It’s Friday. I don’t want to post 5 different stories that you have to read on a Friday afternoon. You are welcome. Here is a summary of today’s events or what we at CSZ like to call the Cardinal Catch-Up.
- It was reported late last night that Mango would not return this season from his foot injury. Today Rick Pitino told us that he would not apply for a medical redshirt.
- Rick also told us that he encouraged Chinanu Onuaku to test out the new draft camp rules. Here is how that made Steve feel:
Buckle up…here we go! Louisville (17-3, 6-1) is about to enter a crazy stretch of basketball games against ranked teams, with a little Boston College thrown in there for good balance. It starts today as the Virginia Cavaliers (16-4, 5-3) are in town and trying to stay in the ACC race. Usually when there are games on Saturday and Monday, they are paired together in the minds of fans. Well, this pair is Virginia and North Carolina, a huge two-game set for the Cards.
Monday could be one of the best atmospheres that the KFC Yum! Center has seen, but let’s not jump ahead of today yet. This could be an awesome game. Enjoy it. Here are some quick notes on the game. Has to be quick so I can go do some CSZ radio on 93.9 The Ville from 10-11, which you should check out!
Rick Pitino met with the media on Friday afternoon to preview Saturday’s game against Virginia. Video and transcript below.
Video from TheCrunchZone.com
It’s a big weekend, obviously, with two highly ranked teams and well-coached teams coming in here. What (Virginia) just did to Wake Forest was interesting to say the least. We’re coming off a very good road swing where we — the second game — played probably our worst defensive outing of the year. But I think that had a lot to do with the officiating for both teams. That’s what’s happening in college basketball. That’s why the scoring is up the same way it was in the NBA. Players have to get used to the offensive player banging into you to create fouls, and they’ve got to get used to drawing offensive fouls and holding your plane. The NBA had to get used to it and now the college has to get used to it. That’s why scoring is up because more free throws are being shot.
Q: Do you like the way it’s being called?
If you don’t like this team, well then I just don’t have many words for you. After the UofL women destroyed Clemson on Thursday night, Trey Lewis and Mangok Mathiang made an unexpected appearance at the podium. Just another example of how these guys really get along and like each other. Team chemistry is important folks. These guys have it!
PITINO: Well, I’ll tell you basically what I tell the team is basically buckle your seat belts because it’s gonna be one helluva ride in the ACC. It reminds me so much of the Big East in its prime in terms of, you know, you see it going one way, then all of a sudden you see now you have Virginia and Clemson near the top, you see Georgia Tech playing real well. Syracuse looks like they’re out of it, now they get hot. Duke loses three, Virginia loses three and then suddenly the thing’s upside down, and then it will turn back. It will be a roller coaster ride that will drive fans and coaches crazy, but it will be a lot of fun playing this type of competition, needless to say.
Q: Is it even more unpredictable than you thought going in?
Kenny Klein just sent out a couple of tweets to update the status of Mangok Mathiang. It looks like he is making progress and will hopefully be back for a key stretch for the Cards.
Last night in Louisville’s ACC
Big East bout against Pitt, I finally turned the corner. We heard all summer how Chinanu Onuaku vastly improved his skill-set and was moving up draft boards and primed for a great year. I didn’t buy it. I thought he looked good, but I was not feeding into the hype just yet. There were flashes this season, those games where you saw the potential but you also saw the frustrating travels and a fan favorite, the moving screen. I was a little skeptical of the Granny Shot Assassin and believed that if part of our 2015-2016 success relies on his abilities then we were in for a roller coaster of a year.
Then Pitt happened.
Louisville beat Pittsburgh 59-41 on Thursday night, and after the game, Rick Pitino met with the media to talk about it. We also heard from Donovan Mitchell, Chinanu Onuaku, and Damion Lee.
The Cards take on 17/20 ranked Pittsburgh (14-1) tonight at 9:00 at the KFC Yum! Center. On Wednesday, Rick Pitino talked about the game, the loss to Clemson, the graduate transfer policy, and more. The transcript is below…
Rick Pitino had his press conference on Wednesday where he previewed NC State. He covered everything from Cat Barber to Mangok Mathiang to Ben Simmons to the Kansas-Oklahoma game from a few nights ago.
I think as you can see with this league probably right now there are 14 coaches saying, ‘OK, we’ve got a great shot at the NCAA.’ Last night Clemson shocks the ACC with a win at Syracuse. Clemson gave North Carolina, they could have won that game, late in the game. It’s a fascinating league. It does remind me Southern style of the Big East a few years ago when 11 teams got in, which makes it fun for everybody, especially for the fans, the players and everybody alike. If you can come away with a road victory at any point you have a leg up. You’ve got to win your home games. It’ll be a great year.
It is easy to get down on a team after a loss. Especially when you lose to your rival in such a close and emotional game. Forget that these are young men and that we as fans have literally nothing to do with the outcome of games (other than creating a good home atmosphere, sometimes). When you are as passionate about basketball as we are about our Louisville Cardinals, losses hurt, and they hurt bad. Now would be the easy time to be upset with them, right? Not me. Not with these guys. After two very close losses so far this season (on the road to good teams) and blowout wins against no competition, I can say something I never said last season: I love this team!
The picture above is a perfect example of why. Damion Lee just missed a shot that would have made his name remembered forever in the UofL-UK series. Freshman Donovan Mitchell had just sparked the comeback for the Cards that got them back in the game. Mitchell never was really an option on the final play. The young freshman could have hung his head at the buzzer. What did he do? He was the first to run over to Lee and console him.
With the exception of the 2012-2013 season, there’s no secret that John Calipari has had Rick Pitino’s number in head-to-head match-ups. Louisville has been dominant in recent years, as has Kentucky. Both with National Titles, Final Fours, conference championships, both coaches getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, and highly ranked recruited classes all in the last five years. Those are accomplishments any school would proud of to have, and that’s an understatement. Really, just read those accomplishments and think about how much success both programs have had in just the last five years. But for whatever reason, despite all that success and even having the better team in some of those years, Rick can’t seem to beat Cal.
Bompy and Basketball on a Wednesday night. It doesn’t get much better!
The Cards took care of business on Tuesday night as they defeated UMKC 75-47. Afterwards, Rick Pitino just spoke briefly since it was so late in the night. There are also comments from Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel, and Damion Lee.
I am currently out of town with Holy Cross High School’s basketball team on a Christmas Tournament trip, so this will be a quick preview of the Louisville-UMKC game tonight. Something is better than nothing, right? OK, here we go…
Louisville plays the first of consecutive days in the KFC Yum! Center as the Cardinals face the University of Missouri Kansas City Kangaroos on Tuesday in is first of two games in the 14th Annual Billy Minardi Classic. UMKC (7-4) has won back-to-back games over Mississippi State (72- 67 on Dec. 12) and Rockhurst (71-60 on Dec. 19).
The Cards beat Western Kentucky 78-56 on Saturday afternoon. After the game, Rick Pitino, Mangok Mathiang, Damion Lee, and Chinanu Onuaku gave their comments. Coach Pitino talked about the biggest loss that will come from Mangok missing the next 6-8 weeks.
The Cards beat Kennesaw St. 94-57 on Wednesday night and improved to 8-1 on the season. After the game, Coach Pitino, Donovan Mitchell, and Matz Stockman spoke to the media. I am sure we all predicted a Matz post-game interview this early in the season.