The Courier Journal’s Jeff Greer has an extensive Q&A with Rick Pitino posted and it covers a lot of topics. It really is an informative read. I just wanted to point out a part of it that is interesting when he talks about this season’s team. We knew that the chemistry wasn’t the best last year. In fact, I found it hard to cheer for the team sometimes. They weren’t unlikeable, they just maybe weren’t as likeable as I would have wanted to see. That is just a personal opinion, but one that I know some people do share. Something was just different.
Pitino mentioned it several times last year. Chinanu Onuaku addressed it while practicing for the USA U19 team. The older guys hung out with their girlfriends and the younger guys mainly hung out with each other. The older guys didn’t have patience they needed. It was like a team divided. That should not be a problem this season, and here is some of that Q&A where Pitino discusses it with Greer. He says that this team could be a fan favorite…
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman is reporting that the Louisville Cardinals appear to be one of the teams that will be playing in the Battle for Atlantis in the 2016-17 season.
That is a great start to the field that will battle it out in the Bahamas. The first thing that sticks out to me is a possible matchup against Michigan State. As you know, the Cards will play the Spartans this coming season in the ACC/Big10 Challenge. So there is a chance that they could meet for the third consecutive year in the Battle for Atlantis.
Rick Pitino just wrapped up his press conference where he talked about new transfer Damion Lee, new assistant Ralph Willard, and the Cards’ trip to Puerto Rico this summer. He obviously said a lot of things worth mentioning, but one thing near the end seemed to stick out when talking about the offense.
It is no secret that the Louisville Cardinals will look much different in the 2015-16 season. Personally, I am very excited for it and to see this team of mostly young guys develop and have their own identity. There are still a couple of spots left to fill for the Cards, and I will give a little update on where things stand. About a week and a half ago, Steve posted a list of potential transfers that UofL could bring in. Trey Lewis was first on the list, and of course we know he will be a Cardinal. So this is really the first update we have posted since then.
If you are wondering how UofL has so much room for all of these guys, here is why. In all, there are seven open spots to fill due to the departures of Wayne Blackshear, Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell, Chris Jones, Shaqquan Aaron, Anton Gill, and Akoy Agau. Five of those have already been filled by Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel, Raymond Spalding, Ryan McMahon, and Trey Lewis. So there are two spots left. Who are the biggest names to fill those spots right now?
What we had been hoping for is now official, and that is that Cleveland State’s Trey Lewis has officially decided to transfer to the University of Louisville to play his final college basketball season for Rick Pitino in 2015-16. It was supposed to be down to Louisville and Ohio State, but the Cards won this battle without Lewis taking his planned visit to see his hometown Buckeyes. That is pretty nice.
Lewis is listed at 6’2 and 185 lbs. He can play either guard position. That will give the Cards a very good three man rotation between both guard spots with Lewis, Quentin Snider, and Donovan Mitchell. So looking at it like that, you were going to have a backcourt with a sophomore and a freshman playing the bulk of the minutes. Now you throw a senior into the mix to bring experience, not to mention he is just a solid basketball player.
Rick Pitino met with the media on Monday afternoon for almost 30 minutes to wrap up the season, which saddens me. It is about 8 days too early, but it happens. He said that Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell will both go pro, and also hints that a couple of players could transfer.
Since the press conference this afternoon, we learned that sophomore Anton Gill will transfer.
Transcript from Courier-Journal.com. Edited by me.
Before I leave on the recruiting trail, we had individual instructions and I missed you guys so I wanted to say goodbye to you one last time. You know, there’s good and bad in every season, and I’m not going to mislead you and tell you that it doesn’t hurt. Outside of the Christian Laettner loss, I think this was probably the second most-bitter defeat that we have faced, because, you know when Mangok made that first free throw which shouldn’t have gone in, I said, we’re going to win this thing and for a span of a short period of time all I could think of was, ‘We just have to play defense for four seconds.” At first there was three-point-something, and they changed it. And I said all we’ve got to do is play defense for four seconds and we’re in the Final Four, because I was positive the second one would go in after that luck. And it didn’t go in. And we missed a lot of free throws down the stretch, a lot of layups down the stretch, and that’s the bad.
A good 25 minutes of a Rick Pitino press conference. He talks NC State, “morons” that call into sports talk radio shows, and has a lot of laughter. Good stuff.
Well, we’re obviously excited to be in the Sweet 16. We took a day off yesterday because a West Coast trip knocks a lot out of you. So today I’m sure we’ll have a little bit of a sluggish practice trying to get our feet back, but I think the adrenalin is going to be very high and we’re looking forward to playing another ACC basketball game, and we know how good NC State is because they beat us by 8-10 points at home. Not too many teams do that and they did it. We also realize they’ve won 8 out of 10, their frontcourt’s playing extremely well and their backcourt’s playing outstanding and they’ve beaten some pretty damn good teams on their court. We know it will be a hard-fought game, it’s not only an outstanding team we’re playing, but there’s a lot at stake.
Transcript from ASAP Sports. Edited by me.
COACH PITINO: Well, I couldn’t be more pumped up, more excited because we beat such a great team. Sometimes I hate these press conferences because you listen to the other guys up here first and you just bleed for a group like Northern Iowa, who the reason we played so well tonight is the amount of respect we had for them. We knew they were a great team, statistically, five seniors, we know they’re beautifully coached, so sometimes it breaks your heart even in victory. We are so pumped and so excited because we know the feeling on the other end, but for us, this is the first time in history, according to go Kenny Klein, that this is four Sweet 16s in a row. And Louisville’s had a very rich tradition. So we’re very proud of that.
These two guys kind of amazed me, because I prod them the whole game because I can’t take them out. Montrezl was just working so hard and he was so dead, and I kept saying: You got to give us more, son. You got to give us more. You can’t tire. And I don’t know how they do it, I really don’t know how both of them do it, but they have done it the whole year. They have carried a team on their back that it has many problems and tonight we played our best game of the season. Defensively we did a lot of good things, switching from zone to man, back to zone, back to man. And then offensively, that’s the best we have executed with swinging the ball, east to west, and then attacking north to south. So I’m real proud of these guys. Two guys that are going to go on to — I won’t say greener — I could say greener pastures, because they probably will be, but they’re tremendous basketball players. It’s been an honor to coach both of them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Moderator: We’ll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.
Pitino: Well, we’re very excited to move on. The first round is very difficult. We knew it would be a fight. These two young men down the stretch made big plays for us, and we have been calling it Madness for years, but out of my 20 NCAAs, I think this is the craziest I’ve ever seen it opening up early. There’s a lot of reasons for it. Give you just some examples, I thought Jim Calhoun on television today made an excellent analogy. He said, you know, if you limit Tom Brady, the quarterback of the Patriots, to a few throws per game and keep his numbers way down, then the possessions don’t go…don’t favor the Patriots.
This is just a quick clip of some of the press conference following the win over UC Irvine. I will try to get the full transcript posted at some point.
There is no clever intro to write for this one. The Cards were in complete control on Thursday afternoon against the Tar Heels and wound up losing the game. Sometimes, that is a matter of one team just coming back and taking the game from the team that was winning. Other times, the team with the lead just gives it away. This one was the latter. Rather than talking about where to watch the rematch with Virginia on Friday night, we have nothing to do until Sunday, when the brackets come out. Here are a few thoughts from the game, and I am not here to sugarcoat anything.
Open for a reason
According to Drew Barry, we are the Louisville Cardinal.
I think we messed up defensively on that last play by running into the screen but our guys did so many good things tonight. I’m really happy we won. It would’ve been a really difficult loss because we got our 35 deflections, we were eight for eleven on the break, we moved the basketball, and their focus on the scouting report was outstanding. I was so happy Mangok made that shot because it was a big lift for our basketball team after playing real well. What we tried to do, obviously we didn’t have a lot of time to, was run a lot of motion. We were hoping that Terry could get in the lane, look down low to Montrezl if he couldn’t turn the corner. Mangok was the 64th option.
Is there anything else to be said? Well quite honestly, yes there is. It was a great game before Mangok Mathiang delivered the dagger to beat Virginia. Read that sentence again. My computer almost wouldn’t allow me to even type it. Terry Rozier gets trapped and delivers the ball to the open man. When you realize who that open man is and that HE IS ACTUALLY RISING UP TO TAKE THE SHOT, it was the classic “NO NO NO NO YESSSSSS” moment. And good for him. This may ignite him to finish the season strong. Or it could be the last positive thing he does. Who knows? Regardless, he had his moment tonight, and it was awesome!
Well you are always disappointed when you lose but Notre Dame was the better basketball team. Even including Kentucky, I think out of all the teams that we scouted this year, we thought this would be our most difficult game especially when Chris Jones went out, defensively. They play four guards and they do things offensively that can really hurt you. Although we played very poor defense, we kept getting into, well we take the lead, get it to two and then we totally breakdown with a bad shot on offense and a bad play defensively.
Well that one didn’t turn out very well. The Cards got down early, but rallied with an 11-0 run to start the second half to tie the game up. From there, it was a back and forth battle, with the Irish pulling away in the last few minutes. Louisville drops to 2-1 in their new season that I proclaimed them to have, and have one big regular season game left when Virginia comes to town on Saturday.
Nobody likes to relive losses, so if anyone is even reading this, thank you. I won’t take up much of your time. Just a few quick hitters from the game.
Rozier trying to impress?
Well there are times that this season has gone by quick, and times it has gone by slow. It seems like the last month has gone by at the snap of a finger. Now we’re faced with two really difficult games to get to a double bye. Our fate is in our hands, and we’ve got two very difficult teams to go against. One team is, percentage wise, the best offensive team in the country. The other team is the best, well one of the premier defensive teams in the country. So certainly we have our hands full. But I think our guys are up for the challenge. We’ve got to do a lot of things well to have any chance of beating either one of those teams.