McKay with 15 strikeouts, Louisville blanks Pitt 3-0 in conference opener

Brendan McKay and company were more than ready for the conference portion of the University of Louisville baseball season to begin on Friday. The Cardinals would post a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh before a crowd of 995 fans in 50-degree temperatures at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Brendan McKay striking out seven of the first nine batters on a 15-strikeout day.

McKay continuing his impressive start to the 2017 season, fanning seven of the first nine batters he faced while racking up a total of 15 strikeouts for the game.

The 6-foot-2 lefthander would allow only three Pittsburgh batters to reach base in seven innings, giving up two singles and a base on balls. The Panthers were held hitless until the fourth inning when Frank Maldanado reached base on a drive to right.

McKay  entered the game with an 0.84 earned run average, raising his won-lost record to 3-0 for the season.  The win improved UofL’s record to 13-0 overall and 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

He would be held hitless himself for the first time this season in four at-bats.  One of them was a sacrifice fly, however, driving in a Louisville run in the third inning. McKay’s batting average is still a hefty .613.

Reliever Lincoln Henzman preserved the shutout for McKay, entering the game in the eighth, striking out three batters, giving up one base on balls but allowing no hits.

 

 

Pitino worries about ‘mental’ aspects as Louisville bows out of ACC tourney


The college basketball season starts to get old when one’s team has lost three out of its last five games. Reeling as the March Madness nears, looking more and more like a premature exit is possible.

But there was Coach Rick Pitino saying he believed the University of Louisville could have won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament this time around. “I’m heartbroken we lost today,” he said after UofL’s 81-77 loss to Duke in a quarterfinal game.

“I really felt like we could win this weekend,” he said. “We could have won by 10 or 15 tonight if we had hit our free throws and done the little things. This team gives a lot of effort, has great heart but mentally they’re just not what they need to be.”

Pitino cited UofL’s final offensive play as an example, with players out of position on a play that his team runs every day in practice. Maybe he’s just being kind when he refers to the “mental” aspects of the game.

One of Deng Adel’s better games with 21 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Another horrid day at the free throw line with the Cardinals making only 15 of 26 attempts, many of them on the front end of one-and-one situations. The coach flinches at suggestions that his team doesn’t practice free throw shooting enough.

“We practice on free throws more than anyone,” he said. “We try not to talk about them too much because it can become a psychological thing.”

Another frustrating game for Donovan Mitchell, a first-team ACC player, who never seemed to get started. He managed three points in the first half and wound up with only eight for the game.

If there was a bright spot, it was the play of Deng Adel, showing a newfound ability to get through traffic to the basket. He would make seven of 14 field goal attempts, including two of six from behind the 3-point line, for a team-leading 21 points. Notably, he would also make five of six free-throws.

UofL has been down before heading into NCAA tournament play, only to turn things around, often exceeding expectations. But Rick Pitino seems to be admitting he has some extra concerns about this year’s team. He may be running out of time getting the answers he seeks.

Villanova’s Jay Wright would think twice about going back to the White House

Some preconceived notions from some odd sources are causing division in America.

The anti-Donald Trump fervor so obvious in the mainstream media may also be present in the sports media and even among some coaches, if a recent interview of Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright by Maggie Gray of Sports Illustrated is any indication.

For some obscure reason, Gray feels compelled to ask Wright if would take his team back to the White House again if Villanova were to repeat as national champions in the NCAA tournament this year (click on video below).

Straight out of left field, she leads off the interview with a comment about some “divisive election” results and controversy on “college campuses where we’re seeing a lot of people speaking out about Donald Trump. What’s the role of a college basketball coach with all this going on? What kind of discussions are you having with your team?”

Wait. What? Was that a serious question? From an objective interviewer? A neutral observer would have to immediately conclude the reporter was dead set on driving a political agenda.

Amateur hour in full effect.

Even more disturbing that Jay Wright takes the question seriously, saying he’s had a lot of conversations with his players. “We did go to the White House to meet President Obama who was, for many reasons, just a great role model.” 

“How are your kids feeling about it (Trump’s election)?” she asks, again, almost with a straight face.  

To which Wright responds, “I think scared. I think a lot of them are very concerned about the direction of the country. African American kids are very concerned about their own culture, their own people.

“Someone asked me, ‘If you won it (again), would you go to the White House?’ It’s something we would have have a long talk about as a team. I would suggest that out of respect for the tradition of our country and the office of the President that we should go.”

After some posturing, Wright finally concludes that deciding whether his players should go to the White House would be a good problem to have, meaning that Villanova would have won second national championship.

What’s really troubling, however, is that some people who are supposed to be objective, who should respect the individual serving as President to tackle America’s enormous problems, and who should value differing opinions are so closed-minded.

Maggie May needs to stick to sports, Jay Wright to basketball.

 

Mangok saves best for last, Louisville edges Notre Dame

Mangok Mathiang could make Louisville a more serious contender if he could match his output against Notre Dame (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Mangok Mathiang may have had his best game since he first donned a University of Louisville basketball uniform five years ago during UofL’s 71-64 win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

 Just happened to be Senior Night, a good time for the jovial 6-foot-10 Mathiang to also display traits of confidence and composure. Coming off the bench to score 18 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. 

Rick Pitino never minces words on the sidelines (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Equally impressive is that the official stats indicate that Mangok didn’t have a single turnover during his final game before a crowd of 22,612 at the KFC Yum! Center. Not even after he lost the ball on a one-man fast break that was as predictable as it was inevitable.

The win wrapped up a second place finish for Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference and guaranteed the Cardinals a double-bye in the upcoming conference tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mathiang scored 12 of his points in the first half, relieving Anas Mahmoud who had taken his starting position at center a couple of games ago. Whether this game was a breakthrough for him remains to be seen, with Coach Rick Pitino pointing out the play of his big men has been inconsistent at best.

— Donovan Mitchell was back as an offensive threat after all but disappearing in the Wake Forest loss, contributing a team-high 20 points on five of 15 field goal attempts. His four consecutive free throws in the final 22 seconds were crucial for the Cardinals.

— Quentin Snider was clearly the take-charge player during the final 20 minutes, scoring 15 of his 17 points in that second half.

— Deng Adel managed only six points on two 3-pointers, one of them a dagger giving UofL at the 39-second mark giving UofL a five-point lead.

Mathiang, meanwhile, was making the best of his last impression at the Yum! If he continues to show up, Louisville could be a serious contender.

Senior Day already for Mathiang, Hicks & Levitch

Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, Tony Hicks.

So many ups and downs for Mangok, so many defensive stops for David Levitch, so few games for Tony Hicks. But another Senior Day has arrived for the University of Louisville basketball team. 

Thanks for the memories. UofL fans treasuring the remaining games, no how many or how few.

Forever Cardinals. Forever family.