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Our Cards put a bow on a tough OOC schedule with a win Saturday over Kentucky. Now it’s time for the Big East grind. And it starts Wednesday when the Providence Friars come to town. The Cards and Cardinal Nation will have revenge on the mind as it was around this time last year when the Friars put a whooping on us at their place 90-59 in one of the worst losses of the Pitino era.


Providence head coach Ed Cooley is still in the process if rebuilding this Friar program. And they are a basketball program in transition. As a sign of the transition in his program, Cooley presided over an offseason filled with comings and goings. Some players transferred, others were helped to different schools. Some recruits battled eligibility woes right up to the start of school, others reported to campus in the fall with injuries. After all the comings and goings, Cooley does have a core of talented players heading into his second year on the job. There just aren’t enough of them. They lost Ricky Ledo to an NCAA ruling at the beginning of the season. Kris Dunn and Vincent Council just recently got into the rotation after working through injury. They’re still 8-4, despite those road blocks and Cooley has this team headed in the right direction. They are coming into this game with a bad loss to Brown 69-68 last Friday. They are ranked nationally 148th in points per game at 69.3, 71st in rebounds per game at 38.5, 89th in assist per game at 14.4 and 173rd in field goal percentage per game at .434. Kenpom has their Adj. efficiency on offense at 102.8 ranked 107th and defense at 92.3 ranked 54th. He has them ranked 69th overall.

In-conference offense: 1.04 points per possession (6th)
In-conference defense: 1.12 points allowed per possession (16th)

The Friar Players:

Vincent Council SR (4.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg) 6-2 G just had his first game back last Friday. A year ago Council led the Big East in assists and was fourth in the country. His decision making is among the elite in college basketball but is an average shooter making 41 percent on his twos, 32 percent on threes last season. He is an impact player and now that he is back in the line-up will really help this team. He scored 8 points and had 10 assist on his first game back and played 43 minutes.

Kadeem Batts JR (16.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) 6-10 F is the big man with the most experience on this team. He is very good at knocking down the 15 footers. He does have problems with foul trouble. If he can stay in the game he is a solid contributor. He has scored 193 points this season and grabbed 90 rebounds with 23 assist in 368 minutes of play.

Bryce Cotton JR (22.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg) 6-1 G is a tireless worker who can catch fire as quickly as any shooter in the Big East. And Cards fans should remember him well as he went 5-5 from 3-point land and had 27 points in the drubbing last year of Louisville. He shoots and makes a lot of 3’s. He cranked up 203 3s and made 77 last year. He’s an excellent free-throw shooter and takes very good care of the ball. He has scored 220 points this season and grabbed 34 rebounds with 40 assist in 362 minutes of play.

Lee Goldsbrough JR (2.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg) 6-9 F is the other eligible big man for this Friars team. He is another big body for them on the boards. He has scored 24 points this season and grabbed 46 rebounds in 207 minutes of play.

Ted Bancroft JR (1.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg) 6-5 G Has played sparingly and has scored 13 points this season and grabbed 29 rebounds in 173 minutes of play.

Sidiki Johnson SOPH (2.3 ppg. 6.0 rpg) 6-10 F just became eligible on December 18th. He is a strong rebounder and very good runner for his size but is still getting into game shape. The Louisville is just his 4th game back. He has scored 7 points this season and grabbed 18 rebounds in 41 minutes of play.

Brice Kofane SOPH (1.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) 6-8 F is the front court player to keep an eye on. He can rebound and block shots at a high level. He is an excellent pressing big man who Cooley uses in creative ways. He has scored 21 points this season and grabbed 52 rebounds while having 15 blocked shots in 229 minutes of play.

LaDontae Henton SOPH (17.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) 6-6 F had as good of a freshman season as any player in the country. He is a very good 3-point shooter, rebounds better than expected and handles the ball well. He has scored 207 points this season and grabbed 95 rebounds with 19 assist in 451 minutes of play.

Kris Dunn FR (6.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) 6-3 G underwent surgery in July for a torn labrum in his right (shooting) shoulder. He is another Friar player that just returned to the line-up from his injury. ESPN rated him the No. 2 point in the class of 2012 but he is really an elite, athletic combo guard who is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He attacks the rim with abandon, and while not a knock down 3-point shooter just yet, he certainly knows how to score. He has only played in the last 3 games. He has scored 19 points this season and grabbed 19 rebounds with 21 assist in 91 minutes of play.

Josh Fortune FR (9.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg) 6-5 G is another very good shooter on a team full of them. He has scored 119 points this season and grabbed 42 rebounds with 37 assist in 460 minutes of play.

I know that this Friars team is picked by most to finish last in the Big East and also that they are coming off one of their worst losses of the season. But I’m not going to put this game in the easy win column. Our Cards are coming off a very emotional game themselves. And I’ve seen it many times over the years and think that Wednesday could be a big let down game. It is possible.

With that being said I don’t think this group of Cards will let that happen. It was a very business like attitude in the locker room after the win over Kentucky. This team is focused on achieving much bigger accomplishments than winning a rival game. With Gorgui back in the line-up and with Chane getting better every game I think the difference in this one will be the match-ups in the front court and the Friars won’t have an answer. The Cards must do a better job at guarding the 3 point shot Wednesday because this team has the shooters to hurt them from long range. And can keep it close if allowed to shoot them wide open.

I really do think this team has their eyes on the big prize and the toughest part of their journey starts on Wednesday night. I think our Cards are ready and will start the Big East 1-0.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 87 Providence 78

Cards finally get the monkey…err Cat off their back

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It is the end of December but it felt like March in the KFC Yum Center today as the Cards faced the Cats in the annual Battle of the Bluegrass. The young Wildcats put up a good fight but it was the Cards who claimed bragging rights in the battle this year winning a thriller 80 to 77.

It was a back and forth battle in the first half as both of these teams exchanged blows with six ties and five lead changes. The Cards started 6 of 16 from the field and trailed 18-12, but went on a 13-2 run led by Behanan, who scored six points. He scored 11 points to help give the Cardinals a 36-28 lead at the half. The Cards would come out after the half and establish their defensive dominance early and would pull out to a 17 point lead. Opponents facing this Louisville defense have committed a turnover on 31 percent of their possessions. For the first 8 minutes of the second half it was par for the course, but then after Gorgui and Siva both got their 4th personal foul the team seemed to lose their defensive intensity. Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock would make the mistake of going to the wrong side of the zone which allowed some of the UK sharpshooters to find their mark and make some big three’s down the stretch. Once Russ got into foul trouble their guards were getting to the basket with ease. This allowed the Wildcats who trailed 51-34 to outscore the Cardinals 28-14 in a run to get them within 3 points at 65-62. The Cards were able to survive because of UK’s horrible free-throw shooting as they were 11 of 25 and because the defense did force 15 turnovers leading to 19 points. The Cards also shot 48 percent from the field, but made 17 of 25 from the free throw line to win its seventh straight and to get the monkey… err Cat off their back ending a Wildcat 4 game win streak in this series.

The Cards were lead in the game by Siva, Smith and Behanan. Before he got into foul trouble Peyton did an excellent job and was making some big shots. He would finish with 19 points. Russ was once again the spark plug of this Cardinal team as he lead in scoring with 21 points. He would also have 7 rebounds and 3 assist. Chane Behanan was a beast in the lane scoring 20 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. He was also 4-6 from the free-throw line hitting some big ones in the closing minutes. Gorgui would score 6 points and grab 7 rebounds in his triumphant return. I was also very impressed with Montrezl Harrell in his first Battle of the Bluegrass appearance scoring 7 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. Not only were they out of position several times tonight on defense Blackshear and Hancock were pretty much non-factors in this game. Kevin Ware was also a non-factor. The Cards bench tonight was outscored by the Cats bench 21 to 15. Cards also got out-rebounded 39-36.

I’m happy with the win. But I do come away from this one with some concerns going forward. Blackshear, Hancock, and Ware have to become more consistently productive. And Siva, Smith, and Dieng must learn how to be aggressive on defense without getting into foul trouble. Especially Siva. He has to stop committing those silly fouls. As we witnessed tonight this team needs him to be on the floor if they are going to be successful and especially if they are going to make another run for the National Title.




GAME #13 BEAK BREAKDOWN “The Wildcats”

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It is that time of year again Cards fans. This is the one folks in the state of Kentucky circle on their schedule every holiday season. The “Battle of the Bluegrass” rivalry started in 1913 and on Saturday, the two teams will meet for the 45th time as the #4 Cards take on the Kentucky Wildcats in the KFC Yum Center. The Cats hold the winning edge in this series 30 to 14 winning the last 7 out of 9 and 4 straight. The last time these teams met was in last years Final 4 in New Orleans. The eventual National championship Wildcats won that game 69-61.


Once again, Kentucky is starting from scratch after losing a host of players to the NBA draft. The Wildcats started this season ranked in the top five in the country despite returning only one player who contributed to their National Title last season. That says a lot about their coach John Calipari and his success in recruiting the best. As they have done since Calipari arrived on campus, the Cats once again have many blue chip athletes leading their team. This team does not compare to last year’s version so much as it does Calipari’s second team in Lexington, the one led by Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb. Like that team, this group of UK freshman has been struggling to find their mojo. So far, that has resulted in a 8-3 record and a tumultuous plunge out of the national rankings. Kentucky has suffered from defensive lapses against better teams. In their three losses, they have allowed both Duke and Notre Dame to be offensively efficient and shoot a high effective FG%. Against Baylor, they simply could not score, because they did not communicate and play solid basketball. Kentucky at the moment is a team that is still figuring out how to play the college game. UK is currently ranked nationally 25th in points per game at 78.5, 61st in rebounding at 38.8 a game, 34th in assist per game at 16.4, and 16th in field goal percentage a game at .490. Kenpom has UK’s Adj. efficiency on offense at 110.4 which ranks 26th and defense at 85.7 which ranks 8th. He has them ranked 13th overall.

In-conference offense: 1.20 points per possession (1st)
In-conference defense: 0.94 points allowed per possession (2nd)

The Wildcat Players:

Archie Goodwin FR (16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) 6-4 G reminds me of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He’s a gifted player whose skills are matched only by his competitive spirit and commitment to team play. He was a consensus five-star recruit and ESPN rated him the No. 4 shooting guard and No. 15 player in the class of 2012. A strong wing player, good shooter, but really excels off the dribble. He has scored 176 points this season, grabbed 60 rebounds and has 46 assist in 350 minutes of play.

Nerlens Noel FR (10.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg) 6-10 F is probably the most well known freshman in the nation, He is an elite shot blocker and rebounder. He can impact a game without scoring a point and can really shut down the low post with his length and quickness of the jump. He has scored 118 points this season, grabbed 100 rebounds and has 41 blocked shots in 327 minutes of play.

Willie Cauley-Stein FR (7.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) 7-0 F plays above the rim. And he’s got pretty good skills. He’s been working on his post moves, and he can step out and take the 15- to 17-footer, and maybe a 3 every now and then. He needs to get stronger, but it seems like he is still getting used to life as a basketball player. He was a football star in High School. He has scored 84 points this season, grabbed 58 rebounds and has 22 blocked shots in 221 minutes of play.

Alex Poythress FR (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) 6-7 F has got some God-given gifts, really strong, athletic, great vertical leap and a 7-foot wingspan. He guards the wing well but has had conditioning issues this season. He has scored 159 points this season, grabbed 72 rebounds and has 8 blocked shots in 309 minutes of play.

Ryan Harrow Soph (7.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg) 6-2 G is the smallest point guard that Calipari has had. He isn’t in the Derek Rose-John Wall-Brandon Knight category. He doesn’t have the length of Tyreke Evans or the strength of Marquis Teague. But he does have more experience than these guys had. So far this season that hasn’t carried over. He has the ability to score, makes tough layups and can keep you honest with his jump shot. He has scored 49 points this season, has 20 assist in 147 minutes of play.

Sam Malone Soph (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 5-11 G has not played any significant minutes this season.

Tod Lanter Soph (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 6-2 G has not played any significant minutes this season.

Brian Long Soph (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 5-9 G has not played any significant minutes this season.

Kyle Wiltjer Soph (11.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) 6-10 F is the definition of a “catch and shoot” player. So far this year, 64% of Wiltjer’s shot attempts have been three-point field goals. He has feasted on weaker competition in the early going taking and making a lot of uncontested shots. But against a tough defense like Louisville’s he will have to put the ball on the ground to be successful. He has scored 125 points this season, grabbed 55 rebounds, and has 21 assist in 273 minutes of play.

Jon Hood JR (1.8 ppg, 0.6 rpg) 6-7 G hasn’t seen any significant play during his time as a Wildcat but this season, however, with depth in short supply, He has been called upon to help in certain situations. He’s a decent shooter but he’s not gonna hurt you with his quickness. He has scored 14 points this season and grabbed 5 rebounds in 38 minutes of play.

Jarrod Polson JR (3.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg) 6-2 G was placed on scholarship last season but saw limited action in just 11 games. Surprisingly he has provided some decent minutes off the bench this season for the Wildcats. And was an important spark in their early win against Maryland. He is a good ball handler and makes smart decisions with the ball. He has scored 34 points this season, grabbed 13 rebounds and has 13 assist in 161 minutes of play.

Twany Beckham SR (0.5 ppg, 0.3 rpg) 6-4 G is a former Miss St player that is a defensive guy that can provide energy off the bench for UK. So far this season he hasn’t really played any quality minutes. But I do expect him to be used to combat some of Louisville’s depth.

Julius Mays SR (9.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg) 6-2 G started his college career at NC State, played a year at Wright State, and will finish at Kentucky. He is a strong combo guard, but not a great athlete. He has played the role of shooter coming off the bench so far this season. He shot 43 percent from three last season. I think he is one of the most important players on this team. And could be a x-factor in games like Saturday. I hope Rick accounts for this guy. He has scored 102 points this season, grabbed 32 rebounds and has 40 assist in 360 minutes of play.

Don’t know about you but I have been thinking about this one since the ride home from New Orleans. The Cats have beaten us on the hardwood 4 straight and this is our year to get back on the winning side of “The Battle of the Bluegrass.” The Cards have the experience edge in this one and this season finally has enough talent to compete with Kentucky. If Peyton plays under control, stays out of foul trouble, if Russ is Russ, and if our frontcourt players step up, and play a physical game this one should belong to the Cards. So far, this season UK has had trouble getting to the basket and has been prone to taking bad shots. Louisville without Gorgui has had issues with letting teams get into the lane to make easy baskets. With Gorgui expected back in the line-up it should make it tougher for teams to make easy shots in the lane. If they struggle with this Saturday, I think UK can and will take advantage of it. If this happens, we will see a much closer contest.

This game was named the #1 OOC game by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner. Here’s what he said: “Two elite teams meet once again, rematch of the Final Four, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year), HoF coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.”

I am optimistic about this game on Saturday but cautiously optimistic. As we have seen through the years, it is not always the team that is expected to win who does. This game is important to our Cards and a win in my opinion is important for this rivalry. It doesn’t matter what the sport is. You cannot let your rival continue to win and expect the rivalry to stay meaningful to either side. A win by the Cards on Saturday would end a dominate UK streak and would help the rivalry live on. But the battle will not be over, as the Cats will still hold a 30 to 15 advantage.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 90 Kentucky 83

ALL ABOARD! Next stop Sugar Bowl

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Next week our Louisville Cardinal Football team will play its most important game of the season as the program makes its very first appearance in the Sugar Bowl. At the beginning of the football season Cards fans were asked to “Get on the Train.” That train ride has been a fun one but it has had a few bumps along the way. Now as that train is prepared to make its final stop in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl I want to look back at all those stops along the way and then make my prediction about how this journey will end.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #1 September 2nd University of Kentucky:

The “Battle of the Bluegrass” really wasn’t much of a battle at all as most had predicted. It was the battle of two football programs going in very different directions. The Cardinals outclassed the Cats in every aspect of this game talent, coaching, and execution. Louisville established offensive dominance early starting the game with some monster scoring drives of 99, 85 and 93 yards. The Cards scored 5 times on their first 7 drives. UK started off with an impressive drive of its own but just didn’t have the fire power to match Louisville’s intensity. Coach Strong put this game in cruise control in the 3rd quarter putting in his back-up QB Will Stein. Louisville was lead by Teddy Bridgewater who had 232 yards passing, Jeremy Wright who had 105 yards with 3 TD’s, and Senorise Perry who had 108 yards with 1 TD. Cardinals ended a three game home losing streak to Kentucky. Beating the Cats for the second year in a row 32-14 and the Governor’s Cup remained where it belongs in the Louisville trophy case.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #2 September 8th The Missouri State Bears:

Teddy QB had a career day completing 30 of 39 passes 344 yards and touchdowns to tight ends Nate Nord and Ryan Hubbell. He would connect with 10 different receivers to help keep the Cardinals in control throughout the day. Louisville racked up 475 yards of total offense and was a combined 11 of 17 converting on third and fourth downs. Charles Gaines had a game-high 73 yards including a 55-yard deep ball in his first time seeing action for the Cards. Eli Rogers had six receptions. Senorise Perry led the team in rushing again this week with 72 yards and one touchdown. The Cardinal defense did its part as well, holding the MSU offense to just 249 yards of total offense on the day. UofL was really effective in stoping the Bears’ rushing attack, limiting MSU to 99 yards on 31 carries. Calvin Pryor led the defense with eight tackles and one interception. Lorenzo Mauldin had one sack. Missouri St did provide some competitive spirit but they were no match for a stingy Louisville defense and offense that wouldn’t disappoint as QB Teddy Bridgewater lead the team to a solid victory 35-7.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #3 September 15th The University of North Carolina Tarheels:

Louisville once again looked very impressive in this one beating a solid ACC team in North Carolina. Louisville built a 39-14 lead before slipping into conservative zone coverage in the fourth quarter and giving up 20 late points and it was about ten more than most fans in the crowd and at home would have liked to see. The Cardinals were once again paced by the strong arm of Teddy QB who was quickly becoming one of the best players in the Big East. Bridgewater threw for another 3 touchdowns on 23/28 passing and no turnovers. At this point in the season Teddy QB had not thrown a pick and was an astounding 72 of 88 throwing the ball. Ten different receivers were the beneficiaries of passes from Bridgewater and running back Jeremy Wright paced the Cardinals ground attack with 114 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. The Cardinals offense dominated the ball for 17 more minutes than UNC and the Cardinals steady defense accounted for two turnovers and made things difficult for UNC quarterback Bryn Renner until late in the game when they dropped back into zone. Cards would win this one 39-34 in front of the 4th largest crowd ever in Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #4 September 22nd The Florida International University Golden Panthers:

This would be the toughest out of the young season for our Cards. Teddy QB had his worst showing of the season in this one, struggling early in his return to his home town. Bridgewater finished with 194 yards passing on 19-36 attempts, more incompletions than in his first three games combined. He also threw 2 interceptions and stalled a few drives with poor passes. Louisville’s D was strong in this game, a game marred with heavy downpours at times. The defense held the Panthers to 320 yards total offense and their hard hitting ways forced both of FIU’s tailbacks out of the game. While their performance was underwhelming, The Cards continued to show quite a bit of character and remained neck in neck with Rutgers as most impressive teams in the conference at that point in the season. Teddy QB had his toughest night of the season but he was determined not to let his homecoming be spoiled by the Panthers and would lead his team to the victory 28-21 as the Cards went to 4-0 for the first time since 2006.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #5 September 29th The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles:

Louisville struggled to put away the Golden Eagles in this game. Teddy QB was average for his second straight game out as the Cardinals chose to focus on the run to get the job done on the road. Bridgewater threw for a minimal 85 yards a touchdown and a pick, those had been quarter numbers for Bridgewater in those earlier games but he was flustered much of the night in this one. Louisville got a great performance on the ground from running back Senorise Perry who had 118 yards and two touchdowns. They also got 84 yards from Jeremy Wright who continues to impress as the change of pace back. Louisville’s defense kept Southern Miss off the field and the offense commanded the clock and got the win which is all that matters. It was a gutsy effort for our young Cards to overcome such harsh conditions to get the win 21-17 as they moved to 5-0 on the season giving them their best start since 2006.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #6 October 13th The Pittsburgh Panthers:

Our Cards were impressive in getting this 10 point victory on the road vs. Pittsburgh. This game was close for most of the first half and Louisville trailed by 4 at the half. Whatever adjustments or pep talks the Cardinals received in the locker room registered as Louisville blew this contest open in the second half. Senorise Perry rushed for 3 touchdowns, including a strong 59 yard run late in the game and Louisville opened up a 17 point lead and never looked back. Teddy QB threw for just over 300 yards and a TD and was his usual efficient self. Overall, Louisville amassed 460 yards of total offense and turned in a turnover free performance. Our Cards went to Pittsburg on this Saturday morning and took care of business winning the game 45-35. With the win, the Cardinals put themselves in an elite group with only 10 other teams being undefeated at that time. The Cards were now 6-0 on the season and were ranked #16 in the AP top 25 and #14 in the USA Today Poll. This is the highest since the Cards were ranked ninth in both polls back in 2007. This was also only the 5th time in school history that the football program had started 6-0. The other years were (1925, 1957, 1972, and 2006).

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #7 October 20th The South Florida Bulls:

Louisville came into this game 6-0 on the season and ranked 16th in the polls at that time. This South Florida team who has been reeling for weeks but gave the conference leading Cardinals their best shot in this one. Louisville got off to a hot start behind the strong backfield play of Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright who scored both touchdowns in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a 14-3 lead at the half. Teddy QB was a non-factor in the first half but displayed some serious heroics in the second half. After throwing a TD early in the third quarter, Bridgewater found his team behind 25-21 with 1:35 remaining when he hit wideout Eli Rogers with the game winning touchdown. Bridgewater finished with 256 yards on an extremely efficient 21-25 passing and 2 touchdowns. The Cardinals defense had one of their worst outings of the year giving up nearly 200 yards on the ground to a South Florida team who has been plagued with a non-existent running game all year. Louisville also played in undisciplined fashion racking up 75 yards in penalties. The Bulls came to Louisville on this day with one thing on their minds. They wanted to start the second half of their season off right and spoil the Cards Homecoming. But Teddy QB and company were determined not to let that happen as they survived a gutsy effort by South Florida winning the Homecoming battle 27-25. With the win our Cards moved to 2-0 in the Big East and 7-0 on the season for just the third time in school history. The last time this had happened was in 1925 and 2006.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #8 October 26th The Cincinnati Bearcats “Keg of Nails”:

Our Cards escaped a tough battle with Cincinnati in this one with an OT victory and in doing so they would remain undefeated on the season. The Cardinals and Bearcats exchanged big play for big play and multiple TD’s in one of the most exciting 4th quarters in all of college football this season. Teddy QB continued his stellar sophomore campaign throwing for 416 yards and two touchdowns both in impressive fashion in the 4th quarter to Devante Parker. The 64 yard touchdown was followed up by an amazing 64 yards catch where Parker bobbled the pass and tight-roped the back of the end zone as he regained possession for the score. Parker finished with 4 catches for 120 yards. The defense secured Louisville’s second straight close home win as they intercepted Munchie Legaux in the first overtime and the Cardinals kicked an easy field goal for the win. The Cards sprinted toward the end zone at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium like kids at Christmas. Sitting idly on the turf was the coveted Keg of Nails, awarded annually to the winner of the Cincinnati/Louisville football game. For the first time in four years, the Cards laid their claws on the prize. Not since October 13, 2007 had UofL beaten the Bearcats. But, after four consecutive losses, the Cardinals tasted victory, winning 34-31 on a rainy, windswept evening in Louisville.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #9 November 3rd The Temple Owls:

After three straight close wins vs. conference foes, the Cardinals made easy work of a Temple team that had been trending south quickly at that time. The Cardinals racked up 508 total yards and pitched a scoreless second half effort on defense. Teddy QB was once again phenomenal. The sophomore gunslinger was 19-28 for 324 yards, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions the type of flawless performances we were becoming accustomed to seeing every week. Running back Jeremy Wright was equally efficient, carrying the ball 10 times for 100 yards and a TD. Wide receiver Andrell Smith had 2 TD’s from Bridgewater and Devante Parker also reeled in another one despite a quiet 2 reception afternoon. Despite giving up an opening possession 93 yard kickoff return, the Cardinals dominated the game in all facets. I was bursting with Cardinal Pride after this game and it was a “Hoot” watching our #10 Cards remain undefeated with a 45-17 victory over Temple. 20 years from now I’ll be watching a Louisville Cardinal Football game with my son and they will do a trivia segment: When was Louisville’s first 9-0 start? And I’ll smile and remember that day.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #10 November 10th The Syracuse Orange:

Our Cards fell behind 31-10 and never recovered in this one. Despite the lopsided loss, Teddy QB was once again solid. He threw for 424 yards and 3 touchdowns but unfortunately the Cardinals inability to stop the Orange on D was too much to overcome. Louisville gained under 50 yards on the ground and turned the ball over twice in the defeat. The Louisville Cardinal football team’s quest for a perfect season would come to an end on this day as the “Annoying” Orange overwhelmed the Cards in a 45-26 rout.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #11 November 24th The Connecticut Huskies:

In a 2 game stretch that was anything but a November to remember our Cards were unable to get anything going throughout the afternoon against a UConn D that had been the only consistency on their football team of the season. Teddy QB was 30-53 for 331 yards and 2 TD’s but it was his lone interception on the day that cost the Cardinals as UConn would kick the game winning field goal three plays later. DeVante Parker, Bridgewater’s intended target on the OT interception, was the lone bright spot for Louisville, hauling in 8 passes for 91 yards and 2 TD’s. Jeremy Wright was held in check to only 43 yards and Bridgewater was sacked numerous times resulting in -29 yards rushing for the QB. With the loss falling at home in triple overtime to 5-7, 2-5 Connecticut 23-20. Louisville had now lost 2 straight games after starting the season 10-0.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #12 November 29th The Rutgers Scarlet Knights:

Our Cards trailed in this one 14-3, but were able to seize the lead 17-14 with two touchdowns within 16 seconds of each other at the end of the third quater with Teddy QBs’ 14-yard and 20-yard passes to junior running back Jeremy Wright and sophomore wide receiver DeVante Parker. The Cards struck early on with a freshman punter John Wallace 20-yard field goal. Wallace won the game with 1:41 left from 29 yards away. The Cards forced three turnovers and held a commanding 42:11-17:49 edge in time of possession over the Scarlet Knights. This game would be an instant classic as Teddy QB showed us a heroic effort playing essentially with one arm and on one leg to get this victory for his team in the 20-17 comeback win. This win would give Louisville a share of the Big East Title and put them in the Sugar Bowl.

images2_zpsc36cf631-Stop #13 January 2nd The Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl:

Here we are Cardinal fans at the end of our journey. It sure has been a season to remember and a train ride that was more like a roller coaster. This young Cardinal football team literally weathered the storms of this season and when it seemed like they were gonna be done they kept fighting. And the reward for their efforts is a game with SEC powerhouse Florida. The only thing that kept the Gators from playing No. 1 Notre Dame for the National Championship was a 17-9 loss to No. 7 Georgia on a neutral field. So to say they are a formidable foe is an understatement. Of the Cardinals’ 10 victories six came by slim margins. I’m hopeful that carries over to playing the Gators who have embraced four one-possession wins. Florida didn’t look like world-beaters in victories over Bowling Green 27-14 or Louisiana-Lafayette 27-20. The Gators however got wins which matters most and took down the Atlanta Coast Conference Champion No. 12 Florida State 37-26. Florida has played five opponents ranked 12th or higher in the current BCS Standings, managing an impressive record of 4-1.

The Gators love running the ball down their opponents throats, and will challenge the Cards defensive front more than any team this season. The Gators are lead in the ground attack by senior Mike Gillislee. He has 1,104 yards on the season with 10 touchdowns. He had a huge outing in the Gators last game of the season against Florida St. He finished that one with 140 yards and two touchdowns. Their second leading rusher is Quarter Back Jeff Driskel with 404 yards on the ground this season with four touchdowns. Their third leading rusher is Matt Jones. He has 259 yards on the season with two touchdowns. He played perhaps his best game of the season in the Gators last game against Florida St where he had 81 yards and a touchdown. The Gators have seven players in the offensive backfield with over a hundred yards on the ground. They love to attack teams between the tackles and have plenty of size and strength to do it. If our defensive linemen and line-backers don’t come into this one ready to play its going to be a long day in New Orleans for our Cards.

The Gators love their running game but they can also hurt teams through the air. Quarter Back Jeff Driskel has 1471 yards through the air on the season with 11 touchdown passes and only 3 interceptions. His main target in the passing attack is Junior TE Jordan Reed. He has 44 receptions, for 552 yards and three touchdowns. Second in the pecking order is sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar. He has 31 receptions, for 306 yards and four touchdowns on the season. And like in the Gators rushing attack they are also very deep and balanced in their passing attack having 6 guys over a hundred yards in receiving.

The Gators rank nationally 188th in passing yards with 143.9 a game, 35th in rushing yards with 194.1 a game, 76th in points for with 26.8 a game, and 3rd in points against with 12.9 a game.

The Cards will be without their main ground threat in this one as Senorise Perry got hurt in the Syracuse game and will not return until next season. The Cards will rely on junior running back Jeremy Wright who has 740 yards and nine touchdowns this season. They will also count on freshman running back Corvin Lamb to contribute. He has 45 yards and one touchdown this season. The key to the Cardinals attack is in the passing game where Teddy QB will be fully healthy and be back under center. He has a 69% completion rate with 3,452 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. His main target will be sophomore wide receiver DeVante Parker. Parker has been awesome in big games this season and will need to continue that streak if the Cards are to get this major upset. He has 712 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. Bridgewater will also be looking for junior wide receiver Damian Copeland to shake loose from his defender. He has also been important to this teams success. He has 597 yards and one touchdown on the season. As important as the running attack is for Florida the air attack is equally important to the Cards. There have been 10 different players catch at least one touchdown from the arm of Teddy QB this season. And if the Cards are to be Sugar Bowl champs it will be through the air.

The Cardinals rank nationally 24th in passing yards with 298.6 a game, 100th in rushing yards with 127.1 a game, 48th in points for with 31.0 a game, and 37th in points against with 23.8 a game.


Louisville comes to New Orleans with something to prove. With no victories against a top 25 opponent this year. This will be the very first time in the Sugar Bowl for the football program while it will be the 9th appearance for the Florida Gators.


Emotions will be high in this game as our players will come in with a chip on their shoulders and especially wanting to get this win for Coach Strong who decided to stay with his team and finish what they started. The sub plot to this game is that this will be the first time Coach Strong will face his old team since leaving Gainesville for Louisville. The Louisville fans are also ready for this one as they will double the Florida crowd and have already bought up almost 15,000 tickets. Last I checked Florida was struggling to sell 5 or 6 thousand. Turning New Orleans into LOU-Orleans has to help.

I really don’t think the Florida team will match the emotions of the Cards. Their players and their fan-base will still be pouting that they didn’t make it into the National Title game. What will be the biggest thing to ever happen to the Louisville program will be just another walk through the park for the Gators. That’s why I think they are in for a huge letdown game. Letdowns are very typical in these Bowl Game scenarios and I have seen many upsets over the years. Especially in the Sugar Bowl. I think our Cards come out and punch these guys in the mouth, they will lay down and won’t get back up. The Cards will be Sugar Bowl Champs.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 31 Florida 28


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Our #5 ranked Cards didn’t miss a beat tonight in Music City as they roll past the HillToppers 78-55 for their sixth straight win. Tonight kicked off a new four game deal between these in-state rivals. Our Cards have won four straight and 21 of 24 overall in this series.

On a night where the Louisville back-court duo of Siva and Smith had trouble getting things going it was the front-court players that would step up and provide the offense in this one. Wayne Blackshear had 18 points and 8 rebounds, Chane Behanan had 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Montrezl Harrell along with some monster dunks had 13 points and 6 rebounds. Russ Smith did end up with 20 points tonight but most of them were junk points at the end of the game as he was involved in a foul fest with the WKU team. This was his 12th straight game scoring in double digits. His counterpart Siva didn’t have a great showing in the Music City tonight as he had his first foul out of the season scoring just 5 points. The Cards shot 27-53 for 50.9% from the field, 5-14 for 35.7% from 3 and were 19-27 from the free-throw line for 70.4%. The Cards did a very good job tonight at finding the open man and shooting good shots. The Cards defense was solid tonight holding the Toppers to 55 points while forcing 20 turnovers and getting 10 steals. The Hilltoppers had very few looks where they didn’t have a Louisville defender in front of them and didn’t have an easy time getting to the basket.

With this game behind the Cards it’s now time for the meat and potatoes portion of the schedule to begin. And it starts with arch rival UK coming to the Yum Center next Saturday. Chants broke out tonight in the Bridgestone Arena from the Cards faithful after the game of BEAT UK! And the social media impact of UK week has already seen an explosion as the term #BEATUK was trending about a half an hour after the WKU game tonight. Should have my UK preview up on Monday. Go Cards!


GAME #12 BEAK BREAKDOWN “The HillToppers”

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Our #5 Cards will travel to Music City on Saturday to face a in-state rival in Western Kentucky. And it will be a game between two teams going in two very different directions. The Cards are on a tear and even with the loss of Gorgui Dieng seem to be improving every game. WKU on the other hand is a banged up team that just had one of their worst losses ever Tuesday against VCU. The Rams turned over WKU 32 times in the 76-44 romp.


This will be Ray Harper’s first full year at the helm, as Ken McDonald was let go mid-season last year after a disappointing 5-11 start. WKU returns four starters, though highly touted guard Derrick Gordon is gone after one year. Harper’s roster offers perimeter shooting, shot blocking, on-ball defense and most importantly, he’ll tell you heart. But that’s when all of the WKU troops are healthy. Right now they are experiencing what Louisville did last year as a majority of their players are out of the line-up due to injury. The Hilltoppers are currently 8-4 with a 2-0 conference record. They currently rank nationally 174th in points per game at 68.2, 35th in rebounding at 40.3 a game, 225th in assist at 12.2 a game, and 185th in field goal percentage at .432 a game. currently has them ranked 144th in the country.

Coach Harper: “We’re still a young basketball team,””but I think we’ve got some talent. I’m excited about what the future holds.”

In-conference offense: 0.99 points per possession (8th)
In-conference defense: 1.01 points allowed per possession (7th)

The Hilltopper Players:

Jamal Crook SR (14.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) 6-3 G was scheduled for surgery Wednesday and will be out four to six weeks with a right foot fracture. Will miss game Saturday.

Teeng Akol SR (7.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) 6-11 F/C is a very good shot blocker and will be counted on to give this team valuable minutes in the low post. He has scored 92 points this season and grabbed 50 rebounds in 214 minutes of play.

Kene Anyigbo JR (2.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg) 6-5 F has scored 24 points this season, grabbed 27 rebounds in 100 min of play.

Caden Dickerson JR (3.4 ppg, 0.7 rpg) 6-5 G separated his right shoulder and is out indefinitely. Will not play Saturday.

Brandon Harris JR (6.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) 6-1 G is a very good player who led Otero (Colo.) Junior College to a 30-4 record last season. He has scored 72 points this season, grabbed 69 rebounds, dished out 16 assist in 319 minutes in play.

O’Karo Akamune JR (3.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg) 6-7 F has scored 37 points, and grabbed 38 rebounds this season in 166 minutes of play.

Kevin Kaspar Soph (5.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg) 6-0 G is playing but has been limited by a hamstring injury. He has scored 62 points this season, grabbed 39 rebounds, dished out 23 assist in 290 minutes of play.

Spence Sheldon Soph (0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg) 5-11 G has not played this season.

Nigel Snipes Soph (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 6-6 F tore his right ACL, knocking him out for 2012-13.

Stephon Drane Soph (1.9 ppg, 0.9 rpg) 6-7 F played one game last season before redshirting with a knee injury. The 6-7 sophomore averaged 4.2 minutes in 18 games his freshman season. He has scored 23 points this season, and grabbed 11 rebounds in 68 minutes of action.

George Fant Soph (11.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg) 6-6 F has gotten a little bigger and a little stronger and is poised to have a big sophomore season. He has scored 121 points this season, and grabbed 79 rebounds in 313 minutes of play.

T.J. Price Soph (16.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) 6-4 G shot 35.6 percent while making 52 3-pointers last season. He has missed the past three games with a right ankle sprain and will be a game-time decision on Saturday. He has scored 152 points this season, grabbed 55 rebounds and dished out 22 assist in 295 minutes this season.

Eddie Alcantara FR (1.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg) 6-5 F averaged around 21 points and nine rebounds and shot more than 40 percent from 3-point range as a senior for Chicago-Hales Franciscan. He has scored 5 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 30 minutes of play.

Percy Blade FR (2.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg) 6-4 G is a preferred walk-on who prepped at Louisville-Eastern. He has scored 22 points this season, and grabbed 9 rebounds in 82 minutes of play.

Aleksejs Rostov FR (2.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg) 6-10 C played last year for the Canarias Basketball Academy and also played on Latvia’s bronze-medal U18 team in 2010. He has scored 25 points this season and grabbed 14 rebounds in 62 minutes of play.

Despite the loss of Gorgui Dieng our Louisville Cardinals still have the #1 ranked defense in college basketball and have 131 steals on this young season with 13 a game. They are also averaging over 20 forced turnovers a game and scoring over 20 pts on those turnovers. This is not a good thing for WKU a team that in their last game had 32 turnovers and turned the ball over on 45.7 percent of their possessions.

There is a chink in the armor of this Louisville defense without Gorgui in the middle. Teams are getting to the basket pretty easy against the Cardinals. Even FIU was able to do this with ease on Wednesday night. It is an area of concern for Coach Pitino and with this being the last tune-up before the big game against UK next weekend will be looking to see if adjustments are made to fix this issue.

With all of the injuries to this WKU team they really don’t have much of a chance against a deeper more talented Louisville team. The Cards will roll in this one.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 90 Western Kentucky 53

Family Reunion

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It was a family reunion in the KFC Yum center tonight as the father and son battle of Rick Pitino and Richard Pitino took center stage. The game tonight was the first time in 12 years that a father and son had coached against each other in a college basketball game and it’s the 17th time in NCAA Division I history that a father coached against his son. The dads are now 15-2 in these games. It was the elder Pitino that came out on the winning end of things tonight as our #5 Cards roll FIU 79-55.

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Our Cards shot 49 percent and hit 12 3-pointers, tying a season high. They also committed just 11 turnovers in winning the 11th annual Billy Minardi Classic, named for Pitino’s brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The MVP of the Classic was Peyton Siva who had a double-double with 15 points and 12 assist. He looked really good at leading his team tonight. And looked really confident shooting the ball. One of the questions I had going into this game was if Wayne Blackshear would finally have his break-out game and he did just that tonight as he tied his career high with 18 points and had a solid night on the boards grabbing 8 rebounds. He is starting to look more and more like the player we seen in that Final Four game last year and you can see his confidence level rise with every game. Chane Behanan continues to show his dominance in the front-court and had another great outing scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Russ was the usual Russ tonight scoring 14 points and dishing out 4 assist. The #1 defense in the country continues to look very good as tonight they hold a team to 54 points that was averaging over 70 and scored 25 points off of 14 turnovers.

Cards will now get ready for their game this weekend in Nashville against WKU. After that it’s game on for the rest of the way starting with the battle against Kentucky on the 29th.


GAME #11 BEAK BREAKDOWN “The Golden Panthers”

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Our #5 Cards will bring their game back to the KFC Yum Center this Wednesday after their best win of the season in a gutsy effort against Memphis on Saturday. It will be Pitino versus Pitino for the first time ever as the Cards face Florida International University.


Since joining the Sun Belt 15 years ago, FIU has had one winning season, a 16-14 campaign in 1999- 2000. Since then, the team hasn’t even approached .500. Their lone postseason appearance was a 92-56 loss to UCLA in the first round of the 1995 NCAA tournament. That streak doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy this year either. Isiah Thomas was unable to have any success as the FIU head coach and was fired the first week of April, shortly after an 8-21 season. Now former Cards assistant Richard Pitino inherits a team accustomed to losing. Unfortunately, things don’t look like they’ll get better soon. Five starters had to be replaced, and Pitino’s first recruiting class features a whopping nine players. Eighty-six percent of the scoring is gone, and the school became a transfer carousel in the offseason, though most of the new arrivals aren’t eligible until 2013-14. They are 3-4 on this young season and rank 74th in points per game, 304th in rebounds per game, 170th in assist per game and 147th in field goal percentage. Kenpom currently has them ranked 228th in his D1 standings.

Coach Richard Pitino: “When you bring in so many new guys, I think you certainly are concerned,” “You have a lot of guys on your roster who don’t have a lot of D-I experience, and the rest of them are guys who didn’t play a whole lot last year.”

In-conference offense: 1.00 points per possession (4th)
In-conference defense: 1.02 points allowed per possession (8th)

The Panther players:

Manuel Nunez SR (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 6-5 G has not played this season.

Cameron Bell SR (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 6-3 G has not played this season.

Gaby Belardo SR (8.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg) 6-2 G is not a game-changer but he handles the ball and does lead the offense. He averaged 2.6 assists and made 46 3-pointers while shooting 32.6 percent for a 5-25 Canisius team in 2011-12. He has scored 60 pts, has 23 assist in 148 min this season.

Tola Akomolafe SR (5.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) 6-6 F is one of the key returners for FIU and is one of the more versatile players on the team. He has scored 40 pts and grabbed 32 rebounds in 192 min this season.

Steven Miro JR (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 6-3 G has not played this season.

Tymell Murphy JR (14.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) 6-5 F helped South Plains (Texas) College to a 36-0 record and a JUCO national championship last season. He’s a very versatile, very athletic and very quick player. He has scored 98 pts, grabbed 40 rebounds, has 21 assist in 193 min this season.

Malik Smith JR (16.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg) 6-2 G made 84 3-pointers last season at Jacksonville College in Texas. He has adapted smoothly to Pitino’s system, which mirrors his father’s pressing, 3-point shooting, uptempo trademark. He has made 27-63 3 pointers for 43% this season. He has scored 118 pts, and played 231 min.

Ivan Jurkovic JR (2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg) 7-0 C provides some size for this FIU team. The skilled and savvy Croatian has scored 15 pts and grabbed 12 rebounds in 51 min this season.

Deric Hill SOPH (4.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg) 5-9 G is a returner from last season. He averaged over 13 minutes in 23 games and made one start. He has scored 34 pts, grabbed 10 rebounds and has 14 assist in 113 min this season.

Marco Porcher Jimenez SOPH (1.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg) 6-4 G is a Fairleigh Dickinson transfer who prepped at Oak Hill Academy. He has scored 10 pts in 50 min of play this season.

Juan Ferrales SOPH (7.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg) 6-2 G made 38 3-pointers while shooting 36 percent behind the arc last season at Broward (Fla.) Community College. He has scored 52 pts, 7-15 3 pointer for 47% this season in 147 min.

Joey De La Rosa SOPH (3.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg) 6-11 C is another returning player from last season. He has scored 22 pts this season in 66 min of play.

Jerome Frink FR (10.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) 6-6 F played at prep power St. Anthony’s (N.J.), which won a national title and went 65-0 his final two seasons. He has scored 71 pts, grabbed 47 rebounds in 206 min this season.

Dee Lewis FR (0.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg) 6-3 G has not play significant minutes this season.

The Cards finished strong on Saturday against Memphis but did have a very sluggish start. Will be looking for a faster start from them on Wednesday night. Chane Behanan got back to the player he was last March in that Memphis game and will be looking to see if he keeps that going with another solid performance. We are still waiting for that one big breakout game from Wayne Blackshear and waiting to see him return to the player he was in that Final Four game. Just maybe this will be his game for that return.

The highlight of this game will be the storyline of Rick Pitino vs Richard Pitino for the first time ever. This will be a special moment for this coaching family. And even more meaningful that it’s being played in the Billy Minardi Classic that is an annual event honoring the elder Pitino’s best friend who lost his life in the 9/11 tragedy. This will not be much of a basketball game but it will be fun two see these guys go head to head.

This is a good time for a game like this as our guys are a little banged up and are gonna need some extra rest time to get back to 100%. Cards will cruise in this one.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 87 FIU 56

1 for the money, 2 for the show, 3 to get ready now go Cards go!

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Well, you can knock them down,
Step in thier face,
Slander their name
All over the place.

Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh,
Memphis, lay off of their shoes
Don’t you step on their basketball shoes.
You can do anything but lay off of their basketball shoes.

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(6) Louisville 87 Memphis 78
(9-1, 2-0 away) (6-3, 5-1 home)

Great statement win for our #6 ranked Louisville Cards today as they battle a slow start, a hostile crowd and very gritty Memphis team to pull out the win 87-78.

Coach Pitino: “It doesn’t pay to work on it all week,” “At halftime, I gave them a piece of my mind saying, `You’ve got a great player here but you’re ignoring him.’ They got the message, and they didn’t ignore him.”

The match-up today was the 87th meeting between the rivals, with the the win today the Cardinals now hold a 53-34 advantage in the series. In addition to being fellow C-USA members from 1996-2005, they also competed as league foes in the Missouri Valley Conference from 1968-73 and Metro Conference from 1976-91. They will also be in the same league next season as Memphis comes to the Big East. That’s if Louisville doesn’t leave early for the ACC. I’m glad we are mixing it up with these guys again, and today was another classic battle of many against these old foes.

The Cards came out less than inspired today to start this one and dug themselves into a 16 point hole early. They also had to overcome being outshot by the Tigers 51.8 percent (29 of 56) to 42 percent (21 of 50) and being outrebounded (34-28). But overcome they did by sticking to their Modus operandi of getting points off of turn-overs and getting to the free-throw line. The Cardinals took advantage of Memphis turning it over 24 times, turning those into 29 points. Memphis had five players foul out, helping our Cards to a huge edge at the free-throw line. The Cardinals were 38 of 46; the Tigers 14 of 20.

The Cards also had some players step up big today in this huge win. Chane Behanan finally bust out and arrives to this season as he scores 22 points and had some big ones down the stretch. And the back-court duo of Smith and Siva combined for 38 points, 11 assist, and 7 rebounds. And both were excellent at the line. Smith was 12 for 12 and Siva was 9 for 12. Folks that right there is excellent. And “Russdiculous” has shown us many aspects of his game this season but today he showed us his toughness. He sprained his ankle and came back into the game giving it all he had. Can you say total package? Big props to Luke Hancock who showed great leadership in his captains role today coming off the bench and scoring 11 points, grabbing 3 boards and getting 3 steals. The guy showed us today that he deserves our confidence.

Real gutsy effort by our guys today. Really showed the heart of this team. And if they are gutting out wins like this in December I can only imagine what they’ll look like in March. My only gripe is that they need to be more consistant at the start of games. We’ve seen them start uninspired two different times this season. They were able to dig themselves out of those two but it could cause issues later on. Other than that this team is right where they need to be. I’m very happy.

Hey Memphis fans! “THE CARDS” have left the building!

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Our #6 Cards (8-1) will mix it up with an old foe on Saturday when they travel to face Memphis (6-2). Its always great when these two long time rivals get together. After a six-year hoops hiatus, Memphis and Louisville renewed their longtime rivalry in the 2011. The contest Saturday will be the 87th meeting between the rivals, with the Cardinals holding a 52-34 advantage in the series. In addition to being fellow C-USA members from 1996-2005, they also competed as league foes in the Missouri Valley Conference from 1968-73 and Metro Conference from 1976-91. I’m glad we are mixing it up with these guys again.


Josh Pastner is entering his fourth season as Memphis head coach and is 75-29 over three seasons. And even though the Tigers haven’t been able to win a NCAA game during that time they have been solid in the regular season. Pastner will get some key minutes from some talented youngsters, but his roster is heavy with proven veterans. The Tigers were in the Bahamas with the Cards and they had a rough go of it losing 2 out of the 3 games they played. After struggling early Pastner decided to make a lineup swap and moved Joe Jackson to shooting guard with Chris Crawford playing point. Since he made this switch they have been dominating their opponents. But none the caliber of Louisville. The Tigers are currently ranked 69th in points per game, 103rd in rebounding per game, 47th in assist per game and 35th in field goal percentage per game.

In-conference offense: 1.12 points per possession (1st)
In-conference defense: 0.90 points allowed per possession (1st)

The Tiger Players:

Ferrakohn Hall SR (2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg) 6-8 F doesn’t pile up lofty statistics, but he does provide energy and contributes a lot of the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He has scored 20 pts this season grabbed 21 rebounds in 61 min of PT this season.

Charles Holt SR (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 5-10 G Has not played this season.

D.J. Stephens SR (5.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) 6-5 G/F is one of the more athletic players on this Memphis team and has impressive leaping ability. He doesn’t have to score points to make an impact. He has helped the Tigers win a lot if games. He has scored 45 pts this season, grabbed 42 rebounds in 144 min of PT this season.

Stan Simpson SR (2.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) 6-10 F The junior college transfer, who began his college career at Illinois, had a disappointing first year with the Tigers. And he hasn’t been that productive this season either. He has scored 16 pts, grabbed 9 rebounds in 59 min of PT this season.

Joe Jackson JR (10.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg) 6-1 G is ultra-quick and naturally talented. But some think he hasn’t lived up to his full potential. He has struggled with consistency and there have been times over the last two seasons that Jackson has been a special player. At other times, though, he’s not played up to his ability. The recent move back to SG has got him going though. He has scored 85 pts, grabbed 21 rebounds, has 31 assist in 219 min of PT this season.

Antonio Barton JR (7.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg) 6-2 G is a under the radar guy who has been really good for Memphis. He’s a tough hard-nosed guy who does his job. Shares PG spot with Crawford. He has scored 63 pts, grabbed 17 rebounds, has 12 assist in 203 min if PT this season.

Chris Crawford JR (9.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) 6-4 G is a very good perimeter defender and although he’s inconsistent, he’s one of the team’s best 3-point shooters. Since being moved to PG he has a very impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3 to 1. He has scored 73 pts this season, grabbed 37 rebounds, has 25 assist in 233 min of PT this season.

Tarik Black JR (10.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) 6-9 F is money when he gets the ball around the basket. He converted a school record 68.9 percent of his shots last season. He is also an excellent offensive rebounder but does struggle on the defensive glass. He has scored 73 pts this season and grabbed 34 rebounds in 153 min of PT.

Trey Draper JR (0.7 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 5-10 G has only played 2 min this season.

Geron Johnson JR (11.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg) 6-3 G is an explosive athlete who landed with the Tigers officially in late August, after finishing up some schoolwork and being admitted into the university. He is a dynamic combo guard and is an all-around talent who has fit into this Memphis rotation quickly. He has scored 55 pts this season, grabbed 21 rebounds, has 17 assist in 115 min of PT this season.

Adonis Thomas SOPH (10.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg) 6-7 G/F would probably be in the NBA had he not had to sit for most of last season with an ankle injury. The former McDonald’s All-American is a great shooter and rebounder. He has scored 87 pts, grabbed 30 rebounds, has 12 assist in 216 min of PT.

Hippolyte Tsafack SOPH (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 6-8 F has not played this season.

Shaq Goodwin FR (8.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) 6-9 F is the most decorated player in the Memphis’ signing class and probably the most talented C-USA newcomer. ESPN rated him a four-star recruit, the No. 8 power forward in the class of 2012 and the No. 31 player overall. He is still adjusting to the college game but is a very good player. He has scored 69 pts, grabbed 49 rebounds, has 14 assist in 172 min of PT this season.

Damien Wilson FR (1.7 ppg, 0.2 rpg) 6-6 G was part of an Oak Hill team that was 44-0 and won the FAB 50 national championship last season. He is a winner. He is a slasher and is very aggressive at getting to the rim. He has played limited min this season scoring only 10 pts.

Anthony Cole FR (0.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg) 6-0 G has only played 2 min this season.

This game was named the #5 OOC game of the season by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner. Here’s what he said: ”The Tigers know CUSA isn’t that strong this season, and their non-conference schedule is providing them with numerous chances to impress. This is probably the choicest of the bunch, though, getting a top-5 team and a regional rival to come to them. We’ll know a ton about Memphis’ maturity after this one.”

The Tigers have been a team that don’t handle pressure well, don’t guard the three well and they haven’t rebounded well. They will be facing a Louisville team that is out-scoring opponents by 21 points per contest, and holding them to only 54 ppg. They force 22 turnovers per game, and out-rebound the opposition by 8 per outing. I do think this is a good match-up for our Cards but this Memphis team is very talented and very capable of pulling of the upset in this early season game. They are very good at sharing the basketball and are one of the best assist teams in the nation. They do get out in transition very well. So our defense will be tested as they were against Duke. They will have a great home crowd behind them and will play the best game of their season.

This will be one of the toughest games of the season for the Cards. In probably one of the most hostile environments they will face all season. We will find out a lot about our team in this one. I like the Cards in this up and down the floor slug-fest. “IN RUSS I TRUST”.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 89 Memphis 83