Rick Pitino Lands Quite A Nucleus

Quite a haul, this latest University of Louisville basketball recruiting class, with muscle, speed and shooting ability to spare, giving Rick Pitino the nucleus he needs to nurture a contender for Big East and national honors. The descriptions provided by ESPN Insider will have basketball fanatics salivating:

Michael Marra, 6-5 guard, Northfield, Mass.

“Marra is an excellent catch and shoot player, and excels at coming off screens, and knocking in trifectas. He has a quick release, and very deep range. However, in watching him perform at the 17-Under Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla., in late July, Marra struggled to make his shots when pressured by defenders. He appeared to lack lateral quickness. He has been working to improve in this area, which would certainly enhance his playing opportunities at Louisville. This deficiency causes him problems defensively against quicker, more athletic wing guards.”

Rakeem Buckles, 6-8 power forward, Miami

“Buckles plays more like a small forward than a power forward. He scores in transition by sprinting the floor and beating the defense to the rim. He has good not great bounce but what makes him a high major player is his ability to make plays of the dribble. Buckles can get his own shot at will. He has all the dribble moves in his package. Buckles will show the crossover both ways, spin along and between the legs where he does a great job of raising up the defender before he explodes by him to the rim or into a pull up jumper in the lane.”

Peyton Siva, 5 -11, guard, Seattle

“Siva is a true point guard that has excellent speed and quickness with the ball. He pushes the ball in transition on the pass or dribble and his athletic ability makes him a threat to go coast to coast and finish with a dunk. Siva does a great job of running the offense and directing teammates. He is an excellent ball handler that weaves and slashes through the defense with inside out and crossover dribble moves in order to get into the lane for a drop off pass or kick out for an open shot … Siva is a rock solid floor leader.”

Stephan Van Treese, 6-9 center, Indianapolis

“Van Treese will provide Louisville (verbal) with a physical inside presence that has the strength and muscle to compete on the interior in the rough and rugged Big East. To compliment his body and strength, Van Treese has very good athleticism, which should help him immensely in Pitino’s up-tempo system. Van Treese runs the floor very well and should clean up by scoring points in transition, started by his defensive rebounding ability. Van Treese also has relatively quick leaping ability which makes him a very effective offensive rebounder.”

Georgetown Pats Itself On The Back

“We should have won the game. They know that.”

The comments of Georgetown guard Demetrius Guions, after losing an exhibition basketball game to the University of Louisville 74-67, are more than just a little annoying: They are naive, thoughtless, and without foundation. We’ll forgive him only because he’s a senior who never enrolled in PR 101.

A few reminders are in order for the same mouth that said, “They aren’t the No. 3 team in the country.”

— Georgetown had four returning starters, three of them seniors, from a team with a 35-1 record in NAIA competition against a team that relied heavily on David Padgett (graduated) and Terrence Williams (injured) for offensive punch last season.

— UofL, in fact, began the game with only one player who had ever started a college basketball game. The other players were in high school last season.

— The officals were calling the game loosely even though Georgetown was called for 36 fouls and lost four players with five fouls and four others with four fouls each. The Tigers probably got away with as many infractions as were actually called.

— It had to be difficult for a Louisville team to overly excited about playing its first game against outside competition when it’s a team from Georgetown, Ky. This is the Game of the Year for the Tiger players and fans. Adrenalin flowing overtime.

— The No. 3 ranking?  A bit premature, obviously, for a team with six new players without an established starting lineup. Check back at the end of the season.

Monday Morning Minutia

ul-cardinal-head-logo2-thumb1 Rick Pitino is being true to his word when he talks about team quickness, expecting to get the ball across center court in less than four seconds. A couple of passes and it’s there. He told the scrimmage crowd that players who can’t keep pace may just have to transfer. In a kidding way, but you knew he meant it.

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ul-cardinal-head-logo2-thumb1 You’ve heard the expression there’s not a bad seat in Freedom Hall? Well, the well-healed fans on the lower level may never admit it, but some of them are getting jibed. Specifically, if you are sitting in the second or third row on either side of the court, you are constantly straining to see around the person in front of you. Not much fun, especially when they are wearing baseball caps like during last night’s scrimmage. I’ll take the upper level any day over that.

ul-cardinal-head-logo2-thumb1Card Game is still trying to figure out whether Sonja was at the UofL-South Florida football game and, if she was, whether she was watching Breeder’s Cup races on a Dick Tracy wristwatch. We may never know for sure but I can’t imagine her being at a game disguised as an empty seat. At any rate, she provides a recap of the Breeders Cup results here.

Red-White Basketball Scrimmage

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Still loving football and there’s much of which to look forward as the Cards advance into the thick of the Big East schedule. Not eager to see the football season rush to any conclusion anytime soon. However, basketball seems to be in a big hurry this year. Fans will just have to balance the fanaticism somehow, some way. Already, Rick Pitino unveiled the 2008-09 University of Louisville basketball team during their first public scrimmage Sunday at Freedom Hall:

— So many new players on this team that it will take a while for some fans to match faces with the numbers. There are seven new players, including fresh recruits, transfers and the newly eligible. One would hope the jelling occurs quickly.

— Samardo Samuels bears a resemblance to Derrick Caracter in his physique but that’s where the similarities end. Samuels had 36 points, including at least eight free throws in the scrimmage. He doesn’t turn every shot into a highlight reel like Caracter did so you don’t realize he’s racking up the points until you check the scoreboard. Samuels is confident at the free throw line, and will hit a high percentage of them.

— Terrence Jennings was a nice surprise. At 6-foot-10, he possesses more than his share of strength and agility. He will be an intimidating force when he fills in for Samuels. He scored 18 points in the scrimmage. One hates to use the over-used beast to describe him but it seems to be a good fit for him .

— Earl Clark is much more fluid now than at any time in his career. The herky-jerky mechanics appear to have been replaced with a smoothness born of new confidence in his abilities and much extra time in the gym over the summer months. He tossed in 30 points for his team.

— Many in the crowd of approximately 9,000 people thought the dreaded other injury shoe had dropped when transfer Reginald Delk landed wrong after a jumper. A sigh of relief swept through the crowd when Delk’s ankle was taped. He quietly reentered the game later on showing no visible sign of lasting effects.

— Rick Pitino was sitting by himself at a courtside table, letting Richard Pitino and Steve Masiello coach the Red and White squads. He yelled at players a few times, but got up only once, walking half way down the court to say something to Edgar Sosa.

— Sosa looks more mature and confident, appears to be more selective with his shots and when he drives the lane. No reckless drives down a cluttered lane tonight.

— Much ooh and aahing over Jared Swopshire’s passing and shooting abilities while collecting 18 points. Pitino will put his talents to work early and often.

— Terrence Williams was suited up, not a lot of bandage visible on his recently operated-on right knee. He was taking set shots before the scrimmage. As the crowd was departing, the last image was  that of T-Will dangling from a basketball rim. Don’t know how he got up there. If he jumped, this young man is obviously making a speedy recovery.