SivaPointCelebrationElite8FinalFourDuke2013
Updating the Louisville Basketball Record Book Pre-Final Four

Russ Smith

-Russ Smith’s 718 points is currently the 2nd Best Scoring Season in Louisville Basketball History. During the NCAA Tournament games in Indianapolis Russ passed Wes Unseld (1967-68), Jim Price (1971-72), John Turner (1960-61), Reece Gaines (2001-2002), and Charlie Tyra (1955-56) to climb to #2.  Darrell Griffith’s 825 points in 1979-80 will remain #1 All-Time.

-Russ currently has taken the 5th Most Field Goal Attempts for a single season in Cardinal Basketball History with 527.  During the Regional Semi-Finals & Finals Smith passed Bobby Brown (1951-52), Darrell Griffith (1978-79), Jim Price (1971-72), and Chuck Noble (1953-54).

-Smith’s 2012-13 season continues to build on his #1 All-Time Single Season Made Free Throws mark and now stands at 215 makes on the year. Russ also moved up the list from 6th to 2nd in Free Throw Attempts in a Single Season with 261 passing Bud Olsen (1961-62), Charlie Tyra (1956-57), Ellis Myles (2004-05), and Charlie Tyra (1955-56).

-Russ Smith needs just 2 steals to move into Louisville’s All-Time Career Steals Top 10.

-Russ set Louisville’s Steal Record in a Single Season last year with 87, currently Russ has 81 takes good for 8th All-Time in one year.

-Russ Smith now has 1205 career points and during the Sweet 16 & Elite 8 games passed Charles Jones, Juan Palacios, Tony Williams, Cornelius Holden, Larry O’Bannon, Felton Spencer, Bobby Brown, Jerry King, Peyton Siva, Bud Olsen, Greg Minor, and Jerry Smith on the All-Time Scoring list.  Smith is now 37th in Scoring All-Time as a Cardinal.

-For his Career in the NCAA Tournament Russ Smith has scored 166 points 5th All-Time.  Milt Wagner holds the All-time Career Mark in the NCAAs with 224 points.

-For this NCAA Tournament Russ has scored 104, 4th all-time in a single tournament at UofL.  Russ needs 12 points to tie Darrell Griffith’s 1980 Tournament tally for #1 All-Time.

-Russ Smith has 20 Career Steals in the NCAA Tournament, 2nd in schol history behind Charles Jones’ 24. Russ has achieved the single Tournament Record in school history with 13.  Lancaster Gordon previously held the school record with 11 in a single tournament.

Peyton Siva

-Peyton Siva will finish #2 All-Time Career Assists for Louisville Basketball.  Siva currently has 669 assists and trails only LaBradford Smith’s 713 dimes.

-Siva also passed his own personal best for Single Season Assists (last year’s mark) and in 2012-13 has 220 assists which is the 2nd most assist in a Louisville Basketball Season.  Peyton trails LaBradford Smith’s 1989-90 tally by just 6 for the best mark in school history.  Siva owns 3 of Louisville’s Top 6 assists marks in school history.

-Peyton Siva continued to build his lead as Louisville’s All-Time Career Steal Leader with 248.

-Peyton’s 84 steals during 2012-13 is tied with Alvin Sims (1995-96) for 6th All-Time in a Single Season. Siva needs 3 steals to tie Russ’ single season mark last year.

-Siva is now tied with Herbert Crook in Career Most Games Played with 142.

-Peyton Siva moved up to 41st on the All-Time Scoring List during Regional play and now has 1190 points.  Siva passed Felton Spencer, Bobby Brown, & Jerry King during Friday & Sunday’s games.

-Peyton Siva is #2 All-Time in NCAA Tournament Assists for Louisville with 55 assist in the Tournament.  The school record is 69 set by Milt Wagner.

-Siva’s 20 assists in this NCAA Tournament is 7th in school history in a Single NCAA Tournament.  The record is held by 1975’s Phil Bond.

-Peyton Siva has 12 career steals in the NCAA Tournament, that’s 11th in school history for NCAA Tournament games.  Siva has 8 steals in the 2013 Tournament, currently 8th best in a single tournament for the school (tied with Gorgui)

Gorgui Dieng

-Gorgui Dieng is currently #2 All-Time in Career Blocks at the University of Louisville with 262. Gorgui trails just Pervis Ellison with 374 swats in his career.  Dieng will need to return for his senior season to make a run at the “Never Nervous” mark.

-Dieng’s 2012-13 season is currently tied with Samaki Walker’s 1994-95 season for Season Blocks at 78.  During the Sweet 16 & Elite 8 Gorgui passed Felton Spencer (1989-90) & Cliff Rozier (1993-94).  Last year Gorgui set the single season block record with 128.

-Gorgui Dieng has 843 career points & 787 career rebounds.  Dieng needs 26 rebounds to move into Louisville’s Top 16 All-Time Rebounders & 157 points to score 1000.

-Gorgui is currently #6 in school history for Career Rebounds in the NCAA Tournament with 76.  Pervis Ellison holds the All-Time Record with 121.

-Also in Career NCAA Tournament marks Gorgui is #2 in school history in Career Blocks with 29, trailing just Pervis Ellison’s 32.  In a single tournament Gorgui’s 2013 Tournament is 4th All-Time with 10 swats.  Dieng set the school record for blocks in a single NCAA Tournament last season with 17.

– Gorgui has 15 career steals in the NCAA Tournament, that’s tied for 6th in school history for NCAA Tournament games.  Gorgs has 8 steals in the 2013 Tournament, currently 8th best in a single tournament for the school (tied with Siva).

Photo from Jody Demling
Cards Beat Irish, Share Big East Title 73-57

The University of Louisville Men’s Basketball program righted a negative result from earlier in the season in what was a 5 Overtime defeat to Notre Dame.  On Saturday the Cards hit 51% from the floor and actually had 5 fewer shots than the Irish but were able run away with the game thanks to a HUGE effort from Gorgui Dieng.  The soon to be (maybe?) departing junior Center had perhaps his best game of the season in front of scouts from 5 different NBA teams with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, and an assist.

At Point Guard Peyton Siva also had a HUGE game in front of about family 30 family members who came from native Seattle to watch his final home game.  After the game Siva was buried under an avalanche of gifts from his family that were well-deserved. Siva finished with 13 points, 5 assists, 1 steal, 4 rebounds and just two turnovers.

Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey credited Louisville’s backcourt saying “Their guards are playing so well, getting really good at the right time.”  I think that is key.  Last season Peyton Siva had a breakout in March and led the Cards to the Final Four.  The same thing is happening here.  The thing that sticks out the most is how much this group seems to care about each other.  There is a strong bond in the locker room that really reminds me of last year’s run.

On the white board in the post-game locker room it was written: “9 games”.  And that is all that stands between Louisville and a National Championship.

Post-Game Video of Rick Pitino, Mike Brey, Peyton Siva, and Gorgui Dieng will be added later.  As well as additional nuggets.  Check back.

UofLFootball
Louisville Releases 2013 Football Schedule

From UofL SID:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Seven home games, including dates with three BIG EAST newcomers, and two nationally televised Thursday night games highlight the 2013 Louisville football schedule, released Wednesday by the BIG EAST Conference.

The Cardinals are slated to host Houston, Central Florida and Memphis this season, all of which are new members of the BIG EAST, and have nationally televised broadcasts slated with Rutgers on Oct. 10 and UCF on Oct. 18, both at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals also have network games versus Connecticut on Nov. 8, and to close the season at Cincinnati on Dec. 5.

Louisville opens the fourth season under head coach Charlie Strong with three of its first four games at home. The Cardinals begin the year on Aug. 31 against Ohio, which went 9-4 with a win at Penn State and a victory in the Independence Bowl. It will be the first match-up with the Bobcats since 1959.

The Cardinals host Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 7 and FIU on Sept. 21, with a road game in between at in-state rival Kentucky on Sept. 14. Louisville defeated the Colonels 23-13 in 2010 and went to Miami last season and out-lasted the Panthers 28-21.

The Cardinals will take one of their first three bye weeks on Sept. 28 before traveling to Temple on Oct.

Louisville returns home for those two nationally televised contests with Rutgers and Central Florida. Louisville and Rutgers will meet for the first time since the Cardinals clinched a BIG EAST title 20-17 in Piscataway, N.J., last season in the final regular-season contest. The Cardinals are facing the Knights for the first time since 1985.

A trip to Tampa, Fla., awaits the Cardinals on Oct. 26 for a game against USF followed by a second bye week of the season. Louisville recorded a come-from-behind win over the Bulls last season when Teddy Bridgewater connected with Eli Rogers on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 1:35 to play in a 27-25 win.

The Cardinals return to league action with the Friday night nationally televised contest at Connecticut, followed by consecutive home games versus Houston on Nov. 16 and Memphis on Nov. 23. The Cougars and Tigers were former members of Conference USA when the Cardinals were in that league from 1996-2004.

After the final bye week, the Cardinals close the regular season with a nationally televised Thursday night game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cardinals and Bearcats had an epic overtime game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium last season, a 34-31 win for Louisville.

The Cardinals, who return 19 starters from last season’s 11-2 squad, begin spring practice on March 20 at 3:45 p.m.

Sat., Aug. 31 Ohio
Sat., Sept. 7 Eastern Kentucky
Sat., Sept. 14 at Kentucky
Sat., Sept. 21 Florida International
Sat., Oct. 5 at Temple *
Thu., Oct. 10 Rutgers * (ESPN)
Fri., Oct. 18 UCF * (ESPN/ESPN2)
Sat., Oct. 26 at USF *
Fri., Nov. 8 at Connecticut * (ESPN/ESPN2)
Sat., Nov. 16 Houston *
Sat., Nov. 23 Memphis *
Thu., Dec. 5 at Cincinnati * (7:30 pm, ESPN)

Louisville Offensive Line in Sugar Bowl 2013
Louisville Football Roster Breakdown 2013: Offensive Line

Story was updated after initial publish as new information was released.

2012:

The Louisville offensive line made strides in 2012 as expected.  The unit was desperately young and lacking depth during the 2011 season, but that group returned almost entirely intact and was a big reason for the jump from the 103rd Offense (2011) to the 51st Offense.  The Cards increased their offensive efficiency by 85.8 yards per game (or 1115 yards total) in 2012.  There was a major dip in the run game once Senorise Perry went down with an injury along with some depth issues at tight end, and the O-Line still gave up quite a few tackles for loss & sacks although they did improve from a year before.

The Cards improved from 3.15 sacks allowed to 2.31 sacks allowed per game a jump from 112th to 90th.  Still there is quite a bit of room for improvement when protecting Louisville’s MVP Teddy Bridgewater.  Tackles for loss also slightly improved from 7.46 to 6.46 from 114th to 96th.  CLEARLY these slight improvements made big impacts on the offense, BUT if the Cards can move these figures more towards the 50th ranking or better then the offense can take an even more dramatic step forward and can improve their chances of having a healthy run game AND Teddy Bridgewater for an entire season.

Who’s Back?: 

Mike Romano (6-4, 281, Soph) will have a chance to win the Center job as Mario Benavides departs. The Center position is likely to be hotly contested and will be vital to Louisville’s success in 2013.  I’m interested to see if Romano is up to the task as he was the #1 Center during 2012 Spring Drills with Benavides sitting out.  At that time I felt like there was still quite a bit of room for improvement in terms of strength and awareness, but Mike was in his first Spring Game at the time. After a 3 Fall Camps, 2 Springs, and a lot of conditioning Mike has an excellent chance at securing the spot in Fall 2013.  I’ll be watching.  Romano signed with the Cards over Central Michigan, Marshall, Memphis, and Southern Miss and did see action against Temple in 2012.

*Romano is OUT for Spring Practice per UofL.

Kamran Joyer (6-3, 270, SR) filled in nicely at guard when John Miller went down with an ankle injury. Joyer played quite a bit during 2012, even for a spell at tackle and is quite versatile. He isn’t the biggest offensive lineman, and he was actually looked at for the Center position for a long time.  Joyer is now expected to be the answer at Center as he just has one year remaining.

NOTE: Shawn Watson recently said that Joyer is expected to be Louisville’s Center in Spring 2013. Mike Romano is OUT for the Spring so Joyer is going to have a great opportunity to win the job and Watson expects him to.

John Miller (6-2, 321, JR) is VERY good.  I expect Miller to really breakout in 2013 even more so than he did in 2012.  Miller’s biggest problem since he’s been a Card?  Keeping people off his ankles.  He’s had some tough breaks with getting his ankles rolled and it’s caused him to miss some time.  Miller will be at LG and he’s the one player I don’t think is a risk at all of moving around.  Miller can be a next level player and is really effective at neutralizing his man and getting to the next level.  He’s also a very good pass protector.  I like his game a lot.

Abraham “Nacho” Garcia (6-5, 352, Soph) played quite a bit as a true freshman in 2012.  “Nacho” is HUGE and Charlie Strong says, “runs like a deer”.  So naturally he’s big & athletic enough to be your starting left tackle in 2012 and he probably will be.  I’m interested to see how well Nacho does as a full-time starter.  I think it’s clear that he has plenty of talent at his disposal and the real question is whether or not he’s prepared for a long-term grind of a college football season.  Garcia has NFL potential, but he has quite a ways to go fine-tuning his skills.  Garcia would be a major upgrade physically at the Left Tackle position and we’ll see if “Nacho’s” brawn makes up for Kupper’s brains.  I feel really confident in Dave Borbely getting him ready.

Jake Smith (6-4, 314, JR) was Louisville’s stalwart on the offensive line in 2012.  Jake is very steady and is an excellent run blocker.  Jake will tell you that he isn’t the best in pass protection and there were some break downs in the Syracuse game on his side. But overall I think Jake had an excellent sophomore campaign.  Jake is very easy to talk to and one of the most likable people you’ll find in athletics.  I know there was some talk early on about possibly trying Jake at Center for 2013 and that may still happen, but I personally think Smith will remain at Right Guard.  Just don’t be surprised if he takes some reps there in the Spring while the coaching staff pushes Kamran Joyer & TC Klusman at Center. Jake, though, is Louisville’s RG in 2013.

Jamon Brown (6-6, 337, JR) played really well at Right Tackle in his first full year on the offensive line.  Jamon came to the Cards from local Fern Creek and started on the defensive line.  He was pressed into action out of necessity and was literally baptized by fire in the 2011 West Virginia game when Bruce Irvin beat him twice on consecutive snaps to sack Teddy Bridgewater.  Those two plays were the first time Jamon Brown was featured during NFL Draft Coverage, but it won’t be the last.  Jamon was really not prepared to go against Irvin, who ended up 2012 with 8 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks. Jamon could very well start 2013 as Louisville’s Right Tackle, but I heard that the staff may also be tried at Center.  Brown might be the biggest Center ever, but he really can move and it might actually work.  But if he stays at RT the Cards will have less movement from 2012 to 2013. So we’ll see what happens.  Jamon also has excellent vocal skills and I really want to see him sing the National Anthem before a Men’s Basketball game.

Ryan Mack (6-5, 310, Soph) played in every game 2012 and even started the South Florida game at Right Tackle. Mack can play guard or tackle and depending on who wins the center position definitely will be in the mix for a starting role.  If not start, Mack will definitely play and provide depth throughout the season.  Having a guy like Mack around is a luxury as he would definitely start at most programs and might be a reason why the coaches may try Jake Smith or Jamon Brown at Center in an effort to get him on the field. Mack is currently listed #2 at RT for UofL.

Aaron Epps (6-7, 274, Soph) has been in development for a while.  He came to Louisville at 244 pounds, did his time as a tight end last Spring and has been trying to grow his body to play along the offensive line.  Epps actually took a few years off of football to play basketball.  That plus his size has limited his contribution so far, but there is a lot of ability here.  Epps can really move and he’s only about 15 pounds away from being an acceptable size.  The real question for Epps is can he move as well with the added weight and will he have the strength and toughness required for the O-line.  I think there is a lot of potential here with Epps and I’m excited to see him this Spring. This is a guy who could potentially breakout.

Note: Epps is questionable for Spring Practice per UofL and is currently listed #2 at LT.

Chase Petersen (6-4, 295, Soph) is a player that everyone was very excited to see sign a NLI. Petersen greyshirted out of the 2010 class and after two solid years in the program we will see where Petersen is in his development this Spring. Chase did not see action in 2012 and came to Louisville over North Texas, Southern Miss, & Tulane after committing to the Steve Kragthorpe staff.

Chris Acosta (6-3, 280, JR) is Charlie Strong’s first offensive lineman commitment. Acosta appeared in the Kentucky game in 2012, and the Syracuse game in 2011 and has been a tackle since his arrival at UofL.  Acosta could be a wild card this off-season as he is a fourth-year guy.  It remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to play a permanent role on the O-Line.

Chris Walker (6-3, 306, SR) did not see game action in 2012 is a walk-on from Ballard.

Josh Stearns (6-1, 285, Soph) saw action in the Temple game is a walk-on from Manual. Per UofL, Stearns is questionable for Spring Practice.

David Noltemeyer (6-4, 298, JR) did not see game action in 2012 transferred from Kentucky and is a St. Xavier product.

Who’s Gone?: 

Mario Benavides was an outstanding Center for the Cards.  Always a great interview, very personalable, and very aware of his body.  He didn’t have a single botched snap in 2012 and he’ll play in the NFL.  It’s going to be hard to replace him.

Alex Kupper was the “Swiss Army Knife” of offensive lineman.  He literally played Tackle, Guard, and Center during 2012 and his teammates dubbed a “genius”. Kupper is a former walk-on turned Sugar Bowl Champion starter.  It’s a great story we aren’t likely to hear repeated for a long time.

Who’s New?: 

Joe Manley (6-6, 334, RS-FR) redshirted in 2012 after coming to the Cards from Bowling Green High School. Joe will likely give some major competition to the #1s in 2012 and can play Tackle and Guard. If Jamon Brown ends up playing Center then I think Manley gives Ryan Mack a run for his money at RT, but I think he’ll need to wait his turn or be ready if an injury happens to get a starting spot at either of the guard spots.  Manley will definitely play a key role for the Cards during his career and I expect him to factor in 2013, I just am not sure how much. We’ll know more after Spring. Manley chose the Cards over Illinois, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Currently Manley is listed #3 at RT for the Cards headed into Spring Practice.

T.C. Klusman (6-3, 270, RS-FR) redshirted in 2012 from Cincinnati Elder and is someone I’d like to see try Center.  Klusman can play either guard or tackle but would but the perfect size right now to play Center.  More than likely though Klusman will probably be a Tackle and will need to continue to let his body develop before being able to compete at this level at tackle. Lots of time with T.C. to make an impact.  Klusman chose Louisville over NC State & Pitt.

*A recent release from UofL and Shawn Watson comments were that T.C. will work at Center and will challenge Kamran Joyer during Spring 2013.  Mike Romano is out for Spring 2013 so Klusman will get a lot of great reps.

Sid Anvoots (6-2, 308, RS-FR) redshirted in 2012 could also be the answer at Center. Sid is either a Guard or a Center and came out of Bishop Chatard in Indianapolis as a fantastic run blocker.  If any player can beat out Mike Romano and give the coaches reason enough to keep Jamon Brown at  Tackle Sid would be my pick.  Folks should watch Sid very closely in the Spring to see if he is up to the task.  308 lbs is a little heavier than I like my Centers, but in the end it is all about mobility and if Anvoots can move at that weight then let him enjoy his Frisch’s Big Boy in peace.

*A recent UofL release stated that Anvoots will work at Guard this Spring.

Henry Vincent (6-5, 270, RS-FR) redshirted in 2012 and walked on to the Cards from Louisville Holy Cross.

Tobijah Hughley (6-3, 280, RS-FR) redshirted in 2012 and walked on to the Cards from Lexington Lafayette.

Cameron Fraser (6-5, 295, FR) comes to the Cards as a part of the 2013 signing class.  I really like Fraser’s size and athleticism, he’s definitely going to play at some point during his time as a Cardinal, the question really is how soon?  Fraser is an obvious candidate at Tackle and that’s a position where Fraser will have an advantage of red-shirting the 2013 season.  Personally I think red-shirting on the Offensive Line is the most important position to use red-shirts as the physicality uptick from high school to college is often difficult.  It’s more mental than physical with true freshman but true freshman usually do need the regimented conditioning to further help with the transition. Fraser chose Louisville over offers from Arkansas and South Florida.

Skylar Lacy (6-6, 290, FR) is another great example of tapping into the Indianapolis market.  Skylar is another obvious Tackle candidate that is going to benefit GREATLY from a red-shirt sesaon.  Lacy can move and is already a very good run blocker from the attitude that he plays with.  Lacy needs to fine tune his body and work on the fundamentals of playing offensive line, particularly in pass-protection. He can be a good one as he has a lot of the tools.

Chandler Bridges (6-4, 270, FR) comes to the Cards from Flowery Branch, GA and had an offer from Southern Miss.  I’m going to be very honest here and say that I can’t find much on him. He’s a bit of an enigma in terms of finding game-film on-line and therefore I can’t form much of an opinion on him.  Louisville’s O-line depth is such right now that we’ll have plenty of time to evaluate first-person the true freshman when the time comes as all 3 are likely redshirts. I do like that Bridges looks a hell of a lot like Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of “Thor”. So he at least has that going for him.

Outlook

The Center position is the one to watch in 2013.  Louisville has answers at Guard and Tackle and can do a lot of plug & play options shuffling players around.  But the Center position is different. It’s the direct connection from the line of scrimmage to Louisville’s skill positions and the closest gaps to the Quarterback. The Cards MUST find someone who can THRIVE in this role. It’s a big deal. I would prefer to have Mike Romano or Sid Anvoots win the job so that the idea of putting Jamon Brown at Center goes away.  I’m honestly shocked that the idea even came up, but it is probably a thought to get the 5 best lineman on the field.

The offensive line really needs 8 players who the coaches can trust to do their jobs.  A team can get away with 7 if they are lucky with injuries, but injuries happen at the point of attack in football. It’s just the way it will always be.  Almost all offensive lineman play with bumps and bruises throughout the season by the nature of the position, but it’s the injuries that limit a player to do their job that matter and require depth.  Good offensive lines don’t rotate, they don’t substitute players in and out for endurance reasons because the timing of the offense literally relies on all 5 of the players to work as one unit. After losing two 1st-Team All Big East selections in Kupper and Benavides the starting unit is solid for the Cards and for the first time in about  4-5 years Louisville has depth upfront. The future is bright on the offensive line. I’d really like to see the running game become more consistent BECAUSE of the offensive line and not the running back and I’d also like to see the tackles behind the line of scrimmage and sacks minimized to a more respectable level in 2013.

*NOTE:

2013: Kamran Joyer, Chris Walker, John Miller, Jake Smith, Jamon Brown, Ryan Mack, Aaron Epps, Nacho Garcia, Mike Romano, Chase Petersen, Chris Acosta, Josh Stearns, David Noltemeyer, Joe Manley, T.C. Klusman, Sid Anvoots, Henry Vincent,  Tobijah Hughley, Cameron Fraser, Skylar Lacy, Chandler Bridges,

2014: John Miller, Jake Smith, Jamon Brown, Mike Romano, Ryan Mack, Aaron Epps, Nacho Garcia, Chase Petersen,Chris Acosta, Josh Stearns, David Noltemeyer, Joe Manley, T.C. Klusman, Sid Anvoots, Henry Vincent, Tobijah Hughley, Cameron Fraser, Skylar Lacy, Chandler Bridges,

2015: Mike Romano, Nacho Garcia, Ryan Mack, Aaron Epps, Josh Stearns, Joe Manley, T.C. Klusman, Sid Anvoots, Henry Vincent, Tobijah Hughley, Cameron Fraser, Skylar Lacy, Chandler Bridges,

2016: Joe Manley, T.C. Klusman, Sid Anvoots, Henry Vincent, Tobijah Hughley, Cameron Fraser, Skylar Lacy, Chandler Bridges

2017: *Cameron Fraser, *Skylar Lacy, *Chandler Bridges (*if red-shirt is used)

Next Release: Defensive Line March 6, 2013 8:30

Previously Released

Quarterbacks
Running Backs/Backfield
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

 

 

Round Table: How Do You Make The NCAA Tournament Better?

March is almost here. It’s going to be insane.  Before I committed to covering events in person my office would have 2 different TVs going above my desk, and my computer would have at least one screen running a ballgame. But my set-up is like many others, First it will be dedicated to conference tournaments, then the 68-team NCAA Tournament. It’s Madness, it’s glorious, and everyone in this state looks forward to it all year long.

But recently the NCAA has been toying with some changes and others have already been enacted.  The field was perfect at 64.  Symmetrical. Even. Clean. Now at 68 teams it’s just weird. The first round isn’t the first round any more. We can’t call the 4 games before Thursday action “play-in games” but the “First Four” is entirely designed to get 4 additional ‘bubble teams’ into the field in an effort of boosting TV ratings/$ for the event.

The NCAA has also recently toyed with the idea of moving the Final Four back into an arena format.  That’s an idea I wholeheartedly embrace.  Basketball isn’t played in a dome, and Dome Regions have an advantage over Arena Regions when their representative arrives in the Final Four.  Tickets in the dome are sometimes so far away that fans end up watching the game on the screen at the venue. It’s just not natural.  But if we’ve learned anything from watching the NCAA and Collegiate Sports they aren’t going to make a change that doesn’t benefit their pocketbook.

Play “Best Of” Series in the Final Four

Everyone loves the ‘one and done’ aspect of the NCAA Tournament. But it doesn’t always produce the best champion and sometimes leaves us wanting more. IF the NCAA is going to move the crown jewel of college basketball into an arena format they’ll be sacrificing 70,000+ seat domes for 20,000 seat arenas.  The last 3 Final Fours have seen attendance for both sessions at least 142,000 (2012: 144,274; 2011: 145,797; 2010: 142,228). Even the biggest arenas would force ticket sales to just under 50,000 for the entire event.

Playing a ‘Best Of’ series opens up a lot of opportunities.  It could be Best of 3, 5, or even 7 but I think seven games might be a bit too much initially. Even a 3 game series could be epic in a neutral site setting or even at campus sites.  Imagine teams making a run for the Final Four and returning to campus sites.  But more logically three separate 3-game series in the Final Four would guarantee at least 6 (and possibly up to 9) additional games in the College Basketball season for fans, tickets, and Television Partners. The games could even conceivably be held on rotating evenings with the possibility of 6 or 9 additional nights of college basketball at the highest level. This would of course be extended further in a “Best of 5 (or even 7)” series.  Not only would Television be able to extend College Basketball, but ticket sales could be held intact and the NCAA could move forward with their arena format as desired.  The minimum 6 games in a 20,000 seat arena (if games rotated evenings/sessions) would sell a minimum of 120,000 seats.  It would be important to rotate games in this scenario so that traveling fans would have a better opportunity to gain tickets with 50% of the arena available as opposed to 25%.  Accessibility should be important. If the 3-game series went to 3 separate deciding games the NCAA could actually exceed ticket sales in an arena format.

If this new Final Four arrangement a National Champion would more accurately crown the National Champion, create excitement in the game, and even make more money for the NCAA.  Rather than continually expanding the tournament field and including teams on the bubble who finished their season 18-12 and clearly are not going to contend for a national championship I’d like to see the tournament expanded on the championship level rather than the introduction.  

But maybe our hearts just couldn’t have taken 3 games of Kentucky vs. Louisville in 2012, or UConn vs. Kentucky in 2011, or even Duke vs. Butler in 2010.  Play these in a series format in legendary arenas like Madision Square Garden or the Staples Center and For a basketball lover though it’s heaven.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for making the NCAA Tournament better.  Do you want to see the Final Four in an arena? Do you want to see the field expanded to 128 teams? Does a “Best of Series” Final Four interest you?  

DeVante Parker grabs a Touchdown from Teddy Bridgewater in the 2013 Sugar Bowl against Florida. The TD pushed the lead to 24-3.
Louisville Football Roster Breakdown 2013: Wide Receivers

2012: 

The Louisville Passing Offense enjoyed an 84-yard increase in production per game and saw the ranking rise from 74th to 24th.  Not all of the production in the passing game came from Wide Receivers, but a large majority of it was.  Louisville Wideouts caught 66% of the passes for 73% of the yardage, and 74% of the Touchdowns.  The Louisville passing game was heavily dependent on the wide receivers to make plays and the same will be true when the new season begins this fall.  There really wasn’t a game that the Cardinals’ WRs stood out more than the Sugar Bowl.  The vaunted Florida defense had trouble containing the passing attack and Eli Rogers, Andrell Smith, DeVante Parker, and Damian Copeland all exhibited dominance over the Florida secondary which was rated the #1 pass efficiency defense in the nation coming into the game.

Who’s Back?: 

Eli Rogers (5-10, 185, JR) caught 46 passes for 505 yards and 4 Touchdowns in 2012.  Rogers has shown consistent numbers with a slight improvement over his 2011 production.  Eli is sure-handed and has proven to be Teddy Bridgewater’s security blanket.  When the Cards need a big play or Teddy gets in trouble the ball seems to find Eli Rogers.  Whether it is a diving catch or taking a shot or seeing the ball through a small window Eli Rogers gets the job done.  Eli does not possess top level speed or size, but his lateral quickness is world-class.

Damian Copeland (6-1, 183, SR) defines BREAKOUT.  Damian Copeland caught 0 passes in 2011.  ZERO.  In 2012 ‘Honey Mustard’ hauled in a team-leading 50 catches for 628 yards and 2 TDs.  Copeland got things started with an impossible catch against Kentucky when backed up against the goal line.  Then it was big catch after big catch all the way until the first play of the second half in the Sugar Bowl when Copeland roasted a Florida defender to take a 30-10 lead.  Copeland struggled with injuries until his junior season breakout, it seems that is the only thing that can hold him back.  Honey Mustard should have an excellent 2013.

Charles Gaines (5-11, 188, Soph) if I had a disappointment in 2012, it was that I didn’t get to see more Charles Gaines.  Gaines is a notch above most athletes, and Louisville won the Sugar Bowl without him while he was serving suspension.  Keeping a guy like Gaines on the sideline for disciplinary reasons is yet ANOTHER signal to the team that if you break the rules, you take a seat. Period. The good news for Gaines is that it was just his freshman year and hopefully the young man has learned some lessons (the hard way) and we can all move on.  I know Gaines has had some trouble with attitude in the past, but we all grow up at some point and handle our business. Some are just later than others.

Gaines could easily be a top corner for Louisville also, but I think he’ll be at WR to stay. He’s fast, and did drop an easy one in his limited action before suspension. Gaines caught 11 passes for 172 yards and a TD in 2012.  I am a big believer in his ability and I hope for his sake that he is ready to handle his business full-time because he could have a bright future.

*A recent release from UofL indicates that Gaines has moved to Cornerback (3/7/13 update).

DeVante Parker (6-3, 205, JR) is a homegrown stud. There aren’t many better receivers in college football and Parker delivered a HUGE sophomore season for the Cards with 40 catches, 744 yards, and 10 TDs.  Now we just have to get him MORE touches.  Chew on this:  DeVante Parker is 7th All-Time in Career Receiving TDs at UofL with just 58 career catches. Parker was 4th on the team in receptions in 2012 and ranked #1 in yards & TDs.  Parker’s 10 Touchdowns in 2012 was the second best receiving TD performance in school history and he did it 4th in receptions.  Get him more touches!  When the ball goes up you can count on Parker to come down with it, DeVante has excellent body control and hands and will not be caught from behind. He’s special.

Kai De La Cruz (6-0, 172, JR) (formerly Kai Dominguez) was used primarily as a punt returner during 2012, but all of the sudden showed up in the Sugar Bowl at WR.  It was curious Kai’s limited involvement all season, but I think him being inserted into the rotation signals some development.  I really liked Dominguez coming out of high school and he’s had a strange arc at UofL after playing out of need as a true freshman and then red-shirting in year 2, and then in year 3 being a punt returner only.  I think we might see more of Kai in 2013. We’ll see.

Jarrett Davis (5-9, 175, SR) is a player who I have always thought would make an impact.  With Scott Radcliff now out of school I think Jarrett gets a lot of that slot time.  I really like Davis, and Teddy likes him with the fade route too.  I’m excited to see if Davis can get over the hump and be more of a regular part of the rotation.

Who’s Gone?: 

Andrell Smith is one I am going to miss a lot.  He played as a true freshman in Steve Kragthorpe’s final year and was little used & had an injury plagued junior season.  But in 2012 Andrell caught 34 balls for 536 yards and 3 TDs.  If it seemed like all he did was make big plays it is because he did. Andrell’s size (6-4, 217) should give him some looks at Louisville’s Pro Day.  I loved the way he ran his routes and I loved the way he hit.  He was sure-handed and the only question on much of his catches was whether or not he was in-bounds. I’m going to miss his game quite a bit. Louisville really doesn’t have another like him in 2013, and I wish he had that extra year.

Scott Radcliff  is another underdog. From walk-on to trusted slot receiver the Louisville native caught 14 balls for 162 yards in 2012.

DeMarcus Topp, Aaron Nance, Stephen Goodwin were all walk-ons who have either exhausted their eligibility or have decided to not play football in the upcoming season.

Who’s New?: 

James Quick (6-1, 175, FR) we’ve all seen the highlights. James Quick is Louisville’s highest rated recruit….EVER.  Quick turned down Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, WVU, and any other football program that you want to throw in there.  I’m sure the Quick family mailbox is happy to take a break from all of the mail, but James is not going to have that luxury as he enters a receiving corps that is fully loaded.  I think Quick will play early for the Cards, but the question is where?  James Quick adds to a crazy competitive position for the Cards.

Michaelee Harris (6-2, 193, JR) is new because we haven’t seen him in over a year.  Harris needed surgery following a knee injury leading up to the 2011 Belk Bowl after leading the Cards in receiving during the 2011 season.  Harris finished with 37 catches for 455 yards and 2 TDs in 2011 and was on track for the 2012 season when Michaelee suffered yet another knee injury and was forced to miss the year.  Obviously when dealing with this many knee issues getting Harris in optimum shape is Priority #1 before putting him on the field again.  Harris has a ton of talent, but you can’t help but wonder if his knees are up to it.  Personally I think it is a lot of bad luck and I really hope that Harris gets back and stays healthy for his final two seasons at UofL. Harris is out for Spring we will see if he is able to come back this Fall.

Robert Clark (5-9, 182, JR) transferred from Florida after 2011.  Clark sat out the 2012 season and was incredibly active in practices and was eager to get involved.  As a Gator Clark had 7 catches for 69 yards and 1 TD his freshman season and was able to catch two punts as a sophomore.  Clark hasn’t played a significant role on a football team since the he was rated the #59 cornerback in the nation by Scout.com (3 Stars) coming out of William T. Dwyer HS after the 2009 season for the 2010 signing class.  I would imagine that Clark is anxious to get into the regular rotation.  Clark chose Florida in 2010 over Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue, South Florida, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Matt Milton (6-5, 205, JR) is nicknamed “Slim” by Coach Strong. “Slim” comes to Louisville after sitting out the 2012 season following a transfer from Tennessee.  Milton red-shirted his first season as a Vol and caught just one pass in his first year of action. Milton like Robert Clark hasn’t played a significant role for a team since his final year of high school in 2009 at Mascoutah H.S. in Illinois where Milton was the #17 ranked wide receiver of the 2010 class.  Milton chose Tennessee in 2010 over Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Wisconsin.

Diaz Bolden (5-10, 150, JR) transfers from Cambellsville via Central High School. Played QB & CB for Central but played WR and ran track at Cambellsville, even did a little cheerleading.

John Stitch (6-0, 175, FR) walks on from Louisville Trinity. I have absolutely no info on him right now.

Jaime Goldsmith (5-11, 173, ?)  has walked on and was actually extremely effective as a Senior at Jeffersonville H.S. as he finished with 2206 yards rushing and 18 TDs in 2008.  It’s tough to find info on Goldsmith after leaving Jeff, but it appears that he played one year at Iowa Western CC (same place as Ryan Hubbell came from & where DeAndre Herron is now) in 2009.  That would mean Goldsmith’s ‘clock’ has one year remaining on it unless Goldsmith was granted any hardship waivers.

Martin Williams (6-0, 176) walks on from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, GA. I can’t find much on him except that he was a senior in 2010 and this really nice story about kindness. 

Outlook:

All of these receivers is a good problem to have if you are Teddy Bridgewater.  The WR unit was deep last season and losing Andrell Smith & Scott Radcliff while adding Quick, Clark, Milton, and Michaelee Harris into the fold just makes things sickening.  Also considering the fact that 76% of wide receiver catches, 75% of wide receiver yards, and 85% of wide receiver yards returns for 2013.  The added depth & talent should allow the WRs to remain fresh putting a lot of pressure on secondaries, and this group has the best delivery man in college football so I expect the numbers to be HUGE in 2013.

2013: Damian Copeland, Jarrett Davis, Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker, Michaelee Harris, Robert Clark, Matt Milton, Kai Dominguez, Charles Gaines, James Quick,

2014: Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker, Charles Gaines, Michaelee Harris, Robert Clark, Matt Milton, James Quick, Kai Dominguez,

2015: Charles Gaines, James Quick

2016: James Quick

2017: N/A unless Quick redshirts (which isn’t going to happen)

Next Release: Tight Ends 2/21/2013 8:30 a.m.

Previously Released

Quarterbacks
Running Backs

DeVante Parker grabs a Touchdown from Teddy Bridgewater in the 2013 Sugar Bowl against Florida. The TD pushed the lead to 24-3.