Coach Mack, VJ King & Christen Cunningham ACC Media Day

Coach Mack took the podium at his first ACC Media Days on Wednesday afternoon. He had team captain’s VJ King and Christen Cunningham with him in Charlotte. The guys sounded very positive and motivated about the season ahead. It really was a special day for Coach Mack who got to share it with his oldest daughter. He turned over his social media account to her and she documented the behind the scenes of the events.

V.J. King, Jr., Louisville
Started all 36 games for the Cardinals last season … ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 8.6 ppg and fifth in rebounding at 3.3 rpg … played 25.4 minutes per game.

Christen Cunningham, Gr., Louisville
Transfer from Samford … elected as a team captain for this season with V.J. King … ranks 13th on Samford’s all-time scoring list with 1,283 career points.

Here are the guys as they took center stage on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to another exciting ACC season.

Press Conference starts at the 4:00 mark.

Red and White Scrimmage Team 105 Squad Goals

Red and White Scrimmage Team 105 Squad Goals

Coach Mack walked on campus and the players were ready. We have a great core group of guys. They are guys who want to be coached and they really bought in pretty quick. The physical transformations are very obvious. Nobody gonna just take the ball from this group. And you can just see the extra bounce in their game.

Jordan Nwora and VJ King will be the straw that stirs the drink this season. They are both bigtime guys and there won’t be too many better on the floor in any game this season. This coaching staff has given both of these guys an environment they can thrive in. They led the way Sunday. King scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three, and snagged five rebounds. Nwora recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Really like what I see out of Christen Cunningham. He has a real nose for the lane and is really crafty off the dribble. He puts his head down and goes. He’s gonna force a lot of help situations this season. Nwora and McMahon will feed off those dump outs. He’s gonna run the offense but ”CC” is gonna score points. He led the Red team in scoring with 15, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists. Solid!

My sleeper for this season is Malik Williams. He is starting to realize that his game is in the post. I like that he has the versatility to step out and shoot that three but good things happen when he is jumping off of that block. He had a couple of really strong moves Sunday that were legit. He had a good scrimmage scoring 11 points and hauling in six rebounds.

Once he sheds the ring rust Steven Enoch is going to be big time. And he is a big dude. He already has a solid post presence but once he gains some confidence watch out. His goal should be to dunk the ball every time he gets it. We will see that beast eventually. Enoch pitched in 10 points and eight rebounds Sunday.

These are the guys that stood out at the scrimmage and I think you can expect them to stand out for most of this season. I will give an honorable mention to Dwayne Sutton. He has a blue collar game. Not gonna bust out on the stat sheet but is going to do all the little things and will have that one tempo changing play that stands out. He finished with seven points and four boards.

There is still a lot of talent and ability left on this roster folks. Ryan Mac left from that great 2015 Class. He has a lot of ability. VJ King the lone 2016 recruit is one of the most highly touted in the history of the program. He was a 5* Top 25 guy. It’s all there if the right buttons are pushed. The 2017 Class of Nwora, Williams, Perry and Thomas was top 10. All of these guys have upside for days. Thomas left the program but I think the other three are ready to step into their roles this season. Enoch is also an elite talent. Once he learns to put it all together. Say what you will about Rick but he didn’t leave our cupboard empty.

Not going to get too confident after an intrasquad scrimmage but you can feel the change and that’s exciting. If this team meets its squad goals then they could be a special group.


Red & White Scrimmage ushers in another new Era

Twenty years ago we got to watch our Louisville Basketball teams play in early scrimmages against teams like EA Sports All-Stars, Premiere Athletes and Athletes In Action to quench our thirst for early hoops. On October 24th, 2010 The Cards’ hosted a public intrasquad scrimmage to open the new 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. A new platform for early season hoops had arrived and the Red and White scrimmage ushered in a new era that evening.

It was the day that every Louisville Cardinal fan had waited for. We would no longer play second fiddle to truck pulls, horse shows, and rodeos. And we would no longer have to watch as our arch rival Kentucky played a game on our home court. The University of Louisville Basketball team would finally have a home to call its own. Tickets were grabbed up fast by Cardinal fans and that first Red/white scrimmage was sold out in days. Louisville Fans weren’t going to pass up the chance to see their new digs.

A year later on Oct. 14, 2011 the Red and White Scrimmage would take the National stage when Louisville was one of 11 schools featured during “ESPNU Midnight Madness”. It was a four-hour program that did live cut in’s showcasing how some of the top programs in the country were starting their practices that year.

After that big night the Red and White scrimmage became a staple for the program and on Sunday afternoon it will usher in another new era of Louisville Basketball. Coach Mack hit the ground running when he was hired as the Louisville Basketball coach. That Louisville Brand everyone thought would take years to repair hasn’t missed a beat on the recruiting trail. It just goes to show you what happens when you get a young hungry guy like Coach Mack. He rolled his sleeves up and went to work. I really love his blue-collar approach.

He has also managed to fix the distance between alumni and current program. He has everyone feeling ownership again and Cardinal pride has never been stronger across the board. The way Coach Mack has attacked all of these challenges in just a short period of time is really impressive and don’t know of many who could have done it any better. I know this guy is a helluva basketball coach, but he is also a magician. He has made the blues disappear.

The team’s motto this season is Tough, Together, Unbreakable and in talking with these guys at media day they are living up to every word of that. These guys have transformed their bodies, are transforming their games and transformed their minds. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for anyone to break this teams will.

We owe it to this staff and to this roster of players to pack the Yum Center for Sunday’s Red and White Scrimmage just like we have in the past for big moments. Fans need to follow Coach Mack’s lead. Let’s show the College Basketball world that the NCAA didn’t slow us down. They only woke us up.
Stay woke…

L’s Up!

Media Day Interviews

Ryan McMahon

Darius Perry

Jordan Nwora

Khwan Fore

VJ King

Mlik Williams

Akoy Agau

Christen Cunningham

Season Reboot In The Cards?

Times like these are when I really gain a lot of respect for those guys/gals on the beat writing about college sports as their job. In good times and bad those folks have to meet the deadline. I’ve been struggling to find words since that horrible display of football last Friday night. Funny that it’s been over a week now but still feels like that drubbing just happened yesterday. Georgia Tech just scored again. Sorry!

It has been a long time since I’ve sat thru one like that. I had almost forgotten how bad things can get. As fans, we’ve come a long way since the “The Kragthorpe experiment”. Now if we get a whiff of that type of apathy we lose our minds. It really did scar us. Bobby Petrino is 77-31 as the Louisville head coach and has won over 71% of his games here. He’s 21-14 winning 69% of his ACC games since his return. He has a rough start to this season and we are calling for his head.

Are we jumping the gun here? Is it realistic to think that Bobby would only get one bad season before he was fired? If Ron Cooper and “The Kragthorpe experiment” got three seasons of horrible football isn’t the guy who had us on the doorstep of a National Title entitled to one bad season?

Like I mentioned above I’m scarred. I’m in the ”cut your losses now” camp. I just don’t see the same fire in Coach Petrino’s eyes anymore. He has been a great football coach for us but I’m feeling like it’s time for him to go hang with the grandkids. Move on gracefully. But that isn’t going to happen and I don’t think he’ll get fired either. Even if the Cards can’t get things turned around this season that’s just not in the Cards. His buyout is absurd and he will get a mulligan.

I’m willing to give him that mulligan but would like to see Coach Petrino and this team turn things around this season. The buzz has been good around the program considering. Players seem motivated to get things back on track and even talking a little smack this week with Tu-Tu Atwell calling Boston College’s defense slow. I love the moxie of this true Freshman and this team is full of young guys with this fiery attitude.

Maybe this cake is just taking a little longer to bake. We have just reached the midpoint of this season. Is a reboot in the Cards?

The offense is trending upwards outcome of the games be damned. After a slow start, the Cardinals are finding their stride in the last two weeks. They have averaged 452.0 yards per game in the last two losses. In dropping a game to Georgia Tech last week, the Cardinals totaled a season-best 483 yards, including 370 yards through the air. The Cardinals tied their season high for points with 31 equaling their output In the Indiana State game.

We’ve got some young offensive players trending upward as well. Tu-Tu Atwell is leading the team with an 18.8 yards per catch average the fourth-highest total among freshmen nationally. In the last two games, Atwell has caught six passes for 132 yards and two scores, averaging 22.0 yards per catch. He had a career-long 53-yard catch against Florida State. Hassan Hall totaled 194 all-purpose yards in the loss to Georgia Tech. That’s the most all purpose yards by a true freshman since Lamar Jackson had 226 all-purpose yards in the 2015 Music City Bowl. Hall carried the ball five times for 23 yards and caught a personal high four catches for 33 yards.

Puma has excelled in his last two starts, going 47 for 80 for 605 yards and four touchdowns. And he didn’t throw an interception for the first time this season in the last game. In the last three games, Dez Fitzpatrick has caught 13 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 12.7 yards a reception. After catching eight passes in the first four games, Jaylen Smith is second on the team with 16 receptions for a team-high 266 yards and one score. He ranks 69th nationally with his 16.6 yards per catch average. Rodjay Burns has provided a spark in the return game. The Louisville native ranks ninth nationally and is second in the ACC in punt return average, posting a 16.4 yards per return mark.

The offense is showing some signs of life. It is the Louisville Defense that will have to get it together for this team to turn things around. The Yellow Jackets hung six rushing touchdowns on the Cards last Friday, averaging a whopping 8.3 yards per play. The defense has some hungry guys. P.J. Blue is starting to make an impact. In the last three games as a starter, Blue has been credited with 19 stops.
Khane Pass and Nick Okeke are both coming off of their best games of the season with 8 tackles each in the last outing.

We’ve got some guys to make plays on defense but they have to be put in the right situations for that to happen. This is where the disconnect is right now. Louisville has not recorded a sack in the last two games, and through six games, the Cardinals have only registered two interceptions in 131 pass attempts. Through six games, the Cardinals are -9 in turnover margin turning the ball over 14 times, while just causing four miscues.
Will VanGorder be able to close this gap?

Louisville fans are losing their minds right now. But here at the midway point, we all need to take a collective breath. A total of 14 freshmen have made their collegiate debuts this season and the Cardinals are playing the 2018 season with one of the nation’s smallest senior classes with just 11 dotting the roster. It’s not like we are playing with house money folks.

I think this season can still be salvaged and the reboot can start on Saturday in Boston.
Go Cards!

Blackout: A tale of two Bobby’s

About 12 years ago I hit a pretty good stride in my life. I had just met the girl who became my wife and got the job that I still hold to this day. 2006 was a great year for me and a year that played a big part in where I am today. There was another guy hitting his stride in 2006 and Bobby Petrino had my Louisville Cardinals Football team on the cusp of College Football greatness.

Sports writers found all kinds of creative ways to describe what was then (and might still be) the most hyped game in Louisville’s history. Even with the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, Louisville football was the biggest story in town that week. I remember some of the local news guys doing live feeds from inside an empty (then) Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium on that cold November 2nd morning before the game.

By nighttime, a crowd of over 43,000 fans packed the stands, (a record crowd at that time) most of them were wearing black to take part in what Louisville Football promoted as a “blackout.” First Blackout promotion of Bobby Petrino’s career. He really hit peak Bobby Petrino that night when his team beat #3 WVU ending their 14 game win streak and propelling the Cardinals into BCS Title Talk.

“We keep track of our run-pass ratio. We wanted to stay aggressive and our players like to play that brand of football.”

“If we only score 28 points, we feel like we’re struggling. Our guys are very motivated to be No. 1 in the nation in total offense.”

These are few of Coach Petrino’s quotes from that game… Man those were the days. He was a coach that wanted to beat you and wanted to score a hundred points doing it. I loved watching that brand of Louisville football. After that first Blackout game, the Cardinals were 8-0 celebrating the biggest win in school history. A win that vaulted the Cardinals into the heart of the national championship race that year.

We all know the story too well on how that season ended… Looking back at it now everything really started to unravel for Bobby Petrino after that November night in 2006. His BCS Championship hopes vanished in New Jersey. He left Louisville on the first train out of town to the NFL after that season. An experiment that didn’t end very well for him. Then he got his shot coaching in the mighty SEC only to have his infatuation with SEX ruin that coaching stop.

But everyone loves a good comeback story and at the Blackout game on Labor Day in 2014, it looked like we were all going to have a front row seat to one. Our Cardinals beat Miami on that Monday night 31 to 13. The victory provided a successful Atlantic Coast Conference debut for the Cardinals and to Bobby Petrino’s second coaching stint at the school.

There was a lot of similarity to his first Blackout game at Louisville that night. The hype and all… The Cardinals took the field under the lights in all-black uniforms with matching chrome helmets to thunderous cheers from a record crowd of 55,428, all but a few dressed in black. 31 points! That Bobby offense was back. The hype was back.

Maybe the Louisville Football program and Coach Petrino are trying to recapture some of that Blackout game magic announcing the promotion this week. But the hype is gone. Sports writers are just trying to find the motivation to write about this game. There won’t be any live feeds from an empty Cardinal Stadium on Friday morning. The stadium might be empty at game time Friday night. A Blackout game in Louisville used to be the hottest ticket in town. Even eclipsing horse racing royalty one time. This week I’ve got alerts every day from a ticket app on my I-phone about ticket prices being slashed.

The Cards won’t be playing Friday night to be in the conversation of College Football’s elite. Instead, the loser of this one will be considered one of College Football’s worst. A harsh reminder for this College sports fan that things can change quickly and boy things have changed around here quickly. But hey I’m still a sucker for a good comeback story. Maybe there is some magic left in those Black uniforms.

“If we win out, there’s no way they should leave us out.”

Running back Kolby Smith said that after a program-changing win in that first Blackout game in 2006. Now he is the Louisville Running Backs coach. I’d love to see his group come to life on Friday night. Freshman RB Hassan Hall looked like a younger version of his coach in the game against Florida State. And I’d love to see WR’s Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick channel some of that Mario Urrutia and Harry Douglas magic of Blackout old. Maybe Puma can channel some of that Will Gardner swagger from that game in 2014.

2006 was a good year for Bobby Petrino and it is the reason he is where he is today. Brought back in and given an ironclad contract by Tom Jurich. I’m sure he thought he’d see Coach Petrino recapture some of that fire. He wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on an old friend and I’m not ready to throw in the towel folks. But we need to see some signs of life from that guy who used to want to score a hundred points. I am a sucker for a good comeback story. I want this team to succeed and will be cheering my ass off for them on Friday night.

Go Cards!

(photos in this story courtesy