Louisville gets Indiana’s attention with Purdue football opener

The first thought after learning that Purdue will be the opening opponent of UofL’s 2017 college football season was that this was Tom Jurich’s way of getting Indiana University’s attention.

Jurich has attempted to get Indiana on the football schedule for years but the Hoosiers have been reluctant to do so. Scheduling their arch rival sends a strong message to IU administrators.

The next question was about how the UofL-Purdue football game will affect negotiations for a basketball series with Indiana. Second hand reports indicate that a home, away and neutral site series has been in the works. Lots of anticipation, especially from Rick Pitino but the discussions have dragged on for a while.

A Louisville-Indiana basketball series (or football for that matter) would be lucrative for both schools. The Hoosiers may have needed more than a nudge.

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Louisville and Kentucky will meet up in baseball again for the second time in a week Wednesday in Lexington. Expect the game to go down to the wire again. It’s that kind of season for the Cardinals.

UofL will go with freshman right hander Kade McClure on the mound, with a 1-0 won-lost record and 3.09 earned run average. He’s an imposing presence, standing in at 6-foot-7, 234 pounds. Kentucky will counter with sophomore left hander Zach Logue, who is 2-2 with a 5.04 earned run average.

A UofL press release indicates the 6:30 p.m. game is on the SEC Network, but there’s some confusion because the network schedule doesn’t list the game.  It also indicates the game is on WatchESPN.com. Cross your fingers.

Duke is making inroads

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.

Chris Jones exits and Louisville bombs

No luck for Wayne Blackshear on another three-point attempt, missing all five attempts against Duke.
No luck for Wayne Blackshear on this three-point attempt in the first half. Zero for five in the loss to Duke.

Anybody’s game until Chris Jones has to go to the bench.

The University of Louisville had made three of 10 field goal attempts when Jones committed his second foul at the 11:08 mark in the first half, his team leading 10-9. Duke was even worse, hitting only three out of 11 attempts.

Wayne Blackshear would slash through the middle for a rare dunk to push the lead to 12-9 — the closest thing to a highlight for UofL.

But Jones was out. Everybody in the arena knew the situation had changed. Palpable.

Wide open shots bouncing off the rim time after time, Louisville making only seven of 31 shots in the first 20 minutes before a disbelieving crowd of 22,791 at the KFC Yum! Center. For the game only 11 of 22, Duke taking full advantage to claim a 63-52 win, employing a zone for the first time in recent memory.

UofL unable to hit from outside, or penetrate. Clang, clang, clang.

While Jones could never match the intensity of former Cardinal Andre McGee, he is the heart and soul of UofL’s defense. Duke would outscore the Cards 21-11 for the rest of the half. He’s also leader on offense, deadly when he’s on, a force to be dealt with, motoring, finding open teammates.

Jones made his first three-point attempt, getting UofL off to 3-0 start, but managed just two points the rest of the way. He still managed four assists.

No one coming off the Louisville bench could disguise the loss of Jones, lacking the experience, speed, savvy, or confidence of their UofL teammates. Nor does any sub have Rick Pitino’s trust or the skill and audacity to largely ignore the coach as Russ Smith did over the past three seasons. At least not yet.

Terry Rozier missing his running mate, the player who sets him and his teammates up, while UofL was still in contention. The first half had set the tone for the game, Rozier managing to hit five of 16 attempts for his team high 17 points, struggling to get open, forcing shots.

The current UofL version will continue to struggle against the better teams until it gets more shooters on the floor, The leading candidate is Shaqquan Aaron who had only six minutes of action in the loss. He clearly has the shooting ability but is obviously lacking Pitino’s confidence on the other end of the court.

Until some shooters emerge who embrace Pitino’s defensive philosophy, the script is not going to change much.

New chapter for Louisville and Duke

Welcome to Louisville, Duke. This is one town in Kentucky that has the utmost respect for your basketball program.

Never mind the Univeristy of Kentucky hate-mongers in our midst. They’re still feeling the pain from the Christian Laetner shot in 1992 that felled their idols in the closing seconds for the East Regional championship. 10987654321

What a relief that was for Louisville fans, watching a team coming off two years of probation get sent back to Lexington. That was Rick Pitino’s first season as UK coach, proving he could compete at the highest levels with an assemblage of perceived leftovers and wannabes.

Duke has long been considered by UofL fans to be a premier program, not only in terms of NCAA championships and number of wins, but in the way the program has been managed. Appearing in 15 final fours, 10 national championship games, winning four national titles, most of them during Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure. A clean program, devoid of NCAA probations during Coach K’s 35 seasons.

Duke owns 5-4 edge in meetings between the basketball programs, but Louisville has won four of the last five games — including a 72-69 win in the 1986 championship and an 85-63 regional bracket win en route to a third NCAA championship in 2013.

Great to see two great programs finally coming together, beginning a new chapter in the ACC.