Pitino may be signaling slow start for Louisville basketball

The University of Louisville opens the 2014-15 basketball season in just over a week but Rick Pitino is saying he doesn’t have a good handle on his team.

A curious revelation coming an individual who micromanages every aspect of his program. Maybe this is Pitino’s way of telling fans not to expect much from this season’s edition, at least early on.

His team showed some visible signs of weakness during two intrasquad scrimmages and in the first exhibition game against Barry University. Shortcomings in rebounding, three-point and free-throw shooting to name a few, and the Cardinals could get off to a slow start.

Pitino has said some of the newer players aren’t quite up to speed on University of Louisville basketball, playing hard but not yet comprehending or prepared for the challenges they will face this season.

The news that Shaqquan Aaron, one of the better-shooting newcomers, is restrained by an NCAA issue further muddles the outlook. Aaron was practicing with the team over the summer, indicating that he had been cleared academically.

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Roger Williams
Roger Williams

Roger Williams, who has served as the pitching coach for the Uofl baseball team since 2007, has been promoted to Associate Head Coach,  A good personnel move by Coach Dan McDonnell who lost Chris Lemonis during the off season to assume the head job at Indiana University, taking Kyle Cheesebrough one of the leading recruiters with him.

Which raises the question of whether Williams may have turned down an offer to IU as well. He has been pitching coach at UofL since the 2007 season, with 20 of his pitchers selected in the Major League Baseball draft during that span.

He served as an assistant at Georgia during its 2006 College World Series season and worked 11 seasons as an assistant at North Carolina. A two-time All-ACC performer as a pitcher in 1984 and 1985 at the University of North Carolina, Williams ranks seventh in career wins with the Tar Heels with 24. He tied an ACC single-game record with 19 strikeouts against Duke in 1985.

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The UofL soccer team was awarded the sixth seed in the ACC soccer tournament, which begins Wednesday at Greensboro, N.C. The Cardinals line up against No. 3 seed North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. Notre Dame and Syracuse are seeded first and second, respectively. A disappointing season thus far for the Cards with an 8-6-3 record.

Drones coming soon to a University of Louisville athletic event near you

drone over pjcs

Look. Up in the sky.

The drones are coming and they’re going to provide some new perspectives on University of Louisville football and other sports. The athletic department has acquired at least two drones and is eager to put them to work.

In fact, one of them took its inaugural flight prior to the UofL football scrimmage last Saturday (see video below), sweeping high above the playing field before most of the crowd of approximately 1,500 fans had arrived.  Just a test run, mind you, because Bobby Petrino would not want any surprises during football practice.

Nick Stover
Nick Stover

Nick Stover, director of social media for the athletic department, says the drones could become a frequent sight at games. But first he and his team have to become more familiar with the drones and any applicable laws.

“They’re still a fairly new phenomenon to civilians so we’re contacting the FAA and other agencies,” he said. “We have a lot of ideas we are exploring.”

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UofL athletes excelling in the classroom

The success of University of Louisville teams in their respective sports in recent years is well chronicled. Equally impressive, however, are the accomplishments in the classroom.

Nine UofL teams had perfect APR scores in 2012-13 including the football team, one of just two Division I football programs in the NCAA with a perfect score of 1000.  Other teams with perfect scores included the men’s basketball, golf and tennis programs, and the women’s golf, lacrosse, softball, soccer, and volleyball teams.

This chart shows the athletic and academic results of each UofL team, including final standings in the conference, ranking in NCAA and national polls, APR (Academic Progress Rating) from the NCAA and overall GPA (Grade Point Average).

Impressive.

GradesSource: Mark Hebert, University of Louisville

Not another Year of the Cardinal but a good one for Louisville

Not that we were quite ready for it to be over, but another year in the books.

Not another Year of the Cardinal but a satisfying year in which University of Louisville competing at the highest level in every sport.Tom Jurich

Baseball in the College World Series, men’s and woman’s basketball to Elite Eights, football to the Russel Athletic Bowl,  soccer to second round of the NCAA tournament, the lacrosse team to the NCAA for the first time, softball returning, and numerous team and individual honors in the track and field, swimming and tennis programs.

The UofL brand continuing to flourish, improving on the past, anticipating the future, commanding respect, reaping the benefits of the school’s commitment to excellence on every front. The coaches always on the recruiting trails, near and far, taking advantage of the improving national perception to compete at even higher levels in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Completion of the new soccer stadium is anticipated in late August. Tom Jurich is hinting of another expansion of Jim Pattererson Stadium, and the results of the feasibility study for expanding Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will be on his desk soon. Fundraising for the new academic center continues, and Jurich also hinted during the past year that UofL could add still another sport.  He’s not about to let up anytime soon.

Fans, on the other hand, getting a break from the intensity levels during the summer months . The constant edge-of-your-seat grind, with all the ups and downs, from September through early June takes an emotional toll. What would they be like without the annual three-month hiatus? A little time to get away from sports, pursue other individual and family interests. Forgetting about it for a while, at least getting away from the competition.

Kinda nice, actually, not having to worry about the next game for a while. September will be here soon enough.

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Rick Pitino, ever the promoter, was on the Terry Meiners Show on WHAS radio the other day, providing an update on UofL basketball.

Silos site for University of Louisville basketball?

Recent discussions initiated by Mayor Greg Fischer on using the KFC Yum! Center to attract an NBA franchise — discussions not involving the University of Louisville — prompted Tom Jurich to say he would be happy to have the basketball program on a site occupied by the silos near campus.

Jurich was obviously playing a trump card, calling the Mayor’s bluff, but his first choice was always a campus facility. Whether he’s serious about the silos is another question, as much as some UofL fans would like to see them gone. Their location on I-65 partially obscures an impressive view of the campus from tens of thousands of motorists daily.

But the silos are probably going to be there for a long time. They are the local operations of Solae, a DuPont-owned company, a world leader in the production of soybean products with operations in seven countries.  The company prides itself on high ethical values and environmental stewardship.

Solae has made solid good neighbor commitments to UofL, constructing attractive brick walls west of the silos on Floyd Street and, of course, with the highly-visible University of Louisville lettering and other art on the 11 silos by the interstate. When materials fade, they’re replaced by fresh ones.

Solae appears to be a thriving business. Right next door, across Byrne Street, the University is currently clearing land in the shadow of the silos for a new $18 million UofL soccer campus which Jurich promises will be the best college complex in the nation.

If the company ever leaves, UofL will be first in line for the 15 acres. Arena or not.