Louisville Guard Russ Smith Cuts the Nets on the Floor of the Georgia Dome following his Cardinals victory over Michigan in the 2013 National Championship game. Russ wears a shirt of him and his high school coach (late) Jack Curran. Picture by Mark Blankenbaker
FINAL TVT: OOC, Conference, Post Season, Total Season

2013 is in the Books.  We won the whole damn thing.  Not bad.

I have the final TVT ”top 5″ for the team broken down into 4 parts; Total Season, OOC, Conference, and Post Season Tourneys.  Some of the results might surprise you.


I started TVT, because I saw many fans devaluing Luke Hancock solely due to his shooting early in the season.  We now know how hurt he was, but the reality was – he was chipping in quite a bit, just not with the 3 ball.  He sure chipped in the 3 ball at the end of the year, but TVT was born.

I evaluate most statistical categories (good and bad), made a formula that takes the net of this statistics, and divide it by minutes played.  A player gets a value, which essentially means: “When I play for 1 minute, I net the team ‘X’ amount of positive contributions”.

Note:  I find it interesting to see how players move depending on the segment of the season:  Total Season, Out Of Conference schedule (OOC), Conference league play (Conference), and Post Season Play (BET, NCAA). 

I also tracked the team average for each leg of the season to see if we were rising or falling in production averages as the season progressed.  As we all witnessed – in the post season, the averages freaking skyrocketed to levels not seen all season long.  It was beautiful.  That is peaking at the right time.


Final Season Rankings

I tracked 37 of our 40 games – not all played those full 37 (example, Gorgui was out for 7).

Team average: 0.48, which means that the team average – everyone factored in for all 37 games, averaged about 1 net positive statistic just slightly over 2 minutes played.  That is a pretty good score

Full Season Top Performer:  Gorgui Dieng (0.65) 

Mr. Consistent delivering night in and night out.  We will miss Gorgui next year.

Next 4: Smith (0.63), Behanan (0.58), Harrell (0.57), Siva (0.43)

Some usual suspects, and how nice to see Frosh Harrell in the mix for top performing “per minute played”?  37 games of tracking, and he is in top 5.


OOC ONLY Final Rankings

I tracked 10 of Louisville’s OOC games.  This is how the team fared in those games.

Team Average: 0.53, an uptick compared to the entire season, not uncommon.  The Big East is a battle, and we had some weak RPI’s in the OOC (mixed in with some toughies). Averaged about 1 net positive statistic just slightly less than 2 minutes played.  That is above our season average, a strong OOC run for the cards.

OOC Top Performer:  Russ Smith (0.81)

Whoa, Russdiculous blew the roof off the competition in the OOC schedule, and it helped “re-brand” the meaning of Russdiculous, and put him in the POY discussion with great games again some tough OOC matchups.  This is a moderately insane score.

Next 4:  Behanan (0.69), Dieng (0.63), Harrell (0.63), Siva (0.58)

None of the names on this list should surprise you.



Conference Final Rankings

I tracked all 18 games.  This is how the team fared in those games.

Team Average: 0.48, Hit the season Average.  Hardest run of the regular season not surprised to see a drop in production compared to OOC, averaged about 1 net positive statistic just slightly over 2 minutes played.  That is a pretty good score.

Conference Top Performer:  Dieng (0.84) 

You can see why Dieng was the season’s leader.  Averaging an extremely high score over a period of 18 games.  Well done, big fella.

Next 4:  Behanan (0.67), Smith (0.62), Harrell (0.56), Blackshear (0.57)

Behanan was bigger in conference play than people seem to remember, and the Frosh Harrell remains on the list.  I guess we will keep him on the team.  Blackshear finally shines for the team, and rounds out the top 5.


Post Season Final Rankings

I tracked all 9 post season games. This is how the team fared in those games.

Team Average: 0.63, That is not a typo.  The team went nuts, from the starting 5, to the last sub in.  They out produced their efforts at a higher level than any point in the season, playing the toughest opponents.  Wow.  The team was averaging 1 positive net statistic well inside of 2 minutes.

Post Season Top Performer:  Dieng (0.70), SVT (0.70)

Many thought Luke would be near the top, but the reality is everyone on the team produced at a high level, so everyone moved up together and not as many changes in the order.  SVT benefited hugely from a few production packed minutes where he only played 2 or 3 minutes, so consider Dieng your winner, and I will toss SVT out of the top 5.  He did play well for us though, and should be noticed, that is why I listed him above for peeps to see.

Next 4: Smith (0.63), Harrell (0.67), Behanan (0.56) Hancock (0.55).

The “next 4” all return for the Cards.  That makes me happy.  Siva finished 6th, but his contributions are not just measured on a stat sheet.  He will go down as one of the great floor/team leaders ever.  His calming effect on the team, and his ability to turn a team into a brotherhood should always be remembered.


Final Thoughts

We are returning 6 of the top 8 TVT leaders.  We lose #1, Gorgui Dieng, that is a factor.  We are replacing our most productive player “per minute played” with an unknown commodity (Mangok), a reserve (SVT), or potentially a power forward (Harrell).  I personally do not think Rick would play Behanan and Harrell together because the PF spot is a crucial one, and we don’t have a reliable replacement on the boards if they both get into foul trouble.  I believe they will remained hitched to keep production steady.  I think we will need to “out shoot” our lost production from Gorgui, and with the shooters we are adding – we might shoot better than our play on the court, and that is ok.  As a coach much smarter than me once said “Shooting will hide a multitude of sins”.

A new year, a new challenge – is there anyone you would rather figure the new puzzle out than Hall Of Fame Coach Rick Pitino?

Not me.

Go  Cards.



Pitino to be Featured on Maker’s Mark Bottle

From UofL SID

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Louisville head men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is slated to be featured on the second in a series of three commemorative Maker’s Mark bottles benefitting the Academic Center of Excellence, the school announced Wednesday.

The second of three bottles will honor the accomplishments of Pitino, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in September, and guided the Cardinals to their third NCAA national title with a 74-68 win over Michigan, the school’s first championship since 1986.

The bottle is the second of a three-year commitment by Maker’s Mark, which has pledged over $500,000 in support of UofL’s Academic Center of Excellence. A total of 12,600 bottles (for those over the age of 21) will be available to the public, and details on how to purchase the bottle will be announced at a later date.

The Academic Center of Excellence will be located beneath the Norton Terrace at the South end of the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The center will house the academic operations for the entire athletic department and all student-athletes and academic staff will be located in one building. The center will feature tutorial areas, laboratories, office areas and classroom space. Fundraising is just getting underway for the facility.

The iconic bourbon maker issued its first bottle last season, honoring Louisville’s football head coach Charlie Strong, and the bottle was a huge success, selling over 8,400 in record time.

Maker’s Mark® is a registered trademark of Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc.

#10 Louisville Baseball Knocks off #14 Indiana in Walk-Off Fashion

From UofL SID

LOUISVILLE, KY. - Freshman first baseman Danny Rosenbaum’s ninth inning RBI sacrifice fly to right field scored junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon from third to lift the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 4-3 walk-off win over No. 14 Indiana on Wednesday in front of 3,530 fans on Cancer Awareness Night at Jim Patterson Stadium.

With their ninth straight win, the Cardinals improved to 39-10 overall while the visiting Hoosiers dropped to 36-10 on the season. Equaling their longest winning stretch of the season, Louisville has won nine straight games for the third time in 2013.

Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh HS), who entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter, powered a 0-1 pitch from Indiana reliever Ryan Halstead into deep right field to complete the 11th come-from-behind win and the fourth walk-off win for Louisville this season. Prior to scoring the game-winning run, Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) led off the ninth inning with double to right center off Halstead and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS).

“Throughout a baseball season, you have to be able to put everything aside and you must have that laser beam focus. We’ve done that during the last two weeks and we did that tonight,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “We had a couple of bad innings early in the game and we looked like we did in the loss to Vanderbilt a few weeks back. I pulled everybody together and I told them ‘this is the last time we’re going to meet tonight but we’re going to play good baseball. Just play the game and if it’s good enough to win, that’s great, and if not, then so be it. But with this crowd tonight and this atmosphere, I didn’t want to leave the ballpark having not played good baseball.”

On the mound, sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) made his shortest outing of the season delivering just one pitch to record the final out of the top of the ninth inning and earn the win to improve to 3-2 on the season. He followed Sturgeon, who provided 1.2 innings of shutout relief, while junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) had the best outing of the day on the mound for the Cardinals striking out a career best six in three innings of no-hit, shutout relief.

The Cardinals actually struck first on Wednesday as Gibson delivered a RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield to score junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) for a 1-0 advantage in the second inning. After earning a leadoff walk, Gardner moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sturgeon and advanced to third when the throw to first by IU pitcher Will Coursen-Carr upon fielding the bunt was errant.

Indiana answered in the fourth inning plating three runs against Louisville lefty starter Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky). After shortstop Michael Basil was hit by a pitch to start the inning, third baseman Dustin DeMuth connected for his fourth home run of the season and a 2-1 advantage. Later in the inning, centerfielder Justin Cureton pushed the lead to 3-1 with two-out RBI single to center to plate rightfielder Casey Smith, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.

Two innings later, Louisville pulled even at 3-3 after sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) doubled down the right field line to score Gibson while Rosenbaum followed him home thanks to a fielding error in right by Smith. Gibson started the rally with a two-out single to center while Rosenbaum, pinch hitting for senior Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS), reached base on a fielding error by second baseman Nick Ramos.

Halstead took the loss for the Hoosiers and dropped to 2-3 on the season after allowing one run on one hit in two innings of relief. In the starting role, Coursen-Carr was charged with three unearned runs on six hits with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings for a no-decision.

Up next, Louisville travels to Storrs, Conn., for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series at UConn. The series begins with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m., ET at J.O. Christian Field and concludes with the finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Louisville is one game out of first in the BIG EAST race with a 14-4 mark. USF and Pittsburgh sit atop the league standings at 15-3, while Seton Hall is one behind the Cardinals in fourth with a 13-5 record.

Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.

Postgame Louisville Notes

- With Wednesday’s win, the Cardinals evened the all-time series with the Hoosiers at 21-21. Indiana did win two of the three matchups with Louisville in 2013 earning victories on Feb. 15 and March 27.

- Louisville improved to 28-5 at home this season and 208-75 (.734 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.

- The announced crowd of 3,530 ranks as the third largest attendance number of the season for Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium trailing only the 4,733 (school record) against Kentucky on April 2 and the 4,573 against Elon on April 13.

- With their 39th victory of the season, the Cardinals are one win away from earning their sixth 40-win campaign in Dan McDonnell’s seven seasons as head coach.

- For the sixth straight game, Louisville played error-free baseball extending the team’s longest streak of the season.

- Prior to Wednesday, the Cardinals had walk-off wins this season against Alabama (March 8 and March 10) and Notre Dame (March 29).

- The Cardinals improved to 32-5 this season when scoring first.

- Louisville won its seventh one-run game of the season to go with five one-run losses.

- The three innings of relief matched a career-long for Cody Ege, who is 3-1 on the season with a 1.83 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26 appearances and 19.2 innings pitched.

- After his fourth inning single, Coco Johnson has reached base safely in 24 straight games, the longest such streak for a Louisville player this season.

- Wednesday marked the third Cancer Awareness Night hosted by Louisville baseball.

pitino godfather
Tribute Video: P I T I N O

A good friend of Pitino ”hired” me to make him a video (as a surprise).  I say “hired” because there is no way I would charge to make a video for the man who brought us a national title.

He wanted some shining moments, and YES a Pitbull song.  I love that the Pitino-Pitbull bromance is a real thing.

They had a dinner last night, set up a projector and let the good times roll.

There was too much to use, and even much hard to find, but i think it turned out pretty good for the man who made good on his promise to Louisville fans when he was hired.

That promise was: “Return Louisville to National Prominence”.

That he did.

Hope you like.

Tribute Video: Rick Pitino from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.