Cardinal crunch

The University of Louisville’s front line just got much stronger.

Montrezl Harrell, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward, is a Cardinal today, over the weekend committing to play his college basketball at U of L. He’s a freshman, eligible to play immediately.

Harrell confirms his commitment on Instagram

Rick Pitino is still looking at other talent. He has no choice, not with the academic uncertainty of Terry Rozier and the recurring injuries to Rakeem Buckles and Stephan Van Treese that never seem to get any better.

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The U of L baseball team was thrashed by Arizona (16-3) for a second night in a row, ending Louisville’s fourth appearance in the NCAA tournament in the past five years.

Jeff Thompson, with nine wins during UofL’s 41-21 season, was still struggling to find the strike zone as the season concluded.  The bases-loaded home run in the third inning was inevitable.

Louisville had given up only one double-digit loss in 60 games prior to the 15 and 16 runs Arizona collected in two games.

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The big wigs of the Big 12 Conference had to be pleased with U of L’s 11-3 win over Missouri in the first game Sunday. That was Missouri’s final Big 12 outing before moving over to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Maybe worth a couple of brownie points when it comes to conference realignment?

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The Major League Baseball draft begins Monday evening. Louisville has three players among the top 300 picks, according to Baseball America.  They are reliever Matt Koch projected as the 61st pick, Derek Self as 279th and Justin Amlung at 288th.  Interestingly, Arizona has only two — pitcher Kurt Heyer as 294th and outfielder Robert Refsnyer at 369th.

For the record, U of L owns Louisville

Every now and then one feels compelled to keep the record straight, especially when mistaken or ill-informed opinions appear in The Courier-Journal, with its circulation of 175,000-plus imprints daily. Here’s a letter to the editor from the observer, sent the other day. It appeared in Wednesday’s newspaper:

To the Editor:

One of the myths many University of Kentucky fans living in Louisville and elsewhere like to perpetuate is that this community is split 50-50 between UK and the University of Louisville.

M. Trinkle in his recent letter to the editor repeated the assertion. Sorry to disappoint the Wildcat partisans, but the University of Louisville has a wide lead in fan loyalty locally.

The most comprehensive research on the subject, The Courier-Journal’s Bluegrass Poll, which was conducted in February 2005, indicated that overall 56.7% of Louisvillians were U of L fans, as compared to 33.3% claiming to be UK fans.

When asked about football, 61.3% favored Louisville while Kentucky had 20.8%. As for basketball, 56.7% favored U of L while 33.3% supported UK. The remainder of fans in both sports were largely split between Notre Dame, Michigan, Western Kentucky and other schools.

Not surprising that it is difficult for UK fans to remember, acknowledge or accept the results of the study, especially with U of L winning by such a wide margin.

Charles Springer

It’s a struggle but we must endeavor to keep them honest.

Samuels’ Stock May Be Rising, Maybe

Gotta carefully consider the source.

Remember when word came out of Jamaica that Samardo Samuels would be leaving the University of Louisville basketball team early to pursue a career in the National Basketball Association? Despite all advice to the contrary from his coaches or anyone who see him play the past two seasons?

Well, there’s an update from the island, from the Jamaica Gleaner News that Samuels’ stock may have risen dramatically during NBA workouts, according to a source close to the player:

“Samardo is showing that he has all the tools. In his workouts he shot phenomenally from the field and displayed adept basketball skills, qualities about him that were not widely known before.

“He is also hitting a lot of three-pointers, and the feedback we are getting is that in terms of shape, size and skill readiness for the NBA, he is one the most impressive.”

“He is moving like a guard while maintaining his post-up game. He is being described as similar to Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand, but with better ball-handling skills — a more dynamic player. Because of his skills and first step he is uncomfortable to handle for both the big guys and the smaller guys.”

One still wishes Samardo well but he was either keeping this arsenal of skills under wraps at U of L or someone was telling the reporter what he wanted to hear.

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McCoughtry On A Tear — Angel McCoughtry is leading the WNBA in scoring and is an early candidate for player of the year. She is averaging 24 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game. Her surprising Atlanta Dream team leads the Eastern Division with a 6-0 record.

Atlanta  faces maybe the toughest test of the season when it takes on the 5-1 Seattle Storm. Game time is 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night on ESPN-2. A great chance to finish up that remaining potato salad, ambrosia and grilled chicken from Sunday.

Dieng Worth The Wait For Louisville

Much hand-wringing by some University of Louisville basketball fans when Rick Pitino’s team lost the recruiting battle over 6-foot-10 Fab Melo to Syracuse last summer.

Ralph Willard

But U of L probably wound up with the better player this spring with the commitment of Gorgui Dieng, according to assistant coach Ralph Willard, on hand at the recent Cardinal Caravan at Captain’s Quarters.

Melo apparently was not that impressive in the workouts Willard attended, the coach indicating that Melo needs some development. “He may turn out to be a good one but it’s going to take time.”

Willard said that Dieng is a physically gifted player well-suited for Louisville’s running game with a lot of natural abilities, especially on the defensive end. “We expect Dieng to see a lot of playing time next season,” he said.