Tonight, the Cardinals had their final warm up before it really starts to count on Sunday afternoon. They beat Bellarmine 72 to 57 but, I don’t think the Cardinals were as sharp as they wanted to be tonight and think that they recognized after this one that they still have some work to do. Hats off to Bellarmine for taking it right to the Cardinals. This game will help this team down the road. Playing a team like Bellarmine that took the punch and kept bringing it was much better than playing a team that laid down. This team learned tonight and that’s what exhibitions are all about.
I was really impressed with Jordan Nwora who had 8 points and 8 rebounds. This kid is going to develop into a very good player and I’m looking forward to his 4 years here. You aren’t going to see many guys his size be able to do what he can do. He has the finesse game and can stop and pop from anywhere on the floor and can bang for the rebounds. His tools are impressive.
And Deng Adel is going to have himself a season as well. Talk about having all the tools. He finished tonight with 21 points. When he decides he’s going to take the ball to the rack then he’ll get it there. His baseline dunk tonight was next level.
This team will have to clean up some things on the defensive side of the floor as it does every season around this time of the year and really needs to learn how to protect their possessions better. They had 20 turnovers tonight. I think this will get better as this team learns how to play together. Right now, there is too much rushing and trying to do too much. But after the final exhibition I’m still very optimistic about the season ahead. There will be some growing pains along the way but there is so much talent and athleticism that they can’t fail. We’ll get a better idea after Sunday because the George Mason team will be another tough early test.
There was a time in my life that things weren’t going great and during that time I wanted to get back to my roots. I wanted to be around some of those folks that were the foundation of my life. Friday night at the Yum Center the Louisville program started a new journey and there was a lot of old school walking around that building. This program is going back to its roots and it felt good to see some of the old players and coaches there in support of David Padgett and this team. This program is going thru some difficult times but the foundation is just as strong as it ever was. And its because of that foundation that I’m confident that everything is going to be fine and this is going to be a fun season.
You couldn’t tell that there had been any turmoil over the last couple of weeks in the post-game locker room tonight. Those young men were enthusiastic, happy and seemed very confident in their mission this season. All of them seemed very excited to be back in front of the fans and playing the game that they love.
Some observations from the Red & White Scrimmage:
Friday Night was the first time that I had seen the freshman class live since the Derby Festival Basketball game. I was really impressed with Jordan Nwora that night and felt the same tonight. He was the fourth leading scorer with 18 points and 4 of 6 from the three. He is a kid that can drive and bang in the lane and can pull up from deep. He has all the weapons supported by a massive frame. Will be fun watching him for 4 years.
Out of this freshman group I thought that Lance Thomas had the most work to do. He was the second highest in scoring in this group with 8 points. This kid has put in the time in the weight room and has added some bulk. He is another player that can score from all over the court. He is going to be a good one.
Darius Perry and Malik Williams had quiet nights offensively but Perry led in assist with 9 and Williams was the leading re-bounder with 17. And both are going to be incredible scorers. This freshman group if they stay together will end up being our bridge over troubled water. We can ride out a few rough years with guys like these.
I had felt it all along but after watching VJ King score 30 points tonight I know that this will be his breakout year. And he is a guy that is probably playing his last season of college basketball. I think his nerves got the best of him with the 9 turnovers but once he settles in he will be a game changer. His game has some Earl Clark in it…
I have always been a Ryan McMahon fan. He has a beautiful three point shot and is a better basketball player than some give him credit. He got off to a solid start tonight going 2-2 from the three and scoring 6 points before he got hurt and had to exit the game. He had a behind the back assist in a break away play with Adel that brought the house down. His court vision is next level.
Deng Adel was the leading scorer for the game with 32 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. And what can’t he do? He is a future NBA player and has got all the skills. This team will win a lot of basketball games just because he is on it.
Another guy that was doing it all on Friday night was Ray Spalding. He was the third leading scored with 22 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist and 6 steals… He is by far the most improved player on the team and showed that in this scrimmage. Ray being one of the hometown kids makes it even better.
Speaking of hometown kids Quentin Snider is headed into his last season as a Cardinal. He had 12 points, 5 assists and 2 steals. He is one of the most consistent players that I’ve ever watched in my lifetime. He quietly leads this group on the court and his calm demeanor never changes. Not even in the big moments. Those big tourney games and that performance against UK last season. I’ve enjoyed them all. I feel a lot better knowing a guy like Quentin Snider is around. No matter what happens you know he’s going to show up to play basketball.
Another guy that I’m glad to have in the locker-room is Anas Mahmoud. He’s going to get dunked on, and he’s not going to be the best player on the court but that guy brings a lot of heart to the table. His positive attitude is contagious. The more positive we can have right now the better.
Freshman Walk on Jo Griffen added his name to the long list to dunk on Anas. Griffen is going to be another great walk-on to add to the Cardinals great legacy. This kid can play and has that sneaky athleticism. He will dunk on you. Just ask Anas.
Folks better not sleep on this group of Cardinals. They are long, athletic, and they can shoot the ball very well. This might be one of the better offensive teams that the program has ever had. I think they will have to overcome some obstacles but so far, they seem like they haven’t missed a beat. I contribute that to the leadership provided by David Padgett. He was a floor general back in 2008 when he played for the Cardinals and now he’s running this team with that same passion, dedication and pride. After watching the first Red & White Scrimmage I feel much better about things.
When the sun comes up over the Twin Spires and shines through the trees on the UofL campus in the morning and for the first time in 16 years Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino will not be pulling the strings. Pitino officially fired and Jurich on administrative leave and has essentially been replaced for now.
Two men for their time both innovative, creative and in some cases revolutionary in their career fields. A flashy sports businessman from California and a brass basketball coach from New York City Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino changed the face of Louisville sports and helped to change the sports world in general. They brought the Cardinals into the 21st century and gave the University the platform to compete on the national stage.
They were also the two men of my time… We only have a certain amount of it and with each passing day it gets shorter. The time we spend on this earth is filled with memories of the things we love, the people we love and the times we share together. Sports is one of the things that I love and I’ve spent a lot of time sharing the experiences surrounding that with the people I love.
Rick Pitino would enter my sports world in 1989 when he took the University of Kentucky job. I was a freshman in high school and was probably too young to really appreciate it then but Coach Pitino was revolutionizing the game of college basketball. Coaches at all levels were trying to model their strategies around his run and gun, three-point shooting style of play and blitzing defense. Being a short un-athletic player myself I now had an opportunity to contribute to my high school team by learning how to shoot the ball from deep. I’ve never been a University of Kentucky fan but I enjoyed watching some of those Pitino led teams.
It wasn’t until he had beaten my beloved Cardinals for a fourth straight time that my love for Pitino’s style of play turned into disgust for who was reaping the benefit. I couldn’t stomach another National Championship or Final Four run from that program in Lexington and couldn’t wait until Rick took an NBA job. It finally happened and I couldn’t have been happier.
Ever have a rival guy date an amazing girl and out of jealousy you have nothing nice to say to her or about her? Then your rival and that same girl split and she starts to have eyes for you. Suddenly it is you with the prettiest girl at the prom. That’s the way I felt back in 2001 when Rick Pitino was named the head coach of my beloved Cardinals. I couldn’t wait to get that air brushed T-Shirt with our names on it to show my rival that she was my girl now. And when Rick Pitino became my coach I couldn’t wait to wear that “Got Rick” T-Shirt to show college basketball fans that he was our coach.
Just as he had done in Lexington Pitino didn’t waste any time changing the climate and the culture of the Louisville basketball program. Things started to look different and things started to feel different. His name alone gets you on the front page and Louisville who was coming off a bad 10 yr. run was a household name again. In just 4 years the Cardinals would return to the Final Four. With success on the court going as planned Coach Pitino wasn’t having as much of it in his personal life. Admitting to an affair in 2009 things became cloudy but the program continued to move forward. It didn’t hurt that a new arena was in the works. Coach Pitino wasn’t going to play second fiddle to horse shows and truck pulls and would start immediately to petition for that new arena. He and Tom Jurich would get their wish. Some coined it the Pitino Palace when the Yum Center opened in 2010.
With a new arena and a new brand Louisville Basketball was back in the spotlight. They say pride comes before the fall. I don’t think you could have had more pride than what I felt in my heart walking out of the Georgia Dome that night in Atlanta when my Cardinals had just won their third National Title. I didn’t think I’d ever live to see it. And that entire year was special to me. That joy would soon turn back into heartache and in 2015 those clouds rolled back in. The stripper scandal unlike the Sypher scandal was not going away. And while the program still waits on the final word from the NCAA on that now here we are amid yet another scandal. I don’t think this is a sign that he’s done anything wrong but just might be a sign that it’s Ricks time to move on. College basketball might not have a grand exit planned for one of its most influential figures but all those coaches and players he’s mentored along the way and who are now coming out in support of him is a pretty good one in my opinion.
The hiring of Rick Pitino was the cornerstone of Tom Jurich’s career at Louisville and perhaps is the reason he feels so much loyalty. So much that he is willing to jump on the sword with his friend. The Pitino hire gave Jurich the juice he needed to start making ground breaking moves in the athletic department. Tom Jurich celebrated his 20th anniversary as the Cardinals athletic director this year. The impact he’s had on the Louisville athletic programs are nothing short of amazing. He turned an athletic program once mocked as Silo University into a major brand. The Silos are gone and now only serve as a shadow of another stadium expansion. I think one of his bigger achievements is pushing the Louisville football brand on Thursday night football. He was willing to take that leap with ESPN when it wasn’t a popular thing and has been credited by them for the success of that platform. And that platform helped put a budding program on the map. After years of hopping around from conference to conference that visibility helped Louisville Football and the Louisville athletic program find a permanent home in college sports. And without Tom Jurich there would be no ACC affiliation. Period!
I got to drink a beer one time with Tom Jurich at a Louisville event. I say drink a beer because that’s the story I tell. It was actually a couple drinks of beer while I told him how things had changed with UofL Sports in my lifetime and thanked him for his contribution. The picture from that day hangs in my man cave. He always greeted me with a smile and a handshake after that. There is more to Tom than just all his accomplishments. He is a nice guy who I believe genuinely cares about the University of Louisville, Louisville fans and the student athletes on campus. They might not ever build a statue of this man on campus but all the new buildings, and personal achievements of those student athletes he helped along the way will serve as monuments to his great legacy.
They came in as Batman and Robin saving the Louisville athletic program when it needed a new direction and now might go out like Thelma and Louise holding hands as their careers at Louisville go over the cliff. During the prime of my life these guys have indirectly had a substantial impact on my life. If it is the end of the Jurich and Pitino era then I want to thank them both for the good they have done along the way. I don’t know what my last 16 years of being a Louisville fan would have looked like had they not been a part of it but I don’t think it would have been as fun as it was. We all fall short of perfection and the only thing you can do is appreciate that good someone does.
I’m really hurt by all this stuff but probably not as much as I would’ve been 10 years ago. Growing older I’ve gained some new perspective. My Louisville Cardinals are still an important part of my life but it’s not life and death. I will survive this and the University of Louisville will survive this. There are going to be some dark times it appears but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather go thru it with than the Cardinal Nation. We have one of the best fan-bases in all of college sports and that is ultimately the reason for all the success to begin with.
Over the next couple of weeks let’s keep things in perspective. Now is not the time to run and hide. Wear your Cardinal gear with pride and continue to support the student athletes. They deserve our best especially those guys on the basketball team who while just starting their journey in life have had to deal with so much.
Louisville fans prove yet again how they are among the best in the country in supporting their basketball programs. According to the official NCAA numbers just released The Louisville men’s Basketball program finished 3rd in the nation in college basketball attendance, averaging 20,846 fans per game. The Louisville women’s Basketball program finished fifth with 8,256 fans per game. The two programs combined had a total average attendance of 29,102 and that puts Louisville at #1 in the country. Our attendance for women’s basketball was better than five ACC men’s programs Notre Dame, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Miami.
U of L spent most of the 2000s fourth or fifth in average attendance until the KFC Yum Center, with a 22,090 capacity, opened in 2010. The Cardinals have finished third every year since. Freedom Hall officially seated 18,865.
Louisville ranked 5th and was one of the schools that had the most people watch them with 554,803 in 36 games last season in home-away-neutral settings and was one of just three schools to average at least 20,000 fans per game.
The ACC ranked #2 in conference attendance figures with a total of 3,005,685 fans that attended games and an average of 11,257. In Division I, attendance totaled 24,407,410 for the year. Although it was down slightly from a season ago, the attendance is the ninth highest total in history. However, the NCAA tournament total attendance increased. The tournament earned its third-highest attendance in history with 739,798 fans. The record-setting total of 800,377 came in 2012-13.
Kudos to the Cardinal Nation for showing up last season. Let’s do it again this season. Go Cards!
Media Day is a signal that our sports dry spell is almost over Cardinal Fans. Another exciting Louisville Football season is now only weeks away. It’s always great to hear from Coach Petrino, his staff and the players during this time of the year. Especially since the end of last season left most of us with more questions than answers. Talking with these guys on Saturday morning I felt the anticipation and excitement from them to get to Indy and open up the season. Everyone seems very optimistic but did not undersell the hard work they still had ahead of them to get ready.
Raise your hand if you thought that the Cardinal’s offense became too one dimensional at the end of last season. That’s one of the main things that Coach Petrino addressed in the off season. He went out and hired Coach Lonnie Galloway and Mike Summers to be co-offensive coordinators. With the help of Coach Summers the 2006 Cardinals were ranked 2nd in the nation in total offense. He is a mastermind of manufacturing and establishing a run game. Add that with Coach Galloway’s track record of recruiting and producing NFL talent at the wide receiver position the Cardinals could quickly develop into one of the nation’s most versatile offenses this season. It doesn’t hurt that they will have guys like Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon in the huddle.
Last season also left me wanting to see improvement on the Offensive Line and on the defensive side of the ball. Both units have new coaches and a new look. Both Coach Summers and Coach Sirmon know football and both know how to teach it. You can’t help but not get excited hearing these guys talk about their groups Saturday. And talking with their players you can see how they have bought in.
Much has been said about the performance last year by the Offensive Line… statistically Louisville had one of the worst last season. That criticism didn’t fall on deaf ears and both the players and the coaching staff seem motivated to get things turned around.
Coach Petrino went out and brought back Coach Mike Summers to help improve things on the O-Line. I got a chance to raise my question about the O-Line with Coach Summers yesterday. I feel like we’ve had size and ability but have lacked the intensity and nastiness at times up front. My question got a chuckle from Coach. But I want guys that want to line up and go hit the other team in the mouth.
Coach Summers has a great football mind and knows that it all starts with fundamentals. In listening to him yesterday It seems that he will use that philosophy to bring much needed improvement to his group this season. I think he will have those guys ready to be more physical and playing harder. We will see improvement.
I’ve written a lot and talked a lot about the Cardinals new defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. This morning at Media Day I could talk to coach and ask him about some of those talking points.
Back during Spring Ball and again when I watched practice on Monday I noticed a buzz about the defensive unit; guys bouncing around more, having fun and keeping it simple. The thing I loved about the Vance Bedford years was how they had guys flying all over the field making plays and just hitting people. And they had fun doing it. Over the last two seasons I feel like the defense got too mechanical and there wasn’t enough freedom within the scheme to just go out and make a play.
Enter Coach Sirmon a guy I think can bring some of that excitement back. Watching his drills, you can see the way he wants his group to be active and by how he instructs you can tell he wants to keep it simple. Sirmon is blue collar football guy like Vance… these guys take Football and make it easy. Go hit somebody, make a play and have fun. You’ll hear me ask Coach Sirmon about this in the video.
Coach Klenakis is an offensive mastermind in his own right. So much so that he has his own three DVD set about the Pistol Offense. Coach Klenakis will use some of that knowledge this season coaching the tight ends. I think his knowledge will help that unit with their blocking assignments in run game and help them with their run after contact ability. Coach Klenakis is a program first, team first kind of guy.
I got to talk with Linebacker James Hearns, DB’s Jaire Alexander and Chucky Williams on Saturday. These guys are the backbone of what will be a very solid defensive group for the Cardinals this season. These three guys have a lot of swagger and they are ready to line up and get after it.
I love Reggie. He is my favorite player on the Louisville Football team and will be one of my favorite players of all-time. A genuine all-American kid. He understands the value of where he grew up, has a strong work ethic and takes pride in the program and himself. I had the opportunity to give him a hug and walk off the field with Reggie after the victory at Notre Dame (https://youtu.be/qCN8yvDDhGk).
I’ll think about that moment in my final days. As a long time, college football fan to have the opportunity to walk off that field and up that ramp after a big victory was surreal. And to watch a freshman QB get that program defining win for his city and his school shortly after losing his father was poetic. Could be a 30 for 30… Reggie Bonnafon is a winner and there isn’t a football program in the country who could’t use a guy like this.
What else is there left to say about Lamar Jackson. He is an elite athlete that has added both size and speed during the off-season. He has also worked on becoming a more complete QB. Having a more versatile offense around him with an established run game and that should make Jackson more dangerous this season than he was during his Heisman campaign. That should scare college football but it hasn’t. There hasn’t been a more disregarded Heisman Trophy winner ever. But that hasn’t fazed this young man and he is determined once again to prove his detractors wrong. This young man impresses me in so many ways but it’s his humble nature that I most admire. He’s not worried about the praise or the spotlight and just wants to help his team win games.
With the sports ultimate individual prize already in his possession there’s only one trophy that is on his mind this season. Talking with Lamar on Saturday morning he thinks that the Cardinals have the team to win a national championship. I’m not ready to make my travel plans just yet but I wouldn’t bet against Lamar Jackson.
The offensive line really did take the brunt of the fault for last seasons failures. And they do deserve a certain level of criticism. But these guys seem to have handled that criticism well and talk like they have really bought into what Coach Summers is trying to teach them. Lukayus McNeil, and Geron Christian are a couple of great young men and big young men. They will be the backbone of a new and improved offensive line this season.
I had a great time out at the first practice of the fall camp today. The first thing I noticed was how the guys seem to have put on a lot of muscle. They say championships are won in the weight room. It was obvious on that practice field today that this team has hit the weight room hard. Reggie Bonnafon’s muscles have muscles… he is a physical specimen folks. It is also obvious that this football team has a lot of athletes. Athletes at the skill positions and on both sides of the football.
There is going to be a lot of beef on the offensive line this season, but we’ve had size. We just haven’t had that nasty size. Our offensive line came off as very soft in several games last season. That should all change with the addition of Coach Summers. This is the guy that will implement that nasty streak. It is fun to watch him interact with his guys in practice. The Louisville offensive line was statistically one of the worst in college football last season. That will change this season.
Have a guy like Lamar Jackson on your team and you are going to win football games. Have a guy like Lamar Jackson on your team with talent and athleticism around him and you are going to win championships. Last season Lamar provided a smoke screen for a team with a lot of problems. Biggest being the offensive line and a defense that was lost. This season instead of having to worry about winning games for his team he will just have to help his team win games. Lamar has also transformed himself physically and has added bulk to his freakishly athletic frame. Get ready for Lamar 2.0 folks…
Driving a car is easy, but when you took your driver’s test and were worrying about all the little details it wasn’t that easy. Coach Grantham was a very good defensive coach but his defense was very detail oriented. Guys were more worried about where they were supposed to be under instead of just making the play. Enter the genius of Coach Sirmon. He is teaching his guys to make plays instead of just being in the position to make plays. His defense is very active and this year’s defense will be on skates flying around all over the field. You can already see the transformation. His defense is going to be less worried about the details and more focused on just kicking tail. More active and less reactive. And his guys are having fun. Another important part in all of this. I didn’t see a defense las season that was having fun.
I could talk about this team for days. I’ve only been excited about a few Louisville Football teams like I am with this one. We are going to enjoy cheering for these guys. After today I wish I was loading up the family and heading to Indy next weekend. Go Cards!
It is that time of year again… we’ve made it through another sports dry spell and now are weeks away from the start of another College Football season. There are several intriguing match-ups to open the regular season but none more than the Cardinals and Boilermakers. There is not much history between these teams and the only time they played back in 1987 the game ended in a 22-22 tie. But there is a lot of history between the Louisville Program and men who will be leading their teams into battle on September 2nd in Indianapolis.
To say that Louisville’s opener against Purdue hits home would be a massive understatement. If your last name is Brohm you are born a football fan. They are arguably the first family of football in this hoops crazy state of Kentucky and in the city of Louisville they are football royalty. The Brohm family, including mother, Donna, and sister, Kim, were recently inducted into the Louisville Catholic Sports Hall of Fame for their contributions to the game.
It all started with the patriarch of the Brohm family Oscar. Oscar Brohm was a Football standout at Flaget High School in Louisville during the 1962-65 seasons. An all-state performer he led Flaget to a 10-1 record and the Louisville City Championship in 1965 setting a Louisville city school record with 23 touchdowns. He was a passing QB when passing wasn’t cool. Oscar played QB for the Cardinals during the 1968 and 69 seasons. He would pass his offensive prowess down to his sons and they all helped create a football dynasty at Trinity High School in Louisville and for the hometown Cardinals. There have been four Brohm family members to be a football letterwinner at the University of Louisville, Oscar (quarterback 1966-69), Jeff (quarterback 1989-93) and brothers, Greg (wide receiver 1989-92) and Brian (quarterback 2004-07).
Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm had an outstanding career at Louisville from 1989 to 1993. He ranks among the Cardinals’ career leaders in touchdown passes. Jeff Brohm also served as an assistant coach at Louisville (quarterbacks coach in 2003-06, assistant head coach/passing game in 2007, and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator in 2008).
Greg Brohm is in his first season as executive director of administration and operations at Purdue. He was the starting wide receiver during the Cardinals’ 1991 appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, catching passes from his brother, Jeff. Greg served as the director of football operations at Louisville from 2004 to 2008. He also worked in local media and served as an analyst for the Louisville Cardinals’ radio broadcasts.
Brian Brohm is the Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach for Purdue… Before there was a Teddy and Lamar it was Brian who led the 2006-7 Cardinals to a 12-1 record, Orange Bowl championship, and a #5 final ranking in the Associated Press poll. His 30 touchdown passes that season are tied for second in school history with 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, and one behind Minnesota Vikings’ 2014 first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater. Brian is the only Louisville QB to be so close to a National Championship. In my humble opinion that team was a field goal away from playing for the Title. What could have been that season still haunts me.
During their three seasons together Jeff, Greg, Brian and Coach Petrino led the Louisville program to 32 wins, Liberty Bowl win, Orange Bowl Championship, Conference USA and Big East championship and twice finished in the Associated Press top 10. And by popular opinion were a field goal away from a possible National Championship. There isn’t anyone who has had a bigger impact on the rise of the Louisville football program than the Brohms and now they will be on the opposite sideline as the Cardinals open up the 2017-18 College Football season.
In his book The American Civil War, John Keegan wrote that “The American Civil War was to prove one of the most ferocious wars ever fought”. Not only for its nature but in the way it was fought. It was family battling family right in their own backyards. On September 2nd College Football is having its own version of a Civil War. Right in Louisville’s backyard in Indianapolis and it will be family versus family. I will be among the Louisville fans who will be torn on that day. The Brohm Brothers were Louisville First and they will be Cardinals Forever. If there is a more intriguing match-up on the first full weekend of the College Football season I don’t see it.
I have been waiting to post this big news ever since the rumor mill started spinning this week about Brian Bowen but I didn’t want to talk about it or count my chickens before they hatched. But now it is official and Bowen is going to be a Cardinal. Bowen is a legit 5* and an incredible athlete. He has a scoring prowess that should have a profound impact on the Cardinal Basketball season. His addition really should put Louisville right back in the conversation as National Title contenders.
This late addition to the Cardinals 2017 recruiting class is big in so many ways… It really shows that coach Pitino can still go out and land the great talent and its just further proof that this coaching staff is doing a great job to keep up with the growing challenge of keeping a college basketball program in the mix with the best in the country. Just this week it was reported that Louisville basketball had finished 7 consecutive seasons ranked in the AP Top 25 and that they were only 1 of 3 schools to achieve that feat in that time-frame. The way things are looking that streak will likely continue.
And after all the turmoil and chaos surrounding the stripper scandal news like today is just a breath of fresh air breathed back into the program that I love so dearly. I think that this solid recruiting class is just further proof that we have all that crap in the rear-view and that things are only looking up from here. Louisville Basketball is trending upward and we have a lot of great basketball ahead. We will have one of the best teams in the country this season and are looking head on at another great recruiting class next season with the possible addition of the best underclassman in the country 5* Romeo Langford. The future looks bright.
The commitment by Brian Bowen today pretty much backs up my sentiments. His camp sits back and watched how things unfolded during the college basketball off season. They studied the top teams carefully watching what key guys left early for the NBA draft, looked at the talent teams had coming back, and decided that Louisville would be the best spot for his development, get his minutes and to make a serious tourney run.
Folks I’m so excited today and nothing could wipe this smile off my face. Bowen has a jump shot that is as sweet as churned butter. And I love his hair. Trust me when I say that you all are going to enjoy watching this kid for hopefully a few years. Have a drink of your favorite beverage today and be sure to make a toast to the Louisville coaching staff. This was as clutch of a late add as you will ever see. Go Cards!
Bowen is a big and skilled wing who is full of upside. He is a legit six-foot-seven right now and pushing six-foot-eight. He has grown almost two inches since the end of his 8th grade year and might not be done yet gauging from his big feet and lanky frame. He has become a somewhat prolific scoring from all three levels on the floor. From a results standpoint he is extremely effective and efficient from the catch and shoot three point shot an dwell as the one dribble pull-up. He can put the ball on the floor going in either direction with outstanding perimeter footwork, and is a virtually ambidextrous scorer inside the paint with his floater game. His shooting stroke has made considerable progress when he is able to set his feet and fire with room and rhythm and will even take smaller defenders to the low post. His length gives him a definite weapon on the defensive end of the floor.
Weaknesses: A solid athlete who can play above the rim but doesn’t yet possess explosiveness or blow-by quickness off the bounce. His frame is long and lean so overall body strength and muscle to fill out his frame is a must. He is working through contact and can consequently be bumped off the line of his drive or finish. The release on his jumper is sometimes slow, and so he can consequently spray shots when his stroke is rushed. His skills say he needs a little time and space and he will do that best by learning to cut off and read screens and move without the ball.
Bottom Line: For a player who scores points and is a high level shot maker Bowen understands when he is open and doesn’t force the issue. In the college he can play at the four spot for some small ball game. Run a quick hitter or a set play and free up Bowen and the percentage s are good that he is making the shot. As he continues to fill out his frame and become a committed defender in a constant stance he will be an impact at the high major level. Bowen has become one of the better shooters in the class and as he continues to fill out his frame, become defensive minded he could easily grow in a 3 and D player for the NBA.
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.
It took some time to process the Louisville football team’s loss to LSU and the awful way they ended the 2016 football season. The Cardinals would start the 2016 season with a lot of optimism and promise. But it wouldn’t end that way. There is an old cliché that says the third time is a charm… And although Coach Petrino finished the season with 9 wins and a 7th straight trip to a bowl game I don’t think his third season back as the head football coach at Louisville would be considered a charm. He finished last season with a lot more questions than answers about his football team. What had been a return full of praise and perceived success now mired by some failure and skepticism. The honeymoon is over.
But Spring is a time of renewal, and new growth and the signs of change are all around us. The same could be said for the Louisville football program. New coaches, new players stepping into key roles and an overall change in attitude seems to be the theme of the Cardinals Spring Football workouts. I got a real positive vibe being out on the practice fields on Friday afternoon for Louisville’s first open practice. There seems to be a renewed spirit along with more intensity overall and a greater attention to detail. And it’s not just the coaches who are leading the way. I noticed that the players were encouraging each other and holding each other accountable as well. That shows me that this coaching staff already has these guys buying in.
Here are a few other things that stood out to me:
The Louisville defensive unit had a lot of hop in their step on Friday afternoon. They weren’t just going through their reps and seemed like they were having some fun. I think new Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon has simplified things trying to make the defense more active instead of reactive. He and his assistants were really paying attention to detail but doing it in a way that their players better understood it. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Coach Sirmon has said that his players will set the depth chart. Just by being around this unit for a couple of hours it appeared that the message has been heard loud and clear. There are a few players who stood out. SR Safety Chucky Williams was active along with SR Linebacker Stacey Thomas, Junior Corner Jaire Alexander and Sophomore Corner Cornelius Sturghill. Some younger guys stepping up on Friday were Redshirt Freshman PJ Blue and Sophomore Linebacker Amonte Caban. There are a lot of studs on this side of the ball for the Cardinals. I really like this unit.
The Louisville Offensive line was horrible last season. There is not a nicer way to put it. They just completely stopped trying to block anyone in the Bowl game. There is footage of them literally side stepping a defensive lineman. If Louisville is ever to take the next step up Program wise, then this is an area that must be fixed and fixed fast. Enter new offensive line coach Mike Summers. Coach Summers hasn’t changed much since his last run in Louisville maybe a little greyer around the edges but the intensity is still the same. Watching this group on Friday I really like our size. Players like 6-7 315-pound SR Toriano Roundtree, 6-6 324-pound JR Lukayus McNeil, and 6-6 318-pound JR Geron Christian look the part. If they can learn some of that intensity and take on the identity of their new coach, we should see a big step up from last season.
Watching the offensive unit on Friday I can tell you that this team has a lot of talent at the skill positions and some size too. I could watch Lamar Jackson launch bombs to 6-6 JR Wide receiver Devante Peete all day. These guys tried that connection several times on Friday afternoon. Coach Petrino has several dimensions to his offense and again has the players to get it done at every level. I was most impressed with Redshirt Freshman Running Back Dae Williams. This kid doesn’t get rush yards he gets rumble yards. He and SR Running Back Jeremy Smith would be a great 1-2 punch. The play of the day was made by Sophomore Tight End Jordan Davis who had an impressive one handed grab for the completion. Wide Receivers coach Lonnie Galloway and Running Backs coach Kolby Smith are “Players Coaches”. They were right on the heels of their guys Friday. Smith was running through the gap with his guys making sure they ran every single play out. I think this will pay off this season. The Cardinal offense will be legit.
There was a lot of blame to go around last season but very little if any should land on the shoulders of QB Lamar Jackson. He had one of the most impressive individual performances in a season that won’t be duplicated for many generations. The only bad thing about that is that his team didn’t leave him with much choice. I think being surrounded by a solid team could really make his stock go up even more. There seems to be a big emphasis on using some of the other talent on this team and coach Petrino really spread the ball out on Friday afternoon. He had Lamar using his legs and his arm. Just watching and observing one practice I think we will see a more complete player this season out of our Heisman Trophy winner. I love seeing him hurdle players but it’s also fun to watch him throw those bombs.
It’s hard to really take in all that you want during just one of these practices but I did try to make my way around observing the things that I felt important to follow up on from last season. You’d have to search far to find someone who was more disappointed at how the 2016 season ended. But the program responded to that disappointment and positive change filled the spring air on Friday. I really like what I see and my optimism is thru the roof. I plan on heading back out to the practice fields on Tuesday the 28th for the second Open day. I would encourage you folks to do the same. Go Cards