Congratulations to Big East brother West Virginia University for being voted No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll this week. WVU is second in the BCS standings, less than seven tenths of a point behind Missouri.
The recognition has been a long time coming but few (the clueless Associated Press writers who voted Missouri tops in the AP Poll) can deny that the Mountaineers have earned their lofty ranking. Now comes the hard part, as any team that has been ranked No. 1 this year can tell you: Not getting beat by an unranked opponent in the next game.
Guess who the Mountaineers play next? None other than the Pittsburgh Panthers, their most hated rival, in a Saturday night game at Morgantown. Think it’s bad between U of L and UK? That’s a love fest compared to the WVU-Pitt rivalry. Don’t rely on past records to predict the outcome.
* * *
— Kolby Smith, one of the pieces missing from U of L’s offense this season, picked up 150 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries in his first start for the Kansas City Chiefs against Oakland. He was standing in for the injured Priest Holmes. Chiefs lost 20-17 but found a jewel.
— The men’s soccer team defeated Duke 1-0 at Cardinal Park Friday in the first round of NCAA tournament action. The Cards move on to the second round on Wednesday, squaring off against Ohio State at Columbus, Ohio at 5 p.m. Remember, Coach Ken Lolla (photo) has said the team’s goal is to win the national championship.
— The women volleyball players have earned an invitation to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. The Cards will open first round action against Middle Tennessee State University on Friday in a set to be played in Louisville. The Cards are 22-7 after dropping a set to Ohio University 3-2 Saturday.
— The women’s basketball team looks forward to its home opener against Florida at Freedom Hall at 2 p.m. next Sunday. The Cards defeated Chattanooga 80-53 in the title game of the Panera Classic behind Angel McCoughtry’s 28 points and 10 steals. Their won-loss record is 3-2.
— U of L senior midfielder Janelle Avila was picked for the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-America third team. A senior, Avila finished second on the school’s scoring list with 109 points.
— Obvious lack of depth will hurt the Cards against good teams. No help from the bench when Caracter and Farley get in foul trouble, as they will every game.
— Terrence Williams bottled up, mystery passing, displaying none of the confidence fans take for granted.
— Edgar Sosa out of control first four games.
— Caracter is a natural, uncanny shooting and rebounding skills.
— Earl Clark can make things happen, needs to be more of a focal point.
— Andre McGee, great on defense, no threat on offense against good teams.
— Jerry Smith, was he out there?
— Nobody works harder than Farley.
Get up early, time to go shopping, get some bargains:
For Steve Kragthorpe: New offensive and defensive coordinators, courses in Public & Media Relations and How To Manage Difficult People.
For Rick Pitino: Military-strength knee and ankle protectors for all players, and a resurgence in sales for Success Is A Choice.
For Tom Jurich: Special session of the General Assembly to approve go-ahead for capital construction projects, plus additional funds for all businesses on Floyd Street to renovate and landscape their properties.
For Jim Ramsey: A dismantling of the silos, enabling Belknap Campus to expand eastward with new on-campus dormitories.
For Jeff Walz: Full house at Freedom Hall for U of L Lady Cards against UConn on January 12th.
For Dan McDonnell: Solar heating and expanded seating for when the college baseball season begins in February.
For Disgruntled Football Fans: A new feature on Internet fan message boards that automatically deletes redundant posts.
You have to admire a public figure who refuses to buckle under public pressure, remaining dedicated to the job at hand and doing the right thing. He could very easily have cut and run at the first opportunity. No, not referring to national politics, but to Louisville football coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Coach Kragthorpe describes reports that he has interviewed for the head spot at Southern Methodist University as “absolute fiction.” One could not blame him if he had interviewed with SMU, based on the criticism he has incurred as the result of a disappointing 5-6 season.
U of L fans have heard similar denials before from coaches. Schnellenberger, Smith and Petrino, Petrino, Petrino. Forgive fans if they have problems believing any football coach. The only difference this time is that a vocal group actually wants the coach to be lying.
If Kragthorpe does stick around, he’s a brave soul. You have to admire that in him. And if the rumblings about “off the field” problems are true, you may even thank him some day.
The painful loss of David Padgett inevitably brings back memories of the 1979-80 University of Louisville basketball season when Scooter McCray went down with a knee problem, lost for the remainder of the year. He was replaced by younger brother Rodney who became a pivotal force in the Cards’ march to a 33-3 won-loss record and the school’s first NCAA championship.
For history to have an opportunity to be repeated, several things need to happen: First and foremost, Padgett’s replacement, Derrick Caracter, will have to be a prime mover. Derrick’s got the talent, and everybody knows that basketball is his first love. He needs to improve all aspects of his game, as he seems to have done already with his free throw shooting.
Court awareness is among the most deficient; he needs to learn getting the ball to open players. He also needs to give U of L a lot of playing time, which will require fewer fouls. Derrick is close, and if anyone can get him there it is Rick Pitino. Not saying it’s on Derrick’s back but it absolutely can’t be done without continuing improvement on his part.
Terrence Williams needs to keep doing what only he is capable of doing, keeping his exceptional athleticism under control. Edgar Sosa just needs to remember he’s the play maker and that the points will come. Jerry Smith, keep being Mr. Consistency. Earl Clark needs to work harder to get open. Andre McGee, after he loses a few pounds, should keep hitting the threes. Will Scott needs to be able to shoot while on the move and become a defensive presence. Terrance Farley, time to show what Pitino saw in you. Above all, these guys need to make defense a top priority, starting against UNLV. And, for gosh sake, please stay healthy.
The exhibitions are over, the lightweights under the belt. Let basketball fever begin.