The Battle of the Barrel

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The last time the Cardinals and Commodores met was in the opening round of the 2014 College World Series. It was Vandy who walked away with the win in that game 5-3 and eventually went on to win their first National Championship. That is a grand trophy indeed, but when it comes to the Louisville Vs Vanderbilt series there is another trophy that is one of the coolest in all of college baseball “The Barrel”

The Cardinals and the Commodores are far from strangers to one another. In fact this has become one of the most competitive rivalries in college baseball. The programs, separated by only 175 miles, became regular foes in the NCAA Regionals due to the close proximity. From that “The Battle of the Barrel” game was born in 2012. What started as a typical midweek game has evolved into something much larger a true rivalry.

Louisville is just 7-23 all-time against Vanderbilt in a series that dates back to 1953, but our Cardinals have come out on the winning end lately and currently hold a three to one edge against them in recent contest. The Cards swept them in 2 games in the 2013 Regionals and won the “Battle of the Barrel” game back last May. They lost their match-up in the CWS and it was the 4th time the programs have met in the postseason in the last five seasons.

Today at 6:00pm this great new college baseball rivalry will again take center stage its “The Battle of the Barrel”. Be sure to tune in to see who walks away with this super masculine emblem of greatness. Go Cards!

You can hear the game on FM 93.9 The Ville or tune into ESPN3.

Future Cards Will Headline Derby Festival Classic

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The rosters for the annual spring basketball classic were reveled today and as expected 2015 signees Raymond Spalding, Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel and commit Ryan McMahon will play in the event.

These guys form a recruiting class ranked in the top 5 nationally and the Cardinals coaching staff were ahead of the curve in identifying and landing four of the biggest stock risers in the class of 2015. In the ESPN rankings Deng Adel went from No. 81 to No. 30, Donovan Mitchell rose from No. 72 to No. 37, and Raymond Spalding, a local kid was identified by the Cardinals’ staff early in the process, before he went from unranked to No. 52. Recent commit Ryan McMahon is the lesser known of this group but he also came out of nowhere to garner attention for his long-range shooting. He is ranked the No. 42 shooting guard nationally by ESPN.com.

Cardinals fans will get a glimpse of the future at the Derby Festival Classic, to be played 7 p.m. April 11 at Freedom Hall. Tickets are available for $13, $18 and $50 through Ticketmaster.com or at the Freedom Hall Box Office.

Here are the rosters for each team. All of the Louisville guys will play on the white team.

Team 1
-Jalen Adams G 6-2 UConn
-Deng Adel F 6-7 Louisville
-Daniel Giddens C 6-10 Ohio State
-Austin Grandstaff G 6-5 Ohio State
-Dedric Lawson F 6-8 Memphis
-KJ Lawson F 6-7 Memphis
-Ryan McMahon G 6-0 Louisville
-Donovan Mitchell G 6-3 Louisville
-Matt Ryan F 6-8 Notre Dame
-Justin Simon G 6-5 Arizona
-Ray Spalding F 6-9 Louisville

Team 2
-Prince Ali G 6-3 UCLA
-OG Anunoby F 6-7 Indiana
-Thomas Bryant C 6-10 Undecided
-Bryant Crawford G 6-2 Wake Forest
-Jawun Evans G 6-0 Oklahoma State
-Brandon Ingram G 6-8 Undecided
-Juwan Morgan F 6-7 Indiana
-Justin Patton C 6-10 Creighton
-Danjel Purifoy F 6-6 Auburn
-Brandon Sampson G 6-4 St. John’s

First held in 1973, the Classic is the oldest high school all-star game in the nation and is known for showcasing players who’ve moved on to stardom at the collegiate and professional levels. Former players include Jamal Mashburn, Moses Malone, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Darrell Griffith, Derek Anderson, Anfernee Hardaway and Michael Beasley.

Grab a ticket and get out to this event next month to support the Cards…

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Wildcats

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We are just a few weeks removed from the Cats and Cards doing battle on the gridiron to end the regular season of college football. On Saturday they will take the battle to the basketball court.
This week we have flown our flags a little higher and wore our gear with that little extra boost of pride. This is the Cards and the Cats and it just doesn’t get any bigger in college basketball.

This will be the most anticipated Battle of the Bluegrass in years as it’s the first time ever these teams have played while both being undefeated. It has been the Cats who have won the last 9 out of eleven in this battle head-to-head, but when looking at their entire body of work these teams have had similar success in the last 30 years. A series that started in 1913 these old rivals will meet for the 48th time on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky holds the all-time lead in this series 32-15.

This game was named the #1 OOC game by Sports Illustrated. Here’s what they said:

“Two elite teams meet once again, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year), HoF coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.”

The Cardinals will be facing one of the best Kentucky teams they’ve ever played. They are only one of two teams in the history of college basketball to feature 9 McDonald’s All-Americans and could end up being one of the best defensive teams rivaling the 2011-2012 Cats. This UK squad has been stopping and blocking every team that’s been put before them this season. They are currently 1st in the country averaging 9 blocks per game and 2nd in the nation in points allowed at a 47.7 average per game.

Kentucky is led in scoring by Aaron Harrison (10.6PPG), Willie Cauley-Stein (10.5PPG, 6.7RPG), Devin Booker (10.0PPG), Dakari Johnson (8.8PPG, 5.8RPG), Karl-Anthony Towns (8.1PPG, 6.6RPG), Trey Lyles (7.9PPG, 5.5RPG), and Andrew Harrison (7.7PPG, 4.2APG). Tyler Ulis is shooting 53% from the three. As a team Kentucky is shooting 47% from the field, 31% from three, and 65% from the free throw line. They are averaging 17 assist, 11 turnovers and 9 steals per game. One chink in the armor is their defensive rebounding. Despite being the tallest team in college basketball they are only averaging 26.6 defensive boards a game that ranks 55th in the country. And only have a +8 rebounding margin.

Kentucky’s 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS

OFFENSE
-POINTS PER GAME
76.8
37th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
41.6
12th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
17.3
15th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.475
48th
OVERALL

DEFENSE
-POINTS ALLOWED
47.7
2nd
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
26.6
55th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
8.7
1st
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
8.5
39th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #1
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-82.7 ranks 1st
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-114.7 ranks 5th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has Kentucky winning the game 64-62 based on his indexes.

If there’s one team left on the schedule that could solve the riddle to beating this UK team it’s the Cardinals. Our Cards are also on the verge of having one of the best defenses in their history. They currently rank in the top ten nationally in four key defensive categories POINTS ALLOWED 54.4 per game 8th overall, D REBOUNDS 28.9 per game 9th overall, BLOCKS 7.2 per game 6th overall, and STEALS 10.7 per game good for 4th overall. They are second in defensive efficiency behind Kentucky in Kenpom’s rankings. I think the Louisville defense will have to force this Kentucky team to beat them from deep and force them into taking quick jump shots. I know that this was the way that UNC tried to beat them and they failed miserably because Kentucky hit those shots, but it was the first time UNC had ever played zone. Our Cardinals will be much more effective using the zone to man switches along with better rotation. If the Cardinals can force Kentucky into some bad shots and rebound well defensively it will be half the battle won.

Our Cardinals big four Wayne, Montrezl, Terry, and Chris are going to need their best efforts of the season. And I think we’ll need a surprise game from Mango, Nanu or one of the other freshman off the bench. I have seen a player come out of nowhere to star in these games before and I hope that player is wearing a Cardinal uniform Saturday. Our Cardinals have been really good on the OFFENSIVE BOARDS 44.8 per game good for 3rd overall, and above average in POINTS scoring 77.3 per game good for 34th overall. Of course those things will be crucial Saturday but they will have to improve their efforts in ASSIST currently ranked 149th overall, and FIELD GOAL % currently 151st overall.

Most people think that the key to winning the game on Saturday is for the Cardinals to hit the three point shot and while they will have to hit a few to keep the UK defense honest it is not the be all end all. UK wants teams to jack up the three point shot so they can grab those long rebounds and get out on those fast breaks with their speed and length. For the Louisville offense to be most effective they must attack the UK defense forcing help side and kicking it out to the open man. Attack… Pass… We should be able to get our fair share of offensive rebounds and should get second or third opportunities.

This will be the biggest test of the year for both of these teams. Each has to play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and a opportunity to knock off a great team. To keep their hopes of a perfect season from happening would go a long way to make up for those heart breaking losses to them recently. And the Cardinals have the chance to keep the home court record in the recent series to 2-1 and on the plus side of things. You must win these games on your home court. I think our guys will be ready. Should be another great one in the series… Go Cards!

The Beak Prediction
Louisville 80
Kentucky 77

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Seahawks

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Tomorrow in the KFC Yum Center the Cardinals will face UNC Wilmington. It will be a homecoming for the Seahawks head coach who is former Louisville assistant coach Kevin Keatts. Keatts is in his first season at UNC Wilmington and he has them off to a solid start. This will be the first meeting between these teams and the Cardinals will have a chance to win their 34th straight game against a non-conference opponent at home. This streak is the 5th largest in the country. This game will be part of the 13th Annual Billy Minardi Classic. Every season the Cardinals Basketball Program uses this special event to honor the memory of Billy Minardi, brother-in-law of Coach Rick Pitino who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Coach Pitino will be going for his 350th win as the Cardinals head man. He has won half of his college basketball games while in Louisville.

The Seahawks are 3-2 and coming off of a 105-47 manhandling of the St Andrews Knights. They have been scoring at a frantic pace this season, and have posted at least 80 points in every game. They are shooting 52.3% from the field (ranked 8th in nation), 43.2 from the 3 point line (ranked 8th in the nation), and are averaging 80.8 points a game. Their opponents are shooting 40.4% from the field, 33.9% from three and averaging 72 points a game. The Seahawks are led by top scorer Freddie Jackson who is averaging a very efficient 18 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2 assist a game. He is followed by Addison Spruill (14 PPG, 5.2RPG & 2.4APG), Craig Ponder (12.0PPG, 2.6RPG & 4.0APG), Cedrick Williams (11.4PPG, 8.8RPG & 1.2APG), and Dylan Sherwood (10.0PPG, & 2.7RPG). They have five guys who are averaging double figures. Coach Keatts has employed his own brand of offense at UNC Wilmington, but the defense will look very familiar on Sunday afternoon. They will use different presses to speed up the Cards and then drop back into match up zones. They are averaging 9.6 steals a game good for 17th in the nation.

UNC- Wilmington 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS
Offense
-POINTS PER GAME
80.8
22nd
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
37.6
85th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
16.0
35th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.523
8th
OVERALL

Defense
-POINTS ALLOWED
72.0
291st
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
26.2
75th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
4.8
66th
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
9.6
17th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #222
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-100.8 ranks 187th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-97.1 ranks 236th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 86-60 based on his indexes.

This Louisville basketball team has established an identity of playing well rounded basketball. They play imposing team defense ranked nationally 4th in FG%, 7th scoring defense, 4th in steals, and 8th 3pt defense. And they are making the most out of their scoring opportunities currently 33rd in the country in scoring offense. This Louisville team has been glass cleaners and are second in the nation in rebounding per game.

Montrezl is playing like an all-American, Terry and Chris are playing like the best back-court in the nation, Wayne is playing like a battle tested senior, and Mango is coming around the same way Gorgui did for this UofL team. We have a solid group of freshman that are finding their way. Nanu has been a solid contributor, while Quentin, Jaylen and Anas are getting more confident every game. The game on Sunday afternoon will be a good chance for these guys to continue to gel and work on their offense and defense in preparation for the tough months of January and February.

I have no doubt in my mind that coach Keatts will have UNC Wilmington on the road to success in no time, but Sunday will not be their day. These Cards are rolling right now and they will continue to handle their business.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 87 UNC-Wilmington 58

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Hoosiers

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An old rivalry will be renewed when Louisville makes its return to MSG for the Jimmy V Classic. The Cards and Hoosiers will do battle for the first time since playing a game on February 1st 2003. It was the Cards that came out victorious in that game 95-76. This game will mark the 17th meeting between the two schools in history with IU holding a 10-6 advantage. The teams have met three times since 1990 with IU holding a 3-1 edge in those games. The game is not part of an ongoing series but is instead a one-game contract between the two schools. Coach Pitino has been working hard to get a home and home series with the Hoosiers but that hasn’t came about yet. Let’s all hope that the game on Tuesday night will spark up the old feud enough to make this a annual meeting. This will be assistant coach Kenny Johnson’s first time meeting his former team since leaving the Hoosiers for the Cardinals.

This will be the 19th meeting against Louisville for head coach Tom Crean, who has eight wins against the Cardinals. The Hoosiers will bring one of the nations best offensive teams to the floor on Tuesday night. They are averaging 88.4 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the field, shooting 74.7 percent from the line and 43.9 percent from beyond the arc. The Hoosiers have won three straight and looking for their second win over a ranked team. They beat then ranked #22 SMU back on November 20th. They have also beaten fellow ACC member Pittsburgh on December 2nd 81-69.

Leading the way for the Hoosiers is a very talented group of players. James Blackmon Jr. leads Indiana with 19.5 points and 5.1 rebounds while Yogi Ferrell is averaging 17.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. Troy Williams is averaging 12.2 points while shooting 61.2 percent from the field and 5.3 rebounds. Robert Johnson is averaging 11.1 points, 3.9 assists per game, and 4.5 rebounds a game. Their bench is averaging 29.9 points a game.

Since 2011-12, Indiana leads all major conference teams in field goal percentage (47.9), three-point field goal percentage (39.8) and free throw percentage (74.6). IU also is fourth nationally in scoring (77.1), and second in free throws made (2,051). The Hoosiers 38.6% 3-point field goal percentage since the start of the 2010-11 season is the highest among major college conference schools in that time frame. They leads the Big Ten in scoring, field goal percentage and three-pointers made per game (9.7). IU is second in the league in three point field goal percentage and fourth in free throw percentage.

For all of the good things they do on the offensive end of the floor Indiana’s defense could use some work. They are forcing just 13.5 turnovers per contest and have allowed 70-plus points in three of their last five games. They are allowing 69.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field, and 32.7% from the 3-pt line wile giving up 6.5 makes from there a game.

2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS
Offense
-POINTS PER GAME
88.4
4th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
37.4
98th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
16.5
27th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.524
9th
OVERALL

Defense
-POINTS ALLOWED
69.3
236th
-OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
25.6
100th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
3.3
207th
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
6.9
134th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #50
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-99.1 ranks 156th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-110.9 ranks 12th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 78-68 based on his indexes.

Our Cardinals will look to remain undefeated on Tuesday night and will have to rely heavily on a defense that is forcing 19 turnovers per game and holding teams to 22.8 percent shooting from deep. Louisville is also the second-best rebounding team in the country with 46.3 boards per game. They must win the battle of the boards against the Hoosiers and not allow their great offensive guys to get second or third opportunities. They will also need to speed the Hoosiers up and make them take quick shots with a hand in their face.

Montrezl Harrell leads the Cardinals with 16.1 points and 9.4 rebounds while Terry Rozier is averaging 13 points and 5.7 rebounds. Chris Jones is averaging 3.3 assists and Wayne Blackshear is shooting 39.4 percent from the field. These guys have been leading the way all season and will have to step up big again on Tuesday night. Montrezl and Wayne are the only guys on the current roster that have ever played at the Garden, so nerves could play a roll early on for Terry and Chris. We will need Nanu to have a big game and hopefully Anton Gill’s hot shooting streak from last Friday night will carry over in this game. Coach Pitino was very concerned about his teams ability to find the open man and the passing game. He said that was something they were going to work on in preparation for this one.

This will be another great chance at another quality non-conference win on a neutral court, and will take the best defensive and offensive effort of the season to get it. This should be a great game in a great venue and it is a very special event. This one makes me nervous and it is going to be gut check time. Cards will squeak out a close one.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 Indiana 77

The Beak Football Breakdown Cards vs. Eagles

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Doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we were all gathered down at 4th Street Live celebrating the Cardinals official move into the ACC. Now we are almost halfway through a sports season and are down to only one ACC Football game left. Louisville will be traveling up to Chestnut Hill Massachusetts this weekend and will close out the ACC portion of their schedule against the Boston College Eagles. The Cardinals and Eagles have played six times on the gridiron and the series is tied 3-3. It was the Cardinals who won the last meeting 52-28 back in 1998. BC is in the Atlantic Division and they are currently in 3rd at 3-2. The Cardinals are 4th at 4-3.

Boston College improved to 6-3 on the season after beating Virginia Tech 33-31 last Saturday. The Eagles have won two straight games and they have wins over UMass, USC, Maine, NC State, and Wake Forest this season. They have lost to Pittsburgh, Colorado State, and Clemson. On the year, the Eagles rank 19th in points against, allowing an average of 20.1 points per game. Boston College’s offense is averaging 27.4 points per game, which ranks 80th in the country. The Cardinals have recently faced the Eagles head man Steve Addazio when he was Temple’s head coach. He’s a very good coach who is affectionately referred to as “Vitamin A” because of his high-energy nature on the practice field, on game days and on the recruiting trail. He has the Eagles playing well and will have them ready on Saturday night.

Leading Addazio’s offense on Saturday night is dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy, who is a transfer from Florida. While his passing has been far from great this season (55.6% completion rate, 8 touchdowns, 6 interceptions), he has been unstoppable on the ground. Murphy has 965 rushing yards is averaging 7.4 yards/carry this season and has 9 rushing touchdowns.
The Boston College rushing attack does not stop with Tyler Murphy. BC is 9th nationally in Rushing. They have four running backs who have at least 100 yards. Leading this unit is Jon Hilliman who has 578 yards with 9 touchdowns. He is followed by Myles Willis who has 399 yards with 2 touchdowns, Tyler Rouse who has 144 yards with 2 touchdowns, and Marcus Outlow who has 137 yards.
Their passing attack isn’t very formidable, but they do have some guys who are very capable if Murphy is forced to throw it. Leading their wide receiving corps is Josh Bordner who has 289 yards with 3 touchdowns, Dan Crimmins who has 225 yards, Charlie Callinan who has 127 yards with 1 touchdown and Sherman Alston who has 109 yards with 1 touchdown.

On the year, the Cardinals are allowing only 17.7 points per game on average, which ranks 8th in the country. They are ranked 3rd in the country in rushing defense giving up 78.7 yards per game and have only allowed 4 rushing touchdowns on the season. They will have to maintain this effort against BC to give the Cardinals a chance on Saturday night. They will have to do so without one of their leaders Lorenzo Maulding who will be out with a hamstring injury. I’d say that coach Grantham will load the box and force Murphy and this BC offense to use something they really don’t like and that’s their passing game. The Cardinals defense has faced some decent rushing attacks this season including Winston and company last week so they should be ready.

Boston College has a pretty good defense themselves. Their unit is ranked 11th in total defense and just behind the Cardinals ranked 4th in rushing defense. They have a very good defensive line that is stocked with some very big guys. Leading this unit is Defensive end Brian Mihalik 6-9, 295 pounds with 22 tackles, defensive tackle Truman Gutapfel 6-3, 289 pounds with 18 tackles, and defensive tackle Connor Wujciak 6-3, 304 pounds with 22 tackles. These guys are veterans and they will be ready to try and stop the Cardinals attack.

Louisville’s offense is averaging 30.9 points per game, which ranks 57th in the country. The Cardinals gained 488 total yards against Florida State last week and turned the ball over twice. The offensive line did a great job last week and will have their hands full again this week with this very good BC defensive front. They will have to block well to give Dyer and Radcliff some room to run the ball. They will have to excel in their pass blocking to give Will Gardner time to throw the ball down field to Parker and Quick. This is one of the best defenses that the Cardinal offense has faced this season. They will have to have one of their best efforts to give the Cardinals a chance to win.

The Cardinals much like the fans were very dejected after last weeks heart breaking loss to Florida State. A game like that can really zap the energy and the drive out of a football team. It is very hard to regroup after coming up short like that after a very good effort. I think that’s why a lot of folks are looking at the game Saturday night against Boston College as one of those trap games. The outcome of this game will be determined by how these Cardinals come out of the locker room. Will they still have a hangover from a tough loss? I have total and complete confidence in our coaching staff and it is their job to make sure that doesn’t happen. I do think our guys will come out very focused as they are still playing for a bowl upgrade and still have a chance at finishing the season very strongly. A top 25 ranking is still very possible especially with a shot at knocking off Notre Dame after the bye week. This game will be a defensive slug-fest with our Cardinals winning a close one.

The Beak Prediction:

Louisville 13 Boston College 10

The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. The Orange

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Our Cardinals have a quick turnaround this week as they will take to the road to play Syracuse on Friday night. Yes we will be heading into the the Carrier Dome. Every Cardinal fan remembers the last time our Cardinals played Syracuse there. We had a perfect 9-0 season going in 2012 and they crushed our hopes of going undefeated winning that game 45-26. The Cardinals are 3-3 at the Carrier Dome and 6-6 all-time against the Orange. This will be their first ACC game of the season. Friday will be the Cardinals fourth conference game, and in all four games they will have faced a team playing its ACC opener.

Syracuse dropped to 2-2 on the year after losing to Notre Dame last weekend, 31-15. The Orange won their first two games of the season over Villanova and Central Michigan, before losing to Maryland. Against Notre Dame, the Orange gained 429 total yards while giving up 523 total yards to the Fighting Irish. The Orange run a hurry-up no huddle, run-first spread offense, and have adapted triple option principles for one of their primary offensive plays. This is a team that favors the run but they have a pretty balanced offensive attack with 930 yards on the ground and 872 through the air. They are 48th in the nation in total offense.

Syracuse 2014 OVERALL FBS RANKINGS
PASSING YARDS
218.0
81st
Overall
RUSHING YARDS
232.5
25th
Overall
POINTS FOR
25.5
88th
Overall
POINTS AGAINST
23.5
56th
Overall

Leading this Syracuse offense is quarterback Terrel Hunt. To say this guy likes to go right at defenses is an understatement. He is the leading rusher on offense with 299 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. He has also thrown for 782 yards and 1 touchdown. This team has some other good weapons in this option offense as well. Running back Prince-Tyson Gulley already has two games where he’s ran for over 100 yards. He has 280 yards with 1 touchdown on the season. He averages 7 yards a carry good for 14th in the nation. Gulley is running his way into the record books as his current per-carry career average stands at 5.6, trailing only Jim Brown and Ernie Davis on Syracuse’s career list. Running back Adonis Ameen-Moore is not too shabby either. He has 208 yards with 1 touchdown on the season. All three of these guys are seniors and play like it.
They’ve got a pretty good group of receivers in Jarrod West who has 236 yards, Ben Lewis who has 134 yards and Ashton Broyld who has 125 yards. One of their top receivers Brisly Estime will miss the game Friday.

Our Cardinals are ranked 3rd in the nation in total defense and have the #1 defense in the country against the run. It is going to be interesting to see our unit take on the triple option this week. This should be a great test for our defense and a good battle. Can’t wait to see what Mauldin, Burgess, Mount, Kelsey, Gaines, Holliman and company can do against this Cuse offensive group. My money is on the guys in red.

The Syracuse defense is ranked 53rd in the nation and they aren’t a big until but they do get to the ball well and have some decent speed. They have a good defensive front seven, led by DE Micah Robinson and LBs Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis. Lynch is one of the best pass rushers in the ACC and in the country ranked 5th with 4.5 sacks this season. The Orange have been stingy against the run allowing only 104 yards per game ranked 38th, and good at getting into the backfield. Syracuse is 36th in the country of tackles for loss per game at 6.8 per game. Syracuse loves to send pressure.

We learned on Wednesday that Reggie Bonnafon will get the start again on Friday. Will Gardner may be available if needed. The word coming out of the offensive side this week is consistency. Coach Petrino wants his guys to establish more of a rhythm this week and also do a better job at execution. Penalties and turnovers have killed the offense this year and it won’t be pretty Friday night if our guys make mental mistakes and turn the ball over. Wide receiver Eli Rodgers played well in that last game at the Carrier Dome and he will need to step up again this week. He and James Quick will have to play well. I really like our running game in this match-up. We got 4 guys that can go at their defense all night long. With the way they come at you fatigue will start to be a factor if we pound it down their throats all night. Our offensive line has acknowledged their need to get better. I think we’ll see that this week. Our offense has caught a bad wrap this season and it’s justified to some extent but we have played some solid defenses and this group for Cuse is also pretty good. Hope our guys answer the call.

I think we’ll see another good ballgame early on Friday night. If our offense struggles it could be another very close game. They will be hype wanting to win their first ACC game of the season and will have a great home crowd behind them. I really think our defense along with a solid running attack will be the difference and our Cards will roll to their 5th win of the season.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 34 Syracuse 17

The Cardinals Exercise The Demon Deacons

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Much like the last time these teams met in 2007 at the Orange Bowl this one was ugly at times and it was a grind it out type of game. The Cardinals got the hard fought win over the Demon Deacons 20-10. Our Cardinals are now 4-1 on the season and 2-1 in the ACC good for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Cardinals are now 2-0 against Wake Forest.

This game was ugly especially in the first half. The Cardinals had 3 fumbles and 11 penalties for the game and at times this one was really hard to watch especially the offense, but there were some bright spots. First Reggie Bonnafon a kid who one week ago to the day buried his father. I lost my father when I was 38 years old and I did good to function that first week let alone following a game plan and leading a college football team to victory as a college freshman. Reggie did this all in his first career start. This just proves how special that some of these athletes are. Not only are they athletically gifted, but they are wise beyond their years. Reggie had some mistakes but was able to manage the game and make some big plays when the offense needed him the most. He threw for 206 yards with no interceptions and ran for 46 yards. This kid is the real deal and I firmly believe that he is the future at the QB spot for this Louisville team.

Brandon Radcliff who is described by his coaches and his teammates as one of the hardest workers on the team. Everyone speaks very highly of this young man. He is just another stud in the Louisville group of running backs and tonight was his moment to shine. With 2 touchdowns and 129 yards rushing this was his best performance as a Cardinal. We will also be hearing this kids name a lot in the future.

I know a lot of Cardinal fans have been really down on this offense especially the offensive line, but when you talk with these kids and their coaches and hear how hard they are working and trying to get better it just puts everything in perspective. Jake Smith after the game tonight talked about an offensive line that needs to get better and even admitted that the touchdown by the Wake Forest defense tonight being his fault. Coach Petrino said about his offense tonight that basically they had been playing with a new group every week due to players being banged up and how that lack of consistency had also contributed to the groups slow progress. As Jake Smith also mentioned in his post game tonight. These guys have one of the greatest offensive minds in the college game on the sidelines and there’s no doubt that we will see improvement. Thanks to the solid play of Reggie and Brandon the offense did have good balance today with 206 yards through the air and 215 yards on the ground. This unit will get better. Just try to have patience folks.

Don’t know how many times that I have typed this, but what about this Cardinal defense… I also said after that first game how it was very clear that the defensive philosophy that was instilled by the last coaching staff was still present with this group. Tonight in his post game Lorenzo Mauldin who finished with 3 sacks said that they were just doing what they did last year and that the defense has just carried over. These guys held Wake Forest to -22 yards rushing today folks and had 8 sacks along with three interceptions. That is just flat out getting after it. Gerod Holliman added to his national lead with 1 interception, James Burgess had 1 interception and Sheldon Rankins had 1 interception. For all of the talk about an exciting offense to watch I am really enjoying watching this defense play. This is a special group and they are really getting it done every week. Don’t take that for granted stressing about the offense not scoring 60 points every week.

It wasn’t a beautiful win but if you are a Cardinal fan then you have gotten used to close wins. The last coaching staff was all about the grind it out ugly defensive win. For three years we watched our Cardinals do this every weekend. That’s how the program was being built for the last 3 seasons and the talent was also recruited for that. It’s going to take this coaching staff some time but they will put their signature on the offense. In the meantime put on your hard hats and cheer for this defense as they are one of the best units in the county. And stay behind this offense. They are a good group of kids who are working their tails off and deserve credit for that. GO CARDS!

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Houston Gets Russ Rolled

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Louisville will advance to their 4th consecutive conference final and will be looking to win their 3rd conference championship in a row after eliminating Houston 94-65 in the AAC semi-finals tonight. The Cards came into the AAC Tournament leading the nation in win margin. The last 2 games didn’t hurt that beating Rutgers by 61, and Houston by 29. They have outscored their last three opponents by 123 Pts, and have 19 wins by 20+ points this season. No other team has more than 14.

It was another great defensive effort tonight and it didn’t take long for the pressure to start to take its toll on the Cougars. The Cards forced them into 16 turnovers scoring 20+ points off of those and had 8 steals. But defense was only half the story tonight as a offensive performance for the ages took center stage. Luke Hancock: “You can’t describe Russ’ game. That’s Russdiculous…Being able to play with a guy like that makes my job easier, and everyone better.” It’s one of those type performances that you tell your grandkids about someday when talking about the guy that wore number 2. For only the 5th time in the history of the Louisville Basketball program 40 points were scored by one player in a game, that player Russ Smith. Just when you think you’ve seen it all with this kid he comes out and drops 42 points on 14 of 22 shooting. It’s The third highest single-game scoring mark in the 100-year history of Louisville basketball. With his amazing performance tonight he is now one of just 8 Louisville players to score over 1,800 points, and moves into 5th All-time in scoring with 1837 points total. With 7 games to go this season he just has me asking what’s next?

There are other guys who are quietly doing their part to make this Louisville team go. One of those guys is Stephan Van Treese who has 33 rebounds in his last three games. That includes three straight with at least 10. He has become a more confident guy and is playing like he expects to grab double digit boards.
Mango has really started to look the part as well and he was one of the best defenders on the floor tonight with his 3 blocked shots. He also grabbed 6 boards.
Chris Jones had 8 assist and 2 steals tonight to balance out the tremendous offensive effort from his backcourt partner.
Great teams have a lot of things that make them great and one of those things is players on a team knowing what role they play. Every guy on this Louisville team knows exactly what their role is.

Montrezl has been killing the rims in Memphis like he has been all season. The word Beast doesn’t do him justice sometimes. After tonight he now has 90 monster dunks and number 90 might have been his most impressive of the year.

If I can be critical for just one second I am a bit concerned that the guys got out-rebounded 43-38 tonight. They were able to mask this tonight, but it is something that could haunt this team down the road. Ok enough of that!
Our Cards are headed to another conference title game something very familiar to this group. It should be another great night for the Cardinals. 7 more to go. Go Cards!

Russ Smith after his amazing 42 point night:

Chris Jones after game:

Terry Rozier after the game:

Wayne Blackshear after the game:

Luke Hancock after the game:

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Tigers Part 2

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The Cards will be in Memphis on Saturday to play the second game in a conference rivalry that historically is considered to be one of the better hardwood feuds in NCAA basketball. The series began in 1948-49, but heated up when the two programs became league rivals in 1967-68 as members of the Missouri Valley Conference. The two schools have played each other as members of the Missouri Valley Conference (1968-73), Metro Conference (1976-91), Conference USA (1996-2005), and now the AAC. The Cardinals and Tigers will do battle for the 89th time on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals lead this series 53-35, but it was the Tigers who came into the Yum Center earlier in the season and got the win 73-67. The Tigers are looking to bounce back Saturday after suffering a 77-68 setback at Houston Feb. 27 and having won seven of their last 10 games. The Cards come into this after a blowout win against Temple have won 7 games straight. Our Cardinals are a perfect 7-0 in road games in American Athletic Conference play.

The Tigers could pose a big threat to Louisville winning the AAC title regular season title. If the last meeting was any indication, this one should be fun to watch. Josh Pastner has his best team in his five seasons as head coach. Their deep, veteran backcourt is among the best in the AAC, and the country. Memphis returns a perimeter game that can compete with any team in the country with Joe Jackson (14.4pts, 3.6rpg, 4.7apg), Geron Johnson (9pts, 5.1rpg, 3.8apg), and Chris Crawford (8.8pts, 4.0rpg, 3.0apg). Crawford and Jackson are the first teammates to have 1,000 points and 400 assists for a career. While emerging low-post force Shaq Goodwin (12.6pts, 6.5rpg, 1.6apg) and freshman sensation Austin Nichols (8.7pts, 4.1rpg, 0.4apg) are controlling both the defensive paint and the boards. Since playing them last time Michael Dixon Jr. has also emerged as a offensive threat with (11.8pts, 2.3rpg, 2.5apg).

Memphis has a solid group of athletes and they pose a threat at every position on the floor. Saturday’s game features a battle between top-30 ranked teams in terms of the nation’s top scoring offenses. In the latest NCAA rankings released Feb. 24, Memphis is No. 26 in the nation in scoring offense and Louisville is No. 12. The Tigers are second in the American Athletic Conference with a 78.8 scoring average. Our Cardinals lead The American with an 82.3 scoring average.

Memphis comes into Saturdays game averaging 78.8 points-per-game, while shooting 48.6% from the floor and 33.1% from 3-point range. The Tigers are converting 65.4% of its attempts from the free-throw line. Defensively, Memphis is allowing 70 points-per-game as the opposition is shooting 43% from the floor. The Tigers are out-rebounding their opponents 1066-980 with a rebounding margin of +3.1 averaging 38.1 boards-per-contest.

Memphis
2013-14 OVERALL RANKINGS
-POINTS PER GAME
78.7
30th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
38.1
40th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
17.8
3rd
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.486
18th
OVERALL

Kenpom Ranks
Overall – #45
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
– 97.5 ranks 51st
Offensive Adjustment Efficiency
– 110.5 ranks 67th

Here we are again Cardinal fans another Saturday, and another big road game in a hostile environment against a very old rival. This one will be a stiff test for our Cardinals and they will have to be much more effective in every aspect of the game than they were last weekend against Cincy. Where their offense was created by just one guy this Memphis team has playmakers all over the court and a few on the bench. Russ leads four Cardinals averaging double figures in the scoring column at 17.7 ppg (third in The American). Montrezl (13.3 ppg), Luke (11.7 ppg) and Chris Jones (10.1 ppg) also average double digits for Louisville. We will need these guys to show up and then some today. I think the X-factor for us could be the much improved play of Mango and VanTreese since the last match-up, and Terry Rozier. Wayne could also come out of no where and be the difference maker.

I’m confident but also very nervous about this one. It will truly tell us where our Cardinals are in terms of their threat to make a deep run in the next few weeks. This game is going to test them at every facet of the game, including their poise as that crowd is going to be down right nasty. I really want this one Cardinal Fans. Stroke those beards and cheer hard. Go Cards!