Cards Hang On, 80-77

Louisville was able to hang on to defeat Kentucky for the first time since the Billy Gillispie era, as they notched an 80-77 win over the Cats. Louisville was up 51-34 with all of the momentum with just under 15 minutes to play, but Kentucky would not go down without a fight. Kyle Wiltjer hit two straight threes to trim the lead, and Kentucky was able to trim it to 2 with 5 minutes left, but were unable to get it any closer, but that’s not to say it didn’t get very interesting. A Russ Smith layup pushed Louisville’s lead to 9 with 2:16 remaining, but UK was able to make Cardinal fans sweat. Archie Goodwin crossed over Peyton Siva for a step-back and-one 3 to cut it to 3 with :30 remaining, but Louisville was able to overcome.

The main thing to take away from this game is simple: Louisville is very good, and Kentucky is beginning to live up to their potential. CardsAndCats.com is about both teams, and while I am the biggest Cardinal homer on the planet, I can give credit where credit is due. I told a UK fan friend before the game that I was expecting a game similar to that of 2009, where Louisville is in control the entire game, blows the lead at the end, but hangs on to win. That is pretty much exactly what happened, but there is a fundamental difference between the two games – this UK team will go far, unlike the 2009 version of the Cats.

We’ll start with Louisville. Gorgui Dieng returned tonight and it was evident that he was quite rusty. Gorgui began the season as the focal point of the offense, taking a David Padgett role in the high post. When he went down, that was all scrapped, and it will take a few games to initiate that back into the offense, and get his wrist back to 100%. Pitino said in his post game press conference that he still has to get back his defensive timing. He was plagued by foul trouble the whole game due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or reverting back to freshman Gorgui and leaving his feet too early. He will be back and help the team tremendously.

Moving forward for Louisville, the sky is the limit, and Pitino nailed it in the postgame (obviously). Peyton and Russ have been the catalysts for this team all year, and have consistently played at a very high level. The key to this team will be for the others to match their level of play. Behanan played a great game today, and has strung together a few games in a row where he has played like the guy we saw in the NCAA tournament last year. Wayne Blackshear had been playing at a high level before today where he struggled, but his growth WILL continue, and he will be an absolutely vital player on this team. The keys are Harrell, Ware, and Hancock. Harrell is already on the fast track, but Ware and Hancock need to gain some confidence. If they can, this team will be the same team they were last year defensively, but lightyears ahead offensively.

The future is also bright for Kentucky. After big back-to-back losses to Baylor and Notre Dame, I thought that this was going to be a throw-away (and by throw-away I mean sweet 16) season as they reload to become title contenders next year. After tonight, my opinion is completely changed. Kentucky fans have to be thrilled with their performance tonight. They came into an extremely hostile environment with a group of freshmen, held their poise down 17, and if not for horrific free throw shooting they may have won the game.

Archie Goodwin is a ball-player. Clearly a lottery pick, he was able to keep Kentucky in the game. The most surprising player to me today was Ryan Harrow. Ball-handling was a big question mark for UK going into the game, and Harrow stepped up big time. A point guard playing 39 minutes in a highly-pressurized, very loud atmosphere against the peskiest defensive duo in college basketball - and having zero turnovers – speaks volumes to the composure of the young guard. He held his own against the pressure and led his team well. The question mark for the Cats is if Alex Poythress can start to live up to his potential. At times, it looks like he just doesn’t care on the court, and Calipari only gave him 15 minutes because of it. He should be mentioned in the same breath, talent-wise, as Goodwin and Noel, but he hasn’t matched that with his effort. If he can start to contribute the way that he is capable, and the team continues to mature, Kentucky will be a force to be reckoned with come March.

In the end, the Cards got the victory. It was a great environment at the Yum! Center and the fans were very civil. Moving forward, both teams have a ton to be excited about, and I am confident that both teams will find their groove by season’s end. I really believe that BOTH teams will be top five teams at the end of the year, and it will be a fun ride for the next four months. Stay tuned…

 Rick Pitino Postgame

John Calipari Postgame

cats cards
Louisville Wins Battle of the Bluegrass 80-77

Louisville & Rick Pitino took down the Kentucky Wildcats for the 1st time in 5 games on Saturday.  It was an outstanding game, hotly contested, and we witnessed some great performances from Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, and Chane Behanan for the Cards & Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, & Kyle Wiltjer for the Cats. 22,810 fans were treated to a real treat of Bluegrass basketball.

We will have extensive coverage including post-game video from both coaches & possibly some player video as well.  Stay tuned.

Cardinal TVT: Season Aggregate

There is a lot I plan on doing with this data, more than I have so far, but for now, it is sitting in a spread sheet. I have been tracking this for 9 games (since UNI).  Here is how the team stacks up so far. This ranks players by “production per minute on the floor”.

I have 3 ways I am presenting Data today:  Season TVT rankings, “Last 5 games” TVT rankings, and “Vs. Top Opponents TVT Rankings”.  I use RealtimeRPI to determine the 5 toughest opponents, I know its not perfect.

Season TVT Rankings

Harrell # 3, impressive, but the reason we don’t start him over Chane?  Chane is #2.  Somehow getting them both on the floor seems like it would be profitable, but I will leave that up to the million dollar coach, and let him evaluate the match-ups.

Last 5 Games TVT Rankings

Who is getting it done lately?  you can see the order shuffle a bit.  Gorgui is CLEARLY not getting it done.  Since he hasn’t played, I will give him a pass. Blackshear makes a big jump, Ware rising, Hancock sinking.

Vs. Top Opponents TVT Rankings

This is what we want to know, right?  Sure, padding stats is good -but when we face our top opponents, how are the scores/rankings affected.  This is the most important one I track.  Would you guess Behanan #1 ahead of Russ?  Siva/SVT rise, Harrell/Ware fall.

If you want your top performers Saturday – this will be closer to your list.  What I will factor in later, which I have not so far are performances when playing “front court power, back court power, or balanced” teams.  We are going crudely into this one with an average.  Obviously SVT will still likley play about 20 minutes, and Dieng I expect to be lower than he will be after a few games to get back into synch.

 

cats fan
The Kentucky Fan

Childish. Hypocritical. Ignorant. As I sat and pondered what words best described the University of Kentucky fan, these words popped into my head rather instantly. The words flowed off my fingertips and blazed the keyboard so rapidly, smoke started to rise. The blood was boiling within my veins before I could get to word three – which came in about three seconds. As I wrote the last part of that sentence, I thought about all the jokes Kentucky fans would make in reference to a certain coaching scandal. I must admit, I chuckled, but instantly turned straight-faced and serious once again.

 

 

 

This guy is 40 years old.

Childish

Kentucky fans are the first ones to shamelessly gloat and pound their chests after good things happen, but when bad things happen, they are the first ones to either A) whine about how unfairly you’re treating them, or B) say that they didn’t care in the first place. They are the fans that ruthlessly ridicule other teams’ fans,  and call them losers while mooning them as they hold a 40 point lead. They are the fans that cancel a series once they lose, and blame it on the other team’s unruly fan behavior. They are the fans who literally shed tears over a regular season loss. They are the fans who just can’t get over a loss that happened over 20 years ago. They are the fans who have rushed the field after beating a team with a .500 record, a losing record (happened twice), or even a loss. They are unable to handle success or failure in appropriate, civilized fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

I continue to cry over a loss that happened 20 years ago

Hypocritical

Kentucky fans are perhaps most notorious for talking out of both sides of their mouths. On one hand, they will pretentiously boast the power of the Southeastern Conference, and how proud they are to be in such a prestigious league. On the other, they will bemoan the fact that they simply have no chance of success in football, due to the fact that they are in the SEC. You will find a Cats fan who will chant “S-E-C,” and literally in the same day question why they even try to compete. They’re like the guy who brags about having a hot girlfriend, but spends every dollar he earns on her and gets his penis size mocked on a regular basis. They are the fans who bash a coach, question his tactics, and say he’d never be able to do things “The Kentucky Way.” Then when they hire him, they’ll tell you they wanted him all along, that he’s misunderstood, and create around 40 t-shirts per day celebrating their fearless leader.

 

 

 

 

Just assuming these guys are Cats fans

Ignorant

It’d be easy for me to take a path down the education highway, but I’ll avoid it. Rather, I’ll focus on the fact that they proudly claim their 8 national championships, but ignore the fact that 4 of them were before color TV and John F. Kennedy’s presidency. They’ll ignore the fact that NCAA championships in that era were not regarded as highly as they are today, and were not the best achievement at the time. They feel the right to celebrate those four titles, just as much as the right to ignore the fact that each one of them was drenched in racism. They actually believe that top 10 players come to UK to be a part of the tradition, splendor, and glory of Wildcat basketball, rather than to simply walk through the revolving door of Calipari’s UK2NBA system.

 

 

 

Casual Gamer Reed – YouTube’s #1 Kentuckah Fan

Kentucky fans live their lives in small bubbles that revolve solely on UK WILDCAT BASKETBALL. They’ll type UK WILDCAT BASKETBALL in all caps, as if to make a statement that UK Wildcat basketball is more important than life itself. All of these characteristics aside, they are, for the most part, genuine, nice people. Nice people that don’t have jobs or all of their teeth, and camp out beginning on Wednesday afternoon for a  Saturday afternoon drawing for tickets to a scrimmage… They genuinely think that is a really awesome thing. Tomato – tomáto, I suppose.