Archive for April, 2011

With the first three rounds of the 2011 NFL draft in the book the Cards and Cats are tied at one a piece. Randall Cobb of Kentucky and Johnny Patrick of Louisville both heard their names called by the end of day two of the draft.

Cobb, who passed on his senior season to enter the draft was selected with the last pick in the second round (64th overall) to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick was taken by the New Orleans Saints in the middle of the third round (88th overall)

Randall Cobb goes to a Packer team that has depth and talent at the WR position already. The good news for him is that Donald Driver is turning 36 years old and James Jones had a bad case of the drops through the season and playoffs. What playing time Cobb doesn’t get as a WR though he should get as a return man. The Packers ranked 23rd in the league last year in kick off and punt  return yardage and had zero touchdowns from either.

Much like the special teams hole Cobb can fill in Green Bay. Patrick has a great chance at doing the same in New Orleans. The Saints were last in the league this season in interceptions with just nine all year. Both of their starting corners last year, Tracy Porter (4 games) and Jabari Greer (2 games) were in and out of the lineup with both injuries and spotty play.

Advertisements

The recruitment of Kevin Ware apparently still continues. Since the firing of Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl, the 6’4 guard has de-committed from Tennessee. Then he committed to Central Florida, followed by rumors he would de-commit from UCF and play in the Derby Classic. He played in the Derby Classic but Ware ensured all local media that he was still going to Central Florida.

The was until last night apparently. Ware, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 56 college basketball prospect by Rivals, told the Atlanta Constitution Journal that as of Thursday Night he was reopening his recruitment once again.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on right now, personal stuff that I don’t really want to speak about right now,” Ware said. “I spoke with my family about everything, and I decided it was time to back off on UCF.”

Ware had committed to UCF just one day following an in home visit from Louisville coach Rick Pitino and says now that Louisville and Georgia are the “frontrunners”. Ware says he has not spoken to Pitino or Georgia coach Mark Fox though since he announced UCF as his choice last week. 

“I talked it over with my family, and there’s a lot of personal stuff that I need to get figured out before I decide on any school that I want to go to,” Ware said. “I’m just tired from everything. I’m just going to focus on my schoolwork because without my grades, I can’t get into any school. Once I get my final grades in and know what schools are recruiting me, I will definitely have my choice made up then.”

Since Ware signed a letter of intent with Tennessee, according to NCAA rule s he can not sign another LOI with-in the same year. Basically he can commit and de-commit all he wants until he attends a school’s class.

NFL Round 1 Draft Recap – Best & Worst

Posted: April 29, 2011 by Kris King in Freak Stuff

The First Round of the NFL Draft kicked off last night in primetime on ESPN.

Many questions loom over the NFL in general about labor talks and such, it was great to see a form of business as usual with the draft. But tonights questions surrounded the rookies being drafted to their new NFL homes. Who would the Panthers select as the overall #1 pick. Who is the top QB in the draft, does Cam Newton scare NFL teams, would he fall?

Here is my best and worst of the first round of the NFL Draft.

THE BEST

Even though there was much speculation, I don’t think anyone was shocked that The Carolina Panthers took Cam Newton with the overall #1 pick. In my opinion Carolina had no other choice. Especially with a new head coach in place with Ron Rivera. The QB Rivera decided to move forward with in his first few year as head coach would be forever linked to Ron and he decided he would rather put his faith in Newton rather than Jimmy Clausen. Many people thought Carolina could use some defense in their lineup, but there were no sure fire studs on the defensive side of the ball. Cam Newton was the only choice. I give Carolina an A for taking Cam and not over thinking their pick.

 The Cleveland Browns traded their 6th overall pick for 5 draft picks including a 1st round pick next year. This is a Belichick type move. The Browns made a great trade acquiring all that potential talent. They did however trade away 1 of their picks to move up and select Phil Taylor, D Lineman out of Baylor. Many people are scrating their heads wondering why The Browns would draft a nose tackle when Cleveland is changing over to a 4-3 Defense. But this guy is a big body and a run stuffer and when facing teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore who run the ball quite a bit, it’s not a terrible pick. Maybe they didn’t have to trade a pick to get a good D lineman, but thats why their grade is B- after making an A+ type trade. But Cleveland is moving in the right direction.

The Lions get MAD PROPS after taking the STEAL OF THE DRAFT Auburns DT Nick Fairly. He was taken 13th overall after being touted as a possible #1 overall pick. The Lions are pairing Fairly with last years #2 overall pick Ndomakong Suh and NFL veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch. This will be a great situation for Fairly as he’ll fit well in the system and hell have great mentors in the locker room. That D line will be nasty next year. NFC North QB’s beware. Lion get a solid A+ for landing this guy.

THE WORST

The Falcons – They gave away too many draft picks to acquire Wide Receiver Julio Jones. We’ve seen many, many Wideouts never pan out in the NFL. The Falcons also have a HUGE need on the Defensive side of the ball. They could have waited and still taken a good player in their original spot, and not lost all those draft picks. Now that being said Jones could turn out to be the next Randy Moss or Terrell Owens and at that point the trade will have made sense. But they sure did take a gamble and that gamble gets them a C. The best grade of The Worst

The Vikings – Minnesota took Christian Ponder, QB out of Florida State with the 12th pick. Talk about a reach. The Vikings sure need a QB for sure but could addressed another need while trying to acquire a QB during free agency….OR GETTING PONDER IN THE SECOND ROUND!!!! The Vikings aren’t one of the NFL’s elite teams but they sure could contend. They could try and go after McNabb or Kolb via trade instead of going to a complete rebuild type QB in Ponder. Maybe they will get a starting QB in Free Agency and let Ponder sit this year. BUT THEY STILL COULD HAVE GOTTEN HIM OR EVEN RYAN MALLET IN THE SECOND ROUND!!!! D-

The Ravnes – Their pick was solid, but they get a C- for….PASSING? They let the time clock expire without having a draft pick ready. They thought they had a trade in place with The Bears, but it was never made official. So the clock expired and Kansas City got to move up one spot.

It has been a busy couple weeks for coach Pitino. He decided to back out of his previous commitment to coach the Puerto Rico national team in an Olympic qualifying event and then finally filled the three empty seats on the bench next to him.

It started on Tuesday when Pitino announced the return of his son Richard Pitino after a two-year hiatus to Florida. Also added on Tuesday was New Mexico assistant Wyking Jones. Today Pitino filled that final spot with Hargrave Military High School head coach Kevin Keatts.

Before Louisville fans start whining and moaning about the hires cause you may not know these names don’t jump off that bridge and blow up the radio shows just yet. First get to know these new faces, and return of an old one to Louisville.

Wyking Jones –

Played basketball at Loyola Marymount in the 90s so you know he is familiar with the up and down offense that coach Pitino want to run. With a little more defense I hope though ten they like to run at LMU. Jones has the Nike ties that Louisville may have lost with the departure of Tim Fuller to Missouri. Before his two-year stint as an assistant under Steve Alford at New Mexico, Wyking (pronounced WHY-king) spent two years as a basketball travel team manager with Nike Elite Youth Basketball. Managing all 45 travel teams and the tournaments that Nike sponsored in its grassroots youth program while he built key relationships across the nation.

“I’m very excited to be joining the Louisville family,” said Jones. “I’ve been a fan of Coach Pitino for as long as I can remember. I’ve always admired him as a coach and after spending time with him, admire him as a great person. I’m very much looking forward to joining his staff.”

Before his Nike run Jones was an assistant at Pepperdine between 2002-2006 under former NBA head coach Paul Westphal.

 “Wyking has the experience necessary to help us recruit top-notch student-athletes from all 50 states,” said U of L Head Coach Rick Pitino. “He is highly regarded in all circles as a tireless worker and an outstanding communicator with young people. I had asked Richard to provide me the top five assistant coaching candidates in the country and I would interview them. Immediately he had Wyking at the top of the list.

Kevin Keatts –

Keatts has spent the last 8 years as the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, where he won  two national prep championships and was runner-up on three occasions. In Keets 10 years overall as a high school head coach he has produced 103 players who signed NCAA Division I men’s basketball scholarships.

” I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with Coach Pitino and the entire Louisville Family,” said Keatts. “Coach Pitino is a great leader, teacher, motivator and Hall of Fame coach. I am excited about coaching in the BIG EAST and look forward to getting started.”

Keatts has coached five current NBA players at the prep level including Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford and forward Josh Howard, Philadelphia 76ers forward Marreese Speights, Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward Sam Young and New Orleans Hornets forward David West.

This is not Keatts first collegiate job though. He was an assistant at Marshall University for two years from 2001-03 under head coach Greg White. Recently Keatts was an assistant at the 2011 Derby Classic, where his Gold team was the winner.

“We’re really excited to add Kevin to our staff,” said Pitino. “He rounds out three outstanding individuals who all bring something different to the table to create a terrific recruiting team, as well being a group that excels in coaching and scouting. Kevin has been a tireless recruiter at Hargrave, where it’s not easy for everyone to get up at six a.m. to march. He’s done an outstanding job of building his prep teams for many years and also has experience as a collegiate assistant. This is one of the best recruiting staffs I have ever assembled.”

Richard Pitino –

Rick’s son return to Louisville is a big boost to recruiting. He was a big component in the recruitment of Marques Teague, who after Richard left for Florida changed his mind and decided on going to Kentucky instead.

“Richard has worked tirelessly since the time he was a college student,” said Rick Pitino. “He fills a much needed void left by Steve Masiello, who handled chief scouting duties and game preparation for our team. Richard will have a lot on his plate as we indoctrinate a new staff into all aspects of Cardinal Basketball. We’re excited to have him return to our staff, as he helped us reach two Elite Eights and two BIG EAST Championships.”

Richard spent 2007-2009 under his father here at Louisville. Helping bring in several top recruits before heading to Gainsville, Florida for the last two seasons.

Jennings Needs Cards, Cards Need Jennings

Posted: April 27, 2011 by robjoneslyes in Posted by Rob Jones

Terrence Jennings has a big decision to make

As was reported recently, Louisville senior-to-be Terrence Jennings decided to test the waters throw his name into the NBA Draft pool. The consensus is that Jennings has a very slim chance of getting drafted depite the weak nature of this year’s class. However, in his press conference Tuesday Rick Pitino said he is preparing for next season as if Jennings won’t be there.

After the Samardo Samuels fiasco last year when Pitino thought for sure that the Jamaican big-man would return only to see him leave for the pros, the coach might just be preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. He almost looked out of the loop on the situation. Nonetheless, he will not be burnt again.

The Louisville center has until May 8 to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school.

Jennings was the most polarizing player on the Louisville roster this past season. It seemed as though half the fan base was satisfied with his improvement over the course of the year and content with the way he performed. The other half seemingly watched in disgust as he continued to underachieve…and not rebound.

I think both sides can agree on one thing. For Louisville to maximize their potential next season, they need a motivated, healthy Jennings on the team. In turn, for Jennings to reach his dream as a NBA player, he needs to come back for his senior season with the Cards and improve his post game and rebounding.

If Jennings were to leave, the Cards would have depth issues inside which is never a good thing, especially with the injuries that have plagued the team recently. Gorgui Dieng showed last season he can match-up well with elite competition, but not full-time due to foul trouble and the fact he has only played organized American basketball for less than 2 years. Zach Price has the body-type and skills to contribute off the bench, but not more than 10 minutes or so a game in his freshman season.

A Jennings/Dieng/Price three-headed monster would give Louisville 3 serviceable big-men to go with the slew of ball-handlers and wings they have returning.

Add that to the fact that a Jennings return would make it easier for Pitino to let potential disaster, Tony Woods, go elsewhere and save some face with a fan base that really would prefer the former Wake Forest center not be seen in Cardinal red and black. It’s not guaranteed, but it would be more likely that Woods becomes a Card if Jennings leaves for good.

Everyone can admit (I hope) that Jennings had some “mental lapses” at times this past season. Jennings’ critics will tell you he may be the worst rebounder for his size that has put on a Louisville uniform in years. Jennings’ supporters will tell you his rebounding numbers improved as the season went along and things are looking nowhere but up when it comes to next season should he return.

Like I said, he is a pretty polarizing dude.

Even though many may disagree, there is a place for Jennings in the pros eventually. He has the size, athleticism, and ability to run the floor that NBA scouts love. He also has the motor and rebounding ability to make them forget about those positive attributes. Having said that, there is nothing in Jennings’ game that can’t be improved or changed for the better with an extra year under Pitino.

Regardless how you feel about Jennings (and trust me, I cussed him more than most this year) the Cards need him next season.  Despite his faults, he has something no other returning or entering big-man has on the Cards – experience.

I wouldn’t expect him all of the sudden become Hakeem Olajuwon over one off-season, but if he can improve his scoring (9.6 ppg) by a basket or two and grab 2-3 more boards (5.2 rpg) a game, Pitino would have a 12 and 8 big man. You can’t really ask for much more.

Will Jennings be back? I doubt it.

Does Jennings need to come back? Yes.

Do the Cards need Jennings to come back? Absolutely.

Draft Recap….and I’m not talking about the NFL

Posted: April 26, 2011 by Kris King in Freak Stuff

Last night was the 2011 WWE Draft. This is when Monday Night RAW and Friday Night SMACK DOWN compete for draft picks and can draft WWE Superstars from one brand over to the other. The night started off with a 20 man Battle Royal. You remember those form the 80’s right? Well The Big Show threw Mason Ryan over the top rope to secure the top pick for SMACK DOWN. In a shocker John Cena was stolen from RAW after being on that show for the past 6 years. The 2nd pick was RAWs and in a decesion I didn’t like for RAW at all they took Rey Mysterio. Rey is a fan favorite but is in the last stages of his career. I guess the WWE wanted to balance out some of it’s ratings for the short term since Cena being gone might slightly tilt the ratings.

After Kofi Kingston pinned US Champion SMACK DOWN gets their second pick of the night and they made sure that pick didn’t go to waste. After choosing John Cena who is clearly WWE’s top star, the Friday night brand picked Randy Orton who is widely regarded as WWE’s 2nd biggest star. At this point you have to think the WWE is trying to build up their secondary brand over on SyFy.

Randy Orton later that night representing the SyFy brand, took on Dolph Ziggler in a pretty quick match which resulted in two draft picks for SMACK DOWN who is clearly on a role. Their 3rd pick was Mark Henry, this clearly brought the roll SD was on to a slower pulse. The 4th pick was Sin Cara which is the newest Superstar in the WWE. A guy who is supposed to be the next top luchador in this business. At this point Smack Down is way ahead in this draft.

In a match featuring one of Raws newest member Rey Mysterio against SD’s Intercontinental Champ Wade Barret all it took was the 6 1 9 to land the win, and 2 picks for RAW. They closed the gap quite a bit by selecting The Big Show and one of SMACK DOWNS biggest heels Alberto Del Rio.

The final match of the night was a 6 man tag team match and was for the final draft pick of the night. Raws team was composed of CM Punk, Del Rio and WWE Champ The Miz. They teamed against team SMACK DOWN, Christian, Mark Henry (for some odd reason) and John Cena. Oh wait….he was put in the match to attack Cena, was he paid by someone on RAW? The question remains. But The Miz got the pin over Cena and RAW drafted Cena back from SMACK DOWN. Which I saw coming a mile….wait no, 100 MILES away. There is no way RAW, the WWE or the USA network would let Cena leave, especially along with Mr. RKO.

END RESULT:

RAW comes away with Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, The Big Show,

SMACK DOWN comes away with Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Sin Cara

It looked like SMACK DOWN would rule this draft, but I believe RAW comes away with the better draft. In the end SMACK DOWN got RKO, but Mark Henry really brings down the quality of total talent gained. Sin Cara is a great Superstar for SD to get, but he is still new and hasn’t found himself yet. I doubt it will take him long, but at this point he hasn’t proved himself yet. RAW gets a Mysterio who is in the top 5 of most popular Superstars, they get The Big Show who is in his later years but has real entertainment value. They also gain Alberto Del Rio who is one of the biggest up and comers who is on his way to gaining a title this year.

OVERALL RAW Rating B+

Pitino to Add Son, Jones to Staff Tuesday

Posted: April 26, 2011 by robjoneslyes in Freak Stuff

Wyking Jones would beat you up

Names have been thrown around the twitter and message board world for the last week or so since the departure of assistant coaches Tim Fuller and Steve Massiello at Louisville. Today, two of those names will be made official with the hiring of New Mexico assistant Wyking Jones and former Florida assistant Richard Pitino at a 12:30 press conference.

We all are familiar with the younger Pitino, who was on the Louisville staff previously before joining Billy Donovan‘s staff prior to the ’09-’10 season. Jones, on the other hand, is an less familiar name among Louisville fans, but not in the recruiting world.

Jones spent the last two season under Steve Alford at New Mexico, but previously worked for Nike as a travel team manager. The Nike connection is key with this hire. Coaches must have a connection with the underworld of shoe companies and AAU programs this day and age. Jones gives Pitino that very connection. Like Tim Fuller, Pitino will expect Jones to be his liason between the Louisville program and the recruiting world which in turn might help secure 2012 guard Rodney Purvis and open doors for other top recruits in the future.

Jones also has an acting background. That’s right, an ACTING background, starring in movies The Wood, The Benchwarmers, and Brown Sugar. Put it this way, if any of these potential recruits wanted to meet Taye Diggs or Omar Epps, Jones could probably make that happen. I don’t know why any recruit would want to do that, but I’ve heard of stranger stuff happening. At least he can help guys sell those charges better.

One guy that Jones may have an inside track on is 2013 F/C Aaron Gordon from San Jose, CA who is ranked in the top 10 of his class currently and lists New Mexico as a potential suitor. Jones played ball at Loyola Marymount in the mid-90’s, so add that to his Hollywood connections and Louisville could have an “in” for West coast recruits with Jones now in the fold.

That leaves one more opening on the staff for Pitino to fill. The rumored name has been Kevin Keatts of Hargrave Military in Virginia. Keatts was recently in town as an assistant coach for the gold team at the Derby Classic and was said to have interviewed with Coach Pitino during that visit. Keatts has won two national prep titles (’04, ’07) and has put guys like David West and Josh Howard in the pros from that school.

I was sitting near the Gold bench for the KDF Classic on Friday and watched Keats and his interaction with the players. It was just a couple hours of one night, but I liked what I saw. It looked like he had a nice rapport with the kids on both teams. Keats was joking around, but at the same time demanding respect – something that is tough to balance with 18 year old athletes. What Pitino expects from both his coaching staff and players will not be too overwhelming for Keats, who runs a strict program at Hargrave.

If the third spot isn’t filled by Keats, look for VCU assistant Will Wade to be a possibility. According to reports, Wade had an interview with Pitino in recent weeks which went well, but reports also indicate that Keats would be the preferred choice for the Cards.

Get ready for some serious hyperbole/rhetoric/bulls**t from Pitino today in his news conference about “how great the staff is”. Time will tell whether he is correct or not. News conference is scheduled for 12:30 today.