The NCAA Tournament offers a new beginning? Hardly. No new beginnings, please, unless you’re going to do something totally different. Pep-talking yourself into a “new season” is the kind of self-motivation that winds up getting you slammed into a brick wall.

Rick Pitino’s Louisville does have some things going for it as the tourney approaches. Although they were battered and bruised during Big East play, the Cards emerged with only deflated egos. They have a seasoned and improved front line that should be more effective in a tourney atmosphere where a higher value is placed on basketball skills than muscle. They also have an obvious option that Pitino has yet to try.

How about playing David Padgett and Derrick Caracter at the same time? Padgett high, Caracter low. Opposing defenses would have a challenge trying to figure how to stop that combination. Meanwhile, Earl Clark would be a handful with the defenses swarming around the two big guys.

Put Terrence Williams at the point, where he performed well a few games last season. T-Will knows the offense, he’s the best passer on the team, and, with Jerry Smith mired in a slump, Williams is the best outside shooter.

One could argue that both Padgett and Caracter would both foul out early in such a scenario, especially with the way games are officiated in the NCAA. Pitino will never do it. Unfortunately Padgett apparently can’t last for more than eight minutes at a time, and Pitino would have done it already if he thought it would work.

Still, it’s kind of fun to consider the possibility.

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ESPN has gotten into the business of picking an All-America women’s team. That’s nice, but the voters inexplicably placed U of L’s Angel McCoughtry on the second team. The first team included Candace Parker, Tennessee; Maya Moore, Connecticut; Sylvia Fowles, LSU; Courtney Paris, Oklahoma; and Candace Wiggins, Stanford.

We’ll fix that for them by scratching out Maya Moore and penciling McCoughtry’s name in on Card Game’s first team. Moore was surrounded by players of equal ability, landing on ESPN’s first team because of UConn’s 32-1 won-lost record. Angel McCoughtry was the superior player on the floor all season long, making U of L a national contender largely because of her singular abilities.

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Speaking of Maya Moore, ESPN reported during its “Outside the Lines First Edition” program Wednesday that UConn committed a recruiting violation during its recruitment of Moore. The network said the women’s basketball office set up a tour of the ESPN facility for Moore and her mother during a recruiting visit in October 2005.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.