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Louisville Recruiting Update – National Signing Day Eve

Tomorrow is National Signing Day, the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for college football with a school that is a member of the NCAA. Tomorrow is expected to be mostly mundane for the Cards, as we have solid commits from most of our recruits already, with some even enrolled in classes for the current semester. Charlie Strong and the rest of his staff have been hard on the recruiting trail, locking up several recruits from Florida, among others. Here is the the list of recruits, courtesy of InsidetheVille:

Pos Nat’l
Rank
Nat’l
Rating
Name
School, Hometown
Video HT/ WT/ 40 Commit Date Signed LOI? Commit School
MLB 7 Keith Brown
(Miami Norland HS)
Miami, FL
6-2/230 01/07/2012 Louisville
MLB 13 Nick Dawson
(Phillip O Berry Academy Of Tec)
Charlotte, NC
6-2/215 01/07/2012 Louisville
S PG Gerod Holliman
(Milford Academy)
New Berlin, NY
6-0/185 01/08/2011 Louisville
K 16 Josh Appleby
(East Limestone HS)
Athens, AL
6-3/215 06/27/2011 Louisville
OG 34 Abraham Garcia
(University School Of Nova Sout)
Fort Lauderdale, FL
6-6/340 11/14/2011 Louisville
OLB 39 Larry Jefferson
(Banneker HS)
College Park, GA
6-3/215 04/13/2011 Louisville
QB 47 Will Gardner
(Coffee County HS)
Douglas, GA
6-5/201/4.73 07/11/2011 Louisville
OT 51 DeAndre Herron
(Avon HS)
Avon, IN
6-6/308 07/12/2011 Louisville
OG 53 Sid Anvoots
(Bishop Chatard HS)
Indianapolis, IN
6-4/285 03/25/2011 Louisville
CB 59 Kevin Houchins
(Brush HS)
Lyndhurst, OH
6-0/180 06/20/2011 Louisville
CB 62 Devontre Parnell
(Fairfield Central HS)
Winnsboro, SC
5-10/175/4.42 07/13/2011 Louisville
DT 67 Dequan Ivery
(Columbia High School- South)
Lake City, FL
6-1/310 Soft Verbal Louisville
DE 83 Sheldon Rankins
(Eastside HS)
Covington, GA
6-3/255 01/24/2012 Louisville
OLB 88 Patrick Jean
(Treasure Coast HS)
Port Saint Lucie, FL
6-3/200 09/01/2011 Louisville
OLB 91 James Burgess
(Homestead Senior HS)
Homestead, FL
6-0/200/4.55 01/03/2012 Louisville
WR 92 Brandon Snell
(Miami Carol City HS)
Miami, FL
5-11/175 05/19/2011 Louisville
DT 92 DeAngelo Brown
(Savannah Christian Prep)
Savannah, GA
6-1/285 12/10/2011 Louisville
RB 107 Brandon Radcliff
(Christopher Columbus HS)
Miami, FL
5-10/205/4.50 01/16/2012 Louisville
TE 65 Hunter Bowles
(Glasgow HS)
Glasgow, KY
6-6/245 09/28/2011 Louisville
OG 121 Joe Manley
(Bowling Green HS)
Bowling Green, KY
6-6/305 07/13/2011 Louisville
OG 151 T.C. Klusman
(Elder HS)
Cincinnati, OH
6-4/265 06/11/2011 Louisville
DE 174 Pedro Sibiea
(Homestead Senior HS)
Homestead, FL
6-3/265/4.80 12/17/2011 Louisville
TE JC Ryan Hubbell
(Iowa Western)
Council Bluffs, IA
6-5/235 12/07/2011 Louisville

We have a couple recruits not listed in this table. First is Anthony (Ace) Wales, a three-star running back out of Louisville Central High School. Ace is currently choose between Louisville and Western Kentucky, though word spread about 2 weeks ago that he had chosen Louisville. Now sources are saying he is expected to sign a scholarship offer with WKU, rather than choose to greyshirt with Louisville. He is giving the official word tomorrow at 1:30pm at his school

Another target of Louisville was three-star defensive back Sean Draper out of Ohio. According to this tweet by Jody Demling, Sean Draper has committed to Iowa.

Unless Coach Charlie Strong has a wildcard or two up his sleeve, tomorrow should be mostly just waiting for the recruits to fax in their Letter of Intent.

update
Afternoon UK Update

  • UK got a late commitment from 3 star athlete Jalen Whitlow.  Whitlow was originally committed to Arkansas State but decided today that he would come to Kentucky.  Whitlow had received offers from Ole Miss and Minnesota and a host of other schools.  Tomorrow is always a fun day.  If UK can sign the players they already have commited they should lock up a top 35 class.  That will be good for 9th or 10th in the SEC but it is what it is.
  • Signing day is tomorrow.  It is always exciting to see if there are any last second pick ups or defects.  UK and UofL should both have very strong classes for their standard.
  • The Rupp Arena task force announced today that their plans for a renovated Rupp Arena, new Convention Center, and the revitalization of dowtown Lextington will cost anywhere between 250-300 million dollars.  That is much higher than I anticipated but I think it will happen.  They hope to complete the project by 2017.
  • Big game tonight for the CATS as they try to sweep their SEC rival Tennessee.  I am expecting a closer game than the 16.5 spread that Vegas set.  Now that Jarnell Stokes knows how to stretch he is going to be tough to stop.  Kentucky has to continue to win at home because the schedule in February is going to be a bear.
  • I usually rip this guy, but Rick Bozich had a great blog about how good the SEC has been this year.  I will admit that the last few years the conference has been down.  This year it has been very competitive and I don’t think enough people are talking about it.  It’s worth a look.
Posted in UK

tenn
Wildcats look to sweep season series vs Tennessee

The Wildcats return home on two days rest after a rough and tumble match-up in Louisiana. #1 Kentucky (21-1, 7-0) will be sporting the new Nike Platinum Jersey’s for the first time when they tip-off against SEC rival Tennessee (10-11, 2-4) at 7:00 PM. The game will air on ESPNU.
LSU continued the growing trend of teams playing the Cats physically. Although that may be the best method to try and play Kentucky, LSU was just outmatched from a talent and athletic stand point leading to 24 point defeat. The physicality of the game reached its peak when LSU’s Malcolm White yanked A. Davis down from behind on a fast break in a blatant flagrant foul that led to his ejection. I expect Tennessee to try to body up the Cats and try to eliminate their points around the rim, which is easier said than done.
Calipari keeps saying it may be a good thing for this UK team to lose a game due to being outworked and manhandled, but I don’t see an opposing team that can pose that sort of threat to UK the way they have been playing, at least not without foul trouble being an issue. Their 6-man rotation is so strong and someone always seems to step up, such as Terrence Jones did Saturday with 27 pts.
The Tennessee Volunteers come into Rupp having already played Kentucky very close at Thompson-Boling Areana. Tennessee actually led most of the way that game.   The Tennessee attack was led by Jerrone Maymons 15 pt, 10 reb performance, but this Kentucky team demonstrated its grit and ability, that it has shown all year, to pull out the win on the road 65-62. Maymon is coming off an impressive 15 pt 19 reb performance and looks to continue his stellar play alongside leading scorer Trae Golden and the newly inserted into the starting line-up freshman, Jarnell Stokes. Tennessee will need big performances from all three if they expect to have a chance to snap Kentucky’s nation leading 47 straight home wins.
Tennessee sits in the lower half of the SEC standings only winning home games verse Florida and Auburn. They have lost all their road games (Miss St., Georgia, and Vandy) plus their earlier game verse Kentucky. With 10 games left on their schedule they need an impressive finish plus a strong showing at SEC tournament to even get a sniff for an at large. Adding a road win over #1 Kentucky to their upset win last week over then #11 UConn would be a huge resume builder for them. Even with UConn slipping out of the top 25 after 3 straight losses, I have to think that will prove to be a big win by the end of the year with the talent on that roster.
Kentucky on the other hand looks like the #1 overall seed. However, they still have the tougher half of their SEC schedule ahead with home and away matches with #11 Florida and Vandy and at #19 Miss St.  They could escape all those games unscathed, but even with a loss or two along the way I still see them finishing the season at the top of the rankings.
Until I see Kentucky lose I am not betting against them, especially at home. I expect a closer game than the 16.5 spread indicates as Kentucky is 3-14-1 verse the spread in their last 18 games. I see Tennessee coming out wanting to play hard as most teams do when they know they have a chance to knock off the #1 team in the nation. It can’t hurt their confidence that they know they played close with Kentucky earlier. In the end though, I expect Kentucky to be too much for the Volunteers as I predict a 73-63 Kentucky win behind another well balanced attack.
The main player that I am going to keep an eye is Terrence Jones. I am hopeful he will build on his strong performance against LSU. If he can play with some consistency and toughness this team is pretty unstoppable. I feel pretty confident that Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist are our teams anchors, Miller and Lamb provide our leadership and shooting that spaces the floor, and Teague is our slasher that can get to the hoop and create; I hope that Jones has found his role on this team and can continue to play up to his abilities.
Here’s hoping to another Kentucky win!

ncaa-tournament-logo
NCAA Resume Review: Louisville

Is it that time already? Time to look at the ole’ “body of work”?

Perhaps a tad early, but we have 9 games left in the regular season which will determine a move to a 4 seed, or sweat qualifying at all.

I think the Cards getting back to their old selves just in time, because the meat of their schedule is about to hit them. It is do or die time, and I think the Cards are in need of a few more wins to get out of what is pointing towards the 8/9 bucket.

To date, the Cards have a couple to clap about, a couple to cringe about, and the rest of them are playing out to form. Losing to GTOWN, UK, and Marquette, don’t hurt, as they all are top 15 in the RPI. Just missed opportunities. It’s the “other 4″ you are graded on, and here is a list of those 4, and a few more, that will comprise how the tournament committee views Louisville….thus far.

Cardinal Profile
RPI: 38
SOS: 47
Record: 17-5

Bad losses
Everybody has 1 or 2 of these, the more you have, the less likely you have of getting at large bid.

* 131 Providence – The only conference won they have this year, and won by enough to could it as 3 wins. This loss is a WTF, but everyone typically has a WTF game each year. They are college kids, not professional, so inconsistency is to be expected.

* 82 Notre Dame – If the Dame keeps “doin’ what they are doin’”, this loss will drop off this list. They are now 6-3 in the conference with wins over Seton Hall, Louisville, and Connecticut. I don’t even know how that is possible with the team they have. Brey has to be considered for coach of the year if this continues.

Wins over 50-100
These are games that hurt you more than they help. You want to win as many of these games as you can.

*68 Ohio – if they don’t win their conference tourney, I don’t think they are in, and makes this a “who cares” win.

*88 Villanova – if they don’t win their conference tourney, I don’t think they are in, and makes this a “who cares” win.

*95 Pittsburgh – if they don’t win their conference tourney, I don’t think they are in, and makes this a “who cares” win.

Wins over 25-50
These games get you respect. Win them, they matter. Doesn’t boost your seed tremendously, but will gain you the respect you need to be considered at large. If this is the bulk of your work, you are a 7-12 seed.

* 30 Memphis – Likely in, could win CUSA Tourney, but could slide with Adonis Thomas out of the year. This is a win that could get “less sexy” as they take a few L’s without him playing.

* 32 Vandy – Good win, at home, without Ezeli. This one will count, but it will not stand on its own. Need to grab 1 or 2 more top 50 victories.

* 35 Long Beach State – Solid win, but this team is known more for their close losses, than big wins. They made their name early after beating Pitt & Xavier. Pitt isn’t going to make the tourney at this pace, and Xavier looked better before Yancey sucker punched them and have now fallen out of the RPI top 50.

Wins over top 25
This is where you make your seeding. This takes you from At Large to Elite. Elite would be considered a seed 6 or higher, or top 24 in the country in the committee’s eyes.

* 21 Seton Hall (road win): Road wins matter. This is a good win. However, Seton Hall is sliding. If they don’t fix this, they will drop back into the 50-100 category, and be subjected to a super conference tourney to get in. In other words. Right the ship, or this win doesn’t hold weight.

Opportunities against top 50
* 18 Connecticut – They are in a funk, expect them to drop, and pray they don’t “figure it out” against us. A good win, but people are scratching their head at this teams season long inconsistency.

* 17 @ West Virginia – You want a resume win? Win this one in Morgantown. This is a critical game on our schedule.

* 1 Syracuse (home & away) – if you have to split them, win the road game. Road games matter. We have serious winning streak against them, but I don’t see this one as a 2-0 for the cards if Melo is back in the lineup. They are a tough team, this year for sure.

Summary

Seven of the last ten games are against RPI top 100, so Cards can solidify NCAA inclusion by finishing strong, but what the Cards do against the 4 “opportunity games” is how they will be seeded. Otherwise, a strong conference tourney will be needed to back the claims that beating Memphis, Vandy (without Elezi), and Seton Hall (sliding) is enough.

Unless the Cards turn it up a gear, this is looking like a first/second round year loss in the NCAA. We need to prove we can hang with the top 15 in order to expect anything more, and we will only get a few chances to see that until conference tournament time.

Seven of the last ten games are against RPI top 100, so Cards can solidify their inclusion by finishing strong, but what they do against the 4 “opportunity games” is how they will be seeded.

Prediction
Cards finish final 9 games 7-2 for a 24-7 record, and eventual NCAA 6-7 seed.
*Wins: Syracuse, Connecticut, Pitt, USF, @ WVU, Rutgers, @DePaul
*Losses: @Syracuse, @ Cinci
*Data Used (RealtimeRpi)

Louisville
Kentuky Football Recruiting Updates

Kentucky is expected to ink one of their top recruiting classes since Rivals, Scout, ESPN recruiting services have been in business. This class could become even deeper with the possible additions of Monty Madaris 3* WR (Rumored to be visiting UK by several sources), Cody Core 2* WR, Anthony Wales 3* ATH (basically between UK/UL) and Khallid Henderson 4* LB on Wednesday. One would have to believe after seeing the picture Khalid tweeted out, that Kentucky appears to be in great shape.

It’s between Kentucky and Ole Miss for this 4 star linebacker. Kentucky only had a few spots left, so hopefully they can make it count. We’ll be sure to report all of the signings as they happen. Stay tuned for updates!

Cards Win on the Road best Seton Hall 60-51

The #25 ranked Louisville Cardinals went on the road as a 1-point underdog to unranked Seton Hall Saturday night.  Former Louisville assistant Kevin Willard’s team opened the season 15-2, and has since lost 4 in a row.  The most recent loss came to the Cardinals thanks to a combination of good defense from the Cardinals and terrible offense from Seton Hall.  The Pirates were able to just shoot 27.6% from the field and were out-rebounded by the Cardinals 40-29.  Seton Hall was able to keep it close with some really incredible full-court pressure that UofL was never able to handle and would force 23 Cardinal turnovers on the evening.

As the season wears on Coach Pitino is relying more and more on 6 primary players (Russ, Chris, Chane, Siva, Dieng, Kuric) while only mixing in others lightly.  Swopshire/Justice/and Ware all played a total of 10 minutes.  A non-overtime college basketball game accounts for 200 minutes of action for a roster.  Playing those reserves only counts for 5% of the game.  Of those Swopshire probably figures the most heavily moving forward as a reserve in the post.  Pitino said on Friday that he thought that Zach Price was dangerously close to seeing a lot of floor time.

However, with Gorgui Dieng playing so well it’s hard to take him off the floor.  On Saturday, Dieng finished with his 10th double/double of the season and the 3rd in a row.  Earlier this season Gorgui was able to put 5 double/doubles in a row against Louisville’s December competition.  The most recent double/doubles against Pitt/Nova/and Seton Hall are all much more impressive.  Dieng has improved so much from a year ago where he appeared to just understand basic basketball, and not the intricate details of the game.  Now, one year later, he plays with patience and understanding that some U.S. players never seem to grasp.  Gorgui Dieng is easy to cheer for, and I look forward to seeing his improvement each week.

Chane Behanan is another player who has been coming on strong as of late.  It seems like Chane is finally understanding the talents that he has been inherently blessed with and learning how to use them more effectively.  Behanan finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 6 TURNOVERS and 4 fouls.  Chane isn’t typically that turnover prone, so I’m willing to let that slide and account for that as a team stat in a game where UofL turned the ball over 24 times.  But with Chane’s production rising, so have his fouls.  I think that this may be just an issue of Behanan asserting himself more, but in the last 4 games Chane has been whistled for 4+ fouls three times.  The prior 18 games Chane was only 4+ in the foul department twice (Vandy, Kentucky).  I’m completely happy with Chane’s more aggresive style lately, but if that means more fouls for him Jared Swopshire, Zach Price, and Angel Nunez must get prepared.  Louisville is dreadfully thin inside without Stephan Van Treese and Rakeem Buckles and there very well could be a game again where Chane finds himself on the bench with foul trouble.

Peyton Siva played an incredible first half.  The second half was more of the Siva that tends to drive everyone in Louisville crazy.  I’ve really been liking Peyton lately, and I’m not going to get to down on his performance but he can’t have 7 turnovers.  One of the main problems on this team has been getting the ball in bounds off either baseline.  I think this was exposed in the Vandy game but this issue has been a problem ever since and could play a role in tight games in March.  Honestly, I don’t know why more teams don’t press Louisville like Seton Hall did last night.  The Cards almost looked panicked.

Chris Smith, Russ Smith, and Kyle Kuric on the wings accounted for 32 of Louisville’s 60 points.  It should come as no surprise that Russ took the most shots of any Cardinal with 11 and also led the team in scoring with 14 points.  Chris Smtih is “Mr. Steady”.  Plays good defense, takes controlled shots is a good passer and is just always there doing a nice job.  It doesn’t stand out, but he always seems to get the job done.  I feel like Chris Smtih sometimes is taken for granted by the fanbase because he is so consistent in every area.  Lastly, Kyle Kuric didn’t have a particularly great game vs. Seton Hall, but I think maybe asking him to do so much on offense takes away what he is truly great at doing: spotting up and shooting.  In the Pitt game Kuric was not a threat to take the ball off the bounce at all with his injured ankle and he just caught and shot the ball while finishing 7-12 FGM-A and 21 points.  Maybe that is just what Kyle is????

The Cards take a week off before meeting Rutgers next Saturday at 4:00 in the KFC Yum! Center.  The Scarlet Knights are 12-10 on the season and are fresh off a 7-point victory against a good Cincinnati team.  Rutgers will travel to Providence for a Wednesday evening tilt before coming to Louisville on Saturday.  In the off week I expect that the Cardinals will focus on themselves, getting healthy, working on the half-court offense and inbound plays.  There will be plenty of speculation also with regards to the status of Wayne Blackshear who has been practicing with the team, dressing out for games, and was initially expected back for the Villanova game.  With a bit of a break, it will be interesting if the high-touted freshman is able to make his debut vs. the Scarlet Knights or not. We’ll keep our eyes open and our fingers crossed, but with or without Blackshear the Louisville Cardinals certainly look like the more polished group that we saw open up the 2011-12 season and I’m excited to go into February for the stretch run leading up to March Madness.