Football Pokes And Ponderings

We’ll get around to basketball, and what may be a milestone season. It’s not that time quite yet. Too much unfinished business with University of Louisville football.

— Where is Trent Guy these days, the most potent offensive threat behind Victor Anderson? Apparently he cracked a rib during the Pittsburgh loss. But that information has been buried beneath the discussion over the coaching situation.

— Why was Matt Simms or any other backup not given any snaps while Hunter Cantwell was struggling with his accuracy during the West Virginia game? Watching Cantwell keep being sent back into the game in the fourth quarter was agonizing, knowing nothing productive was going to occur. But still there was Matt Simms clapping, jumping up and down on the sideline, wanting something to happen.

See Sonja’s report on
Lady Cards’ win over Xavier

— Much has been made of Tom Jurich’s comments about fans during the hubbub over the coaching issue. Tom may be a genius but he is lacking in some basic public relations skills. While teams are winning, the Vice President of Athletics can say just about anything he wants and get away with it. But when the losses are piling up, it’s a different story. Yeah, there are more than a few dense ones in the fan base. But you don’t call them out and expect them to admit it. Nor do you risk offending more responsible fans who may think you’re including them with the bad apples.

— The first sign that a fan may be missing a few marbles is when he or she fails to recognize all that Tom Jurich has made possible at the University of Louisville over the past decade. But when a fan suggests that Jurich leave because of the football situation, that should mark the end of the conversation. Not about to start listing all of the achievements UofL has made with Jurich at the helm, far too many of them. Jurich is the person U of L needs to dig its way back out of the football crater.

— When huge segments of a fan base don’t show up because things are not going well or because it’s cold, raining or a game is played on a week night, the fan base has not quite arrived. Tom Jurich is the best chance of making that possible at the University of Louisville.

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White Out: West Virginia 35, Louisville 21

Twenty-two seniors leaving the ranks soon. If the University of Louisville football program was in rebuilding mode up to now, it will enter still another phase next season. One  hesitates to put a label on it, more of a forced denial than anything else.

— Sad to see players Brock Bolen, Bobby Buchanan, Eric Wood, Earl Heyman, Adrian Grady, Maurice Mitchell bowing out to polite applause. Wonder how that affected all the recruits on hand. Swaying stuff, not in a good way.

— Difficult to find the official or announced attendance for today’s game but, whatever it was, it was far higher than anyone could have anticipated. At least double the number of UofL fans at today’s game than at Ron Cooper’s last game in 1996. West Virginia did its part with 3,000-plus, all but outnumbering Card fans at the bitter end.

— The good thing for quarterback Hunter Cantwell is that it’s almost over. He’s having his moments in the spotlight but he can’t do anything with them. Cantwell’s most impressive play was tackling a West Virginia player who had picked off the last of his three interceptions. Cantwell has probably had more passes intercepted than any Louisville quarterback in the modern era (1960’s forward).

— Definite plus for the future of Louisville football is that Pat White is a senior. He would have to use UofL to set the all-time rushing mark for quarterback, accumulating 200 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, throwing for 122 yards and two other touchdowns.

–West Virginia players jumping up and down on the Cardinal logo: classless. Louisville punishing teams that do that: just a memory.

— Sorry Steve Kragthorpe. Everybody wants you to succeed. Really, we do.  But it’s not working out. Even the most vile, nasty-tongued critics would have crawled back on the bandwagon with a win over West Virginia. Tied 7-7 at halftime, few signs of life in the second half. Still another opportunity peters away. So many seniors, too few indications of improvement.

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McCoughtry Sets Scoring Record

In Lady Cards’ Season Opener

By Sonja Sykes

Angel McCoughtry became the leading scorer in Lady Cards history with a twisting lay up move with 13:20 to go as the University of Louisville rolled past Tennessee Tech 82-49 in a women’s basketball game at Cookeville, Tenn.

McCoughtry passed Nell Knox’s old mark of 1,899 points and finished the game with 1,906. Knox had held the record since 1993. McCoughtry also recorded her 41st double-double, with 29 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.

Despite the win, Jeff Walz cited the need for better half court offense execution and a much better post presence from Keisha Hines who fouled out with a mere eight minutes of playing time. The Cards were sluggish in their half court offensive production, especially in the first half. That just won’t cut it in Big East play, and Walz knows it, stressing the need for dramatic improvement from Hines in his post game comments. Give Laura Terry credit for good fill in time at the post.

The Cards jumped out to a early 8-2 lead after a McCoughtry jumper, and enjoyed a 13-2 advantage after a Laura Terry lay up. Walz substituted frequently from that point on, and the Cards led by 19 several times in the first half before a late Tech run cut it to 37-23 at the half. McCoughtry had 19 first half points. Defensive pressure, especially after made baskets led the Cards to first half domination.

The Cards jumped out to a 7-0 run in the second half after a McCoughtry tip-in and led 44-23. McCoughtry’s lay up after a steal set the record and gave the Cards a 48-34 advantage. The Cards steadily increased the lead from that point on as Walz tried a lot of different combinations and held the Tech team to only one point in the last six minutes to win going away.

Monique Reid played well in her first game as a Card with 9 points and some key rebounds. Candyce Bingham finished with 13, and Laura Terry added 11. Despite 26 turnovers, 16 of those in the first half…and most of them unforced, the Cards had little trouble against Tech’s defense, and played all 11 that made the trip.

The Lady Cards return to action Monday night against Austin Peay at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Rick Pitino Lands Quite A Nucleus

Quite a haul, this latest University of Louisville basketball recruiting class, with muscle, speed and shooting ability to spare, giving Rick Pitino the nucleus he needs to nurture a contender for Big East and national honors. The descriptions provided by ESPN Insider will have basketball fanatics salivating:

Michael Marra, 6-5 guard, Northfield, Mass.

“Marra is an excellent catch and shoot player, and excels at coming off screens, and knocking in trifectas. He has a quick release, and very deep range. However, in watching him perform at the 17-Under Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla., in late July, Marra struggled to make his shots when pressured by defenders. He appeared to lack lateral quickness. He has been working to improve in this area, which would certainly enhance his playing opportunities at Louisville. This deficiency causes him problems defensively against quicker, more athletic wing guards.”

Rakeem Buckles, 6-8 power forward, Miami

“Buckles plays more like a small forward than a power forward. He scores in transition by sprinting the floor and beating the defense to the rim. He has good not great bounce but what makes him a high major player is his ability to make plays of the dribble. Buckles can get his own shot at will. He has all the dribble moves in his package. Buckles will show the crossover both ways, spin along and between the legs where he does a great job of raising up the defender before he explodes by him to the rim or into a pull up jumper in the lane.”

Peyton Siva, 5 -11, guard, Seattle

“Siva is a true point guard that has excellent speed and quickness with the ball. He pushes the ball in transition on the pass or dribble and his athletic ability makes him a threat to go coast to coast and finish with a dunk. Siva does a great job of running the offense and directing teammates. He is an excellent ball handler that weaves and slashes through the defense with inside out and crossover dribble moves in order to get into the lane for a drop off pass or kick out for an open shot … Siva is a rock solid floor leader.”

Stephan Van Treese, 6-9 center, Indianapolis

“Van Treese will provide Louisville (verbal) with a physical inside presence that has the strength and muscle to compete on the interior in the rough and rugged Big East. To compliment his body and strength, Van Treese has very good athleticism, which should help him immensely in Pitino’s up-tempo system. Van Treese runs the floor very well and should clean up by scoring points in transition, started by his defensive rebounding ability. Van Treese also has relatively quick leaping ability which makes him a very effective offensive rebounder.”

Ugly Underbelly Discourages Fans

Not To Attend Louisville-Cincinnati Game

Disclaimer:  No one here is blaming the fan base for anything that has happened on the football field, not even close.

It is understandable that many University of Louisville football fans are upset and angry about the way the season is going. The outlook for the anything better than three more losses is bleak. This dismal outlook is painful.

Deterred briefly by a surprising win over South Florida, numerous fans have resumed calling for Steve Kragthorpe’s removal after the two most recent losses. In fact, if some noisy malcontents had their way, Kragthorpe would be gone, jerked out of practice in front of the players, before the next game.

What’s mindboggling is that some irate fans are suggesting that Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics, is negligent. It didn’t take long for the underbelly of the fan base to reveal its ugly side, did it? Mind you that’s the Tom Jurich, the man behind changing the landscape on Floyd Street, getting U of L into the Big East Conference, and recognized by his peers as Athletic Director of the Year in 2006.

Tom Jurich is a big boy. He can take care of himself, and we trust him with the athletic program, even though he may have created a monster in terms of fan expectations.

What’s unacceptable, however, is that a few of the more vociferous people are discouraging other U of L fans from attending this Friday’s game with Cincinnati. They want to send a “message” to the athletic administration, as if Jurich were not acutely aware of the challenges.

People who stay home will send a message all right, demonstrating to potential recruits and current players that U of L is just another school with more than its share of fair weather followers – unlike those of a traditional power such as University of Tennessee where 90,000 fans will show up at the next home game despite the Vols’ 3-7 won-lost record and being an underdog to Kentucky, of all teams.

People who fail to show up aren’t hurting the university financially because, with eight home games, U of L has already sold more tickets this year than any season in the school’s history. They do, however, harm the reputation of the fan base and the program they claim to love.

Show up.