Louisville and Michigan State set in ACC-Big 10 challenge

The University of Louisville basketball team will get a shot at Michigan State early during the 2015-16 season but this time should have a lot more firing power.

The Cardinals, remember, made only six shots during the final 25 minutes of the NCAA Regional this past season, losing 76-70 to the Spartans in overtime. Five of 15 shots in the second half, one of seven in overtime.

Rick Pitino will be returning with some shooters this time around, having picked up Trey Lewis with a 16.3 scoring average from Cleveland State and Damion Lee with a 16.5 scoring clip from Drexel. Expect freshman Donovan Mitchell, from New Hampshire, to become an immediate scoring threat as well.

Hopefully Pitino will also have a deeper bench, developing it sooner, with more playing time for everybody, something that never happened last season.

The UofL-Michigan State game is part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. The schedule:

Monday, Nov. 30
• Clemson at Minnesota
• Wake Forest at Rutgers

Tuesday, Dec. 1
• Maryland at North Carolina
• Virginia at Ohio State
• Michigan at NC State
• Purdue at Pittsburgh
• Northwestern at Virginia Tech
• Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska

Wednesday, Dec. 2
• Indiana at Duke
• Louisville at Michigan State
• Notre Dame at Illinois
• Wisconsin at Syracuse
• Florida State at Iowa
• Penn State at Boston College

Awestruck Louisville bows to Florida State

All the talk about Florida State’s past successes apparently getting to some members of the University of Louisville baseball team, tripping over their shoe laces in a 13-4 loss to FSU before a record crowd of 6,138 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Even the best teams have bad losses. But this was one that could haunt the Cardinals as the season winds down, needing to prove themselves worthy of a national seed in NCAA tournament play.

Fears that Kyle Funkhouser would continue to struggle in the early innings were confirmed quickly, the UofL junior walking three batters and giving up three runs in the first inning. He would give up three more in the second.

Funkhouser throwing over 40 pitches in the first inning, still not finding his form. Taking too long to get comfortable in recent games. Finally settling down in the third, he would shut down the next eight hitters. By then the tenor of the game had been firmly established.

The pre-season All-American is losing confidence and control at the wrong time, prompting some serious concern about the all-important pitching rotation in the immediate future. The inability of once-starter Anthony Kidston, who was 14-1 in his first three seasons, to find the plate this year further complicates matters.

Football keeps Jameis Winston out of baseball

Jameis Winston not available.  (Seminoles.com photo)
Jameis Winston not available for Seminoles in baseball. (Seminoles.com photo)

If anyone was expecting Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback and pitcher, to take part in this weekend’s series against the University of Louisville baseball team, they’re in for a disappointment.

Winston is not listed on the Florida State roster, dropping the sport after signing an NFL contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forbidding him from playing professional baseball. The contract made no mention of college baseball but Winston got the message.

As a right-handed pitcher, he appeared in 41 games during his freshman and sophomore seasons at FSU, chalking up nine saves, an earned run average of 1.94, with 52 strikeout in 60.1 innings. He had a batting average of 209 in 158 at-bats.

As much as he loves baseball, the unpredictable Winston could still show up as a spectator, however.

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If the Seminoles stick with their usual pitching rotation, UofL will see Boomer Biegalski, a 6-foot-2 righthander on the mound in the first game. Described by Baseball America as “not overpowering, Biegalski dots the corners with a low 90s fastball, mixing in a slider and change-up.” He has a 4-3 won-lost record this season and has 88 strikeouts in 76.1 innings. That compares with 82 K’s for UofL’s Brendon McKay in 64.2 innings.

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FSU is led in hitting by left fielder D. J. Stewart, a 6-foot, 230-pound junior, who was the ACC Player of the Year in 2014 with a 350 hitting average. Stewart is currently batting 333 and has 12 home runs, seven doubles, a triple, and 45 runs batted in.

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Florida State, with a 16-8 ACC mark and 36-14 overall, has scored in double figures 14 times this season, including a 24-1 win over South Florida at Tallahassee.

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.

ACC about more than athletics for Louisville

Always has been.

More than 100 ACC representatives are being hosted by the University of Louisville through Tuesday to enhance communications between schools and  to explore best practices.

“Hosting this conference gives us a chance to showcase the University of Louisville’s incredible transformation to our new ACC partners,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “It is also a way for ACC institutions to share academic, research and administrative strategies.”

Some of the topics to be explored include:

— Strategic management of investment portfolios and traceability to cost of education

— Best practices in public relations, branding, marketing and crisis communications

— Sponsorship opportunities with key vendors

— Best practices in administrative/student service areas such as financial aid, bursar, budgeting, fiscal reporting, treasury management, procurement, accounts payable and research expenses

Conference sponsors are PNC Bank, Inc. and The Oracle Corporation, Learfield Sports, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Marriott International, Inc., BKD CPAs and Advisors, LLP, Sodexo, Inc., Maximus Higher Education Practice, Inc., Higher One, Inc., and Miller Transportation.