Archive for February, 2010

Strong & Jurich Talked in October? NOOOOOO!?!

Posted: February 25, 2010 by robjoneslyes in Freak Stuff

Know you're doing your job, but we were right

According to those in attendance and a fellow blogger, Tom Jurich said he talked to Charlie Strong about the Cardinal head-coaching job back in October. Jurich and Strong were speaking at a Churchill Downs Turf Club meet & greet Wednesday night. Jurich was introducing Strong and spilled the beans a little. From Paul Sykes of UofLCardGame.com…

The plan to replace Steve Kragthorpe as football coach intensified after
former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy repeatedly confirmed Jurich’s
beliefs about Strong as the ideal candidate to take over Cardinal football.

U of L maintained contact with Strong during his final season as
Florida defensive coordinator. Strong told Jurich after the Florida vs. Arkansas
game in October, “There comes a time when you have to make a change in your life and Louisville is the place I want to be.”

Tony Dungy just went up 265,456 spots in my favorite people on Earth list after hearing that. Louisville fans should send that guy a Christmas card and when Strong wins a BCS bowl, Dungy should get a ring.
Although extremely awesome, this is in sharp contrast to the way the Louisville athletic department treated a story I wrote on OCTOBER, 7th for LouisvilleSportsBuzz.com. I was told by people that would have no reason to lead me wrong that Jurich had been searching for potential replacements for a coach who’s name I won’t make you cringe with. The story and I were then called “bogus” “erroneous” and “irresponsible” by everyone sans a few friends and truth bearers. These comments from Jurich further reassure that in October he was looking for new coaches, basically letting Kragthorpe ride-out the season as a lame-duck. Any claims to the contrary are bogus, erroneous, and irresponsible.

 

Did a meeting take place during the season? Yes. Was Kra..err…that coach present? That I am not sure of now. From what I understand, he was a gone after the PITT debacle on October 2nd. Jurich then told the in-the-know people that the mess was going to be cleaned up. The story was written October 7. The details thereafter are irrelevant.

 

I know it’s like beating a dead-horse, but I want to reassure that when there’s a report on here, it doesn’t come out of thin air. We take a lot of pride in not writing rumors and innuendo unless we indicate that. The good thing is the Cards have a so-far spectacular new coach in Charlie Strong and that coach going to be out of sight, out of mind.
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Georgetown Afterthoughts

Posted: February 25, 2010 by robjoneslyes in Freak Stuff
 

Georgetown loss bad, but not crippling

It hasn’t been days since the defeat & I still have trouble separating my anger as a fan with trying to write something that doesn’t make me look like Matt Jones. The Snowman already did a good job with breaking it down. Here are just a few thoughts I had from another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory for the Cards last night…

Edgar, Edgar, Edgar

 
Edgar Sosa had a good game with 24 pts 8 ast 1 TO, but without sounding like a broken record, it could have been great. Sosa had his lowest plus/minus rating (-2) of any loss the Cards have had all season. Sos’ had great success taking the ball violently to the hoop and finishing in the first half, yet his luck (as the whole teams did) ran out in the second half. It looked to me like he was trying to do too much. Can’t really blame him though with the rest of the team far from effective. The 8/1 AST/TO ratio has to be his highest in a long, long time. That’s the thing with Eddie, even after a game like this he gets heavily criticized – rightfully or not.

Assists…or lack thereof

The senior back-court of Jerry Smith & Sosa had 11 assists. The rest of the team had as many as Chris Brickley & Clarence Holloway combined… ZERO. The main culprit in this stat is Samardo, who has to learn how to pass out of the post. I have flashbacks of Clifford Rozier whenever he gets the ball. He’s played great, but it’s like throwing the ball into the Grand Canyon – it ain’t coming back.

The Quiet Killer : Austin Freeman

I’m not saying this just because he dropped 24 in the second half, almost single-handedly outscoring the whole Cards’ team, but Austin Freeman is going to have at least a 10-year career in the NBA. No questions asked. He is Big East top-10 in minutes played, pts per game, field goal & free throw percentage. The sub-par Louisville defense left him open on a couple, but at least 3 of his perfect 6-6 treys in the half came with a defender in his jersey. Freeman is familiar with Freedom Hall – playing one other game with G’Town – but also was a member of the McDonald’s AA team taht included Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love & Eric Gordon. Freeman doesn’t stick out because of his demeanor, but is definitely one of the nation’s best.

A Swop, A Buck, or a TJ?

Jared Swopshire is going to be a great ball-player here one day. However, I have been watching basketball for years and can’t put my finger on what separates him from Terrence Jennings & Rakeem Buckles when it comes to playing time. I’ve quit trying to figure it out and have just accepted that’s how it is. I’m sure Pitino has his reasons, but his rotation has been strange all season. Last night Swop’s +/- was a whopping -16 and he was constantly getting beat in his defensive responsibilities. On the other hand in less minutes, TJ & Buck combined for a +/- of (+1) and both either matched or outscored Swop. The only thing Swop has done better consistently all season is foul less.

 

At least we have the first half, right?

“We played a perfect first half”. Straight from the mouth of Coach Pitino following the game and seconded by anyone that’s followed the Cards this year. Sosa had 13, Delk 11 and the defense was holding the Hoyas to 37% shooting. The Cards didn’t have their first turnover until the 3:35 mark and gave up zero second-chance points. For that one half, people actually saw the potential of this team. That all changed in the second half… I don’t wanna talk about it….
 
Loss doesn’t sting too bad
 
NCAA hopes didn’t take as big of a bruise as the Cards’ ego probably did. It would have been another marquee win to add to the resume, but the loss was not crippling. RPI rating slipped to #39. Strength of Schedule stayed strong at 4th. A lot of the talking-heads on ESPN were doubting the teams ability this morning though. I would be more worried of this team giving up yet another lead in the second half and what further damage it did to their psyche than this loss killing or cramping NCAA hopes. 2 of the next 3 would be golden, one would mean some work would need to be done at MSG, zero and Syracuse might not be the last game at the Hall.
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Aran Smith of NBADraft.net first started this whole mess and as soon as Sportbybrooks.com  picked up the story it was like throwing gasoline on a fire.

According to one NBA scout current Kentucky freshman bigman DeMarcus Cousins has on- and off-court issues are psychological and require medication.

“No way…mental issues…he is on bigtime meds i hear…not athletic enough for me talent wise also…but he has been great last month…”

That same scout has since stated that he thinks Cousins will probably go “very high” in the draft, but says he wouldn’t touch him in the top five for fear of off court issues.

 

A Tale Of Two Halves

Posted: February 25, 2010 by Bacon in Louisville Basketball

Dr. Jekyll reared his ugly head last night at Freedom Hall, this time in the form of, junior guard for the #13th ranked Georgetown Hoyas,Austin Freeman, and the Louisville Cardinals defense in the second. After being held to 5 points in the first half, Freeman simply erupted for 24 points in the second half finishing with 29 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field, 5 of 6 from the 3 point line(all 5 in the second half), and a perfect 6 0f 6 from the free throw line.In the first half, the Cardinals defense was superb against the Hoyas, keeping their stars, Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman, in check. The Hoyas went into the half down 6, 29 -35.

When the second half began, Austin Freeman and his teammates, came out a completely different team. Freeman scored the first 8 points ,all in 2 minutes, for the Hoyas on two three pointers and a putback. From there, they went on a 24 -3 run that turned a 29-35 deficit at the half into a 53-38 lead in the middle of the second half, and at that point, the finish was academic.(Did I type the word half, enough?) The Cardinals had no answers on the offensive end in the second period, missing shot after shot from all over the basketball court, be it down low or from the 3 point line. The lone positive performance for the Cardinals came from senior point guard Edgar Sosa, who scored 24 points, handed out 8 assists, and only had 1 turnover. To me the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Sosa got a large majority of his points doing his usual move of putting his head down and making a bullrush for the basket.

In these forays to the rim, Sosa is NEVER looking to pass out to an open teammate to get others involved, thus making him a one man team and offensively inefficient. This also poses a problem on the defensive transition because, instead of traditionally having 2 guards to get back on defense, you have only 1 guard exposed on a fast break when Sosa is stuck under the basket. Sophomore power forward Samardo Samuels was held largely in check all night, only scoring 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting from the field. He only secured 6 rebounds and the most troubling stat line was his 0 assists. In a night where he was doubled, and sometimes triple teamed, the entire game, his lack of ability to pass the ball out to the open man proved to be one of the Cardinals undoing. Samuels’ opposition, sophomore center Greg Monroe, basically lit up Samuels on all facets of the game. Monroe ended up with 16 points 14 rebounds and 5 timely assists. Monroe could do anything he wanted against Samuels at anytime.

He used numerous post moves in and around the basket to run circles against a seemingly flat-footed Samuels. Unlike Samuels, Monroe was constantly aware of the defense coming at him, therefore he was able to dish out assists when and where his teammates needed it. The kid is an instant lottery pick. Sophomore center for the Cardinals, Terrence Jennings, played for most of the first half and had 4 points and 2 rebounds. I thought he did a good job of containing Monroe and the Hoyas down low in the first half. But then Jennings’ nightmare season continued, where he saw the court sparingly. Clearly there is something behind the scenes that is going on between Coach Pitino and Jennings, that noone knows about. After a more than positive game against DePaul, I just don’t think these random benchings help these kids confidence at all. Speaking of random benchings,

WHERE IS MIKE MARRA? After a, for Marra, breakout game against one of the best defenses in the country in Syracuse, he has played ZERO minutes in the past two games! What is going on here? When you ask Coach Pitino, he’ll give you the old standby, “wasn’t the right matchup”. Of all games, Marra would have been perfect to stretch a defense that was clearly clogging the middle to keep the ball out of Samardo Samuels’ hands. As I said before, I don’t see how benching a kid for two whole games helps this kids already fragile confidence on any level. The Louisville Cardinals’ next game will be in Storrs, Connecticut against the UConn Huskies at 2pm Sunday on CBS. This will be a completely different team than the last one that played at Freedom Hall without their head coach Jim Calhoun. Calhoun gives his players a fire, fight and desire that was sorely missed during his medical absence. This game will have two hungry teams fighting for their lives to get into the tournament. It will all break down to (Sports Cliche’ Alert!!) who wants it more.

By: Snowman

After a January where they suffered bad break after bad break, luck has finally turned the Louisville Cardinals way. It continued with a hard fought, double overtime, 91-89 win against Notre Dame at Freedom Hall. From the beginning, Coach Rick Pitino drew up a gameplan that would include a steady diet of Samardo Samuels. The Cardinals dumped the ball down low, early and often, and the sophomore center responded with 36 points on 10 0f 19 from the field and an outstanding 16 of 19 from the free throw line.

On the defensive end, Louisville did more than a serviceable job, pressing in it’s usual tireless manner and being no less than pesky in their trapping 2-3 zone in their halfcourt defense. At the freethrow line, the Cardinals were simply in a zone, shooting 35 of 40 from the free throw line on 87.5% shooting. Louisville also shot an excellent 8 of 17 from the three-point line for an efficient 47%. Sophomore forward Jared Swopshire contributed greatly to the nights game, scoring 12 points and fighting for 9 rebounds. He was also very active on the defensive end with 3 blocked shots.

Senior point guard, Edgar Sosa, chipped in with 12 points and 4 assists. I’m still having a hard time understanding how Sosa, after 4 years at point guard, continues to settle for defended jumpshots, instead of the extra pass, when double-teamed.

On the Notre Dame side, junior forward Tim Abromaitis more than held his own against Louisville’s stifling defense. He shot a brilliant 11 for 18 from the field, 2 for 4 from the 3 point line, and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. Abromaitis has a fundamentally sound, consistent, and smooth shooting stroke. Like the analysts say, he has a shooting form that, when he misses, you’re surprised.

Senior point guard, Tory Jackson, had an outstanding game with 19 points and 7 assists. He also played all 40 minutes of regulation, and all of both 5 minute overtimes. Senior point guard , Ben Hansbrough, (who will ALWAYS be known as Tyler’s brother), added 21 points and 8 rebounds for the Fighting Irish. At this time of year, no matter how pretty or ugly, you can never argue with a win.

Yeah it was a little less than pretty, but Louisville never gave up on the effort the entire night, and that was a very good thing to see from this sometimes ill-focused team. The next game is at Depaul, at 2:00, on Saturday. This Cardinals team should, and with this team I stress the word should, win this game pretty handily and distance us even further away from the dreaded NCAA Tournament Bubble.

All in all I was pleased with this team, and this game, tonight and look forward to seeing if they can string some more wins together. You certainly can’t say that this team is lacking in drama. Stay tuned for game notes later tonight.

Posted by The Snowman

L-Yes Report

Back In the Thick of It

Posted: February 16, 2010 by robjoneslyes in Freak Stuff

"Just when I thought I was out... They pull me back in.."

After the utter disaster against St. John’s last week, a lot of folks believed that the Cards had used up all their chances and were destined for the N.I.T. No way were they going to beat the #3 team in the country on the road after getting embarrassed by a Big East bottom-feeder by 20. The Cards showed no heart or effort against the Johnnies, so it was going to be more of the same against the ‘Cuse. Right? The Cards were 15-10, 1-6 on the road, carrying multiple god-awful losses at home, and had zero notable wins to speak of. Fans were looking for answers and blaming everyone but Denny Crum himself for the poor performance.

Yet, like the famous Michael Corleone quote in Godfather III that Silvio Dante used to imitate to get a laugh from Tony on The Sopranos, the Cards pulled everyone back in. Just when almost all hope had been abandoned the Cards go into the Carrier Dome, come away with a victory, and bring back some optimism. Bracket-nerd Joe Lunardi said they were out of the dance, now they are in. Doug Gottlieb took some time out from stealing credit cards and calling Louisville a “bit-player” to sing praises to the Cards for their 66-60 victory. Fans who were ready to part ways with Coach Pitino (aka morons) now look at him salivating like a UK fan watching the John Wall dance on YouTube for the 76,645th time. Kind of funny how one game can make people do a complete 180 with their opinion. I’ve been called the biggest Cardinal apologist out there and I even thought things looked bleek for any March Madness festivities.
However awesome the victory on Sunday was, if the Cards don’t take care of business down the home stretch it will be all for naught. Notre Dame, UCONN, & Marquette are fighting for their post-season lives. Louisville plays the latter two on the road where there record is still a dismal 2-6. Syracuse will be looking for revenge is the season finale and Georgetown has always played Pitino coached teams tough. Sprinkle in a trap game with DePaul and the terrain is looking rough in the next few weeks. As we have found out with the Cards’ performance with big leads, nothing is guaranteed in such a competitive conference.
Pitino’s troops will take this victory one of two ways: 1. They use it as a spring board to rejuvenate a team that looked on the brink of surrender or 2. They let the victory get to their ego and play over-confident. There is no in-between. Following with a home game should help. The Freedom Hall faithful can sense a team that is playing with a victory-hangover and will let the squad know as soon as the turn south is sniffed.
Even before the New year turned, anyone around the Louisville program pointed to the game at the Carrier Dome as one the Cards desperately needed to make up for some early-season slip-ups. They took care of business there. In the coming weeks they can avenge the bad losses even more with a few more good wins. The great thing about it is the Cards are now worthy of post-season conversation again. Something they couldn’t say after the St. John’s loss.

Maybe my favorite Steve Kragthorpe cliché in his short time here was the famous “Cant turn chicken shit into chicken salad.” . While Kraggy was unsuccessful and doing that, apparently on ESPN first take today hockey insider and mullet Hall of Famer Barry Melrose gave his Canadian secret of staying young involving not chicken salad but chicken…well you get the point.