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! Game Preview:

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! Preview:

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! Preview:

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!

A Player that comes out of Nwora

It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky, then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. And at age 6 he already loves his Cardinals. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great one. We have one of the best and it deserves the credit.

This is one of those games that you could analyze to death and a player comes out of nowhere and scores 20 points to turn things upside down. I just hope that player is a Louisville Cardinal this year. You keep hearing a lot about Ray Spalding and Ryan McMahon being guys that could have a big impact in this game. Ray will have to play an important role and I think Ryan will hit some big shots.

The guy not getting much attention this week is Jordan Nwora. He is only averaging 5.5 points a game so far, this season but I do think he could be the guy that comes out of nowhere. Nwora looked great in the season opener hitting 3 Big 3-point shots in that one. I can see him have that kind of game tomorrow. He has the size and the athleticism to give the UK defense trouble on the wings.

We are one of the few teams in the nation that can match their size all over the court. According to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced analytics Louisville is ranked 7th in average height and UK is ranked 4th. In effective height the Cardinals are ranked 13th while the Cayuts are ranked 23rd.

Anytime the Cardinals get a win in Rupp Arena they win the rebound battle and hit their free-throws. This Louisville team has struggled at times on the boards. They can’t afford to do that tomorrow. This is one of the best free-throw shooting teams we’ve had.

This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both teams. Each must play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. Should be another great one in the series…

Go Cards!

Official Louisville Game Notes

I’m ready to Kick the Big Red Elephant out of the room

Back in October of 2015 the Louisville Basketball program fell under a dark shadow of scandal that has been ongoing for close to two years. The program faces allegations from the NCAA that include four level 1 violations by the basketball program and criticism of Coach Pitino for failing to monitor a former Cardinals basketball staffer… That dark shadow has now become the big red elephant in the room and hopefully in about 6 or 8 weeks we can move past this crap forever.

6 to 8 weeks is what Tom Jurich said in downtown Cincinnati Thursday after meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, a group of lawyers and college and conference administrators. This is a hearing that plays out like a trial in court, with lawyers representing both parties. Louisville’s final chance to state their case. The University feels like they did enough by self-imposing a post season ban and taking away two scholarships. I agree. And think it’s time for the NCAA to let our program move on from this.

Here’s Tom Jurich’s full statement from Thursday:

As far as Coach Pitino’s part in this… when you put your trust and confidence into someone you in some way bear a certain level responsibility for their actions as well as your own. We all have an alter ego… Unfortunately for Coach Pitino his director of basketball operations alter ego was Ronnie Mund of the Howard Stern show. And instead of showing recruits around campus Andre McGee was running thru the halls of Minardi Hall screaming “let’s fuck some whores”. A guy like Coach Pitino runs in close circles think of it as a “circle of trust” and he had someone he trusted let him down. I do think Coach Pitino will be held responsible for trusting Andre McGee and agree he should. That’s just the way it goes.

I’ve seen and heard folks talk about the NCAA possibly stripping Louisville of the 2013 National Title. That has never been done and wouldn’t make any sense if it happened this time. If it did happen it would be more about bad politics within the NCAA than a player getting a lap dance. Having strip shows in the dorm didn’t have anything to do with the out-come of the 2013 season. It didn’t make those players collapse in tears on the court in Lucas Oil stadium when their brother Kevin Ware was injured and it didn’t help those players rally together and win that game. It didn’t help a walk-on Tim Henderson bury two three point shots in the National semi-finals and it didn’t help Luke Hancock go 5-5 from the 3-point line and score 22 points in the Title game. Those guys weren’t even mentioned in all of this. There is nothing that happened with those strippers in that dorm that did anything to help the 2013 Louisville basketball team win a National championship.

Why should those players have that special season taken away from them because the guy watching over them acted like he was in an episode of Blue Mointain State. The 2015-16 Louisville basketball team has already paid the price for Mcgee’s stupidity. And what about the fans. I waited 25 years to be in Atlanta that night for that moment. We all did. I followed that team at every stop along the NCAA path that season. Cardinal fans paid the price during the 2015-16 season and I think we paid again this past season. That post-season ban set this program back. The price has been paid.

Whatever comes our way here in a few weeks I will just be happy to get this over with. I’m ready to kick that big red elephant out of the room for good. We have all suffered enough.

Red and White Scrimmage #1 Has Me Ready for Hoops

Having a top 10 Football program and possible playoff contender Louisville fans are buzzing about the pig skin. So much so that the Louisville Basketball season has arrived like a whisper. Even the annual Red and White Scrimmage on Wednesday night was a non-televised event. Regardless it was still a really good turnout and it didn’t take long for the Louisville faithful to find their basketball groove. A very exciting style of play, and a deep, talented, athletic roster had them on their feet.

Cardinal fans are no strangers to speed. We’ve watched Lamar Jackson running up and down the field for the last few months. The pace of the scrimmage tonight was just as frantic. It was wide open from tip to towels. I was really impressed how the guys held up and they went at it. Love the depth of this group and it will be needed for the up and down style of play. It also helps to have the competition at all of the positions during practice.

I was really excited to see the Cardinals sophomore class. I have covered these guys since the Derby Basketball Festival. That week I knew that this group was going to be special. They did not disappoint. Donovan Mitchell has transformed himself into a lean mean basketball machine. He is faster and appears to be lighter on his feet. He was already extremely athletic and could jump out of the gym. He has really worked on his shot and that was obvious during the scrimmage. He hit 4 threes and was 6-10 from the field for 22 points.

Deng Adel has also made big strides by having a full off season without being hampered by injury. He has a nose for the basket and looks for ways to get his shots. He is going to be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. This will especially be true if he can get his jump shot to fall with more consistency. He hit one three point shot and was 5-11 from the field for 14 points.
I’ve always thought that Ray Spalding had the highest ceiling on this team. With his athleticism, height, and wing span he could be a program changer. He played with a lot of confidence Wednesday night and was really active around the basket. He had 15 rebounds 5 blocked shots, and 5 steals.

If you aren’t familiar with Ryan McMahon you will be. He took a red shirt last year and it really helped him physically. Tonight Ryan had the Yum Center crowd on their feet bringing back flashbacks of Pitino’s bombinos. Folks this kid has one of purest jump shots that you will ever see. At one point he hit like three deep balls on consecutive trips down the floor and the crowd loved it. Ryan hit 6 three point shots and was 6-8 from the field for 18 points. This sophomore class showed out during the first scrimmage and McMahon was one of the bright spots. He is going to be a fan favorite and will hit some big shots this season.

I was also excited to see VJ King take the floor for the first time in a Louisville uniform. It didn’t feel like he was a freshman and honestly it was like he had been around forever. He is very poised for a freshman and really fits in nicely to the dynamics of this team. He has great size and is a really athletic kid. He will be ready to contribute game one and will only continue getting better as he gets stronger. He had 19 points.

Cardinal fans were introduced to the graduate transfer rule last season. Trey Lewis and Damion Lee left their mark on the program after just one season. This year Tony Hicks moves into that role and he is going to be just as important to the team as those guys were. He is another guy who has a nose for the basket. He does a great job at finding his shots and creating off the dribble. He is a gritty type of player. He is the type of player to have 20 points and you don’t remember how he did it. He puts his head down and gets it done. He was 10-19 from the field tonight for 26 points. Second highest point total for the scrimmage.

Speaking of silent assassins and gutsy players Quentin Snider is both. He’s always been one of my favorite players and he has become one of the most important players on this team. He is the conductor of the Pitino orchestra. When a play needs to happen he is the guy that will put into motion. He has improved every season and coach Pitino said tonight that he is the only guy on the team close to reaching his full potential. He did what he does on Wednesday night and led the scrimmage with 27 points.

You can really see the physical transformation of this team. And a guy where this really stands out is Jaylen Johnson. Jaylen talked last year about giving up his ranch dressing. Well it was worth the sacrifice. For his size Jaylen really gets up and down the floor well. He didn’t seem fazed by the pace of the scrimmage. He was very active around the basket grabbing 20 boards and scoring 21 points. If I had to give out a most improved award he would win it. The best thing about it is that I think he has just scratched the surface.

I walk away from this first scrimmage very confident about this 2016/17 group. They are a bunch of hard workers and all of them have awesome attitudes. You can tell by how these guys interact in the post-game locker room that they really get along well. It is a cohesive unit. Coach Pitino is trying to emulate the style of play he had with the 96 Cats. If he is going to pull that off then he has the group to do it. This team has depth, length, athleticism and versatility. It’s going to be wide open on offense and in your face on defense. They are going to be fun to watch.

Red/White Scrimmage 2016

Culmination of Hard Work & Dreams Realized at Derby Basketball Classic

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I just finished covering another Derby Basketball Classic and it was three days of great hoops action played by some of the most talented High School seniors in the country. There were dunks, three point shots, alley oops, and give and go’s. But there were also many years of hard work on display and this all-star game like them all was a culmination of hard work and dreams realized for the players. There were several big-time college basketball programs represented in the Derby Basketball Classic and also a few central Kentucky counties. I spent my three days of the Classic covering Bullitt East High School’s Tyler Sharpe who will be attending the University of Louisville as a preferred walk-on and Owen County High School’s Carson Williams who will be playing for Northern Kentucky University.

Located just south of the city of Louisville Bullitt County is included in the Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Area, commonly known as Kentuckiana. Tyler Sharpe a 6-1 guard played for Bullitt East High School. He has several scholarship offers, including Pikeville, and Kentucky State, but like many kids in the area he grew up a Louisville Cardinal fan. He could have chosen to go to one of these other schools but when he was offered the coveted preferred walk-on spot at the University of Louisville he jumped at the opportunity. Watching players like Elisha Justice, Tim Henderson, and David Levitch have success in this walk-on spot over the last six years was all the motivation Tyler needed. Watching Tyler Sharpe compete in the Derby Basketball Classic events over the last three days I can tell you that he is a very humble young man who is a decent athlete with surprising leaping ability. He had an off shooting night in the Classic but he has a very nice jump shot. This young man has spent his life dreaming of playing in front of the Louisville crowd and in the Derby Basketball Classic he got to realize some of that dream.

Carson Williams played his high school career for the Owen County Rebels in Owenton Ky. In that small rural Kentucky town you never hear the words “real deal” when it comes to the athletes that play sports there. Don’t get me wrong there are some very good athletes that have played for Owen County over the years but nothing like Carson Williams. This kid first made waves when he was running the floor, making plays, and dunking a basketball as an 8th grader. Folks in that small town started to realize then that he was going to be special. Carson is an athlete that has been dedicated to the sport of basketball and worked really hard to gain recognition in such a small town. Winning Mr. Basketball in Kentucky was a surreal moment for Carson and everyone who has followed him along the way. And being able to play in the Derby Basketball Classic just put an exclamation point on a very successful high school career.

Carson Williams represented himself very well this week in the Derby Basketball events. He won the 2on2 Championship with Jared Harper who will be attending Auburn University at Night of Future Stars and also made it to the Finals of the Slam dunk contest. He finished the Derby Basketball Classic with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assist. Not only was Carson representing himself in Louisville on Friday night he was also representing a very tight knit community. Owen County fans have traveled thousands of miles watching and supporting Carson Williams during his career. One of those fans was Chase Duvall. Chase the brother of Owen County basketball Coach Devin Duvall passed away suddenly on Wednesday afternoon right before Carson left town for the Derby Basketball festivities. On Friday night Carson wore a special band on his Derby Basketball uniform to honor Chase. That’s the kind of young man Carson Williams is and nobody deserved to have his moment more than he did at the Derby Basketball Classic.

“It’s always basketball season in Kentucky,” said Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry. “We have the most dedicated fan bases in college basketball. Tonight they were treated to a game with outstanding talent and we’ll be watching these young players closely as they continue their careers.”

I know I can’t wait to see how Tyler Sharpe and Carson William do in the next phase of their basketball careers and I will be watching and supporting these two great young men as they continue to live out their dreams.

Night of Future Stars

Derby Basketball Classsic

Louisville Senior Night Was Special

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2015/16 Cardinals Get Their one Shining Moment

Amidst all of the chaos and controversy surrounding the University of Louisville men’s basketball team there is a group of young men who have endured and shown some impressive perseverance throughout the season. They remained united and it brought them closer together.

On Tuesday night the leaders of this incredible group of guys were honored. Coach Pitino and the University have received much criticism about the self-imposed ban and how it was very unjust to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. I think that the University and Coach Pitino redeemed themselves with a sendoff like none we’ve ever seen before. Not even for the winningest senior class in the history of the program.

The night was all about Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. The team wore warm-up shirts that honored the two, a half time show was dedicated to them, the night was concluded with recognition of their in game achievements by presenting game balls and then they were presented with special rings to signify just how much their efforts were appreciated. Then this Louisville team got their one shining moment.

Under the circumstances I think that the University of Louisville did the best they could to not cheat the current team and seniors out of the accomplishments of their season. I think it was a great evening for all involved including the fans and I say kudos to Kenny and the entire athletic department for putting it all together.

Here are all of the videos and photos from Senior Night 2016:

Louisville Senior Day 2016

Optimistic Observations after 8 Games this season

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I have tried really hard this season not to buy too much into these early games with subpar competition but I have had a few observations that I think are going to be very favorable for the Cardinals going forward. I covered the game yesterday where our guys came out and manhandled Eastern Michigan 86-53 beating them by 33 points. Their average margin of victory this season is 30.6 points ranked 1st in the nation. For the 6th time this season they scored at least 85 points. The Cardinals are 103-0 under Coach Pitino when doing so. The Cardinals shot 53.4% from the field for the game and are averaging 51.6% through the first eight games of the season ranked 6th in the nation in field goal percentage. The Cardinals bench scored 34 points on Saturday and has scored 238 points from the bench this season. For a 5th time this season the Cardinals had at least four players in double figures. It is very important in March to have a team that shoots it well, can score points from all over the floor and has a deep bench. It appears this team will have all three.

They are who we thought they were:
Damion Lee is averaging 18.8 points a game while Trey Lewis is averaging 13.8 points. They are leading the way in point production and doing it very effectively. Lee is shooting 53.7% from the field while Lewis is shooting 41.7% from the field. They both are also averaging over 4 rebounds a game. These guys are also getting it done on the defensive side of the ball. Lee is leading the team in steals with 19 and Lewis is second on the team with 9 this season. Along with the solid leadership on and off the court these guys have been as big for this team as we all thought they would be and their veteran roles are going to be very important going forward.

Young Guys stepping up:
Donovan Mitchell is averaging 7.4 points a game and Ray Spalding is averaging 6.8 points. That is #6 and #7 in scoring on this team. These guys have also been very effective scorers. Mitchell is shooting 47.7% from the field while Spalding is averaging a scorching 76.7% from the field. Spalding is 3rd on the team in rebounding with 37 this season and Mitchell is 5th on the team with 33 this season. These guys have emerged as key guys coming off of the Louisville bench and both bring an energy with them when they enter that has an immediate impact. As these guys continue to adjust to the college game and learn the system they are going to continue to get better and that will be very good moving forward.

The hammer and the nails:
There are many players on this team that provide the nails and Quentin Snider is the hammer. He is the player on this team that brings it all together when they are on the floor. He is third on the team in scoring with 9.9 points a game but where he really shines is getting his teammates involved. He leads with 35 assist on the season. He is ranked 12th in the country in assist turnover ratio at 4.38. Nothing is more important on the road in big games and under the bright lights of March Madness than having a guy who takes care of the basketball and uses possessions wisely. Quentin Snider does both.

Like I said above I’m not going to buy too much into these games against lesser competition but I really like the direction this team appears to be heading and I’m looking forward to seeing just where that goes. Really love this group and they are very exciting to watch. They give great effort on both sides of the ball and appear to care just as much about how successful their teammates are as they do themselves. Good stuff! Go Cards!

Remember at all home games the Cardinals are asking fans to participate in the pre-game by yelling back “I got your back” during the video promo before starting line-ups. The Yum Center crowd did pretty good on Saturday but we can get better. This team deserves it.

Louisville vs Eastern Michigan