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Author Archive: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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Kenny Johnson ‘jumps at opportunity’ to work with Pitino

April 23, 2014 0 Comments
Kenny Johnson joins Rick Pitino's Louisville staff.

Kenny Johnson becomes Rick Pitino’s point man in recruiting.

Kenny Johnson has a couple of days to sign some papers, look at residential offerings, and begin to become familiar with current University of Louisville players. Then he hits the road this weekend for three days of recruiting.

There’s a non-contact period after April 27 until July 9 so it was important for him to sign with UofL right away. Recruiting requires as much cultivation as possible, making the most of every available minute. The summer camps will keep him hopping during July.

You think about the opportunity to work for and learn from one of the best coaches that ever lived. Louisville has a rich history.

Johnson, who was hired away from Indiana, said Rick Pitino has been a role model of his for many years.

“To receive a phone call from him was pretty humbling,” said Johnson. “You think about the opportunity to work for and learn from one of the best coaches that ever lived.  Louisville has a rich history. When you weigh everything, as a younger coach who is aspiring to learn as much as possible in the short time that I have here on this earth, I just jumped at the opportunity.”

He said leaving Tom Crean’s staff was difficult because of the mutual respect and close friendship.

Johnson said his life is based on relationships, in his personal life and in the basketball recruiting world. “When you have good relationships, good things tend to happen. Every talented player is not necessarily the best fit for your program or the player. I try to get to know the individuals and the families and know everything that makes that family tick.  I have been fortunate to work with people with high character, people that I respect.”

The new assistant, while aware of Pitino’s coaching tree, said he’s not looking for a head coaching post anytime soon. “I’m not at the point in my life where I’m consumed with becoming a head coach. I can’t look at that as my motivation for any kind of move.

“I think if you make a move under the premise that I just want to speed up my career choice, I don’t you could ever be genuinely focused and happy. I want to do the best job I can do. I want to repay Coach Pitino for the opportunity to be here at Louisville.”

* * *

Pitino also announced that former UofL center David Padgett will be returning to the staff as a video assistant. Hopefully, that position also allows him to work with some of the big newcomers on the team.

Allergy relief — and a UofL win — at Jim Patterson

April 22, 2014 0 Comments
Pastels prevail at Jim Patterson (Click to Enlarge).

Pastels prevailed Tuesday at Jim Patterson (Click to Enlarge).

Jim Patterson Stadium has always provided the perfect setting for watching University of Louisville baseball, along with a lot of wins and a growing tradition over the years.

The observer discovered another reason to be there Tuesday, following a week of a non-stop fight with the enormous army of pollens that make the Louisville area the worst among American cities for allergy problems.

You see, at Jim Patterson, there are no blooming trees, no flowering plants, no freshly mowed grass or blowing dandelion seeds. Just beautiful synthetic turf as far as the eye can see.

No sneezing, no itchy nose, no deep-throated coughing — at least for three hours at Third and Central. What a relief.

*    *    *

Also a great day at the ballpark for Josh Rogers, a left handed freshman pitcher from New Albany, who won his first game at Louisville in a 3-1 win over Western Kentucky University.

Josh Rogers

Josh Rogers

Rogers, it should be noted, was selected by Dan McDonnell as the starter in both games against the University of Kentucky this season – the losing pitcher in both games.

McDonnell knowing Rogers has great potential, continuing to develop the freshman.

Rogers would go seven innings Tuesday, rare for a college pitcher these days, while allowing up three hits and striking out five batters.

*    *    *

UofL faces Morehead State at 6 p.m. Wednesday if you need a respite from nature’s toxins.

Whole new era beckons Louisville in ACC basketball

April 22, 2014 0 Comments

ACC-2014-15

No, you’re not dreaming.

All those years of wishing and hoping became a reality in 2012 when the Atlantic Coast Conference extended an invitation to the University of Louisville for full membership.

Yes, you are in the ACC now, even though not officially until the first of July.ACC-logo-with-Louisville-Cardinal-Bird

It’s a freight train, folks, nothing can stop it now. We’re in the thick of it starting with the opening kickoff on Labor Day Weekend in September.

The first concrete evidence arrived in January with the announcement of the 2014 UofL football schedule with a slate that included Notre Dame, Florida State Miami, Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Boston College and Wake Forest.

The conference announced the basketball foes on Tuesday, creating equally high levels of excitement for UofL fans, with home games against Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.

“It’s just an awesome schedule for our fans,” said UofL Coach Rick Pitino. “This is like being back in the best years of the Big East, southern style. We’re very excited to take on this challenge. I relish the thought of facing competition and programs that I haven’t personally seen before.”

ACC. ACC. ACC.

 

Recruiting ace Kenny Johnson reportedly on way to Louisville

April 21, 2014 0 Comments

According to every sports-related Internet site from Louisville to Indianapolis and other major basketball capitals, Kenny Johnson is on the verge of becoming an assistant coach on Coach Rick Pitino’s staff at the University of Louisville, replacing Kevin Keatts, now at North Carolina Wilmington.Kenny

The recruiting groupies are beside themselves, expecting his arrival to portend great things,  a boost in the number star-studded players committing to UofL in the immediate future.

They’re raving about his recruiting abilities, an AAU background that includes NIKE connection, and his close ties with numerous recruits in the talent-rich Washington, D.C. and the Baltimore areas. Plus his success at Indiana University since 2012. Coming to an Adidas school to ply his trade.

The indianapolis Star said Monday that Johnson was  “considered one of the Big Ten’s – if not the country’s – best recruiters, Johnson has been instrumental in helping IU secure players like Troy Williams, Noah Vonleh, Stanford Robinson and Robert Johnson.” The newspaper also reported that IU was “ready to work to keep him.”  Louisville apparently won out over Indiana and Maryland, which also wanted Johnson.

The deciding factor may have been Rick Pitino’s long history of transforming good assistants into head coaches. Enjoy Johnson and his recruiting success for a couple of years or until he gets his own program.

Here’s a video of Johnson shortly after he joined the Indiana staff in 2012:

Busy week for UofL baseball at Jim Patterson Stadium

April 21, 2014 1 Comment

Five opportunities for fans to see the University of Louisville baseball team at home this week.

  • Tuesday, 6 p.m. in a return game against Western Kentucky University. UofL defeated WKU 5-2 in Bowling Green a couple of weeks ago. It’s also Cancer Awareness Night with $1 from the sale of lemonade going to support Gilda’s Club of Louisville.
    Nick Burdi has 24 career saves at UofL.

    Nick Burdi has 24 career saves at UofL.

  • Wednesday, 6 p.m. against Morehead State University.
  • Three games against conference foe UCONN this weekend, 6 p.m. Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The first 200 fans on Friday will receive a special promotional item from Louisville Slugger.

UofL is 28-11 overall and second in the American Athletic Conference standings with an 8-4 league mark behind Central Florida (12-3), which won two out of three games against the Cards this past weekend.

Righthander Nick Burdi, a potential  No. 1 pick in the Major League draft, notched his eighth save to help UofL salvage a 3-2 win in the closing game on Friday. Burdi has a record 24 career saves at Louisville.

Anthony Kidston pitched the first seven innings for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-2 sophomore righthander is  4-0 this season and 9-0 in his college career.

Believe it or not, there are only five home games remaining after this week.

Teddy Bridgewater’s slip among NFL draft prospects defies logic

April 21, 2014 6 Comments

So Teddy Bridgewater’s stock appears to be dropping fast among in the upcoming National Football League draft, according to NFL scouts and pro football analysts. Getting ahead of themselves, losing sight of some essentials.

They apparently don’t put much stock in what he accomplished during three seasons at the University of Louisville, a career that included a Sugar Bowl win over Florida and a Russell Bowl win over Miami. He completed a school-record 68.3 percent of his passes for 9,817 yards,  72 touchdowns in 1,142 career attempts.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

NFL scouts apparently were less than impressed with his Pro Day workout in Louisville, on a day when he decided for some reason not to use a glove on his throwing hand as he had in every game at UofL.  They have doubts about his skinny frame, standing 6-foot-2, weighing 214 pounds. His hands are smaller than the average pro quarterback. On and on it goes.

Did former UofL football coach Charlie Strong over-estimate Bridgewater’s chances in the NFL when they talked after the 2013 season or was Strong obsessing about his his next job at Texas at the time? Bridgewater would have been an even better fit under Bobby Petrino at UofL.

Mark Dominik, an ESPN analyst and a former NFL general manager at Tampa, expressed the sentiments of many, saying “I like the young man, I think he’s a quality individual, he’s got character and leadership and those things. But this is a quarterback, and you’re judged by what quarterback you draft, and I think Teddy Bridgewater might not have all the pieces you’re looking for.”

Mel Kiper, who earns his living on ESPN predicting draft picks, has Bridgewater going to the Houston Texans in the second round.

One has to wonder where these people were when Teddy Bridgewater entered the final regular season game against Rutgers with a broken wrist and a sprained ankle in 2012 to lead Louisville to a 20-17 win — one of the most courageous performances this observer has ever seen.

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Happy Easter

April 20, 2014 11 Comments

This day He arose. The denial of his resurrection and his simple message, the attacks on his followers continue today, from highly sophisticated political assault and academic denial, and media subterfuge at home to persecution and barbarism in the Middle East. All the more reason to observe, celebrate that third day.