Mitchell ends recruiting frenzy, chooses Louisville

Donovan Mitchell was an unknown quantity a couple of months ago, just a top 100 recruit looking for some attention from college basketball coaches.

A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Wolfeboro Brewster in New Hampster, Mitchell did just that during the summer recruiting camps, attracting attention from a long list of colleges that included Boston College, Creighton, Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, Providence, Villanova and others.

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell

Among the others was the University of Louisville. Rick Pitino was on hand at an Under Armor camp in Atlanta last month when Mitchell lit up the gymnasium scoring 27 points, setting off a recruiting frenzy for one of the summer’s hottest stars.

Mitchell visited UofL on Thursday and wasted little time making a verbal commitment to become a part of the 2015 recruiting class. If reports are accurate, the newest commit is equally impressive on both ends of the court. Eric Bossi, a recruiting analyst for Rivals. told the Kansas Jayhawks Slant last week:

“It was an absolute monster of a month for Mitchell. He put on a show pretty much anywhere he went and was solid on both ends of the floor. He hit clutch jumpers at buzzers to win games, he dunked his own misses in traffic, and he played physical, in-your-face defense. 

“He was probably a bit underrated to begin with, but there is no question he has improved in every aspect of the game,” he added. “It is safe to expect that Mitchell makes a big jump in the next 2015 ranking update.”

A prolific shooter, a serious defender and a good student as well, Mitchell should be a good fit in Pitino’s system. No dragging out the recruiting process, he’s decisive, capitalizing quickly on  a great opportunity at UofL.

Louisville’s defensive lapses defrock offense

Up one week, down the next, incredible highs, insufferable low points in the world of athletics.

The slide from No. 1 continues unabated for the University of Louisville basketball team, descending in agonizingly slow motion.

Three losses in a row, transitioning from what Bobby Knight called a team with few weaknesses to a team now struggling to make baskets and unable to contain anyone for very long.

Remember Rick Pitino complaining about lack of defensive intensity a couple of week ago, even with his team on a 12-game winning streak? That look of dire concern, the tongue lashings, the constant harping about defense. It was not the look of a coach returning to the Final Four, more a sense of foreboding.

After still another loss to Georgetown, this one 53-51, Pitino acknowledged that his team is severely challenged on offense. This from a coach who rarely discusses offense, wanting to dominate defensively. But even when the current unit is successful on defense, it is unpredictable when it gets the ball.

  • A familiar sight Chane Behanan bobbling passes, frozen between taking a dribble, making a fake or going to the basket. His big body going to waste for now, lack of focus and control, not outmuscling anyone, no sure things ever.
  • Gorgui Dieng still hasn’t returned to his pre-injured-wrist form, those mid-range shots looking more like mistakes than good decisions.
  • Russ Smith, the leading scorer, relegated to a relief role, forced to hesitate, play more under control — confusing challenges for a player who wants to go full speed, taking any shot at any time.
  • Wayne Blackshear will lead the charge if this team ever gets it together offensively. But he’s not doing that anytime soon, hitting only one for nine against Georgetown.
  • Siva taking only two shots, making none, while getting into early foul trouble again. A good shooter one game, fearful of shooting the next, a dereliction of his leadership role.
  • Luke Hancock making broadcasters look good with his early three-point shooting, but unable to create shots late. Pitino has to decide between Luke’s steady approach vs. Russ’s frenzied one, somehow keeping both of them happy, just has to.

This was a team that had little time to realize it was No. 1 in the country before the distinction was taken away. Now it has to deal with falling off the cliff.

Big East Catholic schools rush to exit

Moving at record speed for a group of academic institutions, seven Catholic basketball schools have agreed to leave the Big East, according to a report from ESPN. They first discussed the possibility with Commissioner Mike Aresco on Sunday.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova have finally seen the folly of mixing football and basketball-focused schools and may form still another conference. Pundits are already describing the new creation as the Big Priest Conference.

They may have to wait a while, however, because the Big East may have a case for requiring them to pay exit fees and requiring them to wait 27 months under league by-laws. Apparently the announced departure of the University of Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers University to the Big Ten was the final straw for the schools.

Don’t expect their plans to ease the way for an early departure of UofL to the ACC. An Coxey’s Army of lawyers is already involved, and the football schools in the Big East have the Catholic schools outnumbered 12 to 7.

Conference realignment continues to take some unpredictable turns.



A tricky Georgetown scoreboard

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Maybe the black cloud is lifting, moving on. An easterly direction would be good.

Two days, just as many Louisville wins, men’s basketball team Saturday, women on Sunday.

Jeff Walz’ team withstanding a “confused” scoreboard operator and a stifling Georgetown defense for a 64-61 win in Washington, D.C.  With U of L clinging to a 63-59 lead on the TV screen with less than half a minute to go, the scoreboard showed only a three-point 63-60 difference.

The TV broadcast crew noted the discrepancy, as did the U of L bench, a timeout was called, and the officiating crew discovered that the scorekeeper, always provided by the home team, had credited a Georgetown player with hitting a missed free throw. Taking their time, getting it right, removing the extra point.

Small things adding up, hopefully good omens, maybe getting back on track.

Eleven three-pointers, Becky Burke and Shoni Schimmel with four each, Atonita Slaughter with three. More three pointers than two’s (11-8).

Lady Cards on the tube

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Gong to have to make a choice at 5 o’clock Sunday, U of L or NFL.

An ESPN-2 game for Jeff Walz and his 15-4 University of Louisville women’s basketball team. The opponent is also 15-4, Georgetown in the McDonough Arena on the D.C. campus. A battle of top 20 teams, believe it or not, Louisville and Georgetown still in the lower tier.

The Lady Cards have been tweeting all weekend about Washington. Let’s hope they’re focused on the business at hand.

Not an easy matchup for Shoni Schimmel and crew. Georgetown a full-court, 40 minutes of press team. Leading scorer in the BIG EAST with junior guard Sugar Rodgers.

These two squads have a history. Ugly incident two years ago when a pre-game fight broke out after a tripping incident when the Lady Cards took the court. Taunting and pointing last year when the Hoyas erased an 11 point Louisville lead at halftime and won by 24 in the KFC YUM! Center.

Paul Sykes