Snider, Mathiang and Deng back but Louisville defense tardy

Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang were back but the offense was sputtering before a late surge for the Unverrsity of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

No concern the game does not begin well, Miami jumping out to an 8-0 lead over the University of Louisville. Not to worry, UofL almost back at full strength, with Quentin Snider back, along with Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel. Happy days are here again.

Fortunately for UofL, Jaylen Johnson was around to get the “lunch-pail”buckets, per Rick Pitino (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

That was exactly the kind of mentality that concerned Coach Rick Pitino before the game. “I was afraid of that,” he said afterwards. “We had been overachieving so much. Ninety-five to ninety percent of teams lose this game. Miami was the better basketball team, they totally outplayed us in every phase of the game.”

Indeed. The Hurricanes seemed to be scoring almost at will in the first half. “We let them drive by us on straight-line drives,” added the coach. “We didn’t rebound well, we didn’t shoot well and we didn’t pass well.”

Yet Pitino said the game may have been the best of the year character-wise. “When the game was on the line, we did all of the above,” he said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do on defense.”

Louisville emerged the 71-66 winner after scoring 13 straight points in the second half. The crushing blow, a three-point dagger followed by a free throw from Adel at the 4:22 mark, giving his team a six-point lead and its largest in the game. Adel would make two out of three 3-point attempts, sharing scoring honors with Donovan Mitchell with 18 points.

Snider would need a little time to get going after missing six games with a hip injury. He would miss all three of his shots in the first half, but hit three of five attempts in the second — including a crucial 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining.

Jaylen Johnson sometimes missing the easy shots but making the impossible ones, delivering what Pitino called a “lunch-pail” effort with 10 points, eight rebounds, a block and a couple of steals. 

Mathiang picking up the slack thankfully as Anas Mahmoud regresses. Anas with three turnovers, zero points and a couple of rebounds while Mangok is collecting seven points and eight rebounds — and three out of four free throw attempts.

The win improves UofL record to 20-5 overall, and 8-4 in the conference, tied for second place before the evening games. Syracuse next, at Syracuse on Monday.

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Handmaker provides insight into Jim Ramsey’s compensation at UofL

Jim Ramsey and Junior Bridgeman during one of Ramsey’s final board meetings at UofL.

Somewhere in Florida, Jim Ramsey is catching up on his golf game, hopefully recovering from some of the controversy that surrounded his departure as President of the University of Louisville last year.

As she resigned, Margaret Handmaker provided some facts on issues affecting UofL’s efforts to fend off attempts by a competitor university to recruit Jim Ramsey away from Louisville.

Some additional perspective on Ramsey’s compensation at UofL was recently provided by Margaret Handmaker when she submitted her resignation from the UofL Foundation to Diane Medley, the new Chairman of the Foundation.

Ramsey was sharply criticized by some former members of the University Board of Trustees for what some believed was excessive remuneration. The annual compensation in his IRS returns between 2012 and 2014 was confusing because his reported income apparently included deferred payments.

The criticism, not surprisingly, came from Trustees who were not around when the University Board in 2005 adopted a Deferred Compensation Plan — a practice employed by universities to attract and retain key leaders through competitive levels of total compensation and deferred vesting.

Diane Medley recently assumed the chairmanship of the UofL Foundation. She’s also a member of the UofL Board of Trustees.

In her letter of resignation,Handmaker noted that the UofL Foundation would “be faced with a significant shortage of institutional memory” moving forward with a new Interim Executive Director, all new University Trustees, and all new UofL Foundation board members.

She also noted that “as with other complex boards, the  University relies on a committee structure to report information to the full board. Any suggestion that Trustees do not know what is going on at the Foundation is not well informed.”

She attached a memo in which she stated:

— “President Ramsey was recruited by the University of Tennessee, and the UofL Trustees felt strongly that they wanted to do “whatever it took” to keep him at the University of Louisville.

— “In discussions with President Ramsey, the Chair of the Trustees learned that the President did not want a higher salary, but a supplemental retirement benefit would be attractive to him.

— “Once again, the Trustees asked the Foundation to pay this benefit.

— “The same person chaired both the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board (as was often the case), so the “ask” was a bit of a formality. The grant and the ultimate payout of the retention plan was reported in the Foundation’s IRS Form 990, which is available to the members of all boards and to the public.”

Kathleen Smith was a key member of Ramsey’s staff at the University while also overseeing Foundation activities.

Ramsey also came under attack for retention bonuses for some of his staff, including Kathleen Smith, who served his chief of staff at the University and for the UofL Foundation.

Handmaker notes in her memo that “when (the late) Chester Porter was chair of both boards, he said that it was critically important to discourage Kathleen Smith from electing early retirement. A retention plan for Kathleen was designed by Chester and implemented by the Foundation.” Smith was placed on paid leave last fall.

Handmaker was among four directors who resigned from a group that also included Dr. Salem George, Joyce Hagen, and Dr. William Selvidge. 

They were around when Jim Ramsey was in the midst of transforming the University from a commuter school to a member in full standing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, significant improvements in the GPA average of incoming freshmen and higher graduation rates, unprecedented growth in the University’s endowment, unparalleled growth of the physical campus and a boom in student housing.

They saw the best of times under Jim Ramsey and, in recent months, some of the most challenging days ever for UofL. 

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Quentin Snider making his way back for Louisville basketball

Quentin Snider weary of watching from the bench (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Great news that Quentin Snider has been cleared to practice with the University of Louisville basketball team. Watching from the sidelines over the past three weeks has probably been more painful than the injury.

Snider was knocked out of action after taking a hard fall after a layup against Duke. He was averaging 12.1 points and 2.6 rebounds. He was making five assists per outing in his last four games. 

Earlier he had perhaps the best game of his career in leading the Cardinals to a win over Kentucky, putting a career high 22 points against the Wildcats. The 6-foot-1 junior was coming into his own, embracing his leadership role, thriving in the Rick Pitino system.

Hard to gauge how much he was actually missed, with UofL winning four of six games in his absence. Louisville won games against Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, NC State and Boston College by an average of 31 points while faltering against Florida State and Virginia. 

UofL appeared to have made tremendous strides over the past month, enough so that some analysts were expecting the Cardinals to be competitive against Virginia. That was already asking a lot with the absence of Snider and Tony Hicks but made worse with the one-game suspensions of Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel.

No question that Donovan Mitchell became almost indispensable during Snider’s absence, gaining in confidence and shooting accuracy, along with a sharper appreciation for the point guard role. He can only benefit from Snider’s return.

The hope here is that the injury has no lasting effects on him. Snider could play as early as the game against Miami on Saturday. Don’t expect much after missing practice for almost four weeks. 

Snider never was the quickest guard but he knows how to work the Pitino system. Just having him on the court will be a major plus.

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Bloody Monday for Louisville basketball teams

It was either going to be a great start for the week … or an ugly one. And the uglies won, going away.

Should have known going in that it was going to be one of those Mondays when nothing goes right. If Mondays aren’t already challenging enough, why not start the week off with the University of Louisville on the road against two top 10 teams?

After learning that Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel had been suspended, my wife had suggested early in the day going out to a movie.  Not much hope for the women either, not with Myisha Hines-Allen still not ready for the game at Notre Dame.

The eternal optimist should have taken her advice.

The games were on consecutive on ESPN channels making it easy to follow both teams. Turned out to be double trouble, the UofL women never in the game against Notre Dame, the men seemingly never returning from the locker room after half time against Virginia.

The 71-55 loss to the Cavaliers, a team that appeared ready to get beaten, ended a four-game winning streak for the UofL men. The player suspensions, combined with the injuries, took their toll this night while raising questions about this team’s chemistry. So many ups and downs are not consistent with building momentum down the stretch.

The women, meanwhile, were losing to Notre Dame still again, this time 85-66, their second consecutive loss. They were behind by five at the end of the first quarter and out of it trailing by 22 at the half. Without Hines-Allen around, they lack toughness, getting pushed around too easily, surprisingly easily for a team with so much size.

Mondays are always challenging, some worse than others.

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Deng Adel shows aggressive streak, Louisville coasts past Boston College

Another yawner, the University of Louisville basketball team blowing out still another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Boston College the latest victim by a score of 90-67.

Deng Adel discovers aggressive streak against Boston College.

Far too easy of late, resembling some of the winning streaks in the Metro and Conference USA days. Wins are not supposed to come this easily in the ACC. Treasuring each one, however, knowing that there will be some major obstacles straight ahead.

What kept the game interesting was the performance of Deng Adel who seemed to be making up for lost time, scoring in every way possible, living up to the promise expected of him. He would share game scoring honors with Donovan Mitchell with 19 points each.

Signs of a newfound shooting touch from the sophomore forward from Australia.  No reluctance, going for it but playing within the system, connecting on seven of 10 field goal attempts, including three of four 3-point shots, and two of two at the free throw line.

“Coach said we needed to step up,” said Adel afterwards. “He told me to be aggressive so that’s what we did.”

Mitchell, meanwhile, was quietly having a very efficient game himself, dishing out four assists, making four rebounds and three steals. He was making seven of 10 field goal attempts as well, including two 3-pointers, and all three of his free throws.

Mangok Mathiang getting in on the act, scoring 16 points on seven of 11 shot attempts. And, yes, two of two free throw attempts.

One never knows which UofL player is going to have a break out game. Don’t be surprised when freshman V. J. King does. He hasn’t been scoring much but when he does he makes it look easy, winding up with 11 points against Boston College.

 Louisville travels to Virginia on Monday for a crucial game.. The Cardinals and Cavaliers, with 7-3 conference marks, are tied with Florida State for second place in the ACC. North Carolina is first with an 8-2 conference record.

No danger of anyone nodding off in that one. The odds of another runaway are remote.

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