Louisville Survives Middle Tennessee Dropoff, 3-2

If one figured because Middle Tennessee State had thrown its best pitcher in the opening game of the NCAA Regional there would be a big dropoff in talent, one would be wrong. MTSU recruits good athletes.

The Bryce Brentz on the mound against Louisville was as good as any pitcher the Cardinals have faced all season, handcuffing most U of L batters through 7.2 innings. The exception was Josh Richmond, who tagged him for a home run in the eighth to tie the game at 2-2.

Josh Richmond gets warm welcome at home.
Josh Richmond gets warm welcome at home.

In fact, Richmond, the leadoff hitter, had three hits in four at bats against Brentz while scoring two of U of L’s runs.

  • U of L’s John Dao has hit into more than his share of double plays this season, as he did in the fifth inning in this game. Dao made fans forget about those shortcomings when he rolled a bunt down the first base line moving Jeff Arnold to third base in the ninth inning.
  • Arnold could and should have been caught dancing off third base. But an errant throw by MTSU catcher Drew Robertson bounced off the bag, sending a relieved Arnold home with what would be the winning run.
  • Starting U of L pitcher Dean Kiekhefer, a sophomore southpaw, settled down after allowing an MTSU run in the first inning, striking out eight batters, spacing eight hits and one more run before departing in the seventh inning. He also denied Brentz, who plays center field when he’s not pitching, any opportunity to fatten his hefty .482 batting average, holding him hitless in three at  bats.
  • Freshman reliever Derek Self was perfect in relief, shutting down all nine batters he faced in three innings to earn WP honors.
  • The Louisville bats have been too quiet lately. Somebody’s going to be sorry soon.
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EA Sports, NCAA Targets Of Lawsuit

What took so long?

Some former college athletes have filed a class action lawsuit against EA Sports and the NCAA, claiming the video game maker has gone too far in using the images of players but not allowing them to share in the considerable profits from  game sales.

Games like NCAA Football 09 and NCAA Basketball 09, for example, feature characters with striking physical likenesses to actual players and the jersey numbers but without their names. This, of course, significantly enhances the experience for video game fans who identify closely with their teams.

If the lawsuit is successful, it could potentially affect the efforts of all universities in marketing their athletic teams. The universities regularly use star players to promote their programs. Imagine a University of Louisville football schedule poster from the 2006 season not featuring Brian Brohm or last season’s basketball schedule poster without Terrence Williams or Andre McGee.

If there’s anything surprising about the lawsuit, it is the question of why it has taken so long for the players — or the trial lawyers — so long to file the action. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for every college football and basketball player who jersey on a opening game roster who has appeared in an EA game.

EA Sports, the NCAA, and the Collegiate Licensing Company, also named in the suit, argue that the NCAA annually reviews EA’s games and do not believe any violations of NCAA bylaws or student rights have occurred.

Those who have argued for paying college athletes even more than they now receive in the form of scholarships, food, travel and priceless college athletic experiences will be pulling for the ambulance chasers in this fight.

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Candyce To Camp — Lady Card Candyce Bingham reports to the training camp of the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association this week with no illusions or gurantees. See Sonja’s take here.

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Rick Pitino Shovels More Dirt On NBA Rumor

University of Louisville basketball fans might want to copy and save this statement for the next Rick Pitino coaching rumor, sure to accompany the decline and fall of another basketball program whose fans will push Rick Pitino’s name to the top of their Most Wanted Coach’s list for their rescue and resurrection. Better still, send it to the fans of the needy program.


Will Scott Has Allan Houston’s Number

Okay, you’re a University of Louisville basketball fanatic or you wouldn’t be here. Should know just about everything about the team. So who was Will Scott’s basketball idol, the one he fashioned his three-point shot after, and adopted this player’s No. 20 number for his jersey?

None other Allan Houston, the former New York Knicks guard. Houston  played at Ballard High and signed with U of L before following his dad Wade Houston to Tennessee where Wade became head coach.

Scott, 24, is the son of longtime New York Knicks doctor Norman Scott and has seen championships up close. But as a youngster, he was in awe of Michael Jordon.

As a 7-year-old, he traveled with Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and other future Hall of Fame players as they qualified for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where they won the gold medal.

His most memorable Olympic moment came one morning at breakfast. Eating a bowl of cereal, he looked up and saw Jordan, “like God,” peering down at him.

“I froze, and then I ran to the side of the room and started crying because I didn’t know what to do,” the fifth- year senior recalled with a laugh during last week’s Big East Conference Tournament in New York.

Scott’s decision to leave Cornell to join Rick Pitino is chronicled in a nice piece at Bloomberg.com.

Alcohol Sales at Louisville Games

This observer doesn’t drink at Louisville games, primarily because it seems every time I do the Cardinals wind up losing, the most memorable occasion being the overtime loss to UCLA in the 1975 Final Four. That’s reason enough to abstain, staying under control to keep things on the court or field in hand. Don’t mind if my neighbors partake — just don’t interfere with this one’s personal intensity.

In August 2005, the NCAA Executive Board suggested that member colleges and universities stop selling alcohol at athletic events, probably at the urging of NCAA Commissioner and former Indiana University President Myles Brand. One of Bobby Knight’s favorite people. Won’t happen at U of L any time soon, because the companies have been so good to the program.

“A lot of our facilities were built through sponsorship with certain companies, such as Budweiser through Freedom Hall,” said Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics. “We have to conform to what is in our contract with them. Alcohol sales are part of that.”

Speaking to the student newspaper, Jurich says U of L’s policy is consistent with that of other Big East members, including St. Johns, Villanova, Seton Hall, and Providence universities. “We consider everything that the NCAA asks us to look at,” he said, “but our conference has told us we are welcome to sell alcohol, and right now that is where we are at.”

The only time alcohol sales were ever a noticeable problem was at a football game against Tennessee in the old Fairgrounds Stadium in the mid-nineties. Must have been a record number of fights that night, several of the Vol fans apparently not able to manage their alcohol intake.

U of L owes companies like Brown-Forman, Budweiser and Makers Mark a huge debt of gratitude for all they’ve done for the program over many years. The continuance of the alcohol sales is an important way of saying thank you.

Drink responsibly.