Cards Take Care of Business


For months we’ve been talking about, analyzing, and breaking down the start of Louisville Football. The wait was finally over Thursday night as over 50,000 fans (15th largest) piled into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the start of the 2016 season. It was a great crowd and it’s great to see a full house on a Thursday night. The Cardinals did not let this great crowd down and provided a lot of action on both sides of the ball. In a 70-14 lopsided win the Cardinals took care of business and did what they were supposed to.

Lamar Jackson finished last season getting his name in the NCAA record books by running and passing for over 200 yards in a Bowl game. On Thursday night he starts the 2016 season by etching his name in the Louisville record books now the program record holder for most touchdowns in a single game (8) and most touchdown passes in a single game (6). It was also mentioned by ESPN that he is the first player to have 6 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing touchdowns in the 1st half in the modern era.

Jackson ended last season with everyone talking and now starts this season with everyone talking. He even had an impromptu interview on Sports Center after the game. During the Louisville post-game Lamar Jackson wasn’t worried about any of the hyperbole. He was happy that his team won and happy that he was able to play a part in that. To me this says more about Lamar Jackson than the 8 touchdowns.

All of the guys in the skill positions looked sharp tonight. Both James Quick and Reggie Bonnafon had great touchdown catches. Jamari Staples also had 83 yards. The offensive line faced a challenge early on with all of the Kamikaze blitzes the 49ers were running. But they appeared to adjust well. Lamar did give his O-Line credit in the post-game.

The defense was aggressive and guys were flying around all over the field. I really liked seeing Harvey-Clemons in that linebacker spot. And he and Devonte Fields were on, or around every defensive play. It was also great to see Stacey Thomas making plays. He led in tackles with 7 and is a leader of this unit. Some had thought he might miss action after having a surgical procedure a few months ago.

There’s really not much you can say or analyze about a game this lopsided. It’s just one of those games where the better team comes out and does what they need to do. I think it was great for everyone to get involved. These guys been busting their butts for months in the heat so it’s good they all got rewarded with playing time. It’s also very good for the depth chart for everyone to get game reps. It’s a long grueling season and every guy has to be ready to go when called on.

The Cards are 1-0.

Louisville vs Charlotte

You can take the Cards out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the Cards

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Cardinal fans have been on a roller coaster ride of emotions over the past couple of weeks. And you can only imagine what it has been like for those young athletes and what they’ve had to endure. After two very tough losses on the road, with their hopes of an ACC regular season title dwindling away and with nothing left to play for they could have easily packed it in. But not this group and not these Cardinals they are much bigger than that. They have reached down deep within themselves and found a new will to win.

These guys aren’t playing for a NCAA birth and they aren’t playing for an ACC title they are playing for the name on the front of their Jerseys. “Louisville First”. They are also playing for the love of the game. These guys have played basketball for most of their lives and they know they owe it to that passion to play hard and get better. Damion and Trey will move on but they will be Cardinals forever. They are playing to cement that legacy. Yes these guys aren’t going to get their “one shining moment” but moments like today will shine in the hearts of Cardinal fans for a long time.

This year’s freshman class is living up to every bit of the expectations they had on them coming into this season. I covered these guys this summer during the Derby festival basketball classic and wrote extensively about how I thought these guys were going to have an immediate impact. Donovan Mitchell has been a spark plug for this Cardinal team. His energy, enthusiasm and athleticism have been an inspiration to his team. He has only scratched the surface. Ray Spalding is carrying a heavy load being from the city of Louisville and he bares the extra pressure of performing up to the expectations of the home crowd. He has taken that burden and ran with it. He is also only scratching the surface of his potential. Deng Adel was labeled as a guy with the most upside of this group but was hampered with an injury early in the season. In the last couple of weeks we have started to see just how good this guy can be. On Saturday he got his first start as a Cardinal and after his effort it won’t be his last. The Sharp shooter of the Louisville freshman group isn’t even playing this year. The future is very bright…

I can’t say enough about the progression and improvement of Chinanu Onuaku. His effort on the offensive and defensive glass has been relentless this season. He had to step up with the absence of Mango and he has. Jaylen Johnson is another player that has come a long way since he got to campus. His effort sometimes goes unnoticed with his other teammates doing so many things right, but he is a big part of the positive on this team. He is a great kid with a great attitude and the game to back it up. These guys were big in the win Saturday.

This Louisville team has circled the wagons led by two fearless and fantastic players. The winning attitude of Damion and Trey has funneled down through the rest of this team. This group showed us on Saturday afternoon that they might have been taken out of the fight but they aren’t going to let anyone take the fight out of them. There may not be any trophies or banners waiting for this group when the season ends but there will be a lot of respect and admiration. Go Cards!

Duke Post Game:

Coach Pitino Post Game:

Damion Lee:

Trey Lewis:

Deng Adel:

Cards Adapt and Overcome Against the Hokies, Seem Poised for a Strong Finish

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Going into this game Coach Pitino had his guys ready for a very unorthodox Virginia Tech style of play. The Cardinals who had used their defense to their advantage for the past couple of weeks had to adjust due to an aggressive style of offense played by the Hokies. They thrive on getting fouled and they do this by throwing their bodies into the defender. The Hokies came into this game 4th in the country in free throw attempts and 9th in free throws made. They certainly lived up to that tonight.

With the Cardinals having to play a less aggressive style of defense they would have to use an offensive burst to win this tough road game. And what a burst it was… The Cards scored 91 points which is the highest point total in ACC games this season. And they hit 12 three point shots thanks to some nifty shooting from Damion and Trey. Those guys really showed up when needed and with our best low post threat Chinanu compromised with foul trouble we needed them.

I really love how every week a different front court player steps out to have a big game. Last weekend it was Anas and tonight it was Jaylen Johnson who came through with a big performance. MATZ also stepped in and got some timely baskets. I get giddy when I think about our front court at full strength when Mango returns in a couple of weeks.

The college basketball season is a marathon and in a marathon a runner usually makes his kick towards the finish of the race. In the racing world, kick refers to sprinting towards the end. It involves a combination of physical and mental preparation. February is usually the time of the college basketball season when a team wants to make their kick. It also takes a lot of physical and mental preparation.

Our Cardinals have grown and matured throughout and we have seen player development at every position on the floor. They find a way to win and the execution of the game plans has been impressive. This team is ready to make their kick towards the finish line of conference play. We will face the toughest part of our schedule and our guys appear to be peaking at the right time as most Coach Pitino Louisville teams have done. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks. Go Cards!

COACH PITINO POST GAME:

JAYLEN JOHNSON POST GAME:

TREY LEWIS POST GAME:

DAMION LEE POST GAME:

(Video courtesy Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal)

Louisville’s Cup

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This afternoon the Cards sprinted toward the end zone at Commonwealth Stadium like kids at Christmas. Sitting idly on the turf was the coveted Governor’s Cup, awarded annually to the winner of the Louisville/Kentucky football game. For the fifth time in five years, the Cards laid their claws on the prize. Louisville becomes the first team to win five straight in the modern rivalry. The series between these schools now stands at 14-14, and Louisville is 14-7 since the rivalry was renewed in 1994.

The Cardinals tasted a great comeback victory, winning 38-24 on a cold, rainy, windswept afternoon in Lexington. The Governor’s Cup will now be in the Cardinal trophy case for the foreseeable future. With the Louisville football program bringing in the best recruiting class in school history and continuing to trend upward I don’t know when they’ll ever lose in this game again. Let’s just call it the Louisville Cup.

Over the last several months of the Louisville football season we had not seen any of those magical moments that we had been accustomed to. The passing game had been on idle and the offense as a whole lacked consistency. And while today wasn’t a blitzkrieg of scoring it was one that provided many of those big plays that we had all been waiting to see. It was the greatest comeback ever in this rivalry and it was the Cards who dealt the knock-out punch.

After having -1 yard on the ground in their last game the Cardinals running game with Radcliff (62 yards, 2 TD’s) and Jackson (186 yards, 2 TD’s) did its part today and kept enough pressure on Kentucky to keep the passing game open and that is where Louisville had those big play moments. Lamar Jackson was part QB and part escape artist scrambling and breaking tackles. It was Mr. Clutch, who would throw the big touchdown pass to James Quick (94 yards, 1 TD) at the end of third quarter to tie the game heading into the 4th quarter. Once in the 4th quarter Lamar Jackson did in his freshman season what Teddy Bridgewater did as a freshman in 2012 and completely took over this game. Jackson finished 8-21, 130 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and 17 carries 186 yards 2 TDs. He cemented his name in this rivalry winning the Howard Schnellenberger MVP Award.

Also have to give it up for the Louisville defense that could have just lain down after such a terrible 1st half. They finished the game very strong and dominated the trenches completely locking down the Kentucky offense holding them to three points and 143 yards over the final three quarters, 291 overall. I had looked forward to seeing him in a Cardinal uniform all summer and really wanted to see him have a great comeback story. Devonte Fields hasn’t let me down. Today Fields had 6 tackles, 3 sacks and 6 tackles for loss. Louisville had 15 Tackles for Loss today.

I had a great time at the game today and have had many great memories over the last five years in this rivalry. Today it was great watching an amazing comeback and watching the UK fans suffer through such a demoralizing loss especially after all of the razz they gave Louisville fans in September. I never wavered on this Louisville football team and they met all my expectations during this rebuilding season. I wanted to see just one thing from them that I hadn’t seen this year and that was heart. They left that and more on the field in Lexington today and it was awesome. Thanks guys! Go Cards!

Feel Good Moment

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As I was leaving the press area I jumped on the elevator to head down to the press conferences with a few other folks the guy working had a big smile on his face and said “we are all happy tonight”, “your happy, I’m happy, the team’s happy”. And that was the feeling in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in the Cardinals 45-3 win over Samford.

It had been a long time since Cardinal fans or the football program had to endure such a winless streak. I know I didn’t miss that feeling and it was starting to take its toll on the team especially the young guys. I was happy they got the win but hearing the triumphant roars inside that locker room last night was especially pleasing.

In this morale building win we also started to see an offensive identity being formed. Coach Petrino officially said that Lamar Jackson was the man going forward and also that we would start to see Reggie Bonnafon used in different aspects. Both of these guys are great athletes and both are even better young men. Lamar like always was very self-deprecating about his record 396 yards of total offense, and Reggie like always talked about just wanting to help his team get better and doing his part after his passing, rushing and receiving 88 yard night.

“We’ve got to keep the dice rolling”

-Lamar Jackson

“I’m a football player, It’s what I love to do”

-Reggie Bonnafon

These are the young men that are going to lead our football team forward and I couldn’t think of two better guys for the job. I have been documented many times during the pre-season saying this would happen. I’d hate to be a defensive coordinator task to stop these two.

I have to also mention that it was great seeing James Quick back out on the field. He really is an electrifying player. And he is also the kind of guy that the other players feed off of his energy. He’s a great receiver and athlete but he brings a lot more to the table than that.

The Louisville defense came into the game against Samford allowing opposing offenses to convert on almost 50% of their third down attempts. On Saturday they got off the field on third downs only allowing the Bulldogs to covert on 3 of 11. Chucky Williams said in his post-game that they had been really working hard in practice on just running to the ball. I know this was an FCS opponent but yesterday the Cardinals defense played with ruthless pursuit. Guys were flying to the ball and making plays. They will be able to build off this game and I think we may have witnessed a new identity forming with this group as well.

Even special teams got in on this feel good win. Kicker Josh Appleby nailed a 52 yard field goal. And freshman Jaire Alexander showed his potential with some pretty impressive punt returns.

I’ll leave you with this…

Those enjoying winning streaks thus win twofold. They win not only the game but also the right to greater self-determination. They become masters of their own fate. That feeling of efficacy, of being in charge of circumstances, is the essence of confidence. Winning once or twice is encouraging, but winning continuously is empowering.

-ROSABETH MOSS KANTER, Confidence

The Cardinal's Beak Louisville vs Samford Photo Album

Coach Petrino Post Game:

Trumaine Washington Post Game:

Chucky Williams Post Game:

Reggie Bonnafon Post Game:

Lamar Jackson Post Game:

Post Game Celebration Video:

Will the Real Louisville Football Team Please Stand-Up

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All summer long and during the spring we all talked, and wrote about the potential and talent that the 2015-16 version of the Louisville Football team would have. We knew that we would have some issues up front on the offensive line and we knew that we would have some young guys that would have to step in and fill some gaps. I think we all expected some inconsistency over-all. This is all part of growing pains. The one thing that nobody ever questioned was if this team would play with passion and intensity. Being around these guys in the spring and watching the videos of these guys during their summer weight lifting and workouts I just knew they would be hungry for every down, but these first couple of games has been just the opposite.

In the season opener the team came out and fell behind early. They lost most of that first game excitement during the first half against Auburn and really the intensity level you would expect in a big game like this was not there. Being on the field at times it seemed as if most of the guys on the field and on the sidelines were just going through the motions. Then in that second half Lamar Jackson’s performance seemed to carry over to the rest of the team and the intensity returned. Guys were flying around all over the field and making plays that only a certain level of intensity allows.

On Saturday I think we all expected to see that same level of intensity the guys had on the field in the second half of that Auburn game. Instead they came out in the first half and it never felt like they were completely bought in to what they were trying to do. Sure there were moments in the game when things felt right but it was more of the latter. This was not just the players either. I don’t think the coaches were as fired up and intense as they should have been. I was on both sidelines Saturday and I can tell you that the Houston coaching staff was about as intense a group as I’ve ever seen and this obviously carried over to their teams performance.

There’s no shame in losing to Auburn or to Houston. Both of these teams are very well coached and have solid athletes on both sides of the ball. The shame is in how our team lacked the passion and intensity needed to perform in both. There is going to be a learning curve with this edition of Louisville Football as it pertains to the x’s and o’s but passion and intensity can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. I have seen moments of this and we know that all of these guys want to give their best efforts. My hope for the rest of the season is that the real Louisville Football team will stand up and play with that level of passion and intensity Cardinal fans have grown to love over the last four seasons. I’m still very optimistic at how this season will turn out and think we’ll see a big difference in this group on Thursday night.





The Cardinal's Beak Louisville vs Houston Photo Album

Future Stars Emerge in Louisville Opener

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“In three weeks there won’t be much said about the Chick Fil A Kick-off Classic”, that’s what the CBS announcers said after the Chick Fil A Kick Off game. Maybe that will be true of the Auburn fans but Cardinal fans will more than likely remember it as the moment more great Louisville players emerged.

I remember back in 2011 on a September night in Commonwealth Stadium. Our Cardinals had lost four straight games to the arch rival Kentucky team, but on this night we would see a true freshman quarterback enter the game and take over, a Louisville running back who had a break out game, and a defensive line find it’s identity while completely dominating in the game. Yes this was against Kentucky (we know they are horrible) but this was a pivotal moment for the program and after this game our Cardinals never looked back with many years of success that have followed. We still haven’t lost a game to the guys in blue, and you can add a BCS bowl win in there along the way.

On Saturday our Cardinals had a very rough first half of football and ultimately lost a close game in the end but just like that game back on September 17th 2011 there were several future stars that emerged and I really think it was another pivotal moment. I don’t think this new group of Cardinals will look back. This time it could be a spot in the playoffs as a result.

The Cardinals played seven true freshman on Saturday Lamar Jackson, Jaire Alexander, Traveon Samuel, Geron Christian, Devante Peete, Jaylen Smith, and Kenny Thomas. All of these guys played hard and a few of them really stood out. Devante Peete had 3 catches for 60 yards and showed the ability to get open against a formidable defense. Jaylen Smith had 3 catches for 34 yards and he also showed some great separation speed and athleticism.

A stat I got from Howie Lindsey of Cardinal Sports.com 82% of Louisville’s receiving yards went to guys playing their first Louisville game. Peete had 60 yards, Smith had 34 yards, Samuel had 22 yards, Crum had 19 yards and Savage had 2 yards.

And there was the true freshman QB Lamar Jackson who came in and took over the game. He reeled off 100 yards through the air and 106 yards on the ground with 1 touchdown. Folks this guy is the future. Much like that night on September 17th 2011 when Teddy had his moment on Saturday Lamar Jackson had his.

My comments are well documented on Lamar Jackson and I even raved about him before the season started on the Afternoon Underdogs show. I knew what was coming and sure enough the moment is upon us. Get ready to watch this kid take his spot among some of the best to ever wear the red and white.

On defense Trumaine Washington had his first career start with a 7 tackle and one interception performance, and Josh Harvey-Clemons who had his first Cardinal Career start had 14 tackles with two interception performance. I’m really excited about this defense and there are a lot of guys who caught my attention but these two really stood out. I expect many more huge performances out of them.

Our Cardinals dominated in every statistical category on Saturday. 1st downs: Louisville 27, Auburn 21, Total Yards: Louisville 405, Auburn 327, Rushing: UofL 238, Auburn 190, Passing: UofL 167, Auburn 137 and led time of possession UofL 30:50, Auburn 29:10. We gave #6 in the Nation all they wanted and I like where the direction of this team is headed. We got to see many future stars emerge and it’s going to be a great season. I do think these guys turned a corner in the second half on Saturday and think we have a real shot at winning the ACC.

Louisville vs Auburn Chick Fil A Kick- Off Game

Senior Day Surprise.. Hoo? Mango thats who..

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It was a very emotionally charged day at the Yum Center and I was really impressed with how our guys came out and responded to it. They never once seemed like they were playing tight and were in attack mode for the whole game. As Coach Pitino said in his post-game this team has reached its potential. They have battled through adversity, taken their lumps and appear to be headed into the post season with a new found energy.

Beating the #2 team in the country is no small task. Virginia is very well coached and those guys don’t stop playing for a second. I said in my pre-game break down that I felt that the guys on the bench would all have to start being a factor for this Louisville team to be successful. Today they take down the future NCAA #1 Seed with Anton, Shaqquan, Anas, and Jaylen all coming into the game and making some kind of positive impact. And Mango ended up hitting the game winner. Here is a guy that pretty much epitomizes what this team is about. He has struggled more than any player on the team and hasn’t had many positive moments this season. He continues to practice hard and today it paid off.

I really feel like Coach Pitino simplifying things has really paid off and will continue to pay off as the Cards move forward. With the win over Virginia they will get that double bye in the ACC Tourney next week and really could work their way up to a 2 or 3 seed if they win a few games.

Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear got to go out on a winning note and they both played a big part in this victory. Quentin Snider and Terry Rozier also played very solid games. These guys along with Chinanu Onuaku have become a very solid starting unit. They have found cohesiveness with the extra practice time and I think they will continue to gel.

It really was an awesome day and one that I’ll remember for a long time. I’m proud of this team for not folding under the pressure and for the way they have continued to fight. It says a lot about the kind of guys they are. I hope they have a great run in the post season.

Below is some video and photos from the Cardinals big win on Senior Day.

Special Senior Day post-game Video:

Louisville Senior Day Ceremonies:

Louisville Senior Day Starting Line-up Intros

Mango hits the Game Winner and the celebration is on:

Wayne and Montrezl say good-bye on Senior Day:

Montrezl Post Game:

Wayne Post Game:

Terry Post Game:

Mango Post Game:

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Cards go “March”ing on

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(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

We are just a few weeks away from college basketball’s craziest time of the year. March Madness is the best time of the year and some teams rise to the occasion while others find themselves on the outside looking in. It’s the time of the year when we witness magical moments and ultimate heart break. For the fourth straight year our Cardinals have secured themselves a part in the Madness and after a big win today they are looking to head into the month of March with a full head of steam.

After the tumultuous month of February our young Cardinals have looked adversity in the face and today made a statement by going into Tallahassee and thumping Florida State by 22 points. Watching them today reminded me of this quote: “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down”. The players on this Louisville team are all on that bus together and today looked like a team ready to ride it towards success.

The Cardinals have now won three straight and today they used the concept of “team ball” to score the highest point total since scoring 81 points on January 28th at Boston College. Five players scored in double figures, Wayne Blackshear leading the way with 18 points, Montrezl Harrell with 18 points along with his 200th dunk of his career, Anton Gill with 14 points the best since his birthday performance back in December against FIU, Quentin Snider with 10 points his second double figure game of his career, and Terry Rozier with 10 points. The Cards got the highest total of the season with 22 points from the bench, and finished with 20 assists on 31 made baskets. That assist total was the second highest of the season.

The Cardinals found their mojo again on the defensive side of the floor with 37 deflections, and 10 steals. The Cardinals forced 21 turnovers and tied a season high with 32 points off those turnovers. They entered the game today averaging 14.6 turnovers. It was great seeing these guys get it together on offense but good defense is the ultimate sign that these guys are ready to play hard. Defense is about attitude, and it’s time to bring it. No fears and no regrets! Go all in! These guys today played with a passion and desire on this side of the floor.

As I’ve grown older I’ve learned that life is a series of beginnings and endings. This serves to prepare us for some of life’s greatest challenges. We need to taste the sweetness of new beginnings and the bitterness that sometimes comes with saying good bye. These young Cardinals have grown up over the last couple of weeks. I believe that great triumph will come from their good-bye and that they will continue to embrace their new beginning. Go Cards!

ANTON GILL FSU POST-GAME

WAYNE BLACKSHEAR FSU POST-GAME

MONTREZL HARRELL FSU POST-GAME

TERRY ROZIER FSU POST-GAME

 

Young Cardinals Step Up, Grow Up Help Louisville Sweep Pitt

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Coach Pitino said in his post-game that it is very tough to sweep a team during a season. This is especially true when that team is riding high on a three game winning streak like Pitt was on Wednesday night. The Cards used one of their most impressive stretches of the season to sweep Pitt beating the Panthers 69-56. This is the Cardinals 6th straight win over the Panthers in a series they now lead 10 to 5. With this big win tonight our Cardinals clinched their thirteenth straight 20+ win season.

There was really nothing spectacular about the first half of this game and other than Montrezl hitting jump shots from all over the gym it was just dull. He scored 14 of the Cards 27 first half points. With Wayne going out early with a hip injury and 0 points from the bench it looked like it was going to be just another night.

When the second half started Pitt looked like they had come out of the locker room on a mission. They were hitting shots and the Cards weren’t doing much to slow them down. They took the lead and kept it for pretty much the first 12 minutes. Then you could see the lights come on in the Cardinals that were on the court. Peyton Siva was in the house tonight and in the final 8 minutes of this game the defense looked as good as it did during some of the games he played. The Cardinals were flying all over the court, deflections, blocked shots, steals, close outs, solid rotation it was a thing of beauty. The offense wasn’t too shabby either during this stretch. Alley-oop dunks, great passes the Cards found their mojo on both ends of the court. They closed out the second half on a 14-1 run.


On Wednesday afternoon Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier were named to the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20. On Wednesday night and especially in that second half stretch they showed why. Montrezl finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 blocks and 1 steal. Terry finished with a perfect 10-10 on the free-throw line, 22 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assist and 1 blocked shot. This is the second game this season where these guys both finished with a double-double. This was Trezl’s ninth double-double and Terry’s second this season.

In my Pregame breakdown I said that I would like to see the bench start coming around and that the time was now. I mentioned specifically Snider, Aaron, Gill, and in that 5 spot from Mango and Anas. On Wednesday night these guys answered my call. Every one of them had a hand in this game. Their team needed them especially with Wayne out and Chris sitting in the dog house. The Bench scored 8 points, had 12 rebounds, 3 assist, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.


There’s no doubt that some of these guys grew up a little bit tonight. And I think it speaks volumes about the direction this team is headed. Progress is being made and these guys have continued to work hard. When you’ve got new players that come into a program you need this type of game and this kind of reward. Faced some adversity, were asked to step up, and answered the call.

If this team can build on this game especially the young guys and play segments like in the final eight minutes then they are going to be a force in the tournament and could very well make a solid run. I know it’s just one game and I may be a little too happy with some of the things I seen. But Cardinal fans I’m excited… Go Cards!

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