Billy Minardi Day

The week before the 9-11 tragedy in 2001, Rick Pitino played golf with his best friend Billy Minardi, anticipating the upcoming basketball season. Billy told his friend that he would be able to attend 14 of 17 U of L home games that season.

As Sports Illustrated noted, “The pair had been as inseparable as two men separated by geography can be, calling each other on the way to their jobs to talk about their New York Yankees, getting together for golf outings and vacations and holidays.”

Today’s game against New Mexico State is designated as the Billy Minardi Classic. Proceeds from the Classic continue to aid some of the more than 3,000 families affected by the unforgettable and unforgivable incident.

Card Fan Gift Tip #5

One of the major milestones in U of L athletic history was the Cards’ 24-13 victory over Wake Forest in the 2007 Orange Bowl in Miami, the first BCS win ever. Football fans can relive that memory over and over with this 13 x 39-inch print by Rob Arra. This is the best remembrance of the victory I have seen. It’s currently going for $34.95 (with $7 shipping) on Ebay. Very difficult to find locally but look for it in local art and framing shops. Call first, ask for the Rob Arra Orange Bowl print, save time and gas. Definitely a hit if you can lay your hands on one at this late date.

Angel Scare

Angel McCoughtry lying on the floor, woozy and bleeding, being helped to the locker room in front of her stunned teammates. It was the worst possible scenario for the Lady Cards.

The Louisville women’s basketball team is a exceptionally good one when McCoughtry is healthy. Her teammates almost had an opportunity to find how badly they needed her when McCoughtry banged heads with a UK player at the 16:19 mark in the second half, U of L leading by 20 points. Over the next several minutes, the Cards would score only five points while the Lexington team trimmed the deficit to eight points.

U of L players and fans started breathing again when McCoughtry returned with a bandaged forehead and a new jersey number. Her presence was all that was needed to assure the win; well, that, some good defense, and a few more points from their Angel. Final score: 80-65, fourth straight win over UK women.

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Carly Omerod, who rejected Louisville for UK, apparently doesn’t start anymore. Wound up with four points.

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Skeptical about women’s basketball? Don’t be. Angel McCoughtry won’t be here forever.

UCLA & Kragthorpe

UCLA’s interest in Steve Kragthorpe for the school’s head football coaching vacancy has to be somewhat puzzling to one group of fans. They wanted Kragthorpe gone after the season. Expectations were high, the results bitterly disappointing. Never mind the reasons or excuses, they wanted him gone.

Now evidence has emerged that U of L was shorthanded by Bobby Petrino’s regime, with 43 players missing from four recruiting classes. Only 11 players remain from the 2005 class, and 15 from the 2006 class. They either never showed up, or they left after being exposed to Petrino. Fans will never know for sure.

Couple a lack of depth with the fact that seven defensive players graduated in 2006. Small wonder the defensive unit looked like they were new to the game of football. U of L fielded a defensive unit with players who had never played together. Some key players were new to the college game, a few playing on defense for the first time.

Kragthorpe was a brave man, succeeding a coach who had been so successful at U of L. He would have been a catastrophe to some if the Cards had lost only two games. Even now, he might be considered foolish by some for sticking around when his team will be inexperienced and shorthanded next season. But he appears to be committed to doing what it takes to strengthen this team, the critics be damned.

If the Brohms continue to support him — and Brian Brohm’s piece in the C-J suggested that they strongly do — there must be something to the man. Maybe, just maybe, the folks at UCLA and SMU recognize that Kragthorpe has the qualities that are necessary to be successful for the long haul. Fingers crossed, he’s not jumping ship anytime soon.

Message from the First Family

Heartfelt gratitude back to Brian Brohm who thanked fans in the Courier-Journal today for their support during his football era at the University of Louisville. Admiration for Brian was already high. His message was the equivalent of a collective Christmas card to fans who share his passion for the university.

When I decided to return for my senior season, I did so because I love being a student and an athlete at the University of Louisville. Every second I wore the Cardinal uniform was special to me. The things our team experienced over the past four years have made us not only better players but, most importantly, better people. I look forward to watching the Cards compete and excel in the coming years under the leadership of Coach Steve Kragthorpe and Mr. Tom Jurich.

So refreshing in these times. Rare is the athlete who will postpone or jeopardize a certain future in professional sports. Millions of dollars at stake. Family may be comfortable but certainly not that well off. And no one would have blamed Brian if he had turned pro.

As much as I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life, I am also saddened by the thought of leaving. I have been a Louisville Cardinal my entire life, from listening to stories of my dad’s playing days to running around old Cardinal Stadium as a kid watching my older brothers. This school and this city hold a special place in my heart that words can’t describe, and I intend to remain an active part of this community that has given so much to our family.

What a great message, a marvelous memento of the special contributions of Brian and the entire Brohm family, and a special holiday reminder of how much the university means to so many people throughout this community. Thanks, Brian. Thanks to all the Brohms.