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Shaqquan Aaron misses opportunity to get better

April 8, 2015 0 Comments

For a few days it appeared Shaqquan Aaron had made a decision to stick with the University of Louisville basketball program, taking advantage of a unique opportunity to learn under one of the best.

Aaron has obviously had second thoughts, and is transferring to another school after seeing little playing time this past season.

Will Shaqquan Aaron be the player who steps up for UofL?

Shaqquan Aaron bypasses opportunity to get better under Pitino

Maybe it was because Coach Rick Pitino made clear to the player what was expected of him if he wanted to be successful at UofL. Maybe it was because Pitino is recruiting transfers from other programs who will compete with Aaron. Or maybe Aaron was promised something by another school.

UofL fans saw so little of him that it was impossible to assess his potential. What they do know, however, is that some second and third-year players have made tremendous strides. The best example being Peyton Siva, sparingly used as a freshman, who lead his team to a national championship as a senior.

Sorry to see Aaron leave because he may not have the same opportunities at his next stop.

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Sean Leland, 6-4, 200-pound freshman from Orland Park, Ill, will be the mound when UofL battles with the University of Kentucky on Wednesday at 6 p.m. He has appeared in eight games thus far, with a 1-0 won-lost record. He has an earned run average of 1.06, giving up 10 hits, three runs and six walks while striking out 15 batters.

The game will streamed via ESPN3.com.

Pitino lands a bonafide 3-point shooter

April 7, 2015 0 Comments

High praise from Rick Pitino for Trey Lewis, the newest member of the University of Louisville basketball program:

Trey Lewis will bring 3-point shooting to Louisville.

Trey Lewis will bring 3-point shooting with him to Louisville.

“He is a talented young man with an incredible attitude and his leadership qualities fit perfectly for what we need,” said Pitino. “He’s a point guard who scores, does a good job of getting in the lane, and sets his teammates up well.  Since we’ve played the last four years with two point guards, it’s perfect to continue on that path with our running and pressing style.”

Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard from Garfield Heights, Ohio, is transferring Cleveland State University where he averaged 26.3 points, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season. He led the Horizon Conference with a CSU single-season record of 96 three-pointers.

UofL fans may remember him on the occasion of Pitino’s 700th career victory this past season when Lewis scored 24 of Cleveland State’s 33 points in a 44-33 loss to Louisville. He connected on nine of 20 shots that night, including four of 10 3-point attempts.

“This team wasn’t going to lay down,” said Montrezl Harrell afterwards. “They have high-quality players. We saw it in (Lewis).”

Duke is making inroads

April 6, 2015 0 Comments

If it’s not going to be UofL, let it be Duke.

What a nice ending to the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament, with a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference winning it all. Four days ago the outlook for a satisfactory was somewhat bleak.

Hard to pull against Wisconsin, featuring a seven-foot Roger Burkman look-alike, but the Badgers left their mark on the tournament by putting Kentucky on the sidelines. Representing the best in college amateurism, they quickly became beloved in Louisville, .

Despite the mixed feelings, UofL fans had to be pulling for Duke — the still new conference brother and bitterly hated by a rival fan base — making the tournament outcome that much sweeter.

Don’t look now UK fans, but someone is creeping up on you. Kentucky, with many fans already counting their ninth title before the 2015 tournament began, still has eight. Duke now has five.

All’s well that ends well.

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The UofL baseball team shut out Virginia 4-0 Monday, the fourth series sweep in a row over ACC teams. The Cardinals are on top of the Atlantic Division with a 13-1 conference mark and are 24-7 overall. They travel to Duke this weekend for a three-game series.

First, however, comes a rivalry game against Kentucky on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. The rivalry games are usually packed so arrive early.

Happy Easter, and Kentucky is done

April 5, 2015 3 Comments

A beautiful Easter Sunday.

What a weekend in Louisville with the enormous fire at Appliance Park and all the flooding, the road closures and other damage throughout the community. It almost hit home Friday, Barbara shrieking from the basement about “flooding.”I had just tested the carpet with my feet a few minutes earlier and found nothing. Oh, no, as I go running down the steps.

Turns out to be a broken CVC connection, located above the sump pump, leading ground water into the basement on a non-carpeted area. Thankfully a slow trickle, the water emptying outside the sump pump basin. Quick trip to Lowe’s for a new elbow and some plumber’s putty, and the water is going back to the sump pump.

The area is completely dry a few hours later. Some do-it-yourself projects are actually easier than others. But there was still another concern.

The biggest sigh of relief would come the next day at around 11 p.m. after Wisconsin has eliminated Kentucky in the NCAA basketball tournament, immediately squelching all talk about pursuing perfection and a ninth national championship.

The UK fans were subdued, almost difficult to find in church Sunday morning. No UK flags on cars in the parking lot. The only trace of UK apparel to be found on a youngster about 7 years old. The guy sitting next to us wearing a Wisconsin sweatshirt, enjoying new levels of popularity with University of Louisville fans in the congregation.

No smug looks, or mentions of perfect seasons. Happy Easter weekend, indeed.

Louisville baseball sets sights on Virginia

April 3, 2015 0 Comments

Time to start seriously following the University of Louisville baseball team again with the wintry weather and basketball fading from view.  The Cardinals will be taking on Virginia in a three-game series Saturday through Monday at Charlottesville.

Dan McDonnell winning again.

Dan McDonnell winning again.

The series matches two of nation’s top 10 teams, an opportunity for one team to move up, to improve positioning to host post-season regionals.  Virginia, remember, advanced to the College World Series Finals last season, falling 3-2 to Vanderbilt in the deciding game of the best-of-three series.

UofL  is ranked as high as seventh in five of the six national polls with an overall record of 22-7 and a league-leading 11-1 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cavaliers are ranked ninth in at least two polls, with a 19-9 record and are 6-6 in the ACC.

The first pitch for Saturday’s game is at 4 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., and Monday at 7 p.m. All games will be broadcast on 93.9 FM. Monday night’s game will be televised by ESPNU.

— Through 29 games this season, the Louisville bullpen has a 1.67 ERA with a 12-0 record, 134 strikeouts in 113.0 innings pitched and opposing batters are hitting just .166.

— Senior Sutton Whiting leads the Cardinals with a .382 average through 29 games and is hitting .438 in ACC games.

— Sophomore Corey Ray is the power hitter, with four home runs, 27 RBI, 21 runs scored, three triples and 13 stolen bases on 16 attempts.

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Louisville will welcome Kentucky back to Jim Patterson Field on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Same place where the Cardinals ushered the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament last season.

NCAA ignores some constituents in attacking Indiana law

April 2, 2015 7 Comments

We’re pretty sure that NCAA President Mark Emmert’s statement that the new Indiana religious freedom law violates the organization’s core values was only meant to cover the organization’s posterior.

“The issue important to us because we’re an employer here in this state. But most importantly … it strikes at the core values of inclusion and diversity,” he said.FCA

He’s covering his ass, in other words. But, in doing so, he ignores an important constituency.

No recognition of the importance of Christian beliefs to those who hold them. The NCAA is apparently oblivious to the faith of student athletes within its fold. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has dozens of chapters at schools across the country, including a very strong contingent at the University of Louisville.

There’s also no mention of sexual preference, the driving force behind all the opposition to religious freedom. The issues of “inclusion and diversity” are diversionary, as is the effort to equate the cause to the civil rights movement. Sexual preference, in their world, takes precedence over religious beliefs. They emphasize religious opposition as if only people of faith aren’t comfortable with the lifestyle.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who is gay, has banned government travel to Indiana. Houston Mayor Annis Parker, who is gay and sought to subpoena the sermons of Christian ministers, is opposing efforts for a referendum on a constitutional amendment allowing Texas businesses to deny service based on rights of conscience.

Tim Cook, the gay CEO of Apple, warned in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, “There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

We seriously doubt the founders had sexual preference in mind when they wrote the Bill of Rights. They were explicit, however, in the first sentence, declaring that government “shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

What the LGBT lobby really wants is social and legal acceptance of a lifestyle, in addition to the financial benefits that accrue from them. Polls indicate that a growing number of Americans are more accepting. They cross the line, however, when they try to force their lifestyle on other citizens, whether it be through political pressure on religious organizations, businesses or individuals.

Rebuilding or reloading, Louisville basketball will be different

March 31, 2015 0 Comments

Somewhat unsettling the amount of attrition that may occur after the University of Louisville basketball program came within a free throw and tip-in of another Final Four. But the roster churn is not surprising, given the lack of playing time for some players expected to play greater roles this past season.

Montrezl Harrell is going pro, and Terry Rozier probably taking the same route. No problem, they’re both capable of making it in the NBA. Best wishes and good luck to them.

What gives one pause, however, is that Anton Gill has already announced that he’s going elsewhere. Chinanu Onuaku and Shaqquan Aaron may be close behind. If you include Wayne Blackshear, Louisville could be losing six players, including four of five starters. [Update: Onuaku is staying, but another unnamed player may not.]

What was disappointing this season is that UofL rarely got any help from the bench, which translated to frustration for the players who got very little playing time. It also resulted in a lack of development for reserves and some of the starters playing far too many minutes.

Exhibit One: a physically exhausted starting unit in the an NCAA regional championship game. The motivational speeches will only get you so far.

Roster churn doesn’t inspire much confidence among UofL fans who enjoy watching players develop and improve during their careers. Expect to see more than the normal amount of new faces next season, including some fifth-year players and junior college transfers to go with the 2015 recruiting class.

The 2015 class includes two five-star players in 6-foot-7 forward Deng Adel, from Bradenton, Fla., and 6-foot-2 guard Donovan Mitchell, from Greenwich, Conn., along with 6-foot-9 forward Raymond Spalding, from Louisville Trinity, and 6-foot-1 guard Ryan McMahon, from Sarasota, Fla. They’re going to have to prove they can play within Rick Pitino’s system or see a lot of action from the bench.

Pitino is, in effect, starting all  over. The coach says he’s reloading, but it bears a close resemblance to a rebuilding. That could have been said of the past season, but look where his team finished — one bucket short of the Final Four. Whatever the case, he’s going to need much more depth if he hopes to exceed expectations again next year.

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