Archive for July, 2011

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This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

Continuing with my countdown of the top ten highest rated Cardinal football players I will talk a little about Josh Bellamy:

Josh Bellamy wears jersey #1 and is a 6-0 206 pound senior WR from ST. Petersburg, Forida. Bellamy played his first two seasons at Butte Community College in Northern California where he caught 80 passes for 1,307 yards and 17 touchdowns before transferring to Louisville. During his first year on the field with the Cards (last season) he played in 13 games and started in 9 of them. He had 29 receptions for 401 yards and tied for the team lead with five touchdown receptions. Bellamy returned five kickoffs for a total of 120 yards and returned two punts for a total of 24 yards.

Out of high school Josh was rated a two star prospect by scout.com and a three star prospect by rivals.com after playing running back for Boca Ciega HS in Gulfport, Florida for Head Coach Stevie Thomas. Bellamy had quite the string of commitments and de-commitments before deciding to settle in with the Cards and head Coach Charlie Strong; He committed to play for South Florida while he was in high school and later also committed to Iowa State before playing for Butte Community College. Bellamy chose to play for the Cards because he and his mother really liked Head Coach Charlie Strong and also because Bellamy’s cousin is Preston Pace (Cards cornerback who also transferred from Butte Community College).

Heading into his senior season as the only returning starter Bellamy is projected to be the #1 target in the passing game regardless of which QB is under center. He will be counted on to mentor a very talented group of young wide receivers including DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers and Michaelee Harris. With a strong senior season Bellamy could possibly be a draft pick in next year’s NFL draft. Look for Bellamy’s senior season to be a big one and very important to the overall success of the team.

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Bluegrass Ballers

Posted: July 22, 2011 by Raashaan Myers in Kentucky Basketball, Louisville Basketball

The Louisville Magic AAU program has made a quick rise to the top of the 15 and under division. A combination of great coaching and elite talent has lead to quick success. Now they head out to Sin City and try to deliver another title or two to end the summer. Here is a look inside the program at the guys that make this machine work.

Deangelo Russell – Guard 6’3” 165 pounds Central HS

( All Photos by: Sam Hunter)

Russell is the highest rated prospect on the Magic roster and it is not hard to see why. Blessed with a sweet lefty stroke and incredible maturity for his age Deangelo is an assassin on the court. Using a deft handle and above average passing skills Russell has the ability to play on the ball as well as at the two. Already understanding the local media Deangelo says he does not cheer for either UofL or UK not picking sides in the rivaly. To this point he didn’t mention a list of schools recruiting him though Indiana, Purdue, UofL, and UK were all seen tracking him last week.

Thoughts on playing with very talented teammates: “It brings out the best in you every game. You never know whose night it is going to be so you have to bring it every game.”

On team chemistry: “We are around each other all the time. Even when we are not playing games we are hanging out so we have great chemistry.”

Strengths: “I try to do a little bit of everything. I try to be the leader and guard the best player on the other team. I feel I am a combo guard and since we have some true point guards on the team I can work off the ball too. I can move without the ball and get myself open instead of brining the ball up and running the offense.”

Need to work on: “I want to work on getting more athletic.”

On all the attention he is getting: “It is good right now and I look at it as a blessing. It is fun right now.”

Quentin Snider – PG 6’1” 160 pounds Ballard HS

Quentin gets things started for the relentless Magic attack. Possessing a lightning quick handle and a deadly outside shot Snider is perfectly suited for an up tempo offense. Snider has an extremely mature approach to the game as well as an excellent basketball IQ which makes him efficient and tough to contain. Continued work on defensive principles as well as strength development will help take his game to the next level. Snider is a big time Louisville fan and he already holds an offer from Tennessee Tech as well as interest from Oklahoma State, Xavier, and Louisville.

On the style of play: “It is a fun team to play for. We like to run up and down it is like playing on a playground team.”

On Coach Ellis Myles tough love: “He is just trying to make us better and get the best out of us.”

Strengths: “My biggest strengths are my assists and getting my team involved.”

Needs to work on: “I want to work on my defense and getting more rebounds.”

Trey Grundy – SF 6’6” 185 pounds Henry Clay HS

Trey is probably the best athlete on the Magic roster with great length and non-stop motor to boot. Grundy runs the floor very well and is good with his handle. While the perimeter shot is still a work in progress Trey has good court vision and can make plays off the bounce. He is a tireless rebounder and defender that gets a ton of extra possessions for his team off steals and hustle plays. A UK fan growing up Trey already is getting a ton of interest from Xavier, Purdue, Tennessee, Louisville, as well as interest from Ohio State, South Carolina, and Alabama.

On the team’s mission this AAU season: “We just want to show everybody that we are one of the best teams in Kentucky and one of the best teams in the nation. We don’t feel we are getting the respect we should so we are going out there to prove everyone wrong and show that we are the best.”

On joining forces with the best in the state: “We have been playing against each for a long time so we know what each other can do. This is the first time that we have all come together but we all know each other really well.”

Strengths: “I can guard anyone from a one to a five and I can stop someone defensively but I can also score as well.”

Needs to work on: “I want to work on my 3 point shot and I need to get in the weight room and get stronger.”

Jordan Green – SG/SF 6’4” 180 pounds Henry Clay HS

The name of the game for Jordan is versatility. He can both set up the offense handling the ball as well as finish off a slam in transition. He is a long and agile wing that is continuing to develop his guard skills while continuing to make better use of his considerable potential.  A lifelong Kentucky fan Green has heard from several schools including Tennessee, Xavier, and Purdue so far.

Thoughts on the team: “We work hard, we do everything up tempo, and we like to get out and run.”

Strengths: “My rebounding ability everybody can score so I try to bring something different to the team.”

Needs to improve: “Ball handing though I think I am getting better every day.”

Craig Owens – SF 6’2” 205 pounds Trinity HS

Craig is the type of guy that gets you to the winner’s circle. His greatest attribute is what he brings in toughness and intensity on the court. An outstanding defender and fearless rebounder for his size Owens competes with guys 6 to 8 inches taller. He is developing his long range shot and with continued work on his ball handling will only improve his overall game. A lifelong Louisville fan Owens has received interest from Marquette, Virginia, and Alabama among others.

On playing with the Magic: “I love playing for my team.  I really like this team because we all grew up together and we know each other.”

Strengths: “I think I bring the heart and toughness to the team. And on defense I want to go out there and shut down the best player on each team.”

Needs to work on: “I am working on my ball handling and my shooting. I am not going to be a big man so I need to transition to the guard spot.”

Brandon Hatton – SG 6’2” 185 pounds Dixie Heights HS

To watch Brandon on the court it does not take long to see what he brings to the table. The kid gets buckets and he does is in different ways and can score in bunches. A deft touch from both midrange as well as from the arc Hatton is crafty with his handle to help create space to get off his shot. He can score on the spot up as well as off the dribble and is working on his play making and passing skills. From the state of Kentucky he actually prefers Tobacco Road as he is a big time UNC fan. Brandon so far has gotten interest from Tennessee, Texas, Xavier, Florida State, and some others.

On joining the Magic: “This was the first time that we have all be playing together and it is kind of like an all-star team. We all have played against each other growing up and now finally we are getting to play together.”

Strengths: “Seeing the floor and my shooting.”

Needs to work on: “Getting faster and my jumping ability.”

Christian Cunningham – PG 6’0” 165 pounds Scott County HS

Cunningham is a steadying force for the Magic. He shows a good deal of maturity and has some explosiveness off the bounce in full court situations. He makes good decisions with the ball in his hands and has a good basketball IQ for a young prospect. Christian so far has heard from Tennessee and Manhattan as well as mail for Memphis. He is from a house divided as his mother is a UofL fan and his father a UK fan so he does not pull for either.

Thoughts on what drives the team: “We are a really energetic group and we have a lot of hype guys on the team and we feed off that and coach Ellis.”

Thoughts on team chemistry: “We have a lot of good players on the team. We are real close and we are always together ever since we were little. So we just keep everything together.”

Strengths: “I think I settle the team down and can get a bucket if the team needs one.  I find teammates and try to set them up to score.”

Needs to work on: “I want to get my three point shot a little bit better and work on my dribble pull up.”

Justin Miller – PF/C 6’5” 220 pounds Ohio County HS

Justin is a young prospect who will be starting his freshman year at Ohio County this year. He has good size and works very hard but is still a work in progress due to his youth.  He has soft hands and plays with good aptitude on the block which is where he does his damage. As he continues to get in better shape and work on the little things Miller will improve as a player.

On his role with the team: “I try to play hard while I am in there. I don’t get in much but I am only 14 so I just try to play hard.”

Strengths: “Rebounding. I make good post moves on the block, I pass well for a big man, and I hustle when I am on the floor.”

Needs to work on: “I want to work on getting in better shape and get stronger too.”

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This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

The Cards will play four total games while in the Bahamas and WHAS-TV in Louisville will televise two of the games. The two televised games will be (the second and third games of the trip) on Thursday August 11th vs. the Commonwealth Giants and on Friday August 12th vs. the Real Deal Shockers, with the pre-game beginning at 7:00PM and the tip-off scheduled for 7:30PM (for both nights).

The first of the four Cards games will be an intra-squad scrimmage on Wednesday August 10th at 7:30PM and will not be available locally either through radio or television. The fourth game is on Saturday August 13th at 6:00PM and will be available for your listening pleasure on WHAS-radio through Cardinal Sports Network (the two televised games on the 11th and 12th will also be available on WHAS-radio).

I know Pitino is mostly excited about all the extra practice time he gets to have with the team, but as a fan what do we have to look forward to with these games in the Bahamas? Will we get to see Chane Behanan, Angel Nunez, Zach Price or Kevin Ware on the floor for the first time?

I am looking forward to seeing how Dieng looks with his added weight and another year of basketball under his belt. Also interested to see if guys like Marra and Russ Smith are ready to take that next step and really compete for playing time this season!

This article was written by Daniel Wormley, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

By now everyone has seen the 11-12 Kentucky non-conference schedule and have noticed big games against North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, St. Johns, ODU/South Florida, Indiana, and others.  I can’t wait to watch the season and hopefully the Cats can beat all of these highly competitive teams by double digits, and all of us Cats fans can smile like crazy the entire year.  However every time I look at the schedule I can’t help but stare at KANSAS longer than others.  There is a huge reason for this and that reason is focused on one name, PERRY ELLIS!!!

Perry Ellis is a spetacular player and Calipari wants him badly as he has been in attendence for numerous of Ellis’s games lately.  While Calipari is a magician at pulling the most amazing recruits year after year, I don’t think Ellis will be that easy to get.  His playing ability has made him a priority for a large amount of teams to include Kansas State, Duke, Wichita State, Memphis, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  Bill Self has been working overtime to get the Wichita, Kansas native just as much as Calipari has and while Calipari is the better recruiter, Self isn’t to bad himself.  Self also has the advantage of being the in state powerhouse in a place where Kansas fans are almost as crazy as Kentucky fans are in Kentucky.  Ellis won’t be an easy pick up for Calipari and he will certainly have to bring out the big guns to get him!

Now back to the importance of the Kansas game for Coach Calipari and our Kentucky Wildcats.  I think you may see where I am going with this…WE NEED TO WIN THIS GAME!!!  A win over Kansas early in the season would be huge towards the recruitment of Ellis, a game you know Ellis will certainly be in attendence for.  While winning this game would be great, another thing would help motivate Ellis towards Kentucky as well.  Kentucky fans need to be so overwhelmingly present at the game that it would be almost difficult to even find a Kansas fan while there.  We did it at the Louisville game last year when Kentucky fans outnumbered Louisville fans at their own venue, so we can certainly do it at a neutral site.

Just imagine if you are a 17-18 year old kid that has a decision to make between two powerhouse programs and they play each other.  While at the game you see thousands of Cats fans everywhere and no where near as many Kansas fans.  Through out the game all you can hear are Cats chants and you see thousands of Cats fans going crazy chanting players names, making 3 in your face signals, and writing CATS across their chests.  While the occasional Kansas chant gets dwarfed by the much louder Kentucky chants you watch Kentucky just run Kansas into the floor.  CATS WIN, CATS WIN and fans go crazy!!!  Every Cats fan that you see already knows you by name, knows your mother by name, knows your high school and AAU stats, and tell you they would love you have you.  Now imagine how that could effect your decision process.

So when I read the schedule you can see why I stop at Kansas and just think about how badly we need to win that game.  Of course we need to win every tough game because Perry Ellis isn’t the only high profile recruit that we are after who is thinking about other schools as well.  The most important game for most Cats fans is against Louisville, but this year I want a W against Kansas just as badly!!

(photo by: Sam Hunter)

Former Louisville center Ellis Myles has always been about heart, hustle, and desire. That is the way he played and now he uses that same intensity on the sidelines. He was relentless as the backbone of a Final Four team with his intimidating demonstrative style and if the early results on the court are an example of things to come he will become an excellent head coach. He has begun his coaching
journey by bringing his brand of AAU basketball to the Ville.

“Well I live here in Louisville now and I played for the University of Louisville so I thought it was only natural. I played for the Compton Magic AAU program in California so I basically meshed the two together and I am the founder of the Louisville Magic AAU program here,” said Myles. “Then I went out and recruited the best players that fit what I am trying to do. This is my first group and I want to keep these eight guys together for the next three years. I want to do this for the next four to six years and by thirty three I want to be on a college bench somewhere.”

Of course it does not take long to see where Ellis got the inspiration for his coaching style. He definitely fits into the run and press mold of his former coach Rick Pitino, but he also has taken some things from the guy down I-64 as well.

“It is my style (to run and press) and I understand what these kids like to do these days. Coach Calipari has done a great job of understanding and letting the kids play at the college level. That is what these young kids want to do having the ball in their hands and showcase their one-on-one ability,” said Myles. “So that is what I try to do is let these kids have fun with the ball in their hand. We are a tremendous shooting team, we are long and athletic, and we want to get up and down the floor. Those are our main strengths.”

The combination of Myles’ tenaciousness on the sideline and superior talent on the floor has led to unprecedented success on the court that has not been seen by any AAU team from the state of Kentucky.  The sensational backcourt duo of Louisville guards DeAngelo Russell (Central) and Quintin Snider (Ballard) as well as Lexington Henry Clay forwards Trey Grundy and Jordan Green have
helped lead the Magic to win three straight 15-under Championships.  The last two titles, at the prestigious Adidas Invitational and the Eddie Ford Hoopfest, included an unbelievable stretch of 12 straight wins in 7 days.  

“I feel that the players are going to take after the personality of the coach. So if they see their coach is aggressive on the sidelines then they will be aggressive in between the lines. So I just try to bring as much out of them that I can and if they see me drenched in sweat on the sidelines then they are going to be drenched in sweat,” said Myles. “It is all about desire and work from the kids. We are not like other AAU programs we work out two times a week and we give them a lot in those two hours and you see the results on the court. They know one another and they enjoy playing with one another.”

Yet with so many talented players on the roster including Dixie Heights star Brandon Hatton, Trinity workhorse Craig Owens, Scott County point guard Christian Cunningham, and Ohio County big man Justin Miller the unselfishness and team chemistry has been one of the reasons that the Magic have met success so quickly.

“I don’t want to take the credit, but I think the fact that I don’t let anyone get away with anything they don’t know who the best player is. Heck I don’t know who the best player is because they all come in and do everything that is asked of them,” said Myles.

The lack of a strong AAU presence in the state of Kentucky has really hindered the development of young talent over the last twenty years. That is something that Myles wants to change and he believes that with the amount of young talent things are changing.

“We had a big meeting (with the team) and I told them you have a Derek Anderson and you have a
Rajon Rondo that is a tremendous gap in between there. And I told them they could be next or it could be someone else but there is a lot of talent in this state and especially on this team so I think it could definitely be one of my guys who is next,” said Myles.

While Myles is has been focused on the business of building an AAU powerhouse he has taken time to check out the upcoming Louisville Cardinal men’s basketball team and he likes what he sees.

“I go down there and work out three to four times a week. I get to see the guys practicing and I really like the kid Chane Behanan he has a good chance to play a lot of minutes. We’re so deep this year, they remind me of our 2005 team because they are about fifteen deep,” said Myles. “So now coach has his hands full because everybody is going to get after it and if someone is not doing right then
another can step in because everybody can play. This is a great team and I expect good things.”

So of course the big question is can this team be as good as Myles’ Final Four squad of 2005?

“We had so much chemistry on that team in 2005 we were a bunch of guys who had been around
each other for such a long time. I was a fifth year senior on that team, but this year we got Swop coming off injury and we have Buck coming off injury so we will have to see how that develops,” said Myles.

 (Photo: Cardchronicle.com)

University of Louisville senior Kyle Kuric is preparing himself for a memorable final season this coming year. His coming of age and development over the three previous seasons reminds me of guys like Eric Johnson and Larry O’Bannon. So what has King Kyle been working on this summer to take his game to the next level?

“I think the most obvious thing for me I need to work on is creating my own shot and being able to put the ball on the floor. Not just shooting threes or just getting my shot only off someone else’s penetration, but being able to create my own shot is the first thing I am working on. Outside of that I want to work obviously is defense, quickness, jumping ability, and other things like that.  Also me personally I want to be able to shoot even better this year with more consistency. I want to shoot an even better percentage and have confidence in that,” said Kuric. “I am doing a bunch of stuff here as well as a lot of things I have never done before. I am training with Peyton and some of the other fellas, as well as working on explosive quickness training. I have picked up yoga and several other things as well.”

Out of high school Kuric was offered preferred walk-on status to join Louisville and Butler was his most prestigious official scholarship offer with Indiana University offering a scholarship late in the process. His rise to a  possible preseason All Big East selection has been unbelievable; so does he have a chip on his shoulder to stick it to all those who passed him over?

“Well my freshman year was a disappointment in my eyes even though maybe not to some. I didn’t really see myself as an all Big East selection, but in high school being a focal point at that level with all the time I have put in I could see some of it. This is something I have put a lot of work into and wanted to achieve and I am still looking to achieve more,” said Kuric.

 Unlike previous seasons Kuric is now being looked to as a leader off the court as well as on and he is taking things in stride.

“Well this year for me personally is different than all the previous seasons. This year it is not just about working on things on the basketball court but also working on leadership and getting other guys into this system and to work hard as possible. It is a different situation than it has been but I am accepting it and trying to do the best that I can,” said Kuric. “To us it has been the same as it has been really, but for the new guys it has been something different of course. But we are also doing different things and extra stuff also we’re not just lifting, we’re not just playing pick-up, we’re not just doing the things we are supposed to do. We may have two  guys here lifting, and two guys there playing, and we are trying to do as much as possible to get us ready for this year.”

With so many returning players Louisville will enjoy being one of the most experienced teams in the country. Has that experience paid dividends so far?

“Continuity has been there for now as we have only had one or two guys here so far to get acclimated to the process and the system. It has been easier for them because there are just a couple of them so far, but we have like three or four more guys coming in so even though we have had some familiarity  with the returning guys it will be about getting all the new guys up to speed as quickly as possible,” said Kuric.

Preseason rankings have placed the Cardinals in the top 10 in most projections to begin the season, and Joe Lunardi sees the Louisville as a Final Four contender. How good can this team be this year?

“I think we can be as good as we want to be.  It is very simple if we put in the work we need to which we are I think we can be as good as we want. I don’t want to say getting out of the first round is our primary focus, but it is a goal,” said Kuric. “We were right there for the Big East regular season championship and we were right there for the Big East tournament championship with a team everybody didn’t think should be there. So I would say Big East regular season and tournament championship as well as Elite Eight and Final four is where we are setting our sights right now.”

One piece of news that caused quite a stir in Red and Black nation was the news that Kuric has been moved to walk-on status though he is a starter and projected team captain for the upcoming season. So the million dollar question is what does Kyle think about being one of the most talented walk-ons in program history?

“It all started last year when Coach talked to my parents and he told them he may need my scholarship this year or last year. He said he may or may not need it and if they would have the money to go ahead and pay my way. And they said they did so that is how this whole thing came about.  Then they talked to me about it and I told them I didn’t have a problem with it. As far as being viewed as a scholarship player or as a walk on I could really care less. If you see me as a walk on that is your loss and that means you are going to underestimate me,” said Kuric.

Kuric is coming off a season that saw him hit career highs of 10.8 PPG while shooting a blistering 51% from the field and 45% from three point range while hitting the 20 point mark on 6 separate occasions. So what are his personal goals for the upcoming season?

“Well if I score 20 points in a game but we lose then it doesn’t matter. Whether I score 20 points a game or 5 points a game I am going to play whatever style I need to for us to win. I mean I was looked over a bit in high school, but that is just the way it is. Coach P took a gamble and Coach McCarty helped out a lot and it benefitted me and them as well,’ said Kuric.

 With pick-up games in full swing at the SAC there have been reports that there has been some marked improvement from a number of the returning players. Who has impressed Kuric the most so far this summer?

“Some things are looking good and some things are looking bad, but it is pick-up so that is how it is. Russ has been playing really well and we are working on him passing the ball off his penetration into the lane. He is really quick and no one can really keep him out of the lane so getting in his head to set up his teammate like Peyton did last year could really benefit him and really benefit our team,” said Kuric. “Gorgui has really improved, Peyton, Chris, everybody is getting better, and we are trying to get the new guys to concentrate a little bit more on the defensive end.”

Though there are only two of the five freshmen on campus so far Kyle does believe both will make an impact on the upcoming season.

“With TJ leaving this year that really leaves some open opportunities at the 5. Zach will have some opportunities to step in there and battle with Gorgui every day and they both will be better for that and benefit us. We are really deep at the 3 and the 4 so Chane is really skilled and the other guys at that position are really skilled as well so that will be a great competition as well. Them being there early and get what we are trying to teach them will really help them out and be very beneficial,” said Kuric.

For all the highlight plays from last year’s magical regular season, the clear top moment came in a road game vs. Notre Dame when Kuric threw down a thunderous slam on Irish forward Scott Martin.  It was selected as college dunk of the year by Fox Sports.  So where did those hops come from?

“I have worked on my vertical jump since I was in seventh or eighth grade.  I have always worked on that and I have always worked on my shooting. People look at me and see I can shoot and probably can’t jump very high so that started a long time ago. So I surprised people in AAU and even when I got here too and finally in a game,” said Kuric.

Can we look for a repeat this coming year and see Kyle go back to back for dunk of the year?

“I hope so,” said Kuric with a laugh. “It is not something I am focusing on, but hopefully I can make that happen.”

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

During the dead days of Summer I decided to start a count-down of the top 10 Cardinal football players for the 2012 season according to NCAA Football 2012 by EA Sports.  Sorry to all the great players who I will not be including in this prestigious count-down.  Maybe next year?  Here I go:

Jeremy Wright wears #28 is a 5-11 200 pound sophomore running back out of Clermont, FLA (East Ridge HS). Clermont is about 40 minutes to the West of Orlando.

A 3 star prospect coming out of high school according to scout.com Jeremy has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40 yard dash, the 100 in 10.7 and holds the state record for average yards rushing per game in class 6A. He ran for a state high 2,707 yards and scored 26 touchdowns, which was second only to Emmitt Smith (id say that’s good company) in the history of Florida High School Football.

After coming to Louisville Wright red-shirted the 2009 season before rushing for 327 yards and 4 TDs and was the second leading rusher on the team behind Bilal Powell. Wright led the team while returning 16 kicks for a total of 489 yards, including a 95 yard return for a touchdown to help the Cards beat Southern Miss 31-28 in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl.

Once again this season Wright will most likely be the second option out of the backfield for Offensive Coordinator Mike Sanford. Do not be surprised if Wright builds on his freshman campaign and breaks out as one of the offensive stars for the Cards this season.