including a 2-point win over Vanderbilt as a 12-point underdog. They’ll be a 13 point underdog in this one. As a team, Kent State is averaging 82.2 points per game on 45.6% shooting from the field, 37.5% from 3-point range and 70.4% from the foul line this season. That’s good enough to land them in the Top 50 nationally in scoring offense at 48th. This Kent State team is an excellent passing team and they don’t turn the ball over. They are 32nd in the nation in assists/turnovers ratio. 

If I had to point to one area that this Louisville team needed to improve that would be on the defensive side of the ball. They are still very much a work in progress on that end of the floor but are moving in the right direction. Now up to 111th in FG% defense, 168th in 3pt FG% defense, and 133rd in scoring defense. You can see the light come on during certain stretches but then it dims a little throughout. These guys are starting to get it. An opponent like Kent State will be another tough test defensively. 

Things are rolling right along on the offensive end of the floor for our Cardinals. We got a guy like Jordan Nwora who is gonna get his no matter who we play. Jordan is in the top 125 nationally in points per game, top 115 in rebounds per game and in top 100 in total points and rebounds on the season. He is the best scorer we’ve seen since Russ Smith. I knew this kid was it. Glad to be right. We have other guys who are stepping up as well. Malik Willams just produced his first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds the last time out. He is 72nd in the country in blocked shots this season. 

We also have the top free throw shooter in the country in Ryan McMahon. This young man is also effective at getting to the line. Most underestimate his game. That’s a mistake. Hope opposing players keep making that mistake. Dwayne Sutton has also been important for this team. He’s a guy that’s gonna give you a great effort everytime he puts on the uniform. He is averaging a solid  8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Our glue guy has been  Christen Cunningham who leads the team in assists with 3 a game. It’s great to have a mature guy like him running the point. 

There are also guys like Steven, VJ, Khwan, Akoy and Darius who at times have all made their impact felt in a game this season. I like how Coach Mack has developed his rotation. He’s let these guys settle into their roles and it has been fun to watch. It all seems to be coming together at the right time and at the right pace. Still, a long way to go sure but man I like the progression. 

With another scrappy opponent coming into the Yum Center on Saturday afternoon it’s another opportunity for Mack Attack to get better and to continue that progression. I’ve seen some talented Louisville teams lose games like that last one against Lipscomb. But the toughness and winning spirit that has been instilled into this group were on full display in that one. They are headed in the right direction. Enjoy another step in that process folks. Go Cards!

GoCards.com Game Preview:

https://gocards.com/news/2018/12/14/mens-basketball-cardinals-host-kent-state-on-saturday-afternoon.aspx



Cards Continue Tune up for Conference play

It feels like such a long time since our Cardinals took the floor against Indiana on Saturday. After a loss like that it always feels like forever before the next one. That’s just as fan. You can imagine how a player in a game like that would feel. This will be the next test for this Louisville Basketball team and Mack attack. Just how will these guys respond after another tough loss that should have been a win. 

These guys responded well to their first few setbacks but as we get closer to conference play they’ll need to continue to improve and get better. They are headed into a stretch of games that will give them the opportunity to do that. Don’t let the mid-major tag on this Lipscomb team fool ya. They are a veteran team who  starts 3 seniors and 2 juniors. They have won five of their last six and they were recently ranked in the top 10 of the Mid Major top 25. The Cardinals won’t be able to just come out flat and walk thru this one. 

Live by the 3 and die by the three. This Louisville team can shoot the ball but in the Indiana game they relied too much on the jump shot and really went away from some of the things that were making them successful. They didn’t get to the free throw line, they didn’t feed the post and they didn’t make that extra pass. Some of those late possessions in that Indiana game were just awful. They were jacking up quick three point shots and when their defense tightened up our guard play was minimal. 

I would be shocked if you didn’t see an emphasis on some of these things tonight. Don’t want to let bad habits and bad vibe carry over.  If the Cardinals get back to doing what they do best on the offensive end of the floor they shouldn’t  have any issues beating the Bisons tonight. This team will also need to continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball. Now ranked 127th in FG% defense, 160th in 3pt FG% defense, and ranked 135th in scoring defense. A lot of room for improvement on this end of the floor. 

I’ve enjoyed watching this team learn and grow thru every game this season. We will continue to see it. Coach Mack expects big effort from his guys and won’t let them rest on their laurels. They are nearing the mid way point in the season. It’s not gonna get easier. Looking forward to another great night of Louisville Basketball. Enjoy it folks!

Go Cards!

GoCards.com Preview:

https://gocards.com/news/2018/12/11/mens-basketball-cardinals-host-lipscomb-on-wednesday-night.aspx


The Rivalry game before the Rivalry game

I always thought Indiana and Louisville should play more and to Coach Pitino’s credit, he was always working to get these teams back together on the hardwood. Unlike that coward that coach’s that team up the road, Rick made it clear that he wasn’t afraid to play Indiana anytime and anywhere.

Louisville and Indiana renewed their rivalry in a game back in December of 2014 as part of the JimmyVClassic. That was a one-game contract. I will always remember that game as the night Montrezl Harrell became Louisville’s all-time dunk leader. That game also sparked up the rivalry enough that talks begin between the schools and an agreement was reached for the schools to meet up in a series on the Hardwood and the Gridiron. 

The team’s played the first in a three-game (neutral/home/home) agreement at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Dec. 31, 2016. Cards won that one 77-62. The second matchup came last season on Dec. 9, 2017, at the Yum Center. Cards won that one 71-62. The game in Bloomington on Saturday will be the final game of the renewed hardwood series.

Indiana and Louisville will kick off the football series part of the agreement at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sept. 16, 2023, with seating split equally between the two schools. The second football game will be played in Cardinal Stadium in Louisville on Sept. 7, 2024, and the three-game series will be completed at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington on Sept. 6, 2025.

With the UofL and IU campuses only being separated by 107 miles this rivalry just makes sense and I really hope the hoops series will continue after this season. Coach Mack and Archie Miller have already had a pretty good rivalry together between Xavier and Dayton. Hopefully, the two will work to keep this new one between them going as well. 

Our Cardinals have won four straight over the Hoosiers but will face a pretty good team in Bloomington tomorrow and will be playing in front of a hostile crowd. One of the loudest opposing crowds they will play in front of this season. Dynamic Freshman guard Romeo Langford has really provided a spark to the Indiana offense this season scoring almost 18 points a game. But he also has a pretty good team around him. 

Senior Juwan Morga is averaging 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. He is on the top 50 list of all-time scores at IU. He and Langford provide a pretty good one-two punch for a Hoosiers offense that is sixth in the nation in field goal percentage shooting almost 52% a game. 

The Cardinals are doing pretty well on the offensive end of the floor as well and there is no shortage of scorers on this team. The scoring has been good enough to rank them 40th in the country offensively. It’s taking a little longer for things to come together on the defensive end of the court and this team will face one of its toughest tests to date on Saturday. 

The defense has been trending in the right direction ranking now 114th in FG% defense and 171st in 3pt FG% defense. You can see the light coming on for these guys. You will hear them talk about defensive Kills. That is a goal that Coach Mack has give his team every game they play. 8 defensive kills during a game according to what I’ve heard equals a win almost every time out. There are different criteria set up by Coach Mack to achieve these defensive kills. Just another example of him getting this team to buy in. 

I don’t know if they will get their 8 defensive kills in the game on Saturday but they will have to figure out a way to slow down the hot shooting Hoosiers.  

This game is the Rivalry game before the Rivalry with Kentucky coming to town in just a few weeks for the annual in-state showdown. This game will be a good test to see where our Cardinals stand and will be good for these guys as they get ready for the game on the 29th and as they prepare for a tough conference slate. I’m gonna enjoy this one. And I really do like our chances.

L’s Up!

GoCards.com Preview:

https://gocards.com/news/2018/12/7/mens-basketball-cardinals-play-at-indiana-on-saturday.aspx

Fun Night at the Yum Center


It was all smiles on Wednesday night at the Yum Center. Coach Mack has his new team in midseason form. They have bought into his brand of tough basketball and seem to be enjoying playing it. The Cardinals didn’t miss a beat coming off two big wins in a row over Michigan State and Seton Hall. They showed that even in a 45 point rout that they are gonna give their new coach their best effort.

Jordan Nwora continues to lead this group on the offensive end of the floor. He had 21 points and what I really liked about his stat line is that he only had one turnover. When he takes care of the basketball he is one of the best players in the country…

Steven Enoch’s offensive prowess is starting to come around. He had a couple of nice little jumpers. You can see that confidence building in him. Once he realizes his potential he will be a stat sheet stuffer. Not only scoring points but rebounding, blocking shots and getting steals. He led the team with 9 boards on Wednesday night. Steven is a player trending upward.

He might not be the player you want him to be every time out but he is a player that wanted to be here and stayed committed thru the muck. That’s why I love when VJ King has a good game. He had 17 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and 1 steal. And he had one of the most athletic moves I’ve seen all season with that putback dunk. VJ isn’t going to play the way you want him to every night. But he’s here playing. Be happy when he has a big night and respect him for that. He’s gonna have a lot of big nights.

We watched the physical transformation of this group back in the summer and are now seeing the transformation of this team on the court. When Coach Mack got here he knew what needed to be done and he has already turned the culture of the program around. What some said would take years has only taken a few months.

You take a young hungry motivated coach and give him the resources of a University of Louisville and that’s gonna be a winning recipe 9 times out of ten. Speaking of young hungry and motivated coaches New Football Coach Scott Satterfield was introduced to the Yum Center crowd on Wednesday night.

There is no doubt that our new football Coach has a big challenge ahead of him but I can see him having similar success with his group that Mack has had with the basketball program. Once he gets the culture back to where it needs to be I think you’ll see things start to really fall into place. Will it take years? I don’t think it will. I do think we will have a team that is playing hard and playing for each other again.

There is a ton of coverage and material out there on Scott Satterfield. This guy has been a part of building two programs from the ground up. He assisted with the task at FIU as the offensive coordinator for two seasons. All those teams did was win. Then he built his own program at App State. Winning seems to follow some coaches around. Winning follows Scott Satterfield around. Winning follows Coach Mack around.

Both of these guys know the X’s and O’s of their respective sports but the key to their success has just as much to do with knowing the Jimmys and Joes of their sport. Both guys understand winning has just as much to do with the culture of a program as it does the other stuff. It’s why Coach Mack was able to turn things around so quickly and I think it will be why Coach Satterfield turns the football program around.

We were all having fun in the Yum Center on Wednesday night. Everywhere you looked people were smiling, hugging and high fiving each other. I think we have an AD that knows his Jimmy’s and Joes pretty good too. A lot of good things ahead for the Cardinal Nation and gonna be a lot more nights like this. Enjoy the ride folks!

L’s Up!

Coach Satterfield introduced to Yum Center Crowd

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Mack’s Cardinals trending upward heading into December


It was a great weekend for the Louisville Basketball team. They were able to meet the challenge of their first big road game. It’s been so much fun watching them get better every week. With two NCAA Tourney resume wins under their belt they’ll head into the month of December with a couple of big games on the horizon. They still have to travel to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers on the 8th and have the Cayuts coming in for the Annual showdown on the 29th before they head into conference play.

The most pleasant surprise to me has been the play of Akoy Agau and Dwayne Sutton. I knew he would be an excellent voice inside the locker room due to his experience and his journey but did not see him being a solid contributor and that’s just what Akoy has become averaging almost 5 rebounds and 6 points a game. And he’s been effective getting to the free throw line and hitting 73% from the stripe. He has been a spark plug.

Speaking of a spark plug Dwayne Sutton has one button and that’s full throttle. He is second on the team grabbing 41 rebounds and has also been a solid contributor points wise averaging 8 points a game. He also is one of the leaders on the team with 6 steals. Sutton is one of those players that does all those little things and makes plays when his team needs him.

Not so surprising and living up to the expectations of this season is Jordan Nwora and Ryan McMahon. Nwora leads this team offensively averaging 16.4 points a game and more impressively leads this team in rebounding with 7.3 a game. He also has 6 steals. If Jordan can cut down on his turnovers (19) thru 7 games) he is going to be a more complete player than he is now.

I said from day one that Ryan McMahon would go down as one of the best players in the history of the program. That opinion is more popular now than it was a few years ago as Ryan is the second leading scorer on this team averaging 9.9 points a game. Ryan is another player who is very effective and has learned to play to his advantages. One of those advantages is drawing the foul and getting to the free throw line. Ryan is ranked 3rd in the country shooting 95.7% from the stripe. Glad this guy is on our team.

Other guys who have stood out in their own way thru the first few weeks are Malik Williams who has worked his way inside the Top 130 in the nation with 10 blocked shots, and Christen Cunningham leading the team with 20 assists.

It’s always good to look and see your team on the front page of the national statistical categories. This Louisville team is on the front page nationally in Fewest Turnovers ranked 38th, in Scoring offense ranked 30th, in Free Throw Attempts ranked 12th, in Free Throws Made ranked 2nd and in Free Throw Percentage ranked 24th.

This team is in a good spot heading into the December period. The schedule is set up nicely for improvement and I think we’ll see this team do just that. The players are having fun again and getting better as they are doing it. At this point in the season and after two big back to back wins they find themselves on the cusp of the Top 25. Don’t think many expected that. Looking forward to more improvement and think this team could be a real threat come March.

L’s Up!

First Road game for Mack Attack


With the first signature win under their belt, our Cardinals will now hit the road for the first true road game of the season. The Cardinals come into this one with a 4-2 record after that big 82-78 overtime win over Michigan State in their last outing. They will face a Seton Hall team that has won three straight. And they are coming off a big game of their own with an 83-81 win over Miami.

Seton Hall was one of the teams that beat Louisville last season at the Yum Center. After losing three program changing players this Seton Hall team will look different but Kevin Willard has established some consistency in that program and they still got some very good players and a winning system in place.

The Louisville defense was able to slow down one of the best backcourt duos in the country in the last game. They face another pretty good one in New Jersey tomorrow. Myles Powell who leads their team in scoring had a 40 point game and scoring record in the Wooden Legacy. Quincy McKnight is also a double-digit scorer and the straw that stirs the drink averaging 3 assist a game.

Not only will these guards try to extend the Cards defense this Seton Hall team always has those good wing players who can create their own offense. Those guys this year are Michael Nzei who had a big 21 point game against Miami and Sandro Mamukelashvili who can hit three-point shots and leads Seton Hall on the glass with 7.7 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Seton Hall is averaging 73.2 points per game on 45.9% shooting from the field, 30.3% from behind the arc and 68.1% from the foul line.

Our Cardinals have been a great offensive team during the first few weeks of the college basketball season. They are ranked 30th in the country in scoring offense. They’ve had some great production out of guys that were a little unexpected. Akoy Agau has been the biggest surprise with the effort he brings and Dwayne Sutton’s intensity has really paid off.

The thing that has really made a difference for this team is their ability to get to the free-throw line and to make their shots when they get there. The Cardinals currently rank 25th in the country shooting 76.5% from the line while ranking 6th in the country in Free throws attempted and free throws made. This could be the recipe for a big road win on Saturday afternoon.

Coach Mack is no stranger to Seton Hall. He got two big wins over them last season as the Xavier head man. I think he’ll have the Cardinals ready for this game. Seton Hall has had trouble at times this season scoring. Don’t think they’ll be able to keep pace with our guys. Looking forward to seeing how our guys respond after the last one.

L’s Up!

GoCards.com Breakdown:
https://gocards.com/news/2018/11/30/mens-basketball-cardinals-will-face-seton-hall-in-first-true-road-game.aspx