Intensity vs. Tradition

Apparently LOUISVILLE on the jersey and Rick Pitino on the bench still inspire some teams to play above their heads. Marshall did not look like a team that compiled a 4-3 won-loss record against the likes of Pikeville, East Tennessee State (twice), Rio Grande, Boston U., Wright State and Morehead.

Not a good three-point shooting team, the Thundering Herd hit its first seven three-point attempts against U of L, winding up hitting 10 out of 23 for a 43.5% clip. This was a team that managed only 41 out of 151 three-points attempts in their first seven games.

This was obviously a game Marshall had circled on the schedule. The Cards looked at it as the beginning of a possible five-game win streak, as did the home crowd, mostly annoyed, not overly concerned that the game was tied 37-37 at the half.

U of L’s tradition and the coach’s reputation for winning, while not impressive in recent years, are factors that will continue to invigorate every team on the schedule. The Cards need to recognize that and respond accordingly.

Pass The Soap, Please

So Derrick Caracter is doing his makeup again, returning to center stage. This season more and more resembles a soap opera, with characters once presumed gone returning in starring roles. Back stage are Juan Palacios and David Padgett, hopefully rehearsing for similar miraculous comebacks.

The plot has had plenty of twists and turns, deviating dramatically from the pre-season previews. Three players said to be NBA bound next year are suddenly looking like typical sophomores. A point guard who looked All America in the final game last season struggles in both shooting and dishing. A team that hits a record number of three-pointers in the first game thereafter resembles a post-1986 Denny Crum outfit behind the arc.

But the biggest twist has been Rick Pitino’s dalliance on the status of Derrick Caracter. Oh yeah, it’s a team decision, with the players assuming the role of who plays and doesn’t play. This approach to writing a script could either be tragedy or a comedy, depending on whether or not Caracter decides to steal the show again. As Tom Heiser suggests in his blog, the director may just have a flair for the dramatic.

This entire episode has been grossly inflated — and while the fans have ran with the story and embellished the underlying causes and consequences, the primary culprit is Pitino. He should have never called such a pregnant news conference if just to announce that Caracter was serving in-house punishment.

Regardless, you have to give the director credit for being flexible in how the plot plays out. He knows there are good actors in the cast, some capable of stardom. But they have to play their roles, remember their lines, and have good stage presence when the lights come on.

No more drama, please. This story could still have a happy ending.

See Ya, Anthony

No surprise that Anthony Allen is transferring. What was disappointing was how dramatically his production dipped after grinding out 275 and 96 yards against Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively. The once heir apparent to Michael Bush showed much promise, only to fritter it away. His inability to run over people, catch passes or hit the holes relegated him to third string status. Not doing what it takes to get better, looks timid, gets worse. What could have been.

Hog to the Trough

If it weren’t Bobby Petrino, one would have felt sorry for the man at the podium. Immediately after making his acceptance speech at Arkansas, he is surrounded by the Razorback cheerleaders. Must be at least 15 of them, Petrino has no place to hide, as they squeal:

“WHOOO, PIG, SOOIEE!!! WHOO, PIG, SOOIEE!!!”

One gets the feeling that Petrino had finally been cornered and was being exposed as swine for his boarish behavior. He is trapped in the pig pen, wallowing in the sloppy quagmire he has created for himself. It’s a shame the cameras missed getting a closeup of Petrino’s snout during his inauguration ceremony.

Snort. Snort.

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Petrino’s Wandering Eyes

Bobby Petrino hasn’t arrived in Arkansas yet. But already, Razorback fans have to be wondering how long he will hang around Fayetteville. A man who flirts with every major job vacancy around can’t be trusted.

Just a year ago, Petrino was confirming for the fourth year in a row that “Louisville is where I want to be,” denying interest in other coaching jobs. Leading fans to believe he would return this year with Brian Brohm to pursue a national championship. Two days after winning the Orange Bowl, however, he was off to the Atlanta Falcons.

Petrino was effusive about his new position, describing it as “the best job in football,” the fruition of his dream of becoming an NFL coach. Fan expectations weren’t that high, he could introduce his system, build the Falcons into a winner over two or three seasons, be there for the long haul as Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“He’s been very clear with me,” Blank said. “He loves Atlanta and he loves the organization. Obviously he’s disappointed in what happened to Michael Vick, but he has great confidence with myself, with [president/general manager] Rich McKay and the coaching staff to put together a winner and be here many years. He told me this is where he wants to be and that his work is just beginning.”

Less than two weeks later, Blank receives a telephone call from Petrino saying he is resigning to take a college job. Before the NFL season is even over. Got the urge to move on.

Arkansas fans feel fortunate to get Petrino, especially after their first choice changed his mind. His reputation as a winning coach overrides any other concerns for now. The Arkansas Rivals Board described the pick as a “Home Run Hire For Hogs!”

It just could be a match made in hog heaven. When other more prestigious coaching vacancies surface, Hog fans should not concern themselves. Petrino will ease anxieties by assuring them that Fayetteville is where he wants to be, and he plans to be there for a long, long time. And you just know he’s a man of his word.

Let’s hear it for Bobby: “Whooo, Pig, Soooeeee!”