The Rivalry game before the Rivalry game

I always thought Indiana and Louisville should play more and to Coach Pitino’s credit, he was always working to get these teams back together on the hardwood. Unlike that coward that coach’s that team up the road, Rick made it clear that he wasn’t afraid to play Indiana anytime and anywhere.

Louisville and Indiana renewed their rivalry in a game back in December of 2014 as part of the JimmyVClassic. That was a one-game contract. I will always remember that game as the night Montrezl Harrell became Louisville’s all-time dunk leader. That game also sparked up the rivalry enough that talks begin between the schools and an agreement was reached for the schools to meet up in a series on the Hardwood and the Gridiron. 

The team’s played the first in a three-game (neutral/home/home) agreement at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Dec. 31, 2016. Cards won that one 77-62. The second matchup came last season on Dec. 9, 2017, at the Yum Center. Cards won that one 71-62. The game in Bloomington on Saturday will be the final game of the renewed hardwood series.

Indiana and Louisville will kick off the football series part of the agreement at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sept. 16, 2023, with seating split equally between the two schools. The second football game will be played in Cardinal Stadium in Louisville on Sept. 7, 2024, and the three-game series will be completed at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington on Sept. 6, 2025.

With the UofL and IU campuses only being separated by 107 miles this rivalry just makes sense and I really hope the hoops series will continue after this season. Coach Mack and Archie Miller have already had a pretty good rivalry together between Xavier and Dayton. Hopefully, the two will work to keep this new one between them going as well. 

Our Cardinals have won four straight over the Hoosiers but will face a pretty good team in Bloomington tomorrow and will be playing in front of a hostile crowd. One of the loudest opposing crowds they will play in front of this season. Dynamic Freshman guard Romeo Langford has really provided a spark to the Indiana offense this season scoring almost 18 points a game. But he also has a pretty good team around him. 

Senior Juwan Morga is averaging 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. He is on the top 50 list of all-time scores at IU. He and Langford provide a pretty good one-two punch for a Hoosiers offense that is sixth in the nation in field goal percentage shooting almost 52% a game. 

The Cardinals are doing pretty well on the offensive end of the floor as well and there is no shortage of scorers on this team. The scoring has been good enough to rank them 40th in the country offensively. It’s taking a little longer for things to come together on the defensive end of the court and this team will face one of its toughest tests to date on Saturday. 

The defense has been trending in the right direction ranking now 114th in FG% defense and 171st in 3pt FG% defense. You can see the light coming on for these guys. You will hear them talk about defensive Kills. That is a goal that Coach Mack has give his team every game they play. 8 defensive kills during a game according to what I’ve heard equals a win almost every time out. There are different criteria set up by Coach Mack to achieve these defensive kills. Just another example of him getting this team to buy in. 

I don’t know if they will get their 8 defensive kills in the game on Saturday but they will have to figure out a way to slow down the hot shooting Hoosiers.  

This game is the Rivalry game before the Rivalry with Kentucky coming to town in just a few weeks for the annual in-state showdown. This game will be a good test to see where our Cardinals stand and will be good for these guys as they get ready for the game on the 29th and as they prepare for a tough conference slate. I’m gonna enjoy this one. And I really do like our chances.

L’s Up! Preview:

Fun Night at the Yum Center

It was all smiles on Wednesday night at the Yum Center. Coach Mack has his new team in midseason form. They have bought into his brand of tough basketball and seem to be enjoying playing it. The Cardinals didn’t miss a beat coming off two big wins in a row over Michigan State and Seton Hall. They showed that even in a 45 point rout that they are gonna give their new coach their best effort.

Jordan Nwora continues to lead this group on the offensive end of the floor. He had 21 points and what I really liked about his stat line is that he only had one turnover. When he takes care of the basketball he is one of the best players in the country…

Steven Enoch’s offensive prowess is starting to come around. He had a couple of nice little jumpers. You can see that confidence building in him. Once he realizes his potential he will be a stat sheet stuffer. Not only scoring points but rebounding, blocking shots and getting steals. He led the team with 9 boards on Wednesday night. Steven is a player trending upward.

He might not be the player you want him to be every time out but he is a player that wanted to be here and stayed committed thru the muck. That’s why I love when VJ King has a good game. He had 17 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and 1 steal. And he had one of the most athletic moves I’ve seen all season with that putback dunk. VJ isn’t going to play the way you want him to every night. But he’s here playing. Be happy when he has a big night and respect him for that. He’s gonna have a lot of big nights.

We watched the physical transformation of this group back in the summer and are now seeing the transformation of this team on the court. When Coach Mack got here he knew what needed to be done and he has already turned the culture of the program around. What some said would take years has only taken a few months.

You take a young hungry motivated coach and give him the resources of a University of Louisville and that’s gonna be a winning recipe 9 times out of ten. Speaking of young hungry and motivated coaches New Football Coach Scott Satterfield was introduced to the Yum Center crowd on Wednesday night.

There is no doubt that our new football Coach has a big challenge ahead of him but I can see him having similar success with his group that Mack has had with the basketball program. Once he gets the culture back to where it needs to be I think you’ll see things start to really fall into place. Will it take years? I don’t think it will. I do think we will have a team that is playing hard and playing for each other again.

There is a ton of coverage and material out there on Scott Satterfield. This guy has been a part of building two programs from the ground up. He assisted with the task at FIU as the offensive coordinator for two seasons. All those teams did was win. Then he built his own program at App State. Winning seems to follow some coaches around. Winning follows Scott Satterfield around. Winning follows Coach Mack around.

Both of these guys know the X’s and O’s of their respective sports but the key to their success has just as much to do with knowing the Jimmys and Joes of their sport. Both guys understand winning has just as much to do with the culture of a program as it does the other stuff. It’s why Coach Mack was able to turn things around so quickly and I think it will be why Coach Satterfield turns the football program around.

We were all having fun in the Yum Center on Wednesday night. Everywhere you looked people were smiling, hugging and high fiving each other. I think we have an AD that knows his Jimmy’s and Joes pretty good too. A lot of good things ahead for the Cardinal Nation and gonna be a lot more nights like this. Enjoy the ride folks!

L’s Up!

Coach Satterfield introduced to Yum Center Crowd


Mack’s Cardinals trending upward heading into December

It was a great weekend for the Louisville Basketball team. They were able to meet the challenge of their first big road game. It’s been so much fun watching them get better every week. With two NCAA Tourney resume wins under their belt they’ll head into the month of December with a couple of big games on the horizon. They still have to travel to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers on the 8th and have the Cayuts coming in for the Annual showdown on the 29th before they head into conference play.

The most pleasant surprise to me has been the play of Akoy Agau and Dwayne Sutton. I knew he would be an excellent voice inside the locker room due to his experience and his journey but did not see him being a solid contributor and that’s just what Akoy has become averaging almost 5 rebounds and 6 points a game. And he’s been effective getting to the free throw line and hitting 73% from the stripe. He has been a spark plug.

Speaking of a spark plug Dwayne Sutton has one button and that’s full throttle. He is second on the team grabbing 41 rebounds and has also been a solid contributor points wise averaging 8 points a game. He also is one of the leaders on the team with 6 steals. Sutton is one of those players that does all those little things and makes plays when his team needs him.

Not so surprising and living up to the expectations of this season is Jordan Nwora and Ryan McMahon. Nwora leads this team offensively averaging 16.4 points a game and more impressively leads this team in rebounding with 7.3 a game. He also has 6 steals. If Jordan can cut down on his turnovers (19) thru 7 games) he is going to be a more complete player than he is now.

I said from day one that Ryan McMahon would go down as one of the best players in the history of the program. That opinion is more popular now than it was a few years ago as Ryan is the second leading scorer on this team averaging 9.9 points a game. Ryan is another player who is very effective and has learned to play to his advantages. One of those advantages is drawing the foul and getting to the free throw line. Ryan is ranked 3rd in the country shooting 95.7% from the stripe. Glad this guy is on our team.

Other guys who have stood out in their own way thru the first few weeks are Malik Williams who has worked his way inside the Top 130 in the nation with 10 blocked shots, and Christen Cunningham leading the team with 20 assists.

It’s always good to look and see your team on the front page of the national statistical categories. This Louisville team is on the front page nationally in Fewest Turnovers ranked 38th, in Scoring offense ranked 30th, in Free Throw Attempts ranked 12th, in Free Throws Made ranked 2nd and in Free Throw Percentage ranked 24th.

This team is in a good spot heading into the December period. The schedule is set up nicely for improvement and I think we’ll see this team do just that. The players are having fun again and getting better as they are doing it. At this point in the season and after two big back to back wins they find themselves on the cusp of the Top 25. Don’t think many expected that. Looking forward to more improvement and think this team could be a real threat come March.

L’s Up!

First Road game for Mack Attack

With the first signature win under their belt, our Cardinals will now hit the road for the first true road game of the season. The Cardinals come into this one with a 4-2 record after that big 82-78 overtime win over Michigan State in their last outing. They will face a Seton Hall team that has won three straight. And they are coming off a big game of their own with an 83-81 win over Miami.

Seton Hall was one of the teams that beat Louisville last season at the Yum Center. After losing three program changing players this Seton Hall team will look different but Kevin Willard has established some consistency in that program and they still got some very good players and a winning system in place.

The Louisville defense was able to slow down one of the best backcourt duos in the country in the last game. They face another pretty good one in New Jersey tomorrow. Myles Powell who leads their team in scoring had a 40 point game and scoring record in the Wooden Legacy. Quincy McKnight is also a double-digit scorer and the straw that stirs the drink averaging 3 assist a game.

Not only will these guards try to extend the Cards defense this Seton Hall team always has those good wing players who can create their own offense. Those guys this year are Michael Nzei who had a big 21 point game against Miami and Sandro Mamukelashvili who can hit three-point shots and leads Seton Hall on the glass with 7.7 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Seton Hall is averaging 73.2 points per game on 45.9% shooting from the field, 30.3% from behind the arc and 68.1% from the foul line.

Our Cardinals have been a great offensive team during the first few weeks of the college basketball season. They are ranked 30th in the country in scoring offense. They’ve had some great production out of guys that were a little unexpected. Akoy Agau has been the biggest surprise with the effort he brings and Dwayne Sutton’s intensity has really paid off.

The thing that has really made a difference for this team is their ability to get to the free-throw line and to make their shots when they get there. The Cardinals currently rank 25th in the country shooting 76.5% from the line while ranking 6th in the country in Free throws attempted and free throws made. This could be the recipe for a big road win on Saturday afternoon.

Coach Mack is no stranger to Seton Hall. He got two big wins over them last season as the Xavier head man. I think he’ll have the Cardinals ready for this game. Seton Hall has had trouble at times this season scoring. Don’t think they’ll be able to keep pace with our guys. Looking forward to seeing how our guys respond after the last one.

L’s Up! Breakdown:

The Grind Continues Tonight for Mack Attack

The Grind Continues Tonight for Mack Attack

This Louisville Basketball schedule is going to end up one of the toughest in the country and maybe the toughest when all is said and done. The grind continues tonight with Michigan State coming to town. With the grind another opportunity for a big win.

Izzo has another good basketball team. The Spartans have won 4 straight after that opening loss against Kansas. They beat a decent UCLA team and Texas team during that stretch. Our Cardinals will face the best backcourt duo they will play all season tonight. In their last game against Texas Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston accounted for 49 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists. These guys have played side by side for over 70 games. I think they even room together. To say they have on-court chemistry is an understatement.

In saying that I think the obvious key to a big win tonight is trying to neutralize those guys and force the other guys around them to make some plays to beat you. But it’s not just about the scoring on their end that concerns me. This Louisville team enters this game with 3 guys Nwora, Perry, and Enoch averaging in double figures. VJ King was another but has dropped below that average. This group is at its best when they are all contributing consistently.

I don’t think you’ll see this Louisville team win many games with just one or two guys pulling the weight. In the Marquette loss, Louisville’s top scorer was Christen Cunningham with 16 points, three assists, and two rebounds. The only other Cardinal in double-figures there was Jordan Nwora, with 15 points and seven rebounds. This team has to play with a balanced attack to win games. Especially this game tonight. Tough, Together…

If the Cardinals can play some solid defense and hold their guards in check along with having a balanced attack on the offensive end of the court I can see us coming up with a big win tonight. But all of that is much easier said than done. I’m interested in seeing how our guys come out tonight after that gut-wrencher against Marquette. Can’t let one tough loss drag into the next one. Was something that was an issue last season. Gotta be Unbreakable.

Looking forward to this one. L’s Up! Preview:

Louisville Basketball will be a fun Rollercoaster

This Louisville Basketball season will be like a fun rollercoaster ride.

That loss on Wednesday was one that didn’t really seem like a loss at all. Our guys came out playing inspired basketball and gave the #5 team in the country all they wanted. This Louisville team is going to win some big games this season but it won’t be without the growing pains. Learning and adapting to a new style of play, learning a new defense and just learning how to win close games will all be a part of it.

I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face on Wednesday night. Just the offensive prowess of this Louisville group is enough alone to be optimistic. Tennessee came into that game allowing just under 60 points a game and our Cardinals put up 81 on them. It was defense and turnovers that ultimately cost the Cards. Louisville shot 44.1% from the field and 39.3% from beyond the arc, however, allowed Tennessee to shoot 54.0% from the field in the loss. Louisville was outrebounded by Tennessee by a 38-32 margin and lost the turnover battle by a 14-10 margin.

Tonight an old rivalry will be renewed as the Cards take on Marquette in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. The defense will once again be the biggest concern for our Cardinals as they come into this game ranked just 231st in scoring defense and 256th in defensive FG%. Marquette is averaging 74.8 ppg on 44.0% shooting from the field. The Golden Eagles are averaging 10.0 three-pointers per game on 36.2% shooting from beyond the arc. They have a couple of guys who can really light it up.

I don’t think they will pose as big of a threat on the inside as Tennessee did but like Tennessee, they can attack from all levels. Our guys will have to be tougher on this end of the floor and again try not to be careless with the ball on the offensive end. Turnovers also a big part of early season basketball.

Jordan Nwora is going to be one of the best players on the floor in every game Louisville plays this season. But has to cut down on those turnovers. It really does neutralize his game. Akoy Agau was a nice surprise in the last game. If Louisville can get that kind of effort from him moving forward it will be a big help to our frontcourt depth. Looking forward to seeing what his follow up performance is tonight.

It’s going to be a roller coaster type season but a fun rollercoaster, not the scary kind. I think we will enjoy watching this team learn and grow over the course of it. I’m looking forward to another step along that journey tonight. Go Cards!

L’s Up! Game Preview:

Hard work and new swagger pay off tonight

Hard work and new swagger will pay off tonight

I’ve been waiting and looking forward to the first big basketball game of the season. With this schedule, I didn’t have to wait long. Our Cardinals will play a pretty good Volunteers team here in about an hour as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off from the Barclays Center. Louisville has won the last 5 matchups against the Vols.

I think the biggest challenge for the Cardinals tonight will be how well they have learned the new defense. Will they be able to stay disciplined enough at this point in the season and stay out of foul trouble. We don’t have the bodies for foul trouble. This Tennessee team moves the ball really well and they do a great job at finding the open man. They are 14th nationally with 20.7 assists per game. Hope our guys are ready.

Scoring hasn’t been an issue for our guys either with four players Nwora, Perry, Enoch, and VJ all averaging double figures. This is a very offensive oriented Louisville team with 3-point shooting big men and all. The versatility of Malik and Steven could pay off tonight. They can stretch a defense.

Nwora leads the Cardinals with 18 points and 6 rebounds per game while Ryan Mack leads Louisville with 3 assists per game. Ryan makes good things happen when he’s in the game. His Basketball IQ is off the charts. As a team, the Cardinals are averaging 91.7 points per game on 53.5% shooting from the field, 37.3% from behind the 3-point line and an impressive 78% from the foul line this season. Getting to the foul line will be big tonight.

It won’t be just a game of horse for Louisville. This Tennessee team’s defense is some of the best in the country. They held the Yellow Jackets to just 53 points in their last game, which is their average in terms of points against this season. The Volunteers are ranked 4th in the nation in field goal defense. This Louisville team has been prone to turn the ball over and take a bad shot. Can’t do that against this Vols team. Cards have to make every possession count.

I’m super optimistic. If our guys don’t let the bright lights get to them I think they win this game. I’ve said it 20 times just this week. Coach Mack is for real. And this team thru about 8 guys deep can run with anyone in college basketball. I really believe that. This team has been working hard and are walking with a different swagger. That will pay off tonight.

L’s Up! Go Cards! preview:

Release The Hounds

Tonight one of the photographers at the game Gail Kamenish captured this picture of Coach Mack.

It reminded me of the Simpsons Characters Mr. Burns. One of Mr. Burns’ trademark expressions is the word “Excellent”, muttered slowly in a low, sinister voice while steepling his fingertips. And He occasionally orders Smithers to “release the hounds”.

Tonight Coach Mack released the hounds on Southern as Louisville flexes their muscle in game #2 with a 104-54 win. Coach Mack also talks a lot about excellence. Tonight in his post game you can tell that he believes his team took another step towards that goal tonight. He still hasn’t smiled during a post-game but tonight he appeared satisfied.

It’s getting to be the standard to talk about Jordan Nwora after these games. And tonight he stood out again coming off the bench scoring 20 points, grabbing 6 boards, with 2 steals and a blocked shot. There was one sequence in the game that stood out the most to me tonight. Jordan missed a three badly… Sprinted down the floor squared up on D, grabbed a defensive rebound and then led the break hitting CC for a three coming back up the floor. Good stuff!

Following Nwora tonight in scoring and also having himself a game was Malik Williams with 17 points and 5 boards. Malik is one of the guys on this team whose upside is off the charts. He really is a ball of clay at this point just waiting for someone to mold into an NBA type player. Coach Mack has a great reputation for player development, especially with Malik’s skill set. Mack knows how to use that versatility.

Another guy with a high upside is Steven Enoch. This big fella has not missed a free throw yet. Going a perfect 9-9 in game one and 5-5 tonight. He is 14-14 on the season. I said it last week and will say it again this week. This guy is a great weapon to have.

Honorable mention tonight goes to Akoy Agau.
‪(Old Faithful) The average interval between its spoutings is 78 minutes.‬
‪(Old Faithful Akoy) The average interval between his games played in a Louisville uniform is 1439 days. It was good to see him back on the court. That guy has had some journey.

It’s all about taking steps forward. Tonight Team 105 did that. L’s Up!

Coach Mack Post Game:

Malik Williams Post Game:

Jordan Nwora Post Game:

Akoy Agau Post Game:

Bittersweet Win in Cards Opener

Cardinal fans have waited all summer for the Chris Mack Era to begin… and Thusday night it started with a bang literally as the new intros featured fire, pyro and a laser show. But it didn’t take long for the celebration to end and the grind to begin. Defensive lapses, turnovers, and offensive inconsistency kept a scrappy Nicholls State team in the game before the Cardinals were able to pull away late.

Chris Mack didn’t make his way from a JV Basketball coach to a 4 million dollar gig at Louisville by settling for any type of mediocrity. And he showed me tonight that he isn’t going to let any of the sentimental stuff get in his way either. When I asked him how his first Louisville win felt in the postgame he didn’t mix his words in expressing his displeasure for how this game turned out.

It is refreshing to have a head coach that doesn’t sugar coat things. I don’t think we’ll ever be left wondering what Coach Mack really thinks. He’s gonna tell you. This guy is a winner in every aspect. I know that his drive prohibits him from showing too much emotion but I bet that he will have the game ball from Thursday night saved to commemorate his first win as the Louisville coach. There haven’t been many other guys get that first one here as head coach of the Cardinals. Pretty big deal IMO.

And even though the game didn’t go as well as they had hoped there were some bright spots on the player’s side of things as well. Steven Enoch is going to be a beast for this program. He pretty much had his way against the much smaller Nicholls State frontcourt. He had 15 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocked shots. Perhaps his most impressive stat line was going 9 for 9 at the free throw line. Talk about a weapon.

The Cardinals spent a lot of time tonight at the charity stripe going 42 of 55 from the line for a respectable 76.4%. I really like how Darius Perry took the ball to the basket. He ended up with 14 points. Jordan Nwora struggled from the outside and adjusted his game making some strong moves to the basket. He ended up with 12 points. Ryan McMahon provided a spark in the first half hitting some big three-point shots.

I know that these guys can’t relish in a close win against a scrappy but inferior opponent. But this game was good for them and I’m glad the way it turned out. Thursday night started my 6th season behind the scenes covering Louisville Basketball. I’m looking forward to covering this team and watching them grow and am excited for the Chris Mack Era. L’s Up!

Coach Mack Post Game:

Jordan Nwora Post Game:

Ryan McMahon Post Game:

Darius Perry Post Game:

Christen Cunningham Post Game:

Coach Mack, VJ King & Christen Cunningham ACC Media Day

Coach Mack took the podium at his first ACC Media Days on Wednesday afternoon. He had team captain’s VJ King and Christen Cunningham with him in Charlotte. The guys sounded very positive and motivated about the season ahead. It really was a special day for Coach Mack who got to share it with his oldest daughter. He turned over his social media account to her and she documented the behind the scenes of the events.

V.J. King, Jr., Louisville
Started all 36 games for the Cardinals last season … ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 8.6 ppg and fifth in rebounding at 3.3 rpg … played 25.4 minutes per game.

Christen Cunningham, Gr., Louisville
Transfer from Samford … elected as a team captain for this season with V.J. King … ranks 13th on Samford’s all-time scoring list with 1,283 career points.

Here are the guys as they took center stage on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to another exciting ACC season.

Press Conference starts at the 4:00 mark.