Crum, Pitino Still Differ On The 3

Former Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum and current coach Rick Pitino have always had different approaches when it comes to employing the three-point shot. Don’t see either of them changing their opinions in the near future.

Still an avid fan who attends U of L home games, Crum has been reserved in his comments about Pitino, acknowledging at times that Pitino is a good coach and an excellent recruiter. But after the UConn game, which U of L lost while connecting on 11 of 33 three-point attempts, Crum could no longer restrain himself.

On his local radio show, Crum was highly critical of the number of “bad” three-point shots in recent games. While acknowledging that players should be responsible, he pointed the finger at Pitino for allowing players to get away with taking so many out-of-balance shots, suggesting that Pitino’s coaching was at fault.

Crum, it can be argued, saw a great career frizzle away because he was slow to adopt the three-pointer. This probably affected his ability to recruit good shooters in the nineties (yes, we remember Boo Brewer). Pitino, meanwhile, took great advantage of the shot while taking three schools to the Final Four and a national championship and becoming one of the most sought-after college coaches in the game.

It’s difficult to argue with Crum’s assertion that too many attempts are coming while players are not in balance and that some players should not be taking three-point shots. Crum would never have put up with it. Jeremy Hazzel, of Seton Hall, would have been sitting at the far end of the Crum’s bench [instead of collecting 29 points as he did recently in burying U of L].

Even more difficult is denying Rick Pitino’s overall success in giving players the green light to shoot the three. Pitino believes the three-pointer is the great equalizer. He encourages his players to be aggressive, not timid in shooting threes, often living and dying with his three-point philosophy.

After a loss, it is too easy to find fault with coaching philosophies, a fact with which Denny Crum should be well acquainted. Fans respect your opinion, coach, but we place even greater value on your restraint.

Add Passion and Time

No doubt now, hindsight is perfect: U of L should have used its last timeout with nine seconds on the clock. Any play Rick Pitino called would have been better than the aimless freelancing at the end.

UConn a good team. U of L lost by only two points in a game in which it looked like they should have been beaten by 15. If Juan Palacios’ final shot had fallen, all the weaknesses would have been glossed over — the poor shot selections, the inconsistent effort, the lack of floor direction, and the missing killer instinct.

One has to wonder why these things are missing when the team is led by one of the game’s best coaches. Some observers have bemoaned the lack of passion on this team. Players go through all the motions but the all out extra effort required to excel seems to be missing. You know it when you see it — or don’t see it.

On the other hand, maybe they’re just a little slow to catching on to what the coaching genius is trying to impart. Fans have given up early on Pitino teams in the past only to see them become a serious threat by tournament time.

You see signs of greatness at times. Terrence Williams scoring triple doubles. David Padgett’s outmaneuvering more agile counterparts. Jerry Smith using perfect three-point shooting form. Edgar Sosa occasionally flashing down the lane. Earl Clark making the right decisions, looking all-pro at times. Derrick Caracter thundering a dunk. Juan Palacios making the shot he missed tonight.

Maybe with some added passion and a little more time …

Entering Hornets’ Nest

You know how it is during the really big games at Freedom Hall, when everyone is into the game? Intensity among fans is through the roof. You can’t hear yourself think, much less talk. Even the gray-haired folks are going berserk. That’s how it’s going to be at the XL Center in Hartford tonight.

The U of L game is a huge one for UConn. Husky fans undoubtedly envision a rapid return to the glory days, eager to add to the NCAA basketball championships they earned in 1998 and 2004. UConn won Big East Tournament titles in 2004, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1996 and 1990. They’ve been there, they expect to return.

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As was obvious in the win over a 17-2 Indiana team, this UConn team takes defense seriously. They will be much more aggressive at home, count on it. The Huskies are also a very unselfish team, with five players hitting for double figures in the IU win. Craig Autrie led all scorers with 15 points, A. J. Price 14, and Hasheem Thabeet 12. Jeff Adrien and Stanley Robinson each tallied double-doubles with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Two players, including one starter, averaging 20 points between them, missed the IU game.

Derrick In The Present

Now that’ s more like it, Derrick Caracter getting emotional. Clapping his hands. Waving a fist. Clapping his hands. Going strong to the basket, making the difficult shots.

Scoring 17 points, grabbing four rebounds and being called for only two fouls [one of them a phantom foul], helping U of L score an important win over St. John’s. Being named player of the game by both the TV and radio broadcasting crews.

Representing the university well in his radio interview following the game, saying all the right things, knowing he has to continue working hard to get better. Acknowledging that he has not been contributing much lately, pledging to bring it in future games.

Coach Rick Pitino said he told Caracter a couple of days ago that players who play exceptionally hard always look good, that you can’t dwell on what’s happened in the past, have to work hard and get it done in the present.

What that means is enjoy the moment, Derrick. But the St. John’s game is history. Gotta prove yourself all over again Monday night in a challenging road game at UConn. Play exceptionally hard.

On Deck Circle

Seems like a long time ago, sweltering in the 90-degree heat at Jim Patterson Field, hanging on every pitch as the U of L baseball team literally clobbered its way into the NCAA’s College World Series last season. Brought back a lot of memories, going bonkers over the outcome of baseball games.

Current temperatures are currently hovering in the low teens but the Cards are well into preparations for a new season. Opening pitch will delivered on February 22 in a three-game series at home against Cleveland State.

The Cards will host their Leadoff Dinner at the Kentucky Exposition Center on Friday, February 8, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $50 each, by calling 852-2015.

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Yankees vs. Bulls — Former U of L coach Lelo Prado will lead his South Florida baseball team against the New York Yankees on February 28 at Legends Field in Tampa, according to the College Baseball Blog. Exhibition game, of course.

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Back To Normal? — Jeremy Hazell, who couldn’t miss any of his 30- to 35-foot bombs and wound up with 29 points against U of L, hit three of four threes and managed nine points (thanks Mike) against Providence last night in Seton Hall’s 88-75 win. Anybody looking forward to seeing Hazell in Freedom Hall next season … or maybe the Big East tournament? How about the next three years?