Take Syracuse Down

Reasons for the University of Louisville basketball team to be motivated as Rick Pitino’s crew takes on Syracuse on Sunday:

— Syracuse had the least enthusiastic fans over Louisville’s entry into the Big East Conference. Some of them were nasty about it, for some reason believing their university was superior in every way.  That probably goes with rationalizing life in the declining Rust Belt region.

— Syracuse will abandon the Big East the first chance it gets. The institution was actually one of the original schools selected by the Atlantic Coast Conference, and would already have been gone without a timely intervention of the Virginia Governor on behalf of Virginia Tech.

— Give 30,000 Syracuse fans in the Carrier Dome a life lesson in humility.

— The Carrier Dome doesn’t have air conditioning during the early months of the football season. That’s in a domed stadium named for a climate control company.

Big East Conference

— Syracuse’s school color is orange. People wearing orange at any time other than the last week in October is inappropriate.

— The Syracuse football team has won games it shouldn’t have won over Louisville the past two seasons.

— Improve Louisville’s all-time edge to 9-4 in games between UofL and Syracuse.

— Syracuse is ranked eighth in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls, Louisville is ranked 9th and 11th in those respective polls.

— Extend the Cards’ six game winning streak to seven.

— Remain undefeated in the Big East Conference.

— Louisville has never won a basketball game in the Carrier Dome.

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Getting Personal: Pop Pulls Out Another One

The Observer steps aside briefly to allow the favorite son to pass along a few flashbacks of growing up in the family of a couple of University of Louisville diehards.

By Steve Springer

After sitting through one of the more hand-wringing encounters that I have witnessed as a University of Louisville fan, I knew that another of my great sports fantasies had come true. After a thrilling victory over No. 13 Notre Dame, I realized that the next UofL game I would attend would be against the No. 1 team in the land, the Pitt Panthers on the upcoming Saturday.

The chance to beat No. 1 does not come along very often. Combine this rare opportunity with the fact that one does not always get to attend such a spectacle with the engineer of one’s love. The win over top-ranked Pittsburgh will rank right up there with the best of many big moments as a Card fan. The Observer instilled a deep passion for Cardinal Nation in my soul and fueled it with ticket after ticket to big games.

Steve, Koby, Rick Pitino and the Observer
Steve, Koby, Rick Pitino and the Observer

I have attended Cardinal basketball and football games since before I could walk. The memories run together in a collage of college athletics. The clearest early memories that stand out are sitting so high in the Superdome to watch the Cards battle Patrick Ewing in the 1982 Final Four. The setting was so huge to my 6-year-old eyes that I preferred to watch the action on the big screen scoreboard instead of the tiny little players running around so far below. My first and only experience with the Big Easy and my beginning infatuation with shrimp and seafood tagged along for good measure.

Visions of hugging red-clad people I had never met when I was nine in Reunion Arena shortly after Jeff Hall intercepted a Duke pass at the end of the 1986 National Championship in Dallas stand out, as well.

A few days before my parents had upgraded their hero-status in my eyes as I secretly intercepted a phone call from the Observer’s wife and my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Osterman. Mom was campaigning for permission to allow me to accompany them to Dallas for championship weekend and I would have to miss a couple of days of school. Mrs. Osterman obliged; I guess the real life experience I was to receive would be worth way more than multiplication tables and spelling words.

Continued Continue reading “Getting Personal: Pop Pulls Out Another One”

Pitino Rutgers Preview

Spare us the political rhetoric and the mindless blame games, Rick Pitino. It is inappropriate for a University of Louisville basketball coach to interpose political views on fans. The media may be enthralled but smart consumers will wait and see.

If you can get past the fawning over the new chief executive, Pitino has some interesting insights into tonight’s game at Rutgers in his pre-game interview:

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Highlights of previous Big East men’s and women’s basketball games are available at Big East TV.  Among the most recent offerings is a highlight reel from the Lady Cards’ 66-50 win over Cincinnati last night. Someone in the Big East offices is pretty serious about keeping the site updated.

UofL 9th in AP, 12th in Coaches

Recognition is good, but with it comes the knowledge that each game becomes more challenging. The University of Louisville basketball team climbed to No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press poll, and to 12th in the ESPN/Coaches poll.

Lofty ratings provide adrenalin surges, not only for mediocre teams but for good teams. There are plenty of both on the UofL schedule, including Rutgers at Piscataway, N.J. on Wednesday and eighth-ranked Syracuse at Syracuse on Sunday.

Big East teams ranked ahead of the Cards in the AP poll are UConn (3rd), Pittsburgh (4th) and Syracuse (8th). The coaches’ poll even has Marquette ranked ahead of UofL.

polls

Pitt As A Measuring Stick?

This is just too good to pass up, the Beaver County (Penn.) Times assessment of the University of Pittsburgh basketball team, which will be ranked No. 1 when it arrives Saturday to face the Cards at Freedom Hall:

“This team makes it hard to believe it not only deserves to be No. 1 in the country, but should have been from the start. Pitt is so quick, athletic and good underneath and, after Wednesday’s 10-of-18 showing from outside [against South Florida], so determined to win any way possible.

”The feeling … has morphed from showing the Big East they can play with the top teams to the top teams measuring themselves to Pitt. Pitt has become the Big East measuring stick.”

Writer Eric Hall is doing okay up to this point. Pittsburgh does have a decent team, and eventually he admits that Pitt could possibly lose to Louisville, “a quick, athletic team with a load of talent.”

But then he predicts that if UofL does win “that the student body will flood the Freedom Hall floor. That’s where Pitt is now. It is what every other team wants to be … and the ranking has little to do with it.”

Don’t think so, Eric. Louisville has been there before. In fact, Louisville has knocked off a few top-ranked teams over the years. The closest UofL fans have ever come to charging the floor was during a bench-clearing fight against Memphis in the early seventies. Not that security would allow it, but Card fans wouldn’t be tempted to charge the floor for Pittsburgh.

Not that we wouldn’t be ecstatic, we would be. But a win Saturday would be simply another step in the direction of a much larger prize.