Marquis Teague Keeps Louisville Guessing

Anyone surprised that the next great player on the University of Louisville’s basketball recruiting list is suddenly interested making a visit to Lexington? That would be Marquis Teague, considered the nation’s top high school point guard and one of the best players in the 2011 class.

The scenario is a familiar one, a teenage phenom caught up in the hoopla, leveraging schools against each other, allowing rumors to fester, all the while milking the process for all it’s worth. The dad gets himself intricately involved, and the ordeal becoming even more complicated.

U of L has long been considered his favorite because his father, Shawn Teague, played for Rick Pitino at Boston University. But when he’s also looking at Kentucky, Cincinnati and Purdue, there are obviously some other factors involved.

Recent history indicates that’s not a good situation for Louisville. Don’t get hung up over this one.


Memphis Takes The Hit

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The NCAA has scheduled a news conference at 3 p.m. today in Indianapolis to release findings of its investigation into violations committed by the University of Memphis. The school has scheduled a presser to follow it.

The Commercial Appeal newspaper quoted a source close to the situation in reporting Memphis would be forced to vacate its record for the 2007-2008 season, which has a record 38 victories. John Calipari, who left Memphis for Kentucky, also had a Final Four vacated when he was the head coach at Massachusetts in 1996.

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And the Memphis program will owe big bucks:

The penalties for the men’s basketball violations, some of which were self-imposed by the institution and adopted by the committee, are as follows:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation (August 20, 2009, to August 19, 2012).
  • Vacation of all wins in which the men’s basketball student-athlete competed while ineligible during the 2007-08 regular season and 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
  • The university must return all money it received to date through Conference USA revenue sharing for its appearance in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. All future distributions to the university from this appearance must be withheld by the conference and forfeited to the NCAA.

Louisville Target: Fab Melo

Every year there’s one big man everybody knows can turn a good team into a great team. That person in the 2010 recruiting class is Fab Melo, a 7-foot, 270-pound prospect from Brazil who will play his senior year at Sagemont High in Weston, Fla.

The good news for University of Louisville basketball fans is that Mr. Melo has Rick Pitino’s team high on his list of possible teams. The other news is that he is also said to be considering Florida, Florida State, UConn and Duke.

That list seems to expand and contract every few days with Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky once included on the list. The only constant has been U of L among the favorites.

Card fans have been down this road more than a few times.

Overdue. Let it happen.


Fan Loyalty Runs Deep In Louisville

Louisvillians are often subjected to the idea that the fan allegiance of local residents is equally divided between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, even among those who should know better. Rick Pitino, for example, has even advanced the notion.

Not true.

Not even close, according to the most recent Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, which was conducted in 2005. The poll should have settled the issue once and for all. But UK fans and some media types, who missed front page story, tend to be research-challenged , or just count on the forgetfulness of the general public, persist in advancing the misconception.

That’s why the observer keeps a copy of the results, hopeful that the facts will make their way to the misinformed or blissfully ignorant. The poll indicated:

  • Fans of Louisville Cardinals basketball outnumbered Kentucky Wildcat fans by 53.7% to 33.3% in the Louisville area.
  • Fans of Louisville football weighed in at 61.3%, as compared to 20.8% for Kentucky football.

Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford, who was deeply involved in the poll and wrote the CJ story about the results, told Card Game:

“The project used one of the largest samples of any of the Bluegrass State polls, owing to the diversity of the population that follows sports. It was far larger a sample, for instance, than a gubernatorial or presidential poll we would have taken in the state. It also came at an opportune time: Both UK and U of L were doing exceptionally well in basketball. U of L was on its way to a Final Four, while UK was within an eyelash of getting there, too.”

The results reinforced a  Yankelovich study the Courier-Journal conducted a decade or so ago, showing Louisville with a similar lead in both sports.

Neither of polls took into consideration the bandwagon factor, people who switch favorites depending on how well one or the other is doing. Some will apparently jump from a loser to a winner in a heartbeat. Also, football teams going in different directions might affect the numbers slightly. And, as we’ve seen, a new hire in basketball will definitely raise the decibel levels.

But for the most part, fan loyalties tend to be deeply entrenched. Doubtful that the ratios have changed much. Or that the mistaken pronouncements about the fan ratios, intentional or unintentional, will fade away any time soon.


J. Bruce Miller Rears His Head Again

Editor’s Note: The subject of this article has responded to Card Game, suggesting that a pro basketball franchise may be in the tea leaves for Freedom Hall. See comments for his response.

By Charles Springer

J. Bruce Miller is a name all alumni and fans of the University of Louisville should put at the top of their public enemies list. The former Jefferson County Attorney and head of a law firm that bears his name has apparently made it one of his missions in life to disparage local institutions, especially the University of Louisville.

Miller wants professional basketball even if it's at the expense of University of Louisville basketball. From all indications, he would love to permanently derail the program.

Miller, you may recall, has been at the forefront of several moves to attract a professional basketball franchise to Louisville. He believes a pro franchise is essential to promoting a “progressive” image for the community, thinking it will attract “young professionals” to the community. He wants professional basketball even if it’s at the expense of U of L basketball. From all indications, he would love to permanently derail the program.

Miller’s bitterness resurfaced once again this week in a strange article that appeared in the Opinion section of the Courier-Journal where he goes to great lengths to berate U of L (link):

A significant number of the University of Louisville’s student body matriculates from this abysmal Jefferson County public school system. For the last decade, the U.S. News & World Report’s annual university ranking places that university’s undergraduate academic program as a third-tier American university somewhere between 125th and 175th in the nation.

Its specialized academic programs don’t fare any better. Its locally vaunted medical school isn’t ranked, nor is its engineering or business school. Its law school stands at 98th out of 100 American law schools, and its School of Education is 71st (before its dean was recently indicted on charges of thieving public funds). Yet a member of the local university’s board of trustees has recently encouraged a renewal of the president’s contract, as one of the nation’s highest paid public university presidents.

Miller was among those who attached themselves to former Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. when he owned the old Kentucky Colonels’ American Basketball Association franchise. That group had an opportunity when the ABA folded in the late 70’s to get a Louisville team in the NBA for $2 million — a bargain basement price by today’s standards but they passed. Miller, for one, apparently has never gotten over it. A few years ago when the city was making a bid for another NBA franchise, U of L did not want to be part of an arena if the program didn’t have scheduling priority. The effort failed as a result, and Miller has never gotten over that.

What the Vanderbilt grad conveniently fails to mention in his diatribe is that University of Louisville’s School of Business has been ranked in the nation’s top 10 in terms of entrepreneurship. Nor does he acknowledge U of L’s leading role in heart transplant surgery, groundbreaking efforts in hand transplants, or the discovery of a vaccine for uterine cancer. Without getting into a laundry list, it’s obvious that Miller was ignoring a lot of facts in his attack.

There are at least 2,500 public and private universities in the United States. While U of L may never be a Harvard, a Yale or an MIT, the university has distinguished itself in many ways that will never be acknowledged by some. The academic community in general is as clannish and snobbish as it gets, and rankings in publications are based as much on out-of-date stereotypes as they are facts.

Watch for Miller to surface again with plans for a pro franchise when the new downtown arena is completed.

A major portion of Miller’s piece is his outrage on the emphasis on diversity rather than a focus on strengthening neighborhood schools. Mr. Miller inexcusably forgets that the federal courts mandated forced busing in 1975. The local school system had no choice. None. Review the court’s decision. Please.

J. Bruce Miller seems to be bitter, a cynical person with large chips on both shoulders. He left town to get his education and that makes him a self-proclaimed expert. He’s had surprising success for a person with his demeanor and it has gone to his head, probably explaining his narrow-minded approach to local issues. What’s really surprising is that the Courier-Journal would give him a forum for his views.

Miller will probably never admit his pro basketball frustration but it bothers him. Greatly. Watch for him to surface again with plans for a pro franchise when the new downtown arena is completed. Sorry, J. Bruce, but U of L will have priority scheduling rights. It’s in the contract, as if that means anything to you.