Work In Progress: Making Perception Reality

My, how winning one game can change expectations. The surprising win over South Florida has more than one critic of coach Steve Kragthorpe changing their opinion about U of L’s prospects in the Big East. Some have even dared raise the prospects of a conference title.

Granted, wins over respectable Memphis and Middle Tennessee teams may have paved the way for the changes in perceptions. But even during losses to UConn and Kentucky, Kragthorpe’s team displayed a grit unseen during 2007 until the last half of the final game against Rutgers. It is obvious to any serious observer that the players are buying into the system. You can sense it in the way they talk about the coaching staff.

No, there’s not the explosiveness there once was. But to expect a team to forever be an offensive juggernaut is not realistic. It’s taking a while for fans to adjust to the nail biters but winning can be equally rewarding, whether it’s by an extra point or by a lopsided score.

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Defensive coordinator Ron English is a miracle worker, having transformed an anemic and disrespected defense into the aggressive and unrelenting unit that now makes it possible to beat teams like South Florida. Defensive tackle Adrian Grady was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week following his six-tackle, two-sack performance. Linebacker Jon Dempsey added nine total tackles, including six solo stops, while defensive tackle Earl Heyman had seven tackles and two sacks.

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U of L’s game at Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nov. 8 will have a noon kickoff at Heinz Field. The game will be televised by the Big East Network through ESPN Regional and will be available locally on WHAS-TV.

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Tickets are still available for the University of Louisville’s exhibition basketball doubleheader that same Saturday against Northern Kentucky University at Highland Heights. The women’s competition will tip off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 8 p.m. Tickets are $38 for lower level seats, $30 for upper level. Call the UofL Ticket Office at 852-5863.

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Charlie Springer

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