Rick Pinto will have still another player to add to his rotation, as he hones his University of Louisville basketball team for its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Add Shaqquan Aaron to the list, the 6-foot-7, 170-pound freshman guard from Seattle, who has finally been cleared by the NCAA. The organization declared him eligible Tuesday, mandating that he miss the first nine games.
Aaron has been declared a “project” by Pitino because of his thin frame. But he’s definitely a shooter, reminding many of Francisco Garcia when he first arrived at UofL. He makes it look easy, whether he’s launching his shot beyond the arc or on a mid-range jumper.
He averaged 19.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists, led Seattle Rainier Beach High (30-1) to the Washington Class 3A state championship, scoring 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half of the title game.
Minimal defensive challenges in the video, but Aaron has obvious skills:
The University of Louisville and the community lost a good friend with the passing of Sam Swope at the age of 88 on Tuesday.
The founder of the Sam Swope Auto Group was a generous benefactor to UofL, having donated a total $1.3 million to the University since 1987. The total included $246,000 to athletics, including major gifts for the construction, and later expansion, of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. It also included $100,000 for the UofL Marching Band.
Swope chaired the marketing committee during the community fundraising drive for the stadium, working closely with Malcolm Chancey in reaching out to benefactors and fans throughout the Louisville area to support the stadium.
A graduate of Ohio State University, Swope became an Adopted Alumnus of UofL in 1982. He went on to become a member of the UofL Board of Overseers and the board of the University of Louisville Hospital.
He received the Presidential Medal from James Ramsey in 2013 for outstanding service and, in 2014, received an honorary degree.
Swope also donated millions to local charities, including Kosair Charities, the Kentucky Humane Society and the Kentuckiana Boy Scouts of America.
One wonders where the offense is going to come from with the University of Louisville making it back to Madison Square Garden for a showdown with a good three-point shooting Indiana basketball team.
Rick Pitino’s teams have always defied being stereotyped, especially this one which had been shooting inconsistently, much less hitting three’s. They would put that behind them, putting an impressive offensive show, with a convincing 94-74 pounding of the Hoosiers.
Montrezl Harrell will be there, of course, the dunking machine wanting the ball, knowing where to be, where to go, putting on a show. Six or seven colossal basket stuffers, blowing past the previous all-time record of 162 held by Pervis Ellison.
Harrell taking advantage of his size, aggressiveness and will to win, posing an impossible-to-ignore distraction for the IU defenders, giving his teammates room to maneuver, down the lane, outside the arc, in and around the big guys around the basket.
Terry Rozier and Chris Jones, appreciating the spotlight at The Garden, knowing they are on a big stage, taking full advantage of every opportunity, creating additional options for themselves, wanting to leave a lasting impression.
Rozier would rack up 26 points to lead all scorers, making good on eight of 17 attempts, including five three-pointers. Smith would accumulate 24, also hitting eight of 17 shots, including two three-pointers. And let the record shot that between them, they would make good on 11 of 16 free throw attempts.
Wayne Blackshear would connect on only one three-point shot out of nine tries, but he would wind up with 11 points. His biggest contribution may have been those five assists, at least three of them to Harrell for those backboard-swaying dunks. That’s a skill he needs to keep cultivating.
Then there was Mangok Mathiang, playing with that high ankle sprain, playing with that friendly attitude of his, coming up four blocks, three rebounds, and six points. Playing hurt but developing, getting better.
Anas Mahmoud, looking like he grew up playing basketball, the seven-footer throwing up those arms, creating barriers, disrupting shooters, finding his teammates. Two points, four rebounds, an assist, and steadily gaining confidence of his coach and teammates.
Found their shooting game in New York. Bring it home to Louisville.
Keeping it in the family.
Wide Receiver Gerald Christian will play his final game with the University of Louisville football in the Belk Bowl but his kinfolk will continue to maintain a strong rooting interest in the Cardinals after the bowl game.
Gerald’s younger brother, Geron, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive lineman has made a verbal commitment to play at UofL as a member of the incoming 2015 class. He played his high school football at Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic, which had an 11-3 won-lost record this season.
Geron had previously committed to play at the University of Miami. He also received interest from numerous schools, including Arkansas, Mississippi State, Central Florida and East Carolina.
Filling gaps on the offensive line is critical for the University of Louisville football staff, with three of five starters graduating this year.
Christian is the 21st commitment in this recruiting class. The signing period begins Feb. 4.
According to some, the LSU administration was insecure about its ability to sell tickets for an LSU-UofL matchup in the Music City Bowl and, as a result, the University of Louisville football team will be playing Georgia in the Belk Bowl on Jan. 30.
While the traveling distance — an eight hour drive to Charlotte as opposed to 2 1/2 hours to Nashville — is a concern to some Cardinals’ fans, the actual matchup is even better, with UofL ranked 20th, Georgia 13th in the final College Football Playoff ranking.
If the claim is true, Louisiana is mired in the mid-Sixties about football perceptions. Reportedly using its clout to lobby for what it perceived to be a bigger name opponent, LSU was able to get Notre Dame, practically guaranteeing a win over a traditional power.
Or, shudder to think that Steve Kragthorpe, a former UofL football coach fired after three disastrous seasons, may have had a hand in the decision. Kragthorpe is listed on LSU’s roster as Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Hard to imagine him wanting LSU to run up against Louisville.
We get it that UofL fans should be insulted by what LSU fans would perceive as a sleight. What they can’t comprehend from their exalted view is that the University of Louisville is a respected football institution, with two BCS bowls to its credit and a member of the club. Typical SEC pretentiousness, we suspect.
LSU Football Coach Les Miles also may have had visions of getting his butt handed to him in Nashville, with as many as 35,000 University of Louisville fans witnessing the humiliation. That possibility would have been a bit much for a school whose universe revolves around Tiger Stadium with its 102,321 seats and its football legacy. So Miles settles for a ho-hum matchup against Notre Dame.
Would Louisville fans like to have played LSU in the Music City Bowl? Of course, but a game matching up two of college football’s better teams from the 2014 season means much more.
UofL Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham left Georgia last year to join Coach Bobby Petrino. Grantham spent four years as Georgia’s defensive coordinator where his defense was among the nation’s best in 2011. Louisville’s defense is currently ranked sixth in overall defense this season.
The Belk Bowl will be one of only 10 bowls this year that has two ranked teams competing against each other.
Kentucky women’s basketball coach spent almost as much time addressing the officials as he did his players in a game against the University of Louisville Sunday in front of a crowd of 14,862 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The tactic was successful, with his UK team upsetting UofL 77-68.
Louisville was clearly the better team with superior players but couldn’t find the basket or value possessions in the second half against a familiar UK press that has hampered UofL the past four seasons.
UofL jumped out to a 16-point lead and led 42-29 at the end of the first half, dominating the Wildcats in all phases of the game in the first 20 minutes. Things went south in the second half with the Cardinals making only seven of 29 field attempts while committing 15 turnovers.
Louisville would wind up with 28 turnovers for the game, including six by Bria Smith, five by Myisha Hines-Allen, four by Jude Schimmel, three each for Sara Hammond and Mariya Moore.
The Cardinals appeared afraid to shoot in the second half. When they did, there were far too many misses beneath the basket, UofL rushing shots or tossing the ball straight up in the air, expecting it to somehow find its way to the basket.
Jude Schimmel, who has played in four losses against UK in four years, will not have one decent memory of the rivalry, closing it out by missing all six of her shots Sunday.
Sara Hammond, a McDonald’s All American from the Bluegrass state, would score her 1,000th point on a free throw. Not much of a presence otherwise, managing 11 points and five rebounds, as she continues to play nice, exhibiting those ups and downs in her senior year.
Prior to the game, Hammond had discussed the importance of winning a game in the rivalry, the bragging rights and all. She also admitted, “We kind of gave it away the last couple years.”
Sunday’s outcome had a very familiar feeling.
Louisville is ranked seventh, Kentucky 13th in the latest Associated Press poll, and these teams don’t like each other.
If the basketball game between UofL and UK gets a little chippy, that’s okay with UofL’s Emmonnie Henderson. She’s never been known to back down from a challenge.
During her freshman season, the powerfully built 6-foot-1 sophomore from Edwardsville, Ill., often resembled an enforcer on defense and a runaway truck on offense. Henderson would foul often and rarely pass up a shot.
Fun to watch, intense, aggressive, never giving an inch.
This year Henderson has added passing to her repertoire, and actually has six assists to her credit in the first eight games. She’s averaging 8.8 points per game, having scored double figures in the past four outings, including a high of 14 points against Western Kentucky University.
Henderson is the all-time leading scorer at Edwardville High School with 1,806 points, leading her team to a 30-1 won-lost record during her senior year. Equally impressive, she was a three-time state champion in the shot put and won the discus state title twice.
Watch Emmonnie do her thing Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.com. Better still, see her in person at “Pack The House” day at the KFC Yum! Center.