LouisvilleCardinals1
Cards Fall to Cats 69-61

There isn’t much worse in the world if you are a die-hard fan than losing in the NCAA Tournament.  Losing to your rival just adds insult to injury.  Cards fans (like me) can take solace in the fact that they lost to an INCREDIBLE Kentucky team and they gave the Cats their best shot.  Certainly there could have been things that could have gone better, but that performance was nothing to hang your head about.

We’ll have a full report up on the game later tonight (naturally) but for now here is how I think all of us Louisville fans are feeling.  Love my Cards:

Video: Clash of the Titans

This is a video showcasing – BOTH TEAMS.  Unheard of in these times. 

Made by Brian Shannon, aka @_Blackhawk

As you can see, he is about as cool of a UK fan as you will run into.  Not snarky (like I can be), and truly understands the magnitude of having two in state teams in the Final Four.  It truly is something to be proud of.  Let’s make this a show that no man has ever seen, and then drink lots of bourbon.

Congratulations to Kentucky and Louisville both for making the 2012 Final Four.

FinalFourUKUofL
Final Four Dream Game 2012: Louisville vs. Kentucky

Since Saturday when Louisville made its rousing comeback to win the West Region things have been more than a little surreal.  Once Kentucky blew open a huge lead in the first half against Baylor there was a slow realization that it was actually happening.  The Cards and Cats were going to play each other in the Final Four in New Orleans.  After a week of discussion, press conferences, match-up breakdowns, fan made videos, pictures, politicians weighing in, fights at dialysis centers, and just general anxiety we finally get to play the game.  And it is glorious.

Despite what the result is on Saturday this state, this rivalry, and both universities will have been at the center of the discussion for an entire week on one of sport’s most grandest stages.  In the end, only one will move on.  But whichever team emerges as the victor the true winner in all of this is us.  Us as fans.  For too long have we heard about Duke v. North Carolina being the BEST rivalry in basketball, and now after closer & further analysis the national media has now come to the realization that the UNC/Duke rivalry is worth documenting, it pales in comparison to the fire the burns here.  It’s something that we’ve been saying for far too long.  Louisville vs. Kentucky goes back to the beginning of Collegiate Athletics and it is further complicated by the City vs. State, the arguments over conference affiliation, the avoidance of one another, and sometimes even social elements.

So now that the rest of the world is starting to realize what we’ve all known forever, it’s time to play the game.  It’s time to go down to Bourbon Street for Cardi Gras in Blue Orleans and play the game that will be talked about for the next 3 decades or longer.  This isn’t just some out of conference game at the end of December just before conference play starts.  There isn’t a home court, there won’t be an advantage in terms of familiarity.  This is the Superdome in New Orleans.  This is 74,400 people on a raised floor in the French Quarter a game away from the National Championship.  It’s the first time since 1962 that two teams from the same state will have met in the Final Four.  To do this now, with these two teams, and all of the dynamics involved with the history between the schools, the coaches, and everything else is overwhelming.

As fans, we all have our allegiances.  If you are truly a die-hard fan you have found yourself getting worked up this week.  There is simply no way to avoid the excitement, nervousness, and anxiety.  It’s a little much and Thursday can not get here soon enough.

New Year’s Eve 2011, Cards Fall to Cats 69-62

From J Hall: 

Shooting: This was one of the worst shooting performances for both teams the entire season. Kentucky shot a season low of 29.8% (17-57) and the mark was also good for the worst performance of the Calipari era. In fact Kentucky had not won a game shooting that poorly since the Tubby years in 2003. Luckily for Kentucky, Louisville did not shoot much better. The Cardinals shot a season low 32.3% (20-62).

Both teams were also atrocious from deep with Kentucky on connecting on 18.8% (3-16) of its threes while Louisville was only marginally better at 22.2% (4-18).

Free throw shooting percentages were slightly lower than both teams season average. Kentucky made trips to the line much more frequently than Louisville, getting there a total of 43 times compared to Louisville’s 27. Kentucky made 74.4% of their free throws while Louisville only made 67.7%, which resulted in a difference of 12 points.

Players: Clearly three players dominated this game. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Russ Smith and Anthony Davis all had wonderful performances.

MKG had his coming out party and had career highs for both points (24, matched against IU Friday) and rebounds (19). While he has had many terrific games since, this was arguably his best performance of the year.

Russ Smith was essentially a one many Kentucky wrecking crew. He had a career high 30 points on 10-20 shooting and 3-8 from threes. No matter who Kentucky put on him, Russ never hesitated to put up the shot and make it over his defender. He also played good defense and had three steals during Louisville’s relentless press, but had zero assists.

Anthony Davis, after being sidelined much of the first half two fouls, made up for it in the second with 18 points. Most of his points were at the free throw line as he shot 12-13 from the charity stripe. His absence at the end of the first half combined with Louisville’s press allowed the Cardinals to trim a 15 point lead to three. Davis also had six blocks and 10 rebounds for the game.

Other performances: Kyle Kuric had an uncharacteristic two points on only four shots. Chane Behanan fouled out after scoring only four points in 15 minutes of play. Gorgui Dieng had six blocks, five points and only five rebounds. Peyton Siva had eight points on 2-13 shooting with four assists, three turnovers and four fouls.

Darius Miller had seven points and four rebounds but was bothered by the press and turned the ball over eight times. Doron Lamb made only one field goal but was 8-9 from the free throw line to finish with 10 points, two assists and four turnovers. Marquis Teague continued the theme of poor shooting making only 1-8 shots and finished with four points, four turnovers, five assists and fouled out. Terrance had one of his worst performances offensively with only two points, but he did have 11 rebounds.

Referees: Everyone’s favorite thing to complain about during games was deserving of our ire in the first meeting. Michael Stephens, Jamie Luckee, and Tony Greene wore their whistles out. A combined 52 fouls, including a technical on each team, were called. This terrible officiating resulted in a game that had no real flow, saw star players have to sit out for long stretches of action for both teams, and made each team go at least nine players deep. The officials really made this game significantly less enjoyable than it should have been.

Rebounding: Kentucky pretty much dominated this stat during the meeting. The Wildcats pulled down 57 rebounds compared to Louisville’s 31. No player had more than five rebounds for the Cardinals while three players had over 10 for Kentucky. This was a physical game as UK-UL games usually are and was evidenced by the number of fouls. Kentucky clearly took advantage of its length to win the battle of the boards soundly.

Turnovers: Louisville’s press gave Kentucky a lot of difficulty. It was the first time the Wildcats had seen an efficient and tenacious press and it rattled them to the tune of 21 turnovers. Louisville committed 14 turnovers but were able to avoid stretches of them unlike Kentucky.

I am hoping, like I am sure all of you are, for a better game from both teams this time around. Well maybe just for a better game from one team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louisville vs. Kentucky Statistical Comparison

Taking a look at the head-to-head statistical match-ups shows why the Kentucky Wildcats have been the #1 team in the nation for most of the season.  But the key looking at statistics is always to take them with a grain of salt.  Louisville and Kentucky didn’t play the same schedule, and while some of the disparity in the stat comparison will account for Louisville’s tougher schedule MOST of the difference comes from the fact that Kentucky is REALLY GOOD at almost every phase of the game.

On paper, this is a game Kentucky should win.  But on paper Kentucky should beat everybody.  We are going to spend the week analyzing the match-up top to bottom and it all stats with this.  Stay posted here and we’ll keep you flush with knowledge and opinion.

Louisville Kentucky
Strength of Schedule (Pomeroy) 5th (.7369) 31st (.6886)
Points Per Game 68.4 (146th) 77.8 (11th)
Avg Scoring Margin +7.6 (45th) +17.4 (1st)
Field Goal % 42.5% (213th) 48.7% (7th)
Rebound Rate 51.1% (118th) 55.2% (8th)
Blocks Per Game 4.8 (30th) 8.5 (1st)
Steals Per Game 8.9 (7th) 6.0 (210th)
Assists Per Game 13.5 (103rd) 13.4 (110th)
Turnovers Per Game 13.9 (229th) 11.2 (26th)
Team Fouls Per Game 17.6 (138th) 14.7 (9th)
2-point FG% 47.7% (182nd) 52.7% (22nd)
3-point FG% 31.7% (271st) 37.7% (43rd)
Free Throw % 68.8% (194th) 72.9% (52nd)
Opponent Shooting % 38.0% (4th) 37.4% (1st)
Opponent 2-point FG% 41.7% (5th) 39.9% (2nd)
Opponent 3-point FG% 30.3% (18th) 31.5% (50th)
Opponent Block Per Game 3.5 (213th) 3.2 (147th)
Opponent Steals Per Game 7.1 (260th) 5.5 (44th)

Match-Ups

Peyton Siva 6-0, 180 vs. Marquis Teague 6-2, 189
Chris Smith 6-2, 195 vs. Doron Lamb 6-4, 210
Kyle Kuric 6-4, 195 vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 6-7, 232 (will also play 4 spot)
Chane Behanan 6-6, 250 vs. Terrence Jones 6-9, 252
Gorgui Dieng 6-11, 235 vs. Anthony Davis 6-10, 220

Bench
Wayne Blackshear 6-5, 220 vs. Darius Miller 6-8, 225
Russ Smith 6-0, 160 vs. Kyle Wiltjer 6-9, 239
Jared Swopshire 6-8, 200 vs. Eloy Vargas 6-11, 244

Peyton Siva 6-0, 180 lbs vs. Marquis Teague 6-2, 189 lbs.

The last time these two players faced off both players were shadows of their current ability.  Peyton Siva is a more experienced player, but he found himself in a funk.  Marquis Teague was playing like a freshman and wasn’t making the transition to college basketball as quickly as most John Calipari point guards have in the past.  But that’s over for both players.  Siva’s funk is over and he has been playing outstanding basketball and Teague has been playing his best basketball of the season in the post-season.

-Siva had 8 points on just 2 of 13 shooting (0-4 from 3-point range), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 3 turnovers, and 4 fouls.

-Teague finished with just 4 points on 1 of 8 shooting, had 0 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers, and fouled out.

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Peyton Siva,           G 29 2-13 0-4 4-6 0 2 4 1 1 3 4 8
Marquis Teague, G 29 1-8 0-3 2-2 0 3 5 0 1 4 5 4

Looking at the stats of the last game, these two guys really didn’t have much impact on the game.  Outside of Teague’s 5 steals, and Siva’s 4 takeaways there is a really good argument that these two players didn’t help their team at all in the last game.  That is not going to happen in this game. Siva and Teague will not be a forgotten bout and both with leave their mark on this game.  But here is how they compare for a season’s worth of competition.

Peyton Siva Marquis Teague
Minutes 31.7 32.6
Points 9.1 10
Field Goal % 40.30% 41.10%
3-point % 23.90% 30.30%
FT % 73.50% 71.40%
Rebounds 3.2 2.5
Assists 5.6 4.9
Steals 1.7 0.9
Blocks 0.1 0.3
Turnovers 3.5 2.7
Fouls 3 2.2

In the end, Peyton Siva gets the edge from me. It’s close due to Teague’s recent play but Siva’s recent play has also been awesome. Couple that with Siva’s experience and Louisville’s reliance on Peyton especially late in games and I think Siva has to get the nod.  Obviously both players have to avoid foul trouble to stay on the court and that has been a problem for Siva especially, but sometimes also for Teague as well.

Chris Smith 6-2, 195 lbs vs. Doron Lamb 6-4, 210 lbs.

Doron Lamb is a deadly 3-point shooter and he does have the ability to drive the lane as well. Chris Smith is also a very good shooter, but isn’t as consistent from beyond the arc as Lamb generally is.  Chris Smith is a very sound defensive player but really plays the game quietly, but when he asserts himself on the glass the Cardinals look like a totally different team. But when Doron Lamb is hitting his shot he can affect the game MUCH more than Chris Smith.

Last time out:

-Chris Smith finished with 7 points on 2 of 10 from the field, grabbed just 2 rebounds, had 3 steals, 0 assists and 0 turnovers.

-Doron Lamb had 10 points, was 8 of 9 from the free throw line and missed 6 of 7 shots from the field. He also had 0 rebounds, 0 assists, and 4 turnovers.

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
 Chris Smith, G 21 2-10 1-3 2-2 2 3 0 3 0 0 3 7
Doron Lamb, G 24 1-7 0-3 8-9 0 0 2 0 0 4 4 10

The last time these two players met neither had its shot falling.  This is typical in rivalry games, and shouldn’t be a surprise if it happens in New Orleans either especially early in the game.  Plus in the Superdome, and domes in general, some shooters struggle to adjust to the depth perception.  Lamb has that experience playing in the South Regional last week, and last year in the Final Four in Reliant Stadium in Houston. The defense of both teams has limited their opponent’s scoring all year so I would expect both players here to play below their averages, but on a big stage you never know who steps up and takes over.

Season Stats

Chris Smith Doron Lamb
Minutes 27.6 31
Points 9.7 13.6
Field Goal % 40.90% 47.20%
3-point % 39.80% 47.40%
FT % 74.00% 85.20%
Rebounds 3.6 2.8
Assists 1.9 1.5
Steals 0.9 0.5
Blocks 0 0.1
Turnovers 1.1 1
Fouls 1.4 1.8

Ultimately if Chris Smith is going to play well for the Cards he has to rebound and play defense.  Smith is not someone the Cards really rely on to score.  Smith is a good spot up shooter and is good in transition.  For Lamb, the Cats are nearly impossible to beat when Lamb’s shot is falling and he is finding the open man in the same game.  At this point I would give Doron Lamb the advantage in this encounter. Lamb can dominate a game from the outside and with Kentucky’s interior play (which we will discuss later) Lamb forces defense’s to stay honest which Louisville will have to remain extended on the perimeter or get torched from outside.

Kyle Kuric 6-4, 195 lbs. Terrence Jones 6-9, 252 lbs.

These are two completely different players.  But because Louisville goes with a smaller #3 and UK goes with a bigger #3 this is the battle you get.  Terrence Jones could easily play power forward and bang down inside just as easily as he can step away and abuse a team with his mid-range game.  Jones does shoot an “OK” percentage from deep, but isn’t much of a threat to pull from outside with just 48 attempts on the season.  Kyle Kuric on the other hand is more of a perimeter guy.  Known for “Kyle’s Korner” Kuric certainly had a better season last year when he was nearly unconscious from beyond the arc.  This season Kuric is just 32.8% from 3-point range (compared to 44.9% last season) and I think it is a direct result of him averaging an additional 8 minutes per game and having to do a lot more on the floor.

The last time out: 

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
 Kyle Kuric, G-F    38 1-4 0-2 0-0 0 2 1 1 0 1 4 2
Terrence Jones, F 30 1-9 0-1 0-4 3 11 0 3 0 1 1 2

-Kyle Kuric finished with just 2 points  and took just 4 shots and did little else 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 fouls despite 38 minutes.

-Terrence Jones actually did not start but did play 30 minutes and only scored 2 points on 1-9 shooting, but did grab 11 rebounds, 3 steals.

Season Averages

Kyle Kuric Terrence Jones
Minutes 36.2 29.1
Points 12.7 12.6
Field Goal % 42.30% 50.30%
3-point % 32.80% 34.00%
FT % 80.00% 65.20%
Rebounds 4.2 7.1
Assists 1.2 1.3
Steals 1.2 1.3
Blocks 0.5 1.7
Turnovers 1 1.7
Fouls 2.1 2.4

Watching both of these players all season long Kyle Kuric has consistently played passively.  When urged to do more he forces the issue and Louisville is better for it.  Kyle’s shooting percentage suffers, and it is clear that he isn’t fully used to going outside of his comfort zone but if he plays passive like he did in 38 minutes in the last match-up the Cards can NOT win.  Kuric has to block out, he has to hit the glass, he has to MOVE on offense.  Kuric has to be active.  The good news is that Kyle has a lot of experience playing against bigger players as he played power forward for the Cards all of the 2010-11 season.

Terrence Jones has grown more than any other Wildcat in 2011-12.  The most important moment in Jones’ career was on December 10, 2011 when Terrence Jones mentally imploded against Indiana.  That moment served to humble Jones and since we’ve really seen the full bloom of his game come into focus.  The way Terrence Jones is playing right now is unbelievable he can bang the boards, he can go inside and score, step outside, and he is a nice passer as well.

Terrence Jones certainly has the advantage here on paper.  But Kyle Kuric can deliver surprise performances and if his shot is on the young man can really deliver some eye-popping performances. We’ll have to see what happens on Saturday in New Orleans.

Chane Behanan 6-6, 250 lbs. vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 6-7, 232 lbs.

Chane Behanan and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are both incredible young power forwards.  Similarly sized and similar games these two players are chores to deal with down low.  For the year the two have just a 2 rebound difference and after every single game nearly every opponent speaks to their energy.

In this coming game however Chane Behanan has a lot more to prove the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  Behanan was caught up in the atmosphere as a freshman and picked up 3 fouls just 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the game effectively ending his day.  One of those fouls was a technical were after charging into Terrence Jones, Chane rolled the ball at Jones and drew the “T”.  There is a lot of debate about whether or not that “rolling the ball” warranted a “T” (I think it did) but the result was the Cardinals having to play almost an entire half without their power forward and Behanan was limited to just 15 minutes of action before fouling out altogether.

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
 Chane Behanan, F 15 1-3 0-0 2-2 2 5 1 0 0 1 5 4
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F 39 7-16 2-4 8-13 6 19 1 0 0 0 3 24

Obviously, just from the game stats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had an incredible feast of a game finishing with 24 points, 19 rebounds taking full advantage of two out of shape power forwards:  Rakeem Buckles & Jared Swopshire. Both players were still recovering from major injuries and only one player still remains as Buckles tore his ACL shortly thereafter the Kentucky game.  A lot of Cardinal fans openly wondered what would have happened if Behanan hadn’t been on the bench for the lionshare of the game.  Now everyone will get to find out.

Chane Behanan Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Minutes 25.8 31.4
Points 9.5 11.8
Field Goal % 51.30% 47.90%
3-point % 17.60% 24.50%
FT % 58.80% 75.00%
Rebounds 7.4 7.6
Assists 0.8 1.9
Steals 0.8 1.1
Blocks 0.5 1
Turnovers 1.8 2.1
Fouls 1.9 2.4

This is a huge EARN IT game for Behanan and Kidd-Gilchrist.  Behanan because he’s been playing outstanding basketball lately and was named the West Region MVP.  Kidd-Gilchrist has to come into this game feeling confident from the game he just had, but Behanan has to be laser-focused after the learning lesson he suffered in the previous game.  If UK can get Behanan out of the game again, obviously that clears MKG’s airspace for another huge performance.  But the Cards really helped by sending Kidd-Gilchrist to the line 13 times.  I’ll be ZERO’ed in on this battle during the game.

Gorgui Dieng 6-11, 235 lbs. vs. Anthony Davis 6-10, 220 lbs.

Wow.  This is an incredible match-up that Anthony Davis got the better end of in the last meeting.  To be certain Anthony Davis is the better player, but both guys have similarities that make them both extremely effective interior players.  5 years ago Anthony Davis was a guard.  5 years ago Gorgui Dieng was playing soccer.  Neither player expected to be starting Centers in the Final Four 5 years ago.  So this is a really interesting duo for me.

Both guys are incredible shot blockers.  Anthony Davis is the best player in the nation and the difference maker.  What sets Davis apart from Dieng (and everyone else) is his overall experience playing the game.  Davis has guard skills, he can pass.  Gorgui isn’t as polished offensively but does have a post game that Davis lacks.  Dieng also isn’t much of a passer but has really mastered the principles of the “Pick & Roll”.  Since the last game Gorgui has been through some battles and Anthony Davis has been incredible from start to finish.  Everyone tries to get him into foul trouble and no one is successful, Dieng on the other hand can be prone to getting himself some early fouls.

The Last Time

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Gorgui Dieng, C 33 2-5 0-0 1-2 0 5 0 1 6 3 4 5
Anthony Davis , F 27 3-4 0-0 12-13 2 10 0 3 6 2 3 18

In the previous meeting Anthony Davis dominated from the foul line and on the backboard.  Both players racked up blocks, neither really factored in their team’s offense, but Davis set himself apart with his play getting to the glass and hitting his free throws.  Obviously, looking at Davis’ free throw totals along with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s frequency to the line it is important for the Cardinals to NOT send UK to the line.  For Anthony Davis, he may have to honor Dieng a bit more than the last meeting.  The Cards try and get the Center to switch a lot using the pick and roll and get Dieng moving towards the basket with a smaller player or Siva to take the bigger player to the basket.  The problem with that strategy is that Davis (as opposed to MOST Centers) is more mobile than a lot of guards.

Gorgui Dieng Anthony Davis
Minutes 32.6 31.7
Points 9.2 14.2
Field Goal % 53.40% 63.20%
3-point % 50.00% 15.00%
FT % 67.30% 71.00%
Rebounds 9 10.1
Assists 1 1.1
Steals 1.2 1.3
Blocks 3.2 4.6
Turnovers 2 0.9
Fouls 3.3 1.9

Both of these players have dominated games without really factoring on the offensive end, but both guys have the ability to be effective on the offensive end as well.  Anthony Davis is the National Player of the Year and certainly has more of an offensive attack than Dieng.  But Gorgui can post Davis up, where you probably won’t see Davis try that on Dieng.  Gorgui’s main point of emphasis in this game should be patrolling the lane and keeping Davis and MKG off the glass where they both went crazy in the last game.  Davis hasn’t had trouble with fouls very often this season, but I would think the Cards will still try to go after Anthony Davis early on to try to either get easy scores or cheap fouls early on, but if Davis sends the ball out I’d expect that strategy to get abandoned quickly.

Cards vs. Cats Bench 

Jared Swopshire 6-8, 200 lbs. vs. Kyle Wiltjer 6-9, 239 lbs.

Russ Smith 6-0, 160 lbs. vs. Darius Miller 6-8, 225 lbs.

Wayne Blackshear 6-5, 220 lbs. vs. Eloy Vargas 6-11, 244

Jared Swopshire Kyle Wiltjer
Minutes 13.3 12
Points 3.4 5.2
Field Goal % 39.10% 43.60%
3-point % 20.80% 42.30%
FT % 68.80% 81.50%
Rebounds 2.9 1.9
Assists 0.4 0.4
Steals 0.3 0.1
Blocks 0.2 0.5
Turnovers 0.6 0.7
Fouls 1.1 1.2
Russ Smith Darius Miller
Minutes 21.3 25.8
Points 11.6 10
Field Goal % 35.90% 47.50%
3-point % 30.80% 38.30%
FT % 76.80% 77.00%
Rebounds 2.5 2.7
Assists 2 2.1
Steals 2.2 0.8
Blocks 0 0.3
Turnovers 2.3 1.5
Fouls 2.8 2.2
Wayne Blackshear Eloy Vargas
Minutes 6.5 6.4
Points 2 0.9
Field Goal % 25.00% 33.30%
3-point % 27.80% 0
FT % 55.60% 30.80%
Rebounds 1.2 1.9
Assists 0.1 0.1
Steals 0.2 0.1
Blocks 0.1 0.3
Turnovers 0.5 0.2
Fouls 0.6 0.8

In the previous meeting Russ Smith dropped 30 points and was Louisville’s only real offensive threat hitting 10 of his 20 shots from the field and 7 free throws.  Russ also had 5 rebounds and 3 steals.  Russ will come off the bench again in this one and may be called upon for scoring again if the Cards are struggling to score again.  Darius Miller actually got the start in place of Terrence Jones in the last meeting and went 2 for 8 from the floor scoring just 7 points.

Wayne Blackshear didn’t play, and probably won’t play more than 10 minutes against the Cats, but he has been able to play more and more down the stretch.  It doesn’t mean a lot in terms of his overall production, but it does mean a little rest for Kyle Kuric which (theoretically) should increase Kyle’s effectiveness.  Eloy Vargas shouldn’t play much more than a few minutes as well, getting Anthony Davis to the bench for a breather here and there.

Lastly Kyle Wiltjer is deadly from outside.  He is not an aggressive shot taker, but if he has an open look it’s going down.  Jared Swopshire will play quite a bit inside, but really struggled in the last game when Chane Behanan went out with early foul trouble.  I really don’t think Swopshire was anywhere close to being ready to being on the court at that point in time and he’ll get a shot at redemption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Pitino vs. John Calipari 

This story could take a month to write.  Rick Pitino and John Calipari always seem to cross paths.  Rick Pitino recommended John Calipari for the UMASS job in 1988 and gave $5000 of his own money to help make the deal a reality.  In 1997 Rick Pitino left Kentucky to go to the NBA (Boston Celtics), where John Calipari left a year earlier to coach the New Jersey Nets. Later, John Calipari went to Louisville’s rival Memphis in 2000, and Rick Pitino went to coach the Louisville Cardinals in 2001. 9 years later John Calipari is the coach at a different rival school for the Cardinals, of course the University of Kentucky.  As intertwined as these two successful coaches may seem to be, they have always been on the other side.  As a result, their relationship is a little cold, though publicly both will say that they are “cordial”.

This offseason John Calipari made some comments that stirred up the fan bases of both UofL and UK.  Calipari’s quote was when talking about the uniqueness of Big Blue Nation, “It’s a unique thing.  There’s no other state, none, that is as connected to their program as this one.  Because other states have other programs.  Michigan has Michigan State, California has UCLA, North Carolina has Duke.  It’s Kentucky throughout this whole state, and that’s what makes us unique.”  Below is the full video:

Calipari’s comments, fully omitting the University of Louisville as a high-level basketball program who also competes in the state of Kentucky started a movement within both fan bases.  Kentucky fans began the movement, “Louisville Doesn’t Exist” and in true UK fashion created T-Shirts and Sweatshirts around the idea.  Louisville fans took major exception pointing out the fact that the city is the state’s economic engine and that the University is the driving force behind much of that engine, while also pointing out their rich basketball tradition.

Rick Pitino even fired back in response: “”Four things I’ve learned in my 59 years about people. I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid. If the shoe fits anyone, wear it.” Suggesting that John Calipari has a major case of Pitino-envy for Pitino’s multiple Final Fours and National Title. Pitino even added his own quip after defeating Florida to clinch the Cards’ berth into the Final Four: “There will be people at Kentucky that will have a nervous breakdown if they lose to us. You’ve got to watch. They’ve got to put the fences up on bridges. There will be people consumed by Louisville.”

Fans on both sides of the fence can argue for or against either coach.  It’s an argument that literally could go on into eternity.  John Calipari has never beaten Rick Pitino in post-season play so I’m sure Coach Cal is keen on changing that Saturday evening.  Here are some other details:

Career Wins:
Rick Pitino 616-227 (73.07%)
John Calipari 503-152 (76.79%)

Final Fours/Titles:
Rick Pitino has 6 Final Fours, 1 National Championship
John Calipari has 1 Final Four (2 were vacated due to player ineligibility), and 0 National Titles

Current Team:
Louisville is 30-7, finished 7th in the Big East, won the Big East Tournament and the West Region. They were #17 heading into the NCAA Tournamnent
Kentucky is 36-2, finished 1st in the SEC, runner-up in the SEC Tournament and won the South Region. #1 for MOST of the Season.

Rick Pitino has long been admired for his preparation and game planning. John Calipari has long been known for his ability to attract top talent. What isn’t fair is to sell either one of these coaches short on their ability to be BASKETBALL COACHES. Both coaches start their programs with Defense and Teamwork. Both coaches have had MAJOR SUCCESS coaching basketball. This is something to really admire in the state. Sure, we are all going to have our biases, we are all going to have our opinions, BUT THIS WOULDN’T BE HAPPENING IF BOTH COACHES WERE NOT THE VERY TOP IN THEIR PROFESSION. That’s impressive, and for both of these schools to represent the state and be rivals that’s impressive. It’s also fun.

Louisville vs. Kentucky Series History

Kentucky Leads the All-Time Series 29-14.

Obviously the game has changed dramatically in the 100-years that this game has been played. But reviewing the history of this game always draws my curiosity to the games from 1959 and before. Particularly the Olympic Trial game in New York.

Before his death, I got to spend a lot of time with Ralph Beard.  In looking at the box scores Ralph dropped 22 points against the Cards.  That game featured the 1st ever championship team for Kentucky, that also featured Alex Groza, Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Cliff Barker, and Kenny Rollins also known as the “Fabulous Five”.  For the Cardinals Jack Coleman, Glenn & Roy Combs, and Deward Compton.  Ralph Beard loved basketball and told me countless stories during the era.  I wish I could share them all with you, but perhaps another time.

For now, check out the scores and dates of the series from the beginning of time.

Louisville Kentucky
02/15/13 10 34
02/07/14 17 22
03/01/14 13 26
01/23/15 14 18
02/27/15 26 15
02/12/16 26 22
02/22/16 24 32
01/17/22 14 38
01/21/22 22 29
03/27/48 57 91 Olympic Trials: New York, NY
03/20/51 68 79 NCAA Eastern Region Raleigh, NC (1st Round)
03/13/59 76 61 NCAA Midwest Regional Evanston, IL (Sweet 16)
03/26/83 80 68 NCAA Mideast Regional Knoxville, TN (Elite Eight)
11/26/83 44 65
03/22/84 67 72 NCAA Mideast Regional Lexington, KY Sweet 16
12/15/84 71 64
12/28/85 64 69
12/27/86 51 85
12/12/87 75 76
12/31/88 97 75
12/30/89 86 79
12/29/90 86 93
12/28/91 89 103
12/12/92 68 88
11/27/93 70 78
01/01/95 88 86
12/23/95 66 89
12/31/96 54 74
12/27/97 79 76
12/26/98 83 74
12/18/99 46 76
01/02/01 62 64
12/29/01 62 82
12/28/02 81 63
12/27/03 65 56
12/18/04 58 60
12/17/05 61 73
12/16/06 49 61
01/05/08 89 75
01/04/09 74 71
01/02/10 62 71
12/31/10 63 78
12/31/11 62 69
03/31/12 ???????? ???????  Final Four New Orleans, LA

 

Ashley Judd vs. Jennifer LawrenceMatch-ups Mean Nothing. MKG could end up guarding Siva.

Multimedia Section:

Final Four Fan Events in New Orleans

Thursday March 29, 2012

-NCAA Final Four USBWA Sports Writing Workshop
Location: New Orleans Marriott-Galleries 4 & 5
Hours: 8:30-10:45 a.m.
Admission: Free and Open to the Public. Register for the event at: http://comm.psu.edu/sports/final-four
Description: The workshop is for aspiring high school and college journalists hoping to pursue a career in sports writing. Members of the USBWA serve on a panel to talk about their careers in the business and answer questions and offer advice to those hoping to go down the same career path. Select participants will receive a day-specific credential to attend official media events at the Louisiana Superdome.

Friday March 30, 2012

-USBWA Awards Breakfast
Location: New Orleans Marriott, Arcadia Room
Admission: $75 per ticket
Hours: 8:00-9:30
Description: The basketball writers will hand out the organizations’ National Freshman, National Coach and National Player of the Year awards. Tickets can be purchased by visiting: http://www.sportswriters.net/usbwa

-Final Four Friday-Team Practices
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Admission: Free & Open to the Public
Hours: 12-4:00 p.m. (Gates open at 11:00)
Description: See the 2012 NCAA Final Four Teams in action one last time before the big games take place. Final Four head coach interviews and other local entertainment will be sure to add to the excitement. Fans in attendance will be randomly selected to win national semifinal and championship game tickets throughout the day!! Practice Times:
12-12:50 University of Louisville
1-1:50 University of Kansas
2:10-3:00 University of Kentucky
3:10-4:00 Ohio State University

-AT&T Block Party, The Big Dance Concert Series
Location: Woldenberg Park
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Hours 4-10 p.m.
Description: KISS kicks off The Big Dance, a free three-day concert series open to music fans in celebration of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. There will be plenty of food and activities to keep you entertained.

-Reese’s College All-Star Game
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Admission: Free and open to the public
Hours: 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Description: The Reese’s College All-Star Game features two teams comprised of the top collegiate senior student-athletes in the country. For the fourth year, the game will be played in the Final Four venue and will provide Louisiana Residents and other NCAA Basketball fans the chance to see many of the best college basketball players perform in action for free!

-Final Four Gathering Restaurants
Location:
Kentucky: Huck Finn’s Cafe, French Quarter, 135 Decatur Street New Orleans, LA 70130
Louisville: Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, 701 Tchoupitoulas Street, Warehouse District, New Orleans, LA
Description: Restaurants from around NOLA will adopy fans from each of the Final Four teams during the championship week in New Orleans. Make these establishments your headquarters to meet old friends, new friends, and fellow alumni. These locations will be a prime gathering location throughout the week.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

-Coca-Cola Zero Countdown The Big Dance Concert Series
Location: Woldenberg Park
Admission: Free & Open to the Public
Hours: 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Description: THE BLACK KEYS perform. The second of a free three day concert series open to music fans in celebration of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. There will be plenty of food and activities to keep you entertained.

-Tip-Off Tailgate presented by Infiniti
Location: Champions Square
Admission: FREE
Hours 1-4:30 p.m.
Description: A can’t miss pre-game celebration featuring live entertainment on the Capital One Stage, and all your favorite tailgate fare.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

-NCAA Final Four Dribble presented by Lowes Senior CLASS Award
Location: Start @ Champions Square, LaSalle Street
Finish: Ernest N. Morial Conventional Center (BracketTown)
Admission: Free-Registration Required
Hours: Dribble begins at 2:00 p.m., Registration 11:30-1:00 p.m. (Check-in prior to 1:30)
Registration: Onsite Registration will be available to the first 1000 registrants who did not pre-register on-line.
Description: Basketball fans 18 years of age and younger, will have the opportunity to dribble from Champions Square to Bracket Town. Participants will receive a free basketball and T-shirt courtesy of the NCAA. Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Wilson Sporting Goods and the New Orleans Local Organizing Committee. Participants wearing the T-Shirt will also receive free admission to Bracket Town on the event day. Participants must be present to receive complimentary items and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Dribble Event parking will be available at Champions Square garage for $10.00 per vehicle.

-Capital One JamFest, The Big Dance Concert Series
Location: Woldenberg Park
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Hours: 3-10 p.m.
Description: JIMMY BUFFETT performs and a fireworks display closes out the three-day music fest.

Monday April 2, 2012

-Tip-Off Tailgate Presented by Infiniti
Location: Champions Square
Admission: FREE
Hours: 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Description: A can’t miss pre-game celebration featuring live entertainment on the Capital One Stage, and all your favorite tailgate fare.

-NCAA/NABC Coaches Trophy Presentation
Locaton: Hilton Riverside
Admission: FREE
Hours: Postgame
Description: Winning Coach and student-athletes will be presented with the NABC Championship Trophy in a pep rally setting for all fans to enjoy.

Bracket Town Schedule 

-Ernest N. Morial Convention Center H-J
Admission: $10 (ages 12 and over)
$6 (ages 3-11, college students, senior citizens (55 and over), and military. Must have proper ID.
FREE (ages 2 & Under)
Purchase Tickets at the box office, or online at NCAA.com/FinalFour.
Hours: 12-8:00 p.m.
Description: Come play with the best at BracketTown refreshed by Coca-Cola Zero-the ultimate Final Four Fan Fest! Fans of all ages can test their skills and enjoy championship action with basketball competitions, clincis, performances, autograph sessions and photo ops, the latest interactice games and demonstrations, prizes and more. Everyone’s a champion at Bracket Town.

Bracket Town® refreshed by Coca-Cola Zero Schedule of Events

All times are subject to change; all times are local, Central time

All events are open to the public

Friday, March 30th

12:00 PM Doors Open

1:00 – 2:00 PM AT&T Appearance: Scott Drew AT&T Fan Zone

1:30 – 2:30 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

1:30 – 3:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Dereck Whittenburg Allstate

2:00 – 3:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

2:00 – 3:00 PM NCAA.com Appearance: Jimmy Graham NCAA.com

2:30 – 3:30 PM AT&T Appearance: Bob Huggins AT&T Fan Zone

3:00 – 8:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Coca-Cola Zero

3:00 – 4:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

3:00 – 4:00 PM Naismith Preview Show Buick Arena

3:00 – 4:00 PM NCAA.com Appearance: Bobby Hurley NCAA.com

4:00 – 5:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

4:00 – 5:00 PM AT&T Appearance: John Thompson III AT&T Fan Zone

4:00 – 6:00 PM Allstate Appearance: Miles Simon Allstate

4:30 – 4:50 PM Players in Progress Buick Arena

5:00 – 6:00 PM Buick Appearance: Kenny Smith Buick

5:00 – 6:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

5:00 – 6:30 PM Battle of the Bands Buick Arena

5:30 – 6:30 PM AT&T Appearance: Ed Conroy AT&T Fan Zone

6:00 – 7:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

6:45 – 7:00 PM Players in Progress Buick Arena

8:00 PM Doors Close

Saturday, March 31st

10:00 AM Doors Open

10:00 AM– 7:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Coca-Cola Zero

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Coca-Cola Zero Appearance: Clark Kellogg Coca-Cola Zero

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AT&T Appearance: Brad Stevens AT&T Fan Zone

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Capital One Basketball Battle Buick Arena

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

12:00 – 1:00 PM AT&T Appearance AT&T Fan Zone

12:30 – 2:30 PM Legends Game presented by Buick Arena

Dove Men+Care

1:00 – 2:00 PM AT&T Appearance: John Brady AT&T Fan Zone

1:30 – 3:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Joey Rodriguez Allstate

1:00 – 2:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

1:15 – 2:15 PM Buick Appearance: Dick Vitale Buick Arena

2:00 – 3:00 PM AT&T Appearance: Mike Anderson AT&T Fan Zone

2:30 – 3:30 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

2:30 – 4:30 PM Allstate Appearance: James Worthy Allstate

3:00 – 4:00 PM Buick Appearance: Rick Barry Buick

3:30 – 4:30 PM Allstate Presents March Mayhem Buick Arena

with Dude Perfect

4:30 – 5:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Dude Perfect Allstate

4:45 – 5:00 PM Players in Progress Buick Arena

7:00 PM Doors Close

Sunday, April 1st

12:00 PM Doors Open

12:00 – 5:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Coca-Cola Zero

12:15 – 1:15 PM AT&T Appearance: Jim Boeheim AT&T Fan Zone

12:30 – 1:30 PM Buick Appearance: Jay Bilas Buick

1:30 – 2:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Dick Vitale Allstate

1:00 – 2:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

1:00 – 2:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

1:45 – 2:45 PM AT&T Appearance: Steve Fisher AT&T Fan Zone

2:00 – 3:00 PM LG Home Court Challenge Buick Arena

3:00 – 4:00 PM NCAA.com Appearance: Deuce McAllister NCAA.com

3:00 – 4:00 PM Buick Appearance: Erin Andrews Buick

3:15 – 4:15 PM AT&T Appearance: Phil Ford AT&T Fan Zone

3:30 – 4:30 PM AT&T presents Mindless Behavior Buick Arena

Live from Bracket Town

4:00 – 5:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

4:00 – 5:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

4:45 – 5:45 PM AT&T Appearance AT&T Fan Zone

5:00 – 6:00 PM Enjoy More Madness with Buick Arena

Coca-Cola Zero & Kenny Smith

6:00 – 8:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Finals Buick Arena

6:00 – 7:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

6:00 – 7:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

8:00 PM Doors Close

Monday, April 2nd

12:00 PM Doors Open

12:30 – 1:30 PM Legends Appearance: Jay Williams AT&T Fan Zone

1:00 – 2:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

1:00 – 2:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

2:30 – 3:30 PM Legends Appearance: David Robinson AT&T Fan Zone

3:00 – 4:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

3:00 – 4:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

3:00 – 4:00 PM NCAA.com Appearance: Steve Smith NCAA.com

4:00 – 5:00 PM Legends Appearance: John Havlicek AT&T Fan Zone

4:00 – 7:00 PM Buick World’s Largest Knockout Game Buick Arena

5:00 – 6:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

7:00 PM Doors Close 

255206-the-35th-annual-mcdonalds-high-school-all-american-game-showcased-some
McDonalds All American Game and #1 player Shabazz Muhammed

The Game featured Future Cats 6’7 SF Alex Poythress who scored 19 for the East and 6’5 SG Archie Goodwin who scored 14 for the West squad.  Both are known for their length and athleticism and will thrive in Cal’s dribble-drive offense. The West defeated the East 106-102 behind MVP Shabazz Muhammed’s 21 points. Muhammed has trimmed his list down to Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA.

 

Another player who has yet to commit but is considering bringing his talents to Lexington are 6’8 PF Anthony Bennett from Findley Prep. You may recognize that school as they are often times one of the top teams and play on ESPN. It is a Canadian school that has produced former Texas products Avery Bradley (Celtics), Corey Joseph (Spurs), Tristan Thompson (Cavs). He would be a huge coop and help replace Terrence Jones should he declare for the draft.  He is also considering Florida, Washington, Oregon, and UNLV.

 

Amile Jefferson is yet another SF/PF McDonald’s All-American considering the Cats.  He is also looking at NC ST, Ohio State, Villanova, and Duke.  It is looking like, however it pans out, the Cats will be bringing in another talented crop next year.