Saying Good-bye to Damion Lee & Trey Lewis

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We have reached the part of the college basketball season where teams are winding up conference play and gearing up for the post season tournaments. Years of hard work hang in the balance as seniors across the country near the end of their college basketball careers, and programs across the country are having their Senior Night/Day ceremonies.

Things are going to be a little different for the two Louisville players who will soon be playing their last college basketball game in front of the home crowd. On Tuesday night the University of Louisville will honor Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Two graduate transfers who chose to forgo the traditional route and finish their careers in Louisville. These guys will lace em up in that locker room for the last time, will come charging out of that tunnel to the Alma mater for the last time, and will get the love and admiration from the Yum Center crowd for the last time.

These guys made me eat my words. I have been very vocal about the one and done players. I have always said that I didn’t see how fans of a school could have so much admiration for a player that was only involved in their program for one year. Now granted Damion and Trey aren’t typical one and done players but they like those players were only in our program for one year. Boy was I wrong… Not only have these guys captured the love and admiration from Louisville fans during their one year, but they have also left such an impression that they won’t likely ever be forgotten.

For a lot of seniors around the country who are playing for major programs the end of the regular season means March Madness and a chance at getting their one shining moment. But Damion and Trey have had many moments this season where they have shined. These guys won’t get a post season due to the self-imposed ban but the way they have handled themselves in the face of this adversity will be something that is never forgotten. These guys have shown so much maturity, humility, loyalty, perseverance and dedication that they will leave a legacy at Louisville that is felt for years to come.

In successful programs like the University Louisville the players leave but the tradition never graduates. This program is rich and vibrant because many guys like Damion and Trey have cared enough to give their very best. There are still many chapters that have yet to be written, but these guys have added to the outstanding tradition of Cardinal Basketball.

Damion Lee said that the best basketball advice given to him was to “Stay humble. As quick as you rise is as quick as you can fall.” He has had to lean on those words this season. Along with his leadership and his offense this looked like a Louisville team that could not only compete for a championship but also had a legitimate shot at winning one. And right as things were looking so promising the news came that took all of that away for him. But Damion stayed humble and continued to give it his all every time he took the court. He never uttered a negative word and has remained positive throughout. This guy is a class act and I really admire and appreciate his example. Damion said at the beginning of the season that his personal goal was to “win a national championship and become part of a family.” He won’t get that championship but he will be a part of the Louisville family for the rest of his life. Thank you Damion!

Trey Lewis said that the best basketball advice given to him was “great players make everyone around them better.” Trey Lewis took that advice to heart and he has made every player on the Louisville basketball team better. Not only better competitors but also better people. Trey is a God fearing young man and he will quickly tell you that he finds his strength in the almighty. He has used his platform to not talk or brag about himself but to give glory to his beliefs. To have that kind of faith at his age is remarkable and he has been an example to everyone around him. At the beginning of the season Trey said that his personal goal at Louisville was to “earn my master’s degree, become the best point guard in the ACC and lead the Cards to a national title.” He won’t be able to reach that last goal but two out of three isn’t bad. And sure there may be a better point guard in the ACC but there isn’t a better person playing point guard in the ACC. Thank you Trey!

We will honor Damion and Trey on Tuesday night in the final home game of their careers, but the program will continue to count on their leadership. We’ll surely miss these guys but will never forget them. In a season full of chaos and turmoil surrounding the program their example shined so bright that even the darkness of all of that couldn’t get us down. Damion Lee and Trey Lewis Louisville First Cardinals Forever…

You can take the Cards out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the Cards

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Cardinal fans have been on a roller coaster ride of emotions over the past couple of weeks. And you can only imagine what it has been like for those young athletes and what they’ve had to endure. After two very tough losses on the road, with their hopes of an ACC regular season title dwindling away and with nothing left to play for they could have easily packed it in. But not this group and not these Cardinals they are much bigger than that. They have reached down deep within themselves and found a new will to win.

These guys aren’t playing for a NCAA birth and they aren’t playing for an ACC title they are playing for the name on the front of their Jerseys. “Louisville First”. They are also playing for the love of the game. These guys have played basketball for most of their lives and they know they owe it to that passion to play hard and get better. Damion and Trey will move on but they will be Cardinals forever. They are playing to cement that legacy. Yes these guys aren’t going to get their “one shining moment” but moments like today will shine in the hearts of Cardinal fans for a long time.

This year’s freshman class is living up to every bit of the expectations they had on them coming into this season. I covered these guys this summer during the Derby festival basketball classic and wrote extensively about how I thought these guys were going to have an immediate impact. Donovan Mitchell has been a spark plug for this Cardinal team. His energy, enthusiasm and athleticism have been an inspiration to his team. He has only scratched the surface. Ray Spalding is carrying a heavy load being from the city of Louisville and he bares the extra pressure of performing up to the expectations of the home crowd. He has taken that burden and ran with it. He is also only scratching the surface of his potential. Deng Adel was labeled as a guy with the most upside of this group but was hampered with an injury early in the season. In the last couple of weeks we have started to see just how good this guy can be. On Saturday he got his first start as a Cardinal and after his effort it won’t be his last. The Sharp shooter of the Louisville freshman group isn’t even playing this year. The future is very bright…

I can’t say enough about the progression and improvement of Chinanu Onuaku. His effort on the offensive and defensive glass has been relentless this season. He had to step up with the absence of Mango and he has. Jaylen Johnson is another player that has come a long way since he got to campus. His effort sometimes goes unnoticed with his other teammates doing so many things right, but he is a big part of the positive on this team. He is a great kid with a great attitude and the game to back it up. These guys were big in the win Saturday.

This Louisville team has circled the wagons led by two fearless and fantastic players. The winning attitude of Damion and Trey has funneled down through the rest of this team. This group showed us on Saturday afternoon that they might have been taken out of the fight but they aren’t going to let anyone take the fight out of them. There may not be any trophies or banners waiting for this group when the season ends but there will be a lot of respect and admiration. Go Cards!

Duke Post Game:

Coach Pitino Post Game:

Damion Lee:

Trey Lewis:

Deng Adel:

United They Stand, and Now They’ll Ball

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It’s been a rough day for everyone who loves, supports and is involved with the Louisville Basketball program. We’ve enjoyed a lot of good times over the past 10 years but it seems now that all of that is coming to an end. We all know that our basketball program has been under the cloud of a dark scandal most of the season. Today we started to see the consequences unravel from that scandal. Unfortunately our basketball program has placed a self-imposed ban on any post season participation which means that our great Conference and NCAA Tourney run will come to an end.

This news is devastating on many levels but probably the most to those student athletes who have sacrificed and given so much of themselves to chase that ultimate prize of being a champion. Especially in the case of Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. These two young men decided to finish their college careers at the University of Louisville so they’d have a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament. With the news today these guys are now facing the last 9 games of their college basketball careers and for them there won’t be a “one shining moment” not in the NCAA tournament anyway.

So what now? My father always tried to teach me to relish in the great times and prepare myself for the bad. Now granted we aren’t talking about some of life’s greatest tragedies here and sports stuff is really trivial in the big picture of things. But nevertheless it is something that can be very frustrating and disappointing. We all follow our teams and enjoy their success in order to escape some of those real life issues. Right now we have to prepare ourselves for the bad because this NCAA post season ban is not going to be the end game. We are in for more ahead.

We can also relish in the good times that we have left. Damion Lee, Trey Lewis and the rest of our basketball team have 9 games left and we must celebrate them. It’s easy to be a fan when things are great but its times like these that show a person’s true loyalty to the team they support. We must sell-out the remaining 4 home games and the KFC Yum Center should be loud from tip to time. We owe it to these student athletes to make their efforts all worth it. We’ve had a saying all season… I’ve got Your Back… Well Cardinal fans it is time to have this programs back. Good, bad and worst we need to rally around it. They can break our hearts but they haven’t and they never will break our Cardinal Spirit. It was here before us and will be when we are long gone but it is up to us to keep it alive and moving forward.

My son and your children will be able to look back on this moment in our programs history as a minor hiccup and they won’t ever give it a second look. This program is headed for a rough couple of years but we will come out on the other end much stronger than we were before. Seeing Damion and Trey up there in that press conference today so composed and thoughtful in their time of woe was amazing. Seeing guys that age value their friendships and relationships over everything else is something to marvel over.

Damion Lee: “There are silver linings to every storm.”

Trey Lewis: “I truly believe good is going to come out of this.”

There are a lot of adults who could learn from these guys. I know that I wasn’t that grounded in my college years. Trey and Damion are going to be fine and if this is the worst thing that ever happens to them that would be incredible. They might not win an ACC Tourney Title or a NCAA Title but they are well on their way to winning the game of life. That’s the most important of all. This Louisville basketball team is united and now they’ll ball. Let’s support them. Go Cards!

Cardinal Football Recruiting Class 2016: Signed, Sealed, and Celebrated

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Wednesday night was the third recruiting class that the Cardinal Nation has celebrated under the 2nd term of Bobby Petrino. The first year he did a really good job at salvaging a class put together by the last regime. Last year he started to build the team around his wants and needs for his system landing a very talented QB in Lamar Jackson. In this 2016 class you can really start seeing Coach Petrino’s vision coming together and it includes 23 Signees who fit his system nicely. Congratulation goes out to Coach Petrino and his staff for all of their hard work.

The Cardinals 2016 Class really shines on the offensive side of the ball.  In 2016. Coach Petrino landed a raw but very talented quarterback in Jawon Pass. He is considered one of the best quarterbacks in this class and some think the best. Louisville also has a pair of four-star receivers in the fold in Chris Taylor-Yamanoha and Seth Dawkins. A third pass-catcher in the class is Des Fitzpatrick. These guys will assure that the rich tradition of great wide receivers continues at the University of Louisville.

This class also has its bright spots on the defensive side of the ball. Four-star linebacker P.J. Blue was a big flip from South Carolina in December. Defensive End Michael Boykin committed in July and might have the highest upside in the class. Junior college corner Ronald Walker and defensive tackle Chris Williams are expected to make an instant impact. This class finished ranked 36th ESPN (6 Four Star,15 Three Star), 37th 247Sports (2 Four Star, 20 Three Star), 37th Rivals (3 Four Star, 14 Three Star), and 40th Scout (3 Four Star, 19 Three Star).

When it comes to college sports it’s not like the rankings don’t matter at all because they do. But it isn’t the be all end all predictor of future success. We have seen many three star athletes go on to have successful NFL careers from the University of Louisville and our season records and bowl record thanks to three star recruits is among the best in college football. I think there are a lot of solid players in this 2016 class and do believe they could be the foundation towards getting Louisville to that college football playoff. I love the direction of the football program and the future sure looks bright. I can’t wait to get out to the practice fields on April 16th at 1:00pm to see these guys. Go Cards!

Coach Petrino welcomes Card Nation to Louisville Signing Day Party 2016:

Coach Petrino talks about the 4 returning Juniors, Des Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins:

Coach Grantham talks about 2016 Signees London Iakopo, Mike Boykn and Gary McCrae:

Coach Kolby Smoth talks about his “Dogs on the team” Dae Williams, Malik Staples and Malik Williams:

Coach Tony Grantham talks about Austin Johnson, Tobias Little and Tabarius Patterson:

Coach Klenakis talks about OL Robbie Bell, Derek Dorsey and Austin Cummins:

Coach Keith Heyward talks about PJ Blue, Lamarques Thomas and Ronald Walker:

Coach LD Scott talks about Kordell Slater, Chris Williams and Caleb Tillman:

Coach Garrick McGee talks about Chris Taylor-Yamanoha, Keion Wakefield and Jawon Pass: