Kevin Ware & Wayne Blackshear OUT for Tonight’s PITT GAME


Blackshear, Ware Out For UofL Men’s Basketball

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two University of Louisville men’s basketball players will not play in tonight’s game against Pittsburgh in the KFC Yum! Center.

Wayne Blackshear suffered a sprained right shoulder in practice on Sunday.  The injury is expected to sideline him for a short period.  Kevin Ware has been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified reason.

A starter in 19 of the Cardinals’ 20 games, Blackshear is averaging 9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and his 30 three-point goals are second-most on the team.  Ware is averaging 3.8 points and nearly 16 minutes a game.


Louisville vs. PITT Preview Big Monday

Louisville basketball is in a tough spot.  After achieving a ranking of #1 the Cards have lost 3 straight in the matter of a week and are facing the Pittsburgh Panthers who UofL holds a 7-5 series advantage over.  Louisville has beaten Pittsburgh 3 times in a row, and will need to beat them at the KFC Yum! Center for the fourth consecutive time in order to avoid dropping 4 games in a row for the first time since a 4-game stretch in 2004 from Feb 12-25 when the Cards  lost to Charlotte, TCU, Cincinnati, and DePaul. That team finished 20-10 and was eliminated from the NCAA’s 1st Round by Xavier.

Louisville’s current streak is much more heralded than that group. Syracuse, Villanova, and Georgetown individually aren’t unforgivable losses.  But for a team ranked #1 and with expectations for the Final Four and even the National Championship losing those games in consecutive fashion seem to exhibit a team’s limitations combined with a slump. So what’s wrong with the Louisville Cardinals?  What’s happened to the team that was everyone’s pick last week to win the NCAA Title?

Going over the seasons and there is certainly a trend of Rick Pitino coached teams traditionally playing below form in January.  Pitino’s February & March record is MUCH better than his marks in the first month of the year.  This Louisville team isn’t perfect, but it shouldn’t lose three or even FOUR in a row.  If you want to be a serious contender in April you have to execute in late game situations.  In my personal opinion, I feel like the Cards have lost a little edge in their mental focus both in preparation and execution.  Especially when it comes to the Syracuse & Georgetown games when Louisville certainly was in a winnable situation and just didn’t close.  Villanova was a different story but in all 3 I think it’s pretty clear that Louisville’s defensive presence isn’t what it needs to be, or even what is was earlier in the season.  Louisville needs to ENJOY playing basketball.  They need the home crowd to pick them up against a very good Pittsburgh team and they need to find their focus for themselves.

Here is a look at PITT against Louisville statistically:

Louisville Pittsburgh
Strength of Schedule (RPI) 10th 94th
Points Per Game 74.5 (35th) 73.0 (54th)
Avg Scoring Margin +16.8 (6th) +18.5 (4th)
Field Goal % 44.7 (86th) 49.2% (9th)
Rebound Rate 53.7% (41st) 56.4% (5th)
Blocks Per Game 3.5 (158th) 4.2 (86th)
Steals Per Game 11.4 (2nd) 7.2 (126th)
Assists Per Game 14.6 (61st) 17.8 (4th)
Turnovers Per Game 12.4 (75th) 10.4 (7th)
Team Fouls Per Game 17.8 (177th) 16.5 (92nd)
2-point FG% 50.2% (65th) 53.8% (15th)
3-point FG% 32.6% (213th) 35.4% (101st)
Free Throw % 70.0% (139th) 67.2% (218th)
Opponent Shooting % 39.9% (59th) 39.3% (38th)
Opponent 2-point FG% 44.6% (84th) 43.8% (58th)
Opponent 3-point FG% 31.4% (75th) 31.2% (67th)
Opponent Blocks Per Game 3.0 (73rd) 3.3 (139th)
Opponent Steals Per Game 5.8 (61st) 4.6 (5th)

Obviously looking at the stats Pitt has several advantages.  Build in the SOS differential and these teams are a lot alike when lining up the stats.  Jaime Dixon is an outstanding basketball coach who competes at a high level without routinely attracting top recruiting classes.  The Panthers do it with hard work and a high energy.  It’s the perfect team to take down a slumping Louisville team, it’s also the perfect team that can spark the Cards if they can learn lessons from the previous 3 games and find the heart to grind on Monday night.

So far Pitt has quality wins against Georgetown, Villanova, and UConn, and the Panthers’ 4 losses have come at the hands of 3 really good teams and 1 very questionable squad: Michigan, Marquette, Cincinnati…………and Rutgers.

Peyton Siva Tray Woodall
6-0, 185, Sr. 6-0, 190, Sr.
Minutes 30.1 27.1
Points 11.5 10.5
Field Goal % 43.90% 47.60%
3-point % 35.20% 37.30%
FT % 89.30% 75.70%
Rebounds 2.3 2.1
Assists 6.1 5.8
Steals 2.2 1.3
Blocks 0.1 0.1
Turnovers 2.8 2
Fouls 2.7 1.9
Russ Smith James Robinson
6-1, 165, Jr. 6-3, 200, Fr.
Minutes 27.9 27.9
Points 18.7 6.7
Field Goal % 41.10% 39.30%
3-point % 31.70% 33.30%
FT % 78.40% 77.30%
Rebounds 3.3 2
Assists 2.7 3.9
Steals 2.4 1
Blocks 0 0
Turnovers 2.8 1.1
Fouls 2.7 1.7
Wayne Blackshear Lamar Patterson
6-5, 230, Soph 6-5, 221, Jr.
Minutes 21.6 26.2
Points 9.4 10.2
Field Goal % 43.90% 49.30%
3-point % 35.20% 39%
FT % 64.70% 71.70%
Rebounds 3.7 4
Assists 0.8 3.3
Steals 0.9 1.3
Blocks 0.2 0.4
Turnovers 0.6 1.4
Fouls 2.3 2
Chane Behanan Talib Zanna
6-6, 250, Soph 6-9, 230, Jr.
Minutes 26.2 24
Points 10.9 11.5
Field Goal % 49.70% 55.90%
3-point % 11.10% 0.00%
FT % 54.20% 67.40%
Rebounds 7.6 5.4
Assists 0.9 0.7
Steals 1.7 0.7
Blocks 0.3 0.7
Turnovers 1.6 1
Fouls 1.6 1.8
Gorgui Dieng Steven Adams
6-11, 245, Jr. 7-0, 250, Fr.
Minutes 28.6 22.5
Points 8.8 6.8
Field Goal % 49.40% 58.20%
3-point % 0.00% 0.00%
FT % 66.70% 35.90%
Rebounds 10.1 6.3
Assists 2.1 0.6
Steals 1.3 0.7
Blocks 2.4 2
Turnovers 1.6 0.9
Fouls 2.3 1.8

The starting match-ups are really interesting. Pitt has a size advantage over the Cards but I’m going to pay close attention to Peyton Siva vs. Tray Woodall. Siva is coming off one of this worst games as a Cardinal against Georgetown whereas Woodall has been playing outstanding of late.  Last year Siva won the battle with an outstanding defensive effort limiting Woodall to 4 points, on 2 of 10 shooting, and 6 turnovers.  Siva’s numbers weren’t outstanding, but his effort took away a major weapon from the Panthers as the Cards won 57-54.

Russ Smith & Siva will also have to deal with James Robinson who is a very effective ball-handler.  Robinson is more dangerous passing the ball than he is shooting it.  Meanwhile Russ Smith really needs to find his game, against Villanova Russ had one of his worst games in a calendar season and seemed to somewhat steady himself against the Hoyas but was not nearly as assertive.

Wayne Blackshear is going to have his hands full as well.  But he’ll be playing someone very similar to himself.  Lamar Patterson’s game is almost exactly like Wayne’s so the winner of this battle will be the guy who can defend the other.  Wayne has been getting beat off the dribble quite a bit lately and that’s definitely part of Patterson’s game just as much as spotting up for the 3.

But Chane Behanan may have his hands just as full as Siva has with Woodall. Behanan is likely going to match-up with Talib Zanna who is taller than Chane and is going to keep Behanan honest on defense.  I do think Chane has a nice advantage on offense against Zanna.  Same goes for Gorgui Dieng against Steven Adams.  Behanan and Dieng should be able to do some good things inside offensively against Zanna and Adams, but it will be very important for them to stay with their man and not give up easy buckets and assists for Woodall and Robinson if someone gets beat off the dribble.

Montrezl Harrell Dante Taylor
6-8, 235, Fr. 6-9, 235, Sr.
Minutes 18.4 16.1
Points 6.5 4.7
Field Goal % 61.60% 56.10%
3-point % 0.00% 0.00%
FT % 51.50% 65.50%
Rebounds 4.1 4.4
Assists 0.2 0.6
Steals 0.7 0.4
Blocks 0.8 0.5
Turnovers 0.5 0.7
Fouls 1.5 1.8
Luke Hancock J.J. Moore
6-6, 200, Jr. 6-6, 215, Jr
Minutes 20.5 19.1
Points 5.9 9
Field Goal % 35.00% 43.40%
3-point % 31.00% 27.80%
FT % 62.50% 85.50%
Rebounds 2.9 3.9
Assists 1.7 0.5
Steals 1 0.6
Blocks 0 0
Turnovers 1.2 0.7
Fouls 1.6 1.7
Kevin Ware Trey Zeigler
6-2, 175, Soph 6-5, 203, Jr.
Minutes 16.5 16.3
Points 4 6
Field Goal % 43.10% 52.20%
3-point % 42.90% 0.00%
FT % 77.80% 55.60%
Rebounds 1.6 2.1
Assists 0.8 1.1
Steals 0.9 0.3
Blocks 0.1 0.3
Turnovers 1.1 1.4
Fouls 1.5 1.6
Stephan Van Treese Cameron Wright
6-9, 245, Jr. 6-4, 205, Soph
Minutes 12.7 14.9
Points 2.2 4.5
Field Goal % 70.80% 52.90%
3-point % 0.00% 60.00%
FT % 66.70% 47.60%
Rebounds 3.4 1.7
Assists 0.3 1
Steals 0.6 0.7
Blocks 0.3 0.2
Turnovers 0.4 0.6
Fouls 1.3 1.1
Zach Price Durand Johnson
6-10, 250, Fr. 6-6, 195, Fr.
Minutes 8.1 12.6
Points 1.4 4.6
Field Goal % 53.30% 39.20%
3-point % 0.00% 36.40%
FT % 66.70% 72.20%
Rebounds 1.4 1.6
Assists 0 0.7
Steals 0.1 0.3
Blocks 0.4 0.1
Turnovers 0.4 0.7
Fouls 1.6 1.6

The Bench match-ups obviously show that Louisville has an advantage with big guys, and Pitt has an advantage with Guards and Wings.  But the Panthers are MUCH more balanced than the Cards. J.J Moore and Trey Ziegler are bound to factor in terms of scoring.  Given Pitt’s lack of size available I would think that the Cards would try and go inside early and often to mitigate Pitt’s bigs and try and gain a late advantage on the glass. But this game is likely to come down to Woodall vs. Siva and how Chane & Gorgui take advantage inside.  This is going to be a tight game throughout and the Cards need a win to break this losing streak.  What better time than now?

Last year’s game brought to you by VillenHD:

Cards Fall to Georgetown….Where to go from here?

3 in a row. Losses. From #1 to 3 consecutive losses. That’s the Big East. This is late January. It seems that every January brings a lull for Cardinal basketball.

Is it a big deal to lose to Syracuse, Villanova, or Georgetown?  No. But it is a big deal to lose to all 3 in consecutive fashion. Today I felt like Louisville basketball showed up to the office of a job they are tired of. Like it’s mundane.  Georgetown is a tough, hard-nosed basketball program that has always given Louisville fits.  They play a style that requires constant energy and attention to detail.

Moving forward……what’s the answer?  In my opinion it’s getting the joy back. Somehow, some way. Winning helps. Louisville has a quick turnaround on Monday night against Pittsburgh.  Another tough basketball program from a tough-minded coach.  I think this team needs to get back to laughing together. Enjoying each other. Playing team basketball and cutting up with one another.  And it wouldn’t hurt to play a little defense.

Where the Cards go from here will be entirely about their attitude. We know they are capable of being the best team in the country. The physical pieces are there. So whether teams are scheming Louisville different or whether or not Louisville isn’t executing their game plan, or whether it is a mental issue within the program it’s fixable. Now it’s just time to do it.  And turn the calendar over from January to February and get a traditionally slow month for Louisville in the rear view mirror.

I’m hoping that the Cardinals can find the ‘joy’ in basketball again and get back to their winning ways soon.  But it is entirely up to them.

UofL Extends Charlie Strong’s Contract Through 2020


Tom Jurich Audio Link:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. –The University of Louisville has extended the contract of football coach Charlie Strong through 2020, the school announced Wednesday.

Strong, who was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the second time in his tenure in 2012, has turned the Louisville program around in three seasons, going 25-14, guiding the team to a pair of BIG EAST titles and its third-straight bowl appearance, which featured a win over third-ranked Florida in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The win delivered Louisville its first BCS victory since the 2006-07 season.

The 2012 season was remarkable, as the third-year coach guided the Cardinals to an 11-2 record, only the fourth 11-win season in school history. Louisville won its second consecutive BIG EAST title and third in school history, and was capped off with a remarkable win in the school’s second BCS game.

Strong’s teams also have shown a dedication to academics, as 47 student-athletes in the fall achieved a 3.0 or better grade-point average, the highest total since 2010. In December, nine of Strong’s current players received their diplomas at the fall graduation ceremony.

Strong was hired Dec. 9, 2009, and made an immediate impact on the program. Strong guided a senior-laden team to a 7-6 overall record and a 31-28 win in the Beef `O’Brady’s Bowl versus Southern Mississippi. It was an improvement of three games, which was one of the best in the country.

Taking over after three-straight losing campaigns, Strong guided the Cardinals to shutout wins over Memphis and Connecticut, and stopped the Cardinals’ 11-game BIG EAST road losing streak with a 28-20 win over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. The Cardinals became bowl eligible with another big road win, a 40-13 victory over Rutgers. For his efforts, Strong became the first U of L head football coach to garner BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors when he was tabbed the 2010 co-BIG EAST Coach of the Year.

Off the field, Strong put an immediate emphasis on showing improvement in the classroom. Under Strong’s eye in the spring of 2010, 40 football players were named to the athletic director’s academic honor for achieving at least a 3.0 grade-point average, 13 were named to the dean’s list (requires semester GPA of 3.5-3.999 and no grades of `C’ or below) and, collectively, the team secured a 2.7 grade-point average.

The following semester, the fall of 2010, the Cardinals’ football team had 37 student-athletes recognized on the athletic director’s academic honor roll, with 11 earning dean’s list status and one capturing the dean’s scholar award.

In the spring of 2011, two student-athletes were named dean’s scholars, 12 reached the dean’s list and 36 Cardinals were tabbed athletic director’s academic honor roll members. The team maintained a 2.65 grade-point average. With the completion of the summer courses, the Cardinals’ freshman recruiting class posted its second-straight above 3.0-grade point average. In 2010, the group earned a 3.44 GPA, and this summer, the newcomers finished with a 3.185 mark.

Strong brought two national championships, 20 different appearances in bowl games and over 27 years of experience to the sidelines at U of L. Prior to taking over at Louisville, Strong spent seven seasons as the defensive coordinator at Florida, including his last two as the associate head coach. It was his fourth different stint at UF, having coached at Florida from 1991-94; 1988-89 and 1983-84. He served as Florida’s interim head coach in 2004, falling to Miami 27-10 in the Peach Bowl.

From 1999-2002, Strong served as defensive coordinator at South Carolina, earning finalist honors for the Broyles Award in 2000. He guided the Gamecocks to a top-20 national ranking in total defense twice, while the 2000 squad ranked sixth in the country in scoring defense after yielding just 15.8 points per game. Strong also spent four seasons at Notre Dame, overseeing the defensive line that registered a single-season school-record 41.5 sacks in 1997.

Charlie Strong Signs New Deal: $3.7M through 2020

The University of Louisville and Charlie Strong have arrived at terms for a new contract for the Head Football Coach.  Charlie Strong will receive $3.7M base salary for 8-years until 2020.  Incentives will raise his final pay year-to-year but that University of Louisville has made a sizable investment in Charlie Strong in what will make him the 7th highest paid coach in College Football.

More details to follow…………..