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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the tag “Rick Pitino”

Cardinals, Tigers and Bearcats, Oh My! Part 1

Metro Conference logo

Metro Conference logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Louisville, Memphis State, and Cincinnati rivalries have spanned many decades and almost as many conferences. These rivalries, that are underappreciated nationally, hold a special place in the heart s of these three universities and fan bases. It is truly a love/hate relationship;  we love to hate each other.

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Louisville Basketball Preview

The Louisville Cardinals enters the 2013-14 basketball season ranked in the top 3 and as one of the favorites to win the national championship. If that happens, the Cards would be the first team to repeat as national champions since the 2007 Florida Gators and would be the smallest team to win the title in nearly 50 years.

Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino will have to replace two key starters from last seasons team, PG Peyton Siva and C Gorgui Dieng. Siva finished his career at U of L as arguably the Cards greatest point guard. His leadership and playmaking skills at both ends of the court will be missed. Dieng left early and was a first round pick in the NBA draft. His shot blocking ability and overall post presence will be greatly missed.

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The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Louisville FINAL

The Louisville Mount Rushmore was a tough one.  The general consensus was that–while Johnny Unitas was a superstar–his star was so NFL-related as to question his inclusion in a Louisville Mount Rushmore.  The Confidential is not too bold as to ignore criticism.  Where, as here, there is a legitimate beef, the Confidential listens.  We removed Unitas from the list.

With two holes to fill, the decision becomes a bit easier.  Darrell Griffith is beloved to Louisville hoops fans.  Unlike Unitas, he did most of his real damage in college–benefiting the program directly.  He left school as the all-time leading scorer.  His jersey has been retired.  He won a national championship.  He even earned the moniker Dr. Dunkenstein–an exciting player coming before Phi Slamma Jamma and Michael Jordan.  He would have been #4, but now he is #3.

The battle for #4 becomes tougher.  On the one hand, Rick Pitino just won a national championship.  On the other hand, Rick Pitino is at Louisville because of athletic director Tom Jurich.  Although the Confidential’s initial thought was to defer Jurich for a later edition, the fan outcry was significant.  Jurich hired Pitino.  He hired Charlie Strong. Both of those programs are top 10 and headed to our beloved ACC.  He has been in charge of Louisville’s rapid climb in revenue–despite the paltry sums generated by the TV revenue from Big East (and lesser conference) membership.  Louisville sports is as powerful as it has ever been–and most of that is due to the efforts of Tom Jurich.  Someday he will have a field, arena, or stadium named after him.  For now, he will have to settle for a spot on the Confidential’s Louisville Mount Rushmore.

The Final Louisville Mount Rushmore: Denny Crum, Howard Schnellenberger, Darrell Griffith, and Tom Jurich.

Other Mount Rushmores:

  1. Maryland Preliminary   Maryland Final
  2. Boston College    Boston College Final
  3. Wake Forest   Wake Forest Final
  4. Miami   Miami Final
  5. Virginia Tech   Virginia Tech Final
  6. Syracuse   Syracuse Final
  7. Virginia   Virginia Final
  8. Pittsburgh  Pittsburgh Final
  9. North Carolina State  North Carolina State Final
  10. Clemson   Clemson Final
  11. Georgia Tech  Georgia Tech Final
  12. Louisville
  13. Notre Dame
  14. Duke
  15. North Carolina
  16. Florida State

For more on the Louisville decisions, see the original discussion…

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The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Louisville

The Confidential has been having some fun with league-wide coaches Mount Rushmores.  Football and Basketball, plus polls for each of football and basketball to share your thoughts.  In fact, it was so sufficiently fun and controversial that we are going to do school-wide Mount Rushmores now.  And we will only put three people on the list, leaving you–our readers–to comment as to who should be the fourth.  We will not do polls anymore.  For today, let’s go with a school that is still one year away from formally joining the ACC: Louisville.

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OSU President Announces Retirement/ Pitino Reaction

Last Thursday Ohio State President E Gordon Gee comments from a December school meeting spread across the media like a ragging wildfire. He said that the “damn Catholics” at Notre Dame couldn’t be trusted and questioned the academic integrity of the SEC and the University of Louisville among other absurd comments. He since has apologized for his comments at the request of OSU. In a March 2011 letter to Gee the OSU trustees laid out several steps for him to take and warned any further incidents could result in his dismissal. In a school email yesterday, Gee announced that he will retire on July 1.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Gee discussed his future with his family while on a Disney Cruise. He said his retirement wasn’t just about his comments. “I have apologized for those remarks and feel incredibly sorry, but I have moved on” he told reporters during a phone interview . He added that he is “quirky as hell” and that he doesn’t do things like most people.

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Rick Pitino gets his tattoo!

After the Louisville Cardinals last loss of the season, a 5 overtime heartbreaker to Notre Dame, he demanded that they win their last 7 regular season games, the BE tourney and the National Championship. They agreed if he would get a tattoo. They lived up to their end of the deal and so now has head coach Rick Pitino. Pictures of the tattoo were tweeted out yesterday. It is on his left back shoulder and features a prominent Louisville L with 2013 running down the left side with NCAA Champions 35-5 written below it. The ‘L’ is about wallet size. Pictures in links below.

Russ Smith has made his decision to come back for his senior season at Louisville official this past Wednesday. With Kevin Ware and Smith this will give the Cards a nice mix of youth and experience at the guard positions.

Louisville players considering the NBA

Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino woke up Monday morning to the news of his election into the basketball Hall of Fame. That night he coached his Cardinals to their third National Championship in school history while making history himself as being the only coach to win national championships at multiple schools (Kentucky in 1996). It’s truly a time of celebration here in Louisville. It has been 27 years since Denny Crum coached his team, lead by freshman Pervis Ellison and senior Milt Wagner, to Louisville second National Championship back in 1986. But as the fans continue their celebration, several U of L players now have an important decision to make, stay in school or enter the NBA draft. Unlike in past years, they now only have about a week to make that life changing decision.

Chane Behanan came to U of L as a McDonald’s All-American. His 15 pts. and 12 reb. performance against Michigan had me wondering if would be back next season or if he would be tempted to go pro. It seems by the quickness that he made his decision to come back for his junior year that it was an easy decision for him after all. While it seems that he has the strength and skills of an NBA prospect, his 6′-6” frame is small for a pro power forward.

Peyton Siva is a senior point guard. Despite his elite speed and passing abilities, his drawbacks of not possessing a reliable jump shot and being turnover prone probably will prevent him from being drafted. While he is considered a top 30 senior he is barely considered a top 100 overall prospect in the upcoming draft, according to reports. Coach Pitino has often compared him to Florida head coach Billy Donovan so you may one day see him roaming the sidelines as a head coach.

Russ Smith’s father was quoted shortly after the game Monday night as to saying that his son was headed for the NBA draft. The timing seems right coming off of a national championship and while people are still talking about his game. However coach Pitino did his due diligence and applied for NBA assessments and shared those reports with Russ. According to the latest local Pitino interviews, he says his All Big East junior guard is now 60/40 coming back for his senior year. Russ has come along way in his three years at Louisville. After his freshman season he was rumored to be following Assistant coach Steve Masiello when he took the head coaching job at Manhattan College. He stayed and worked hard in the offseason on his game and in the weight room. He made a name for himself by scoring 30+ points against the Anthony Davis led Kentucky Wildcats in his sophomore season. He improved his game further during his junior season and began to alter his reputation as an erratic ball-hog to being more of a controlled chaos type of player. He has many attributes that the NBA is looking for such as his outstanding instincts at both ends of the court, excellent speed, ball handling skills and he is a terrific transition player. His unpredictableness and aggressive style of play makes him an entertaining player. He needs to work on his decision-making, ball distribution and jump shot or his 6′ 160 lbs frame may keep him a second draft pick.

Gorgui Dieng seems to be the most ready NBA prospect from this NC team. He is also the one who would most rather come back and graduate before going pro. The 6’11” 245 lbs junior center with a 7’6” wingspan hails from Kebemer, Senegal and grew up playing soccer. He learned to speak English in about two months, education is a high priority in his family. Despite playing basketball for only a few years, arriving in America in 2009, he has matured quickly and still has tremendous potential. His most notable attributes are for being a shot blocker, he is U of L single season blocks leader, and a tremendous passer from the post. He has an effective hook shot, turn around jumper and he finishes well. Already being 23 years old, this may be the best time for him to go pro. The mock drafts has him as the 17th pick.

With or without Smith and/or Dieng, Louisville is poised to make a run at a repeat with a top 10 recruiting class coming in to complement their returning players. If Kevin Ware is unable to make a comeback next season however, Russ Smith could provide a critical experience to its group of incoming freshman guards. I want to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity to talk about one of my passions, University of Louisville sports.

In 2013, Louisville Again Proves Its Worth

#L1C4(Credits: www.gocards.com)

#L1C4
(Credits: http://www.gocards.com)

If any doubt still existed as to whether the University of Louisville was the right choice for membership into the Atlantic Coast Conference, those doubts were dashed on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

As I watched my beloved Cardinals struggle, persevere and then triumph against the Syracuse Orange in the last Big East Championship title game of the modern era, I couldn’t help but think about all the naysayers and detractors of Belknap’s athletic department as the ACC made its decision in 2012.

Louisville basketball has come a long way, to be sure. We were always the known unknown who entered and left conferences. From the Metro Conference to Conference USA to the Big East Conference, the pride of Louisville proved and proved and proved themselves to fans, outsiders and future conference brass by winning national titles and battling our way into Final Fours. When Rick Pitino was hired as head coach after legend Denny Crum wrapped up his career, fans instantly knew the future was bright and we would give our new coach as much time as he needed.

What we have accomplished as members of the Big East is still unfathomable in my eyes. I’m sure the Villanovas and Syracuses and Georgetowns and Connecticuts chided the decision to add us and others to their ranks and assumed they would continue to dominate the league. No one could have written the memorable storyline the Cardinals have produced since 2005.

Louisville became the winningest program since the realignment of 2005 and has now won its third conference basketball championship. As finalists of the tournament in four of the last five years, the Cardinals have continued to prove their worth on the hardwood.

2013 Big East Champions(Credits: www.bigeast.org)

2013 Big East Champions
(Credits: http://www.bigeast.org)

In football, Louisville has always faced an uphill challenge. Scheduling juggernauts like Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame had been a difficult feat to claim, and recruiting the best players from around the country has never been our trademark. However, the football Cardinals made it their mission to always be satisfied with the progression of the program and to constantly improve from within.

Having won our two Bowl Championship Series matchups (2006 FedEx Orange Bowl and 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl), we put everything on the field when we are placed on the stage and told to perform.

When Coach Charlie Strong chose to extend his contract at Louisville rather than take the Tennessee job with the Southeastern Conference, fans surrounding the university knew what he thought about his current job and the institution. The sigh of relief throughout the River City came from fans who realized that our time had finally come to keep our coach and strive to maintain and surpass our accomplishments.

Although elevated, it is clear head coach Charlie Strong is not satisfied with the heights of the program under his tutelage. The invitation to the ACC combined with the fashion in which Louisville dealt the Gators the loss in the Sugar Bowl sent the city into overdrive.

Coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory(Credits: Getty Images)

Coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory
(Credits: Getty Images)

All we ask is for a chance to prove our worth. That is all we have ever wanted, and it appears we will soon get our chance once again in the prestigious ACC in 2014.

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