All posts by Noah Allison

Louisville men fall to Memphis, 72-66

By Noah Allison

            The faithful fans of Louisville basketball can go ahead and shave their beards, the winning streak is no more.

            Louisville fell to Memphis 72-66 March 1 to end their seven-game win streak.

            The Cards fell to the Memphis Tigers earlier in the season at home and were hoping to have revenge on the conference rivals of old, in their house. The Tigers started the game losing six to zero. The Cardinals, who had averaged fewer than 10 turnovers a game, uncharacteristically committed 14, including three in their first four possessions.

            Early in the game senior guard Russ Smith carried the Cards, either scoring or assisting on six of the Cards’ seven first field goals. But throughout the game it was sophomore power forward Montrezl Harrell that proved the most consistent. He led the Cardinals in scoring with 25 points and rebounding with 12.

            Louisville had a 65-57 lead with 4:46 remaining on the clock. The Cardinals totally halted all momentum as Memphis ended the game on a 15-1 run.   

            The Cardinals were out-hustled and out-performed when they went into Memphis on Saturday. They were able to display brief moments of the seven-game win streak team, but in the end let the Memphis Tigers go on an 11-0 scoring streak to take the lead.  The Tigers sealed the deal in their regular-season conference sweep of the Louisville Cardinals with the victory.

            Smith scored 19 points, but 15 were in the first half.  Luke Hancock was the only other true contributor, scoring a quiet 11 points throughout the game. The rest of the Cardinal team scored a combined 11 points.

            Although the Cardinals were able to have fun during their seven-game win streak it remains evident that this team has major flaws. Unless they are able to show up and play a nearly-perfect game, night in and night out, they will leave Louisville fans wondering what this season could have been.

Doubleblock

Smith’s last-second shot lifts Cardinals past Bearcats, 58-57

By Noah Allison

The Cardinals of this year have needed a spark, a moment where magic is made possible and adopted as a part of the game plan. On Saturday in Cincinnati it finally came, with 2.2 seconds left senior guard Russ Smith hit the game-winning jumper to seal the deal at 58-57.

            Sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell led the Cards with 21 points and ten rebounds in his double-double effort. Freshman guard Terry Rozier was second with his 11 points, also contributing six rebounds and two assists. Smith overall had 10 points, five assists and three steals and rebounds.

            For the number 11 Cardinals, now 23-4, beating the number seven Bearcats gave them their first win against a ranked opponent on the season. All year long the story of the season has been the Cardinals beating the teams they were supposed, and failing to win the marquis match-ups.

            “It was a great win for us, like Connecticut, like Kentucky this was a very difficult crowd to battle,” Pitino said.

            The Cards jumped out to a 21-9 lead mid-way through the first half. The Louisville defense stepped up throughout the game forcing clutch and timely turnovers and keeping the Bearcats out of the paint. UC hit 16 of 56 shots, shooting at 28.6 percent through the game.

            “I gave them the same speech today that I gave them before Wichita State last year. The better defensive team will win the game tonight,” Pitino said. “

            Louisville shot at 40 percent through the game and saw senior forward Luke Hancock and red-shirt freshman Mangok Mathiang foul out. The game was gritty, the crowd was rowdy and it started to have a familiar feel to the four losses the Cardinals have suffered.

            The Cards saw their 21-9 lead dissipate and their second half lead of 47-37 turn into a 53-51 deficit. In the last moments it seemed as if everything could go wrong for the Cards again, but alas, they won.

            Without the game savvy of Hancock available for the last shot it is undoubtedly a moment of growth for this team. Smith made plays that he may not have made in the past.

            “This is my first game winning shot that I can remember,” Smith said. “I don’t think that I’ve ever hit a bigger shot than this. I’ve always been clumsy with the ball or done something ignorant with the ball. I’m just happy down the stretch I was able to make plays. Not the shot, but finding Montrezl two times down the court to keep us in it. That was the maturity I was looking for when I decided to come back.”   

            Pitino’s Cardinals have now won six games in a row. The energy level is rising and the spirit that this team needs is resonating through The Ville. The facial hair of Louisville shall continue growing for another day.

            Russ Smith is a hero, but this team won as a unit. When heads hung, they picked each other up. When somebody needed to make a play, the play was made. For the first time all year, Cardinal fans saw what they’ve seen in the past. A team that in the end; wins.

            “Luke, one of our captains, before the game said that we are going to face adversity. But we have to stick together no matter what happens,” Rozier said. “And that’s what we did.”

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal

 

Russdiculous

Pitino’s Cardinals defeat USF 80-54, win fifth game in a row

            U of L won its fifth game in a row Tuesday night after defeating USF 80-54.

            Senior guard Russ Smith led the Cardinals in scoring with 19 points, also contributing five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

            Senior forward Luke Hancock scored 16 as the Cards maintained the lead through the duration of the game.

            The Cards were able to out-rebound USF 36-30, letting the Bulls pull down just six offensive boards. Rebounding has been a point of emphasis on the season and with leading rebounder, sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell, on the bench with foul trouble in the second half the Cards rebounded as a team. Six different guys pulled down at least four rebounds with senior center Stephan Van Treese leading the pack with eight.

            “Coach drills it into us everyday to rebound because that’s been the difference in games. That’s how we lost to North Carolina, how we lost to Kentucky and Cincinnati; rebounds. So that got drilled into us and we rebound as a group now,” junior guard Chris Jones said.

            The Cards go on the road to face top ten-ranked opponent Cincinnati on Saturday at noon. The last loss Louisville has suffered was six games ago to UC in the Yum! Center.

            “I don’t like how they acted after they beat us, so that is still in the back of our minds,” Jones said. “We want to get them back, it’s going to be a big game on Saturday and it would be nice to finally beat a ranked opponent. I think our defense has gotten better so hopefully we can pull this out, we are confident we can win.”

            There is a buzz about this team that has not yet been felt this season. Despite still not having a signature win the Cards new found energy and late season improvement has the confidence level, and the expectations high.

            “We should be good, we have confidence in our offensive and defensive ability. But we just want to go into this game like any other game and work for a victory,” Smith said. Smith had 16 points in the loss to Cinci and his potential game winning lay-up rimmed in and out at the end.

            The Cards are improving at the right time of year and Saturday will be a true statement as to this Louisville team’s expectations come tournament time.

            We know what’s coming, we have already been to two extremely hostile places with Kentucky and Connecticut and we are going to go into three hostile places with Cincinnati, SMU, and Memphis. It will be very good for us to get us tournament ready. We are starting to play the right type of basketball right now with a high number of assists and low number of turnovers, by in large, pretty good defense,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said.

            “February is the time to get better and March is the time to win.”

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal

Photo by Austin Lassell

Pitino joins in speaking up for Autism

By Annie Moore–

Watching Louisville’s game against Central Florida on Saturday, or any other game on Saturday for that matter, you may have noticed the coaches wearing small, blue puzzle pieces on their lapels. These small pins were the real big winner of the weekend, because they were worn in support of Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks is the leading foundation for fundraising, science, advocacy and awareness efforts about Autism. Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are both nicknames for a group of complex disorders of the brain. One in 88 children in America are on the Autism spectrum.  But what does that have to do with college basketball?

Towson University Head Coach Pat Skerry knows. Coach Skerry is all too familiar with Autism; his 4-year-old son Owen is autistic. That’s where the inspiration came from for this nationwide awareness campaign. Coach Skerry worked with Marshall University head coach Tom Herrion — who also has a child with autism — to begin a campaign for college basketball to raise awareness for the cause.

“Quite a few of our peers have children with Autism, so we certainly want to support it,” said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. “I truly don’t understand the disease much myself. I know that there’s very little money being given to that, so we wanted to generate some awareness to it.”

Over 80 Division I coaches, including Pitino responded, wearing the blue puzzle pieces to symbolize a committed effort from the basketball community to raise awareness. Other notable coaches supporting the cause were Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’ Bill Self, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. These coaches and so many others wore the pin and every major game that aired on Saturday featured a coach raising awareness.

Autism is a complex mental disorder, the cause, scope of effects and treatment is unknown. Children with Autism are classified on a scale ranging from symptoms such as social-behavioral issues to debilitating intellectual and motor issues.  The rate of children who are identified as on the autism spectrum has increased ten-fold over the past 40 years.

With the rate of children affected rising and so little known about everything surrounding Autism, it is charities like Autism Speaks and gestures like those by the coaches that will help raise awareness to unlock the key to curing and preventing Autism. This is a cause that Pitino said he and his fellow coaches believe is a slam-dunk.

“Everybody did it, everybody’s for it, it’s something we all want to support,” Pitino said.

Photo by Austin Lassell

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Louisville’s men improve to 19-4 with win at Houston

By Noah Allison–

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team left Houston Wednesday night with a 77-62 win and now stand at 19-4 overall with a 9-2 record in AAC play.

The number 14 Cards were led by senior guard Russ Smith, leading the Cards in scoring with 17 points and assists with six. Forwards Luke Hancock and Montrezl Harrell contributed 15 points each.

Junior guard Chris Jones was able to reassert himself into the offense after missing a series of games due to injury. Jones scored 14 points and led the Cardinals with five steals.

Houston fought back from a 20-point deficit in the second half to cut the lead to nine and have a fighting chance. But Louisville road out an 11-point lead or more throughout the rest of the game to ensure victory.

Louisville scored 24 points off turnovers and tied Houston in total rebounds with 29.

U of L next plays at Temple, Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m.

Photo by Austin Lassell/Louisville Cardinal

 

Win Over Toledo

Men’s Tennis improves to 5-1 with double-header victory

The University of Louisville’s Men’s Tennis team ends the month of January competition with a 5-1 record. Their lone loss coming to the nations number five program Ohio State.

This past Thursday the Cards spent their day in the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center in a double-header dual with visitors Toledo and Tennessee Tech. The Cards defeated both schools 6-1, 6-1. It was their first competition since suffering their first loss of the season at OSU.

Despite the loss at Ohio State the Cardinals were given an opportunity to gauge themselves against one of the nation’s top teams.

“I think at Ohio State we learned about ourselves. They were still better than us, but the difference isn’t as big as what the rankings, us at 47 and them at five, suggest,” junior Sebastion Stiefelmeyer said.  

In the 1 PM match against Toledo, the Cards dropped the first point of the day losing two out of three doubles matches. They righted the ship in singles winning outright, 6-0.

“I think they felt like this would be an easy day, but I told them that these were two very good teams in Toledo and Tennessee Tech,” Men’s Tennis Head Coach Rex Ecarma said. “Once you are in a dual match season you don’t take anyone for granted. I feel like this team took Toledo way too lightly. Sometimes you make a mistake like that and it’s a quick loss, not a 6-1 win.”

The Cardinals then played host to Tennessee Tech at 6 pm. They won two out of three in doubles to earn the first point of the match, then went 5-1 in singles play to finish off the Golden Eagles.

“In singles we are very deep especially compared to last year. The singles are performing exactly at the point where we want to be, of course, everybody still has room for improvement,” Stiefelmeyer said. “But the season is going to be long so if we continue to improve from this point it’s going to be a great season.”

Stiefelmeyer is the one seed singles player and is in the one seed doubles team, with fellow junior Albert Wagner. They were one of the two doubles teams to fall to Toledo in the first match.

“Doubles, unfortunately we are not where we want to be. Losing too many doubles points, there is too much insecurity,” Stiefelmeyer said. “So there is definitely room for improvement.”

The Cards compete next Wednesday, 2:30 pm at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

 

Photo by Austin Lassell/Louisville Cardinal

Cincinnati holds onto victory despite Cardinals’ comeback

Doubleblockcincipic Miscues, breakdowns and a painfully familiar theme in many tough wins and painful losses throughout the season prevailed again to the woe of Card Nation as they lost Thursday night to the University of Cincinnati.

In the last Yum! outing against conference rival Bearcats, the Cards put on a performance that epitomizes the defending champs’ season. Louisville overcame a 17-point second-half deficit, but in the end Cincinnati won 69-66.

“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit because they lost total momentum in the game and good defensive teams can come back and hold on. They shot 63 percent in the second half, which is outstanding. We made really a couple of blunders down the stretch,” U of L Head Coach Rick Pitino said.

UC improves to a 20-2 overall record and a perfect 9-0 record in American Athletic Conference play. U of L fell to a 17-4 record and is 6-2 in AAC play. The Cardinals were led by sophomore power forward Montrezl Harrell who was the top scorer with 18 points, top rebounder with six and two blocked shots. Seniors, guard Russ Smith and forward Luke Hancock each had 16 points, Hancock led the Cards with six assists.

Red-shirt senior guard Sean Kilpatrick led the UC Bearcats offensively. Scoring a total of 28 points and going perfect at the free throw line, hitting 11 of 11 to ice the victory. “We tried to reach in and get steals on Kilpatrick when he’s an 86 percent foul shooter. It’s just uncalled for,” Pitino said. “But give them a lot of credit. They made a lot of big plays.”

The Cards fought back from a perfunctory first half that had them losing 20-28. With 16 minutes left the Cards were down 44-27. A Russdiculous three-point shot with 5:01 finally put the Cards up 64-61 and it seemed like the team everyone knew they could be was turning the corner on the season.

In that run the Bearcats committed nine turnovers due to the Cardinals swarming trap defense. The Cards were scoring on fast break points and attacking the basket successfully. “I think there were positives, anyone can see that. The way we fought and came back, we had a lot of fans behind us, but its something that we need to do for 40 minutes. If we do that we will be a tough team to beat,” freshman guard Terry Rozier said.

The Cards lost the rebounding duel, pulling down 25 to UC’s 36. In the end a few box outs could have made the difference for the Cardinals ability to hold on and later reclaim the lead. The Cardinals rebounding troubles are at the forefront of a long list of their game adjustments they need to straighten up to claim the AAC. But for now there is still enough time to just move on to the next game.

The Cards host the University of Central Florida Knights in the KFC YUM! Center at 9 pm, Saturday night. “We have just got to stay focused, there is nothing we can do. This loss is in the books, we can’t go back and replay a play,” Harrell said. “You take tonight, you think about it, you look at what you did wrong. Tomorrow is a new day, Saturday we play a new team, you can’t change the past.”

Photo by Austin Lassell

Montrezl Harrell, sophomore sensation

By Noah Allison

I would have started this story ranting about how sophomore power forward, and the team’s third captain Montrezl Harrell isn’t getting enough credit for his production to the team. But at this point I’m not sure anybody can help but take notice at how important his play has been for the Cardinals this season.

On Saturday night in Storrs, Connecticut, against the University of Connecticut Huskies, Harrell went eight of ten shooting from the field for a total of 18 points. An effort that led to the Cardinals to having 40 points in the paint compared to the Huskies 20. Harrell also had 13 rebounds and three blocked shots in his double-double effort in the hostile environment.

Last year as a freshman coming off the bench, Harrell averaged 16.2 minutes a game. This year as a sophomore he has made the transition to being a team leader, proving his right in earning the position of the team’s third captain along with seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock. Harrell played 39 of the game’s 40 minutes on Saturday in his spirited effort against the Huskies.

This year, due to the early on and eventual permanent suspension of last year’s starting power forward Chane Behanan, Harrell has taken on the responsibility of increased play time. He has averaged 26 and-a-half minutes as the team’s starting power forward.

But it has not simply been his play at his particular position that has led to him having such an impact for the Cards this season. It has been his overall contribution to the Cards that has earned him the much due current recognition.

On a team that has struggled to rebound well, Harrell has been the lone bright spot. Despite not being the tallest member of the team at six-foot-eight, he is well in first place as the team’s top rebounder with 160 on the season. The second highest total belonging to six-foot-ten senior center Stephan Van Treese with 91.

Harrell is also the team’s second highest scorer with 228 points on the season behind team leader senior guard Russ Smith, who has 349 points on the season. Harrell’s ability to work the low-post better than anybody else on the team has his shooting percentage at 64 percent, the Cardinal’s best percentage with at least 90 shots attempted.

But the stats don’t tell the true story. Montrezl Harrell is simply out there giving it his all to the get the Cardinals a victory. Winning is all the sophomore knows, last year as a true freshman he was the youngest contributor to the National Champion Louisville Cardinals. Naturally as it is all he knows Harrell’s expectations are to be a National Championship team.

The early struggle for these Cards to adapt to the times and the competition of this year had people questioning the ability of this year’s mens Cardinal basketball team. But there is no doubt the National Championship pride, demeanor and work ethic is there. It is just a question of the right players stepping up when their team needs them most.

That is what the Cards of last season were capable of, and this is what sophomore Montrezl Harrell is ready for in this year of defending the title that belongs to The University of Louisville.