One thing is clear after two exhibition games: This year’s basketball Cards are light years ahead of any Rick Pitino team since he arrived in Louisville in 2001. He appears to finally have all the pieces together for what could be a special season.
Few coaches could have survived the challenges of his first few seasons. The program was plagued by a lack of talented veterans, few recruits in the pipeline, and players with eligibility and discipline issues. Then came the disappointments of talented recruits skipping college for the pros, accompanied by the crushing blow of injuries to key players. The coach was even dealing with personal health issues at one point.
It’s hard to believe that some skeptics were questioning whether Pitino had lost his touch and desire to win as recently as last season, despite having guided the Cards to the Final Four during the 2004-05. That, of course, was before they won 12 of the last 15 regular season games last year.
Pitino is making good on his promise “to return the Cards to national prominence.” It’s going to be fun to watch.
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Here’s a must see video to tide U of L fans over until the regular basketball season officially begins against Hartford on Nov. 17:
It’s Halloween, easily the most dizzily dissonant holiday of the year. Ancient tradition holds that Halloween is the time of year when ghosts of the past make contact with the physical world. So we were not surprised to see the face of Bobby Petrino haunting various sections of Papa John’s last Saturday. Apparently he was a bit disturbed over some of the shots aimed his way since he vanished in January.
Actually that’s Erin Kenney behind the mask. I would have preferred her face to Petrino’s. Maybe next time …
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Saw where Sonny Bass, whose name is on U of L’s Bass-Rudd Tennis Center, recently donated $1 million to the university to help single moms complete their college education. A generous gift. Now if somebody will step forward and do the same for single dads, we will really have advanced the cause of gender equity locally.
Steve Kragthorpe apparently pulled off quite a coup in notching a verbal commitment from Darius Ashley, a speedy 5-9 running back from St. Xavier in Cincinnati who has put up some incredible numbers. Over three seasons, he has racked up 56 touchdowns and 3,896 yards rushing while helping lead St. X to one Ohio Division One championship and earning all-state honors each year. He is the real thing; see his video highlights, thanks to Rivals and Card Chronicle.
Assuming he plays next year, U of L would have quite a stable of running backs. He would join highly touted Victor Anderson and Dale Martin, along with Serio Spencer and George Stripling. I can hear the skeptics now, wondering if current offensive coordinator Charlie Stubbs will be able to manage all that talent.
A current complaint from fans is why many corporate seats go unused at football games. A company makes a big donation, and deservedly gets tickets in return. But why do many tickets go unused? The reasons are as varied as the companies.
I’ve got a suggestion for Tom Jurich. Why not put their corporate names or brands on the seats? That way the companies would get more of the public recognition they all seem to want so badly.
Even more important, fans could finally see which companies are or are not following through on their sanctimonious commitments as “good corporate citizens involved in the community.” Fans would thank the companies for their support, or, in the case of the empty seats, ask them directly about why the tickets aren’t used.
The best result would be to spur the managers with the tickets to get off their butts and distribute them to employees.Do you know your company’s policy on distributing tickets?
A fellow Card fan invited me to join him at the Lady Birds’ kickoff luncheon Monday and was I glad. There’s a lot of optimism under new coach Jeff Walz. The pep band and crowd were so revved up you could feel the third floor shaking at the Galt House where 500 fans had gathered.
Seated at our table was a great representative of the team, Brandie Radde, a sophomore guard. She is as charming off court as she as at shooting three-pointers. Brandie says the point of emphasis is speed, meaning fast break offenses and pressing defenses.
The Lady Cards have sold a record 4,000 season tickets thus far. They aim to sell out Freedom Hall on Jan. 12 for the UConn game.