Coach Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals, a team we discounted and even the hometown crowd had written off after a 33-point loss to Providence in January, topped Cincinnati 50-44 to win the Big East tournament title. Here’s how they did it. Mike Marra, torn ACL, out all year; Rakeem Buckles, torn ACL, out since January; Stephan Van Treese, patellar injury, out all year; Wayne Blackshear, shoulder surgery, out 25 games; Siva, sprained ankle and concussion, missed three games; Kyle Kuric, sprained ankle, missed three games; Jared Swopshire, recovering from groin injury, missed two games. Instead, by playing tenacious defense throughout and mustering just enough offense to hold off a closing run, Louisville gave Pitino his latest title with a 50-44 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday night in the Big East championship game. Guard Peyton Siva was named Tournament MVP.
Congratulations Cards. Matt and Mark will be back tomorrow with a wrap-up, and an NCAA bracket rundown. For now? Enjoy!
Chane Behanan’s missed dunk in the second half of Wednesday’s debacle, is a pretty good icon of the night, and the last 5 games for the Cardinals. An inability to score. It’s also the fourth game in the last five that Louisville has failed to score more than 57 points; the Cardinals have lost three of them. Simply put, Coach Rick Pitino has failed at creating an offense that works, or failed to recruit the personnel that can execute on offense. Too few shooters, too many bad passes and poor free throw shooting. U of L realistically is looking at playing 3 more games this season, then, mercifully, it’s over.
UK’s Wildcats continue to trend in the opposite direction. Freshman Anthony Davis improves each game, and is listed as one of the two players involved in the player of the year race (the other being Kansas’ Thomas Robinson.) Coach John Calipari, long considered merely a recruiter, is showing he’s also a very good coach, capable of motivating his players at the right time, and having the personnel to execute properly. They will likely run the SEC table, and possibly achieve the same in the NCAAs.
Down the road in Bloomington, Indiana, the IU Hoosiers continue to play David to some of the Goliaths in college basketball. Coach Tom Crean has to be a shoo-in for Big Ten Coach of the Year. Join Matt & Mark as they survey the local hoops landscape, and looks at trends nationwide. Plus, the first Nothing But Net All Net Team will be revealed. Join us for Nothing But Net, the sports report that swings.
Last week was one of the best of the season in College Basketball. Unfortunately, Matt was sick, and we didn’t get to offer our in-depth take on all the wonderful trends and, of course, games.
Now? We’re both sick. Louisville squandered a perfect opportunity for the taking to knock off the number two team in the land, Syracuse, and climb up the Big East standings. Instead, the team was plagued by a litany of poor free throw shooting, poor offensive execution, and ONE REALLY REALLY REALLY STUPID FOUL (PEYTON!!!) Not to mention aimless drives into a grove of Orange Uniforms and missing outside wing shooters, including a potential game winner from the Orange Slayer Himself, Kyle Kuric. From The King’s Corner, no less. This one hurts.
UK has no such heartbreak in The Big Blue Nation. The SU v. U of L tilt reaffirmed my belief that Cats’ Fans need to make their reservations in New Orleans now. It’s gonna be a party.
Elsewhere, Michigan State, Kansas and Duke all are flexing their talent, smarts, toughness and muscle at the right time. Missouri is a real threat; Baylor is not. And Bellarmine is riding a 17 game win streak that propels them to a very realistic chance of repeating as Division Two champs. Hear what we have to say on this week’s edition of Nothing But Net; the sports report that swings!
Louisville basketball fans received a “week off” with the Cards idle until this Saturday’s tilt against Rutgers. Time to let the furor over this year’s team’s deficiencies and injuries die down a bit. Who’s emerged as U of L’s MVP and Most Improved Players? Who’s the biggest bust? Can this team emerge with a win in the second- and third-round NCAA Tournament? Will they make the NCAAs??
UK is back on top, with Anthony Davis emerging as perhaps college basketball’s most dominant player, or at least the one most fun to watch. Can anyone stop the ‘Cats? What about Murray State? Are they destined to become college basketball’s first undefeated team in over 3 decades? And what are Bellarmine’s chances of repeating as Division II Champs?
Special guest, c.d. kaplan, joins Matt and Mark with the answers and insights into these questions, and more, on this week’s Nothing But Net, the hoops podcast with a beat.
If it wasn’t for bad luck… UFF!! You know how the old saw goes. Now, Louisville’s continued free fall from national prominence becomes an even harsher reality with forward Rakeem Buckle’s ACL injury. An injury that keeps him off the hardwood until the 2013-14 season. IF he stays around. Rak hurt his knee in Monday’s game in Milwaukee, which saw the Cards blow a 16 point lead to Marquette, then suffer yet another lethal injury to their already decimated front line. Coupled with ineptitude from the free throw line, a complete meltdown of their outside shooting, foul troubles and a bewildering disconnect offensively. Now, the Cards are most definitely hosting an NIT opening round game. UK’s ‘Cats continue to adapt to changing situations on the court, demonstrating an ability to either run opponents into the hardwood or grind it out in slow tempo situations. Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis are neck and neck in the Top Freshman of the Year race. In other news, Kansas hands Baylor their first loss. And Michigan’s Trey Burke is emerging as one of the top point guards in the nation; a true Freshman, no less. WFPL’s Rick Howlett joins Matt and Mark, as they survey the current hoops landscape and opine on what fixes, if any, these teams need and can enact on this edition of Nothing But Net.
The last two days’ worth of discussions on the state of Rick Pitino’s Cardinals has centered around what’s wrong, how low can they go and can the slide be stopped? Nor does talk of the slump seems like an over-reaction; 1-4 in the last five games is cause for alarm. 1-3 in the Big East is a hard hole to climb out of, too. C.L. Brown, Rick Bozich (both with the erstwhile C-J), Mike Rutherford of CardChronicle and NBN’s contributing pundit, c d kaplan, have all penned insightful columns asking the right questions about the red bird nosedive. Is the NIT the best we can hope for in the post-season? Is there a “cancer” on the team, as some suggest? And where does responsibility lie?
We’ll also push away from the Card Criticism Buffet and look at the third team in the Division One community who might be be one win away from punching their ticket to the Final Four. Please join Matt and Mark in this edition of Nothing But Net, while watching the snow float by your window; we have the insights and the beat.
Is the Cards’ season slipping away? Dunno. I do know Matt looked at me last night after we’d taped yesterday’s Nothing But Net and said, “What if they lose to Providence tonight?” What if, indeed. Last night’s game looked like there is something seriously wrong, attitude and psyche wise, with the 2011-12 Cards squad.
And I’d be dishonest if I stated I knew what THAT is. I’m not in the practices and locker room. So, I turn to music to salve my discontent. And pray I’m wrong
- Every picture tells a story, don’t it? Don’t it??!!
Remember the state of the Cards three weeks ago? 12-0, praise for Coach Rick Pitino (CRP) from all quarters, and his statements that this year’s squad was the most fun he’s ever had coaching? Then came Georgetown; not unexpected, but a game that should have been won. Then UK; yeah, totally expected. Then, Notre Dame and the 2OT tilt? Ruh-ro!! 1-2 in the Big East, and suddenly the drum beats on the Ohio are calling for CRP’s head, or at least an explanation. All these developments have the Card faithful looking wistfully to Lexington. AND Bloomington, where Tom Crean’s Hoosiers have emerged as a very legit national basketball player. What happened, and what’s ahead? Hear what Matt and Mark have to say in this week’s edition of Nothing But Net, the sports report that swings.