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

Cardinal Basketball 4-0 Heading Into Two Tough Games

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The Cardinals moved to 4-0 in the early season after an 85-41 victory over St. Francis last night. The Cardinals have been participating in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational. This five-team, round-robin event will conclude on Saturday night when the Cardinals face St. Louis in Brooklyn. After the Cardinals finish up with this tournament they’ll then head to East Lansing to face the #3 Michigan St. Spartans in the annual Big 10/ACC Challenge. This is the 7th consecutive season that Louisville has started a basketball season 4-0 and they’ll need the positive momentum from these early victories to help them when they face these next two opponents.

Over the last few seasons the Cardinals have had to rely on great defense to help them overcome being anemic on the offensive end of the floor. This is usually the time of year when we are all wondering where the point production is going to come from. But if these early games are any indication this year offense is not going to be a problem. The Cardinals have shot better than 50% from the field in the first 4 games. This team is getting scoring from every position on the floor and the team is shooting a blistering 52% from the field. The Cardinals have 7 players who are shooting 50% or better from the field, have 7 players who are averaging 7 points or more per game, and as a team averaging 87 points per game. This team is currently 13th in the country in field goal percentage, and have moved up to 31st in the country in scoring offense. In the current Kenpom statistics Louisville’s adjusted offensive efficiency is 108.3 ranked 47th and their effective Field goal percentage is 56.5 ranked 31st. Having a team like this with some many weapons is something worth getting very excited about.

The Cardinals may not have to rely as much on their defense this season but that doesn’t mean they aren’t performing just as well on this side of the ball. Through the first 4 games of the season they are holding their opponents to 49.8 points per game and holding them to just 29% shooting from the field. In the current Kenpom statistics Louisville’s adjusted defensive efficiency is 90.6 and ranked 3rd and their effective field goal percentage defense is 34.7 ranked 5th. It might be against teams with less talent but so far the Cardinals are really getting it done on the defensive end and they look like they enjoy it just as much as they do when they have the ball in their hands. After the game last night Coach Willard said that they weren’t completely happy with the defense yet and talked about fine tuning some things. But I know they have to at least be happy with the effort.

I know it’s early but these guys are playing some solid basketball and they look like they are having fun doing it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do against both St. Louis and Michigan State. We will know exactly where they are after this stretch. They could come out in these next two games showing everyone that they will be a contender this season. I know they will be. Go Cards!

Louisville vs. St. Francis

Cardinals Open 102nd Basketball Season on Friday 13th

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It’s poetic justice that our Louisville Basketball team will start their 2015-16 campaign on Friday the 13th. There have been a lot of nightmarish distractions off of the court over the past month but that hasn’t slowed down this group of young Cardinals. They have stayed the course and Coach Pitino has placed his focus squarely on getting these guys ready for their tough slate ahead. The Cardinals will play 11 games this season against teams ranked among the nation’s top 25 or are receiving votes in the preseason USA Today coach’s poll, including six games among teams in the top six. They’ll also have trips to some very historically tough venues. This will be a fun ride that will have some bumps along the way but I think we’ve got another group that won’t let us down.

There is still a lot of mystery as to how this group will come together and evolve over the next five months. Louisville has just two players on its roster junior center Mango Mathiang and walk-on junior guard David Levitch that have played with the Cardinals more than a year. The Cards return just 17 percent of their scoring and a quarter of their assists from last season but I’m very optimistic that we could potentially have a decent run. This appears to be a very close group, we have some great size, length, athleticism and these guys are very versatile. We also have a very good freshmen class that will be able to make a solid contribution this season. I also think Coach Pitino may be as motivated as he’s ever been to get this group to reach their full potential.

You can’t really read that much into the exhibitions but these guys are going to be fun to watch. On the defensive side of the ball this group is going to give opponents fits this year. Deflections, Defensive rebounding, hustle and shot blocking are abundant. They pretty much limited Bellarmine to one shot and out for the entire game, and they are a team very fundamentally sound on the offensive end of the floor. They didn’t really ever allow them to have a clean look. On the offensive end of the court this group has size and skill everywhere. They all hit the offensive glass, all can play out on the perimeter and all of these guys are very good passers. I think you’ll see a lot of activity and movement this year. Get ready for the pick and roll and the give and go.

-Jaylen Johnson is a guy that really didn’t show me much during the Puerto Rico trip but in the exhibition games looked like a man on a mission. I do think he has made a lot of progress since seeing him this summer. The kid has cut his weight and body fat and that has resulted in a faster more versatile player on the floor. He was much more active around the basket and has developed into a player that can score facing the basket or with his back to the basket. And he can create his own scoring opportunities. If he continues down this improvement path he will be a beast this season.

-Quentin Snider made his impact felt immediately when he hit the floor in the exhibition games. His ability to run smooth offensive sets is unmatched by any guard on the team. He is the best guard on the team getting the offense into a good rhythm by finding open guys for open shots. The kid is a silent general on the basketball court. That experience he had in the Tourney last year has carried over and he is going to be big for us.

-Damion Lee will be the foundation of this group off of the court and he will keep them focused on their task ahead, and he is another smooth operator when he gets on the floor. He is a very good ball handler that has the ability to blow past his guy on the perimeter or to stop and pop on a dime for the bucket. He can also get hit the three point shot with consistency. I think he will give us our most consistent three point threat we’ve had in a while.

-Trey Lewis is another guy much like Quentin Snider who has that great court awareness and can find the open man. He threaded the needle many times on Sunday. He is also a great stop and pop shooter who really doesn’t have to have his set shot for it to go down with consistency. Once he fully feels at home he will be a solid floor general for this group.

-Magok Mathiang will also be a big part of everything this team does on the offensive and defensive side of the floor. When he played in the World Games this summer he rebounded the ball very well. That has carried over and he has rebounded well both on the Puerto Rico trip, the scrimmages and will hopefully continue through the season. Mango has improved every year and this season will be big for him.

-Chinanu Onuaku is another very important part of this team. He was very active around the basket in both of the exhibition games and really defended well. Most think he will end up being the most important part of this team and I think he’ll have a big season with hopes of getting to the next level after it’s over.

-Matz Stockman and Anas Mahmoud are more confident and have also transformed themselves physically. Anas showed off his athleticism and ability to make big plays in the scrimmages. Matz attempted a dunk from the free-throw line over three Bellarmine players. Talk about confidence. Looking forward to seeing these guys continue to improve and I think they’ll help out a lot this season.

-As I mentioned above I think a few of the freshman can really contribute some valuable minutes this season, but believe that Deng Adel will see significant time. He is slated for the start in the season opener on Friday night. He already has the strength and size to compete on the college level. He is a match-up nightmare and can score in a lot of ways. He can come at you off of the dribble or take it to the rack with power. He is going to be a fun one to watch.

We might not contend for a title and I’m not ready to even think about that at this point. I do think this group could be top 10ish and make a deep tourney run. We have one of the tallest and athletic teams in school history it just all has to come together. I know I’m really excited and ready for the season to start. GO CARDS!

Here’s a direct link to the Game Notes for Friday’s home opener against Samford:

The Road was Bompy but Cards Finished Strong in Puerto Rico

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Our Cardinals close out the Puerto Rico trip with another win. These games will benefit this team greatly and in just the last two games alone the improvement has been drastic. We really did get to watch this team grow up before our eyes over the past couple of days. What we could see of it anyway. Coach Pitino said before this trip that if they could win a couple of games that he would be very pleased with the effort. The Cardinals struggled in the first games but grew from those losses and were able to get two very nice wins to wrap things up. I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to watch and evaluate these guys so early. This team is still a work in progress but I think they’ll do big things this season. We’ve got scorers, legitimate big men, great wing players, and good bench play.

Here’s just a little assessment I had of some of the guys this week:

Damon Lee is going to be a good one… He had 118 points on this trip… Not too shabby! He will have to learn that he doesn’t have to shoulder all of the load like he did at Drexel. He forced some stuff this week and that will change. He will be a 20 pt. scorer this season.

Mango and Nanu have and will continue to get better. They are passing the ball much better and seem to be more active around the rim. Would like to see them be more physical and draw more fouls. Both can be very effective in the lane and this team will need that from them both.

Matz and ANAS are still works in progress. Both need to get much more physical and comfortable when they get the ball. Both still have a tendency to rush and be reluctant. They’ll get it.

Trey Lewis like Lee is going to be a scorer, but will have to learn that he isn’t a one man show any more like he was at Cleveland State. He’ll have to adjust to team ball and making the extra pass. He’ll help us win some tough ones this season.

Jaylen Johnson I didn’t really see the improvement I was hoping for out of him. He made some good plays and has worked on his mid-range shot, but is another guy that has to be more physical. Still a lot of time. I’ve got big expectations here.

Quentin Snider He was a stone cold killer in the run the Cardinals made in March. I did see flashes of that version of him tonight but overall it was a quiet trip for him. Didn’t amaze like I thought he would. May still be adjusting to his role on this team. I think he’ll start and play a lot of minutes this season. He creates plays and is a heady ball player.

Out of the new guys Mitchell, Adel, and Spalding it was Spalding that impressed me the most. He will be one of the hometown greats before his career in Louisville is over. The kid oozes big time potential. Active hands and all over the court on defense. His wing span is longer than Montrezls. And he has a soft touch around the basket and can finish with power when needed. I’m excited about him. Adel is also ready to play right now. He’s already physical and strong enough to compete in the ACC. He is a match-up problem and can post his man up or take him out to the perimeter. Shows very good skill set. Mitchell is going to be very good but out of the three he still has the most to learn IMO. He still rushes when he has the ball and that leads to poor decisions and turnovers. His potential is off the charts and he’s going to be great just needs time.

Biggest surprise for me was preferred walk-on Jay Henderson. This kid has a lot of game. He looks really comfortable and confident with the ball in his hand and really does command on the court. Really impressed with his ability and think he’ll see the court this season. Pretty cool to have another walk-on named Henderson. I think this one could be just as effective…

Here’s Coach Pitino’s Post game courtesy Eric Crawford’s Periscope:

Louisville Basketball Recruiting: July Evaluation Period who’s, what’s & where’s

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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.

-First Period (July 8-12) This includes the following events: Nike Peach Jam (North Augusta, South Carolina), Under Armour All-American Camp (Charlotte, North Carolina), Adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale (Atlanta), Elevate Hoops Showdown (Philadelphia), Hoop Group events (Reading, Pennsylvania), Hoop Seen Best of the South (Suwanee, Georgia)

-Second Period (July 15-19) This includes the following events: Nike Global Challenge (Chicago), Under Armour Finals (Atlanta), Adidas Uprising All-American Camp (Long Island, New York), Separation Sports Management events, Great American Shootout (Duncanville, Texas), NY2LA Summer Jam (Mequon, Wisconsin), Double Pump Best of the Summer Tournament (Anaheim, California), Peach State Showcase (Augusta, Georgia)

-Third Period (July 22-26) This includes the following events: Las Vegas Events Adidas Summer Championships, AAU Nationals and Super Showcase (Louisville, Kentucky), Elevate Hoops events, Sunflower Showcase (Lawrence, Kansas), Battle of the Borders (Burlington, New Jersey)

Traveling around the country in the summer following these recruiting events 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. I will provide updates on all of The Cardinal’s Beak social media accounts and the Recruiting page. I will also be covering the AAU Nationals and Super Showcase in Louisville.

Coach Pitino and his assistants will be out working hard over the next few weeks and it all began at 5 o’clock on Wednesday. They’ll be making their rounds all over the country during this July evaluation period checking out around 16 guys in the 2016 class and around 8 guys in the 2017 class. The biggest area of need in the 2016 class will be in the back-court. Coach Pitino will have 3 scholarships at his disposal to fill his needs. We will be in really good shape heading into the 2017 Class year and Coach Pitino will probably only have one scholarship available in this class. I think he will be looking hard to get good wing player.

Top Targets 2016:

-Markelle Fultz, 6-3, SG, Hyattsvlle, Md. (Scout #23, Rivals #23, 247Sports #21, ESPN #21)
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(Photo: 247Sports, Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

This kid became a breakout star in April and has been trending upwards ever since. Our coaching staff loves these types of guys who come on strong late in their recruiting process. Every guy in our 2015 class was one of these guys. Fultz is a perimeter player that loves to take his man off the bounce, and knows how to get to the rim with some pretty sound basketball moves. He can also hit the mid-range jumper with consistency, and shows he can get into a scoring rhythm. Fultz makes high-level plays on the offensive end of the floor. His athletic, attacking approach and the way he competes is very impressive and a treat to watch. You can find some highlight video over on the recruiting page. I’d love to see this guy in red. His offer list includes: Arizona, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida State, Georgetown, Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Memphis, Miami (FL), North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, South Carolina, Texas, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia, and Xavier. Right now it appears that Arizona and Louisville are neck and neck in this recruiting battle.

-Kameron McGusty, 6-5, G, Katy, Tx. (Scout #30, Rivals #36, 247Sports #35, ESPN #40)
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(Photo: 247Sports, Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

McGusty is another guy who has exploded onto the scene lately making his very first appearance inside most of the national recruiting sites top 40. He has been averaging over 20 points a game leading the UAA in scoring. He also uses some great basketball moves to find his way into the paint for easy baskets and has a pretty sweet little pull up jumper. One of the most impressive things about this young player is his shot selections and the skinny on him is that he never takes a bad shot. His offer list includes: Auburn, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech, Houston, Indiana, Kansas State, Louisville, Oklahoma, Rice, Stephen F. Austin, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa, USC, Virginia Commonwealth, and Wake Forest. Oklahoma is being portrayed as the stand alone leader right now for McGusty’s services but many schools including Louisville were a little late to the table with this kid. I look for us to make up some ground in the next few weeks.

– De’Aaron Fox, 6-2, G, Katy, Tx. (Scout #15, Rivals #9, 247Sports #8, ESPN #10)
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(Photo: 247Sports)

Fox has been at the top of the wish list for a lot of major programs. He isn’t a true point guard in the traditional sense of the word, but his explosiveness off the dribble and shooting touch are tough to deal with. Fox is a long and wiry point player, and is still trying to find the balance between scoring and facilitating. He has been a notable figure in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball circuit this season and leads league in assists and steals. A guy who plays great defense even in a summer league. You know Coach Pitino loves that. His offer list includes: Louisville, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, SMU, Texas, and Texas A&M. Texas is thought to be in the lead at this time for Fox’s services with Kansas being second and Louisville being third on the list. The coaching staff have recently turned up the heat here so I look for this ranking to change.

-Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, 6-9, C, Pinetown, N.C. (Scout #25, Rivals #7, 247Sports #14, ESPN #8)
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(Photo: 247Sports)

Adebayo is a big, strong low post player who gives it his all on every possession. He’s a post player who runs rim to rim all game long and lives on the glass while making strong moves inside. With a nick name like “Bam” you know he likes to bang down on the blocks and he is known for being a glass cleaner. Along with those skills he can also knock down face up 17-footers consistently. This kid really is a monster. His offer list includes: Louisville, Memphis, Duke, Georgetown, Iowa State, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Old Dominion, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. The hometown schools NC State and North Carolina seem to be in the lead for Bam’s services with Louisville sitting in that third spot. Not sure how not really needing a post guy for this class will play into this recruitment but it likely will.

-Javin DeLaurier, 6-9, F, Charlottesville, Va. (Scout #36, Rivals #40, 247Sports #40, ESPN #49)
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(Photo: Vantage Hoops)

By all accounts there were always signs of potential in this 6-foot-8 forward, but this spring and summer, DeLaurier has been a completely new player. He is another one of those players who has made a Rapid Ascension into the major recruiting site polls. His ball skills are good, his perimeter jump shot is decent, and he’s also an impressive passer. His biggest strength comes on the defensive end, where he can guard multiple positions, defend in the post, and rebound in traffic. His offer list includes: Baylor , Boston College, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida, George Washington, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Marquette, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Old Dominion, Princeton , Richmond, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia Commonwealth , Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. Right now Texas and Vandy appear to be leading the way for DeLaurier. Again this is one that Louisville came in a little late on but are making up ground quickly.

– Dennis Smith, 6-2, PG, Fayetteville, N.C. (Scout #4, Rivals #4, 247Sports #3, ESPN #4)
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(Photo: 247Sports)

Smith is an attacking point guard that is best at getting in the lane with his explosiveness and he is unselfish along the way looking to get his teammates involved regardless of what the defense throws at him. He has all the physical tools to run a team and score as needed. Smith is an elite prospect and has tremendous upside. This would be the crown jewel in the recruiting class if the Cardinals could land Smith. According to 247Sports Louisville, Kansas, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest and UNC are at the top of his list heading into July. The hometown team NC State appears to be in the lead but again don’t count out the Cards.

Louisville has their ace recruiter Kenny Johnson leading the way in the recruitment of all of these top targets. With his track record one has to think that we will land one or two of these guys mentioned above. Any of them would be huge for the program.

Other names to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks:
Dewan Huell, 6-9, F, Miami Norland
Terrence Ferguson, 6-6, SF, Dallas, Tx.
Bruce Brown, 6-3, G, Saxtons-River, Vt.
William McDowell-White, 6-5, G, Australia
Mamadi Diakite, 6-9, F, Dyke, Va.
Miles Bridges, 6-6, SF, Huntington, W. Va.
Eric Hester, 6-3, SG, Oldsmar, Fla.
Josh Jackson, 6-6, SF, Napa, Calif.
Dennis Smith, 6-2, PG, Fayetteville, N.C.
Jaylen Fisher, 6-1, G, Memphis, Tenn.
Curtis Jones, 6-4, SG, Huntington Prep
Abdul Ado, 6-11, C, Chattanooga, Tenn.

If things play out like expected then there won’t be much buzz surrounding Louisville’s 2017 recruiting class as there will only be one scholarship available. Here are some of the names in the 2017 class that will be floating around this summer.

Matt Coleman, Mouth of Wilson, Va., 6-1, PG
Troy Brown, Las Vegas, 6-5, PG
Brian Bowen, Saginaw, Mich., 6-7, SF
Jaylen Hands, Chula Vista, Calif., 6-2, PG
David Sloan, Taylor County, 5-10, PG
D.J. Harvey, Hyattsville, Md., 6-4, SF
Hamidou Diallo, Putnam, Ct., 6-5, SG
Trevon Duval, Newark, N.J., 6-3, PG
Charles O’Bannon Jr. Bishop Gorman Las Vegas, NV 6-4, SG

Young Cardinals already embracing tradition

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All of the 2015 recruiting class has reported to campus and they are ready to start the next phase of their lives. In successful program the tradition never graduates and it is now time for these new guys to start embracing that tradition. The Louisville athletic program is rich and vibrant because many guys before them have cared enough to give their very best. Many chapters have been written and now it’s time for this 2015 group to start on theirs.

The one thing that’s always been very apparent within the University of Louisville’s athletic department is how the teams of each sport come out and support the others when it’s possible. We’ve seen many examples of this over the years and it too is a part of the tradition. The young Basketball Cardinals have gotten off to a great start as far as this is concerned and they were out in full force over the weekend to support the baseball team in their quest for another College World Series.

Below are some fan tweets and pictures of Ryan McMahon, Deng Adel, and Donovan Mitchell hanging out at Jim Patterson Stadium with captain Mango….

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It’s great to see these guys out already embracing the tradition, fans and supporting the baseball team. This group seems very happy to be here. There are a lot of big smiles on those faces. I got to be around them during the Derby Basketball Classic and they really are wonderful kids. I’m already looking forward to the six games against the Puerto Rican national and junior teams and the Dominican Republic national team. That trip is slated for Aug. 10-17.