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University of Louisville, Adidas strike new deal

By Annie Moore

University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich together with Adidas executives announced on Thursday the University’s new contract with Adidas. The new deal extends the partnership between the two for another four years, through 2018-19.

The Portland, Or. based company will supply uniforms, footwear, and accessories for all 23 of Louisville’s athletic programs.

“It’s a very exciting day for us in the athletic department,” Jurich said. “The number one objective I had going into this, was how do we insure that our student-athletes have the premiere uniforms and apparel as we move forward, and this contract accomplishes all off those things.”

In addition to athletic outfitting, Adidas will provide ‘extensive investments in the the Cardinals’ athletic programs including advertising campaigns, equipment room expansion, digital/video technology, support for national champion spirit squads, a formalized sport administration internship program… and co-branding opportunities… including TaylorMade equipment within the UofL Golf Club.’ according to the press release issued from the athletic department on Thursday.

Louisville football head coach, Bobby Petrino was on hand as well, and excited about the new deal.

“This is a great thing for our players, to be able to have the top of the line uniforms, the materials that we’ll use, to keep them dryer, lighter, faster, and then the apparel,” Petrino said. “One of the things I’ve always felt is important is for your players to look good, feel good, you have a chance then to go out and play well.”

Petrino was reluctant to comment on whether the Cards would be unveiling on of its new five uniforms in the opening game against Miami on September 1, but instead said that it would be very fun to see what happens with the apparel down the road.

“I think you’re going to see  things on the cutting edge,” Petrino said. “New things that will be exciting for everybody, the players, the recruits and the fans. We’re going to be on the edge of the fence as far as the top of the line with the way you get to look, the way you get to dress and the attitude you play with.”

The deal will also benefit fans, with additions such as new spirit shirts for student season ticket holders and ACC inaugural year fan giveaways.

“It’s going to be fun now, get ready because it’s going to be fun,” Petrino said. “I can’t wait, to be honest with you.”

 

Photo by Michelle Lewis

Annual Red v. White scrimmage held

By Annie Moore

The University of Louisville held its annual Red and White Scrimmage April 11 to showcase the team’s preparation in the spring. The offense, headlined by quarterback Will Gardner, and the defense led by veterans like junior linebacker James Burgess were on display, as were new head coach Bobby Petrino’s new system.

Coach Petrino was happy with what he saw from the team, and admitted there is much room for improvement before the season.

“We have a long way to go, but our coaches have done a great job at teaching our new schemes, and the players have worked really hard at learning them,” Petrino said.  “We’ve had some great competition in practice. The practices have been really physical and guys are really competing. I feel really good about our front seven on defense. Our linebackers are physical and fast and are going to be able to play the way we want them to play. We are a little bit concerned with our depth in the secondary and the inexperience at safety. That’s an area where we have to continue to work hard and get better.”

The Red Team, led by Gardner, routed the White Team, 56-13. Gardner was 32- of 37 for 542 yards and four touchdowns.

“We had good pass protection and guys getting wide open, and when guys are wide open, you can’t miss them. We had a lot of guys open when we called plays for them, so that was a good thing,” Gardner said.

Gardner too admitted that there was much work to be done in the time between now and kickoff in September.

“I’ve got to grind in the playbook, become more confident, hit the weight room hard and just get bigger and stronger.” Gardner said.

 Michael Dyer rushed for 99 yards on 10 carries for the Red, and added 51 yards and a 27-yard touchdown on four carries for the White.

The biggest search now will be for a player to step out as the leader for a team heading into its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“You always worry about leadership, but this team has a terrific work ethic,” Petrino said.  “They grind in the weight room and really get after it at practice. They understand that everything is different, but have been very willing to adapt. We have good leadership and guys who know what it takes to win games, and that has made the transition a lot easier.”

But with regards to the head coach’s overall feeling heading out of the game, he’s confident in his QB and ready to improve in other spots around the ball.

“You couldn’t leave a spring game happier with the way [Gardner] played,” Petrino said. “I was happy with our spring. I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we do have a long, long way to go.”

 

Optimized-HOST_MichelleVisage

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ stars to appear at Headliners in ‘Battle of the Seasons’

By Simon Isham—

Did PINK at U of L whet your appetite for drag queens? Have you been hanging out at Play Dance Bar on Wednesdays? Then you’re going to want to keep reading, because the girls of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are coming to Louisville. I talked with Mimi Imfurst, who will be DJing the show; Michelle Visage, a “Drag Race” judge who will be host; and Pandora Boxx, a queen who will be performing.

Have you ever been to Louisville? What did you think?

MI: I have. I had a great time. I was there for Pride two years ago. Everybody was treating me like gold. I’m really looking forward to coming back. I remember that the food is great. I remember they took me to a really awesome kind of Southern hospitality barbecue place that was amazing. I’m going to try to find that. The last time I was there, I literally did a drag show in the middle of the street. I was doing a performance, and I ran outside. I literally had the DJ play “Car Wash.” I grabbed a balled-up rag and some Windex and ran out in the street and started washing cars. People were like, “What the hell is she doing?”

MV: I have been to Louisville, Kentucky. It was the very first stop on the Milli Vanilli Tour in 1990. I was very young, and so overwhelmed with the fact that I was doing a national tour and opening for the biggest act in the world at that time. I didn’t see much of Louisville; I was just like, “Someone pinch me!” I haven’t gotten to see any of your beautiful city!

PB: I have, actually. I was there a few years back. I loved it. I had a great time. One of the things I noticed is that people love to drink there! I do like to drink, but there were an obscene amount of shots.

You’re coming in just a few days before Derby. Do you plan to stick around?

MI: That’s what I heard. Of course, the Derby is all about the hats, but we drag queens are all about the wigs. That would be the real competition — who has the better dresses: the Derby ladies or the drag queens?

MV: Yay! So I should bring a hat, huh? And I got hats!

PB: As soon as you started talking about it, I remembered, because I was there around the time of the Kentucky Derby (last time I was in Louisville). I didn’t get to see it because it was such a quick visit. I wish I had been there longer. But it’s all about the hats, isn’t it?

What are the best and worst parts about touring with a group of drag queens?

MI: The best part is that you get to see so many great places. The worst part is that you don’t get to see so many great places. But you get to share it with a whole bunch of Drag Race girls who understand a really unique experience.

MV: What I like best about it is that we get to see the fans’ connections to these queens, up close and personal. And the other thing is, when you come to see them live, not only are you going to be floored at more impressed than you were before, even if you go, “Oh, I knew she  could do all that.” I guarantee there’s going to be a moment with another queen that maybe you didn’t like or didn’t know anything about. Your mind is going to be completely blown and opened … I just make sure everybody’s happy, especially the queens, so they don’t become irritable and awful. It doesn’t happen often, though. But a lot of them think, “Now I’m on TV, so now I’m a superstar.” We’re here to give (them) a wakeup call, because it ain’t like that! It’s pretty fun to watch … Some of these kids will complain about accommodations or mode of transportation. Like, have any of you ever toured? And they’re like, “No,” and I’m like, “Then you need to shut up, because what we’ve got here is an amazing situation. You have no idea what it’s like to share a room with five people. To ride around in a Ford Fiesta, like a clown car. You honestly have no idea what it’s like.” I’m there to be the mother, the reality check … We’re not just clowns — well, we are, but we’re talented clowns!

PB: It’s amazing, because I’ve been to all these cities that I’ve never been to before, and really big venues that we would probably never get to play by ourselves. So it’s really great. And the crowd responses have been incredible. It feels like being at a rock concert. I feel really blessed to be a part of it. The best part of it is getting to see all these amazing cities. The worst part is no sleep, and travel.

What am I going to see at the Louisville show?

MI: What’s great about the Drag Race girls in real life is that you get to see what we really do. You know, the show is fun, and there are crazy challenges, but you never get to see what we really do. You’re going to see drag queens doing knife juggling and eating fire and walking on stilts. You’re going to see drag queens singing their original songs and doing group numbers. You’re going to see all kinds of crazy things … the art form itself exists on breaking rules.

MV: Ivy Winters! She’s a full-on circus performer. That’s what she did before she got into drag. She eats fire, she juggles knives, she walks on stilts, she’s really quite breathtaking. She does something different at every tour stop. She doesn’t like to get bored with her stuff, and she changes it about. She’s also a really great singer and she doesn’t really do that because people get so enamoured by the circus performing.

PB: I’m still putting together some of my performance, so I don’t know exactly. I have a few more weeks before — I’m changing things up a little. You’ve got to keep things fresh because otherwise you get bored doing it. And I’ve been working on some new music, so I might incorporate that on this tour. You can expect to see something entirely new — but maybe the same penis jokes, but everything else will be new.

MI: Michelle Visage is so funny as a host. I think if we get her drunk enough, she’ll do a few songs.

MV: Mimi’s being funny because Michelle don’t drink. I’ve never drunk a day in my life. And yes, I sing on the tour. I only do one number because I feel like I’m there to host the event. I do perform.

PB: We all have this expression whenever she says something. We just go, “Oh Mimi.”

Other performers I didn’t talk to who will also be in the show are Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Ivy Winters, Carmen Carrera, and Phi Phi O’Hara. This all goes down at Headliners Music Hall at 10 p.m. on April 27, with a VIP meet and greet before the show at 8 p.m. General admission is $30 and the show is 18+.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Lacrosse defeats Georgetown

By Derek Brightwell

The University of Louisville Lacrosse team opened up their Big East schedule with a 14-13 upset victory at No. 14 Georgetown on Saturday, improving their record to 7-3 on the season.

The Cardinals were led in goals by junior Faye Brust, who had five, three coming in the second half including the Cardinals final two goals. Her 34 goals on the year are just six less than her total from her first two seasons, with six games still remaining in the 2014 season.

The victory marks the first time in eight games that the Cardinals defeated the Hoyas and was the second win over a Top 20 opponent this season.

Senior Nikki Boltja increased her team high point total with three goals and two assists in the game, giving her 52 points on the year, 40 of which are goals.

One of the biggest keys for the Cardinals all year has been sophomore Kaylin Morissette’s draw control ability; she tied her own school single-game record 11 in the win over Saturday to put her season total at a school record 82.

Despite Georgetown (3-6, 0-1) only having the lead for a total of 15 seconds in the game, Louisville was never able to pull ahead comfortably until Brust gave them a three goal lead in the final 12 minutes that the Hoyas couldn’t overcome.

Louisville continues their five game road trip in Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats on Sunday, Arpril 6th. They’ll return to home to close out their season with three straight home games on April 17th against UConn.

AAC indoor hurdling champion Calvin Aresnault

By Sam Draut

Whether he is competing in Barcelona, Spain, Ontario, Canada, or Louisville, Ky., Calvin Arsenault has ran well regardless of what sector of the globe he sprints across.

The junior from Kitchener, Ontario competes in the hurdles, running the 60 meter during the indoor season and the 110 meter and 400 meter races during the outdoor season.

Arsenault logged a third place finish with 14.22 seconds in the 110m hurdles last Friday at the Alabama Relays.

In the Lenny Lyles/Clark Wood Invitational at Cardinal Park this past weekend, Arsenault finished second in the 110m hurdles and fifth in the 400m hurdles.

Arsenault enters the outdoor season coming off an American Athletic Conference championship in the 60m hurdles event for the indoor season though the season didn’t begin as smoothly as it finished.

“The indoor season didn’t start as well as I wanted to, it was more of a slow start, I didn’t start as fast as I wanted to, but as the season progresses, you learn new things, you fine-tune things,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault said the indoor season can be difficult to gear up for, beginning in January, because athletes are just coming off of the preseason.  Additionally, a change in the fall workouts added a bit of a transitional period.

“We actually had a different weight coach, we worked out with the football weight coach this fall, so that added a lot more strength that I am used to, so that helped my foot speed which made my transition to the hurdles more difficult because that means everything is faster,” Arsenault said. “I wasn’t satisfied on what I was running, I started working harder in practice, trying to fine-tune some things and it finally clicked once conference season came around.”

Winning the AAC championship isn’t the first title Arsenault has won; he bagged the Canadian national title in 2011 for the 400m hurdles.

He qualified for the 2011 Pan Am Junior Championships and was a member of Team Canada that traveled to Barcelona, Spain.

“I made the world junior team over in Spain and that was an awesome experience, I made the semi-finals.  Represented Canada really well, I PR’ed, it was a great experience running for your country on European soil,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault, who holds the school record in 400m and 110m hurdles, had a tremendous freshman year at Louisville.  He qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in the 110m hurdles and had four outdoor victories during the year.

Arsenault decided to run in the United States during his college years.  He connected with University of Louisville sprints coach Terry Winston, who contacted him the end of his senior year.  Arsenault came to Louisville for a visit in July and signed, coming to school the next month.

Despite being from another country, the transition culturally has been no different.

“I come from a decent size city in Canada to a large city here.  The biggest difference was the training and the weight training,” Arsenault said. “I came from a program that didn’t lift weights.  So, to come here where you are lifting three times a week and you’re training six times a week on the track that was more than double from what I was coming off in high school.  So, that was the biggest adjustment, allowing your body to recover quicker to come back for workout after workout after workout.”

With the outdoor AAC championships around a month away, Arsenault has his goals lined up already.

“I want to get another conference title under my belt personally in my individual events and for the whole team to win the conference championship.  I think we have the people to do it and I think we have the motivation behind us to do it,” Arsenault said.

“The NCAAs are separated into two separate meets, you’re going into the first round, I think I have already qualified for the first round, go in there and have strong showing because they take the top 12 there for the NCAA finals.  So if I can a great first round I can qualify for the finals in Eugene, Ore.  My ultimate goal is to be an All-American,” Arsenault said.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Kevin Ware leaving Louisville

By Annie Moore

Kevin Ware confirmed through ESPN that he is transferring to finish his college career. Ware — who gained national attention when he broke his leg in last year’s national championship run — is reportedly going somewhere closer to his family in Georgia.

Ware red-shirted this season after averaging a mere 1.7 points per game in his first nine appearances  of the season, before suffering a leg injury to the same leg that was broken the previous season.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said “We wish Kevin godspeed.”

This is a developing story, the Louisville Cardinal will update as more information becomes available. 

Sweet 16 coverage, away and at home

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are headed into Sweet 16 action this weekend! The University of Louisville now stands alone as the only school to have both men’s and women’s basketball go to back-to-back Sweet 16′s. And once again, the Louisville Cardinal is your home for up to the minute coverage of all of the hoops action. We will have a coverage team at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis covering the men’s team, as well as a team at the Yum! Center covering the women. Check out louisvillecardinal.com for previews and coverage of all of the games, as well as ‘The Louisville Cardinal Inc.” on Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter ‘@theCardSports’ and ‘@TheCardinalNews’ with the hashtag ‘#CardinalBoom2014′ for live play-by-plays and extended coverage. The Louisville Cardinal looks forward to being your home for all things Cardinal Hoops.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Softball goes 2-1 in weekend series versus Rutgers

By Dalton Ray

The Louisville Cardinals softball team took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a three-game series over the weekend in Ulmer Stadium. On a sunny but chilly weekend the Cardinals would prevail 2-1 in the series bringing their record to 18-11 and the visiting Knights would drop to 12-9. This was the first series in conference play for both schools.

In the first game, Louisville won by 10-6, the visitors would rack up five hits and five runs in the top of the first inning and put the Cards in a 5-0 hole before touching the plate. Junior Whitney Arion and company wouldn’t back down as they loaded the bases twice in the bottom of the inning and came away with two runs. After a pitching switch that put Caralisa Connell on the mound the scoring would come, as the Knights would only score one more run to finish the game.

“Our pitching really put us in a whole right off the bat and what I’m really proud of is how the team kept fighting back, that’s a real credit to them for digging in. We just kept wanting to play catch up today,” head coach Sandy Pearsall said.

The “digging in” began in the fourth inning when junior Kayla Soles sent her third homerun of the year over the left field fence and cut the lead to 6-3. After digging in the Cardinals would then explode in the fifth inning ripping off five hits and seven runs in the inning giving them a 10-6 lead heading into the sixth. Senior Katie Keller, freshman Maryssa Becker, junior Brittany Duncan, senior Hannah Kiyohara would all gets hits in the inning. After the Cards would score on a walked batter with loaded bases and then a wild pitch, Whitney Arion would cap off the inning in style with a three run homer.

By the time senior Rachel Le Coq would come into relief for Connell the former 25-game winner struck out four and played very well. Le Coq would use the help of her defense in her two innings; four groundouts and two strikeouts would close the game for the Cardinals.

The second game was won with the same score of 10-6 but Rutgers was victorious this time. It also began in a very similar fashion, as once again the Knights would score five runs in the top of the first. The only difference: the Cardinals couldn’t gather a response in the first three innings. Shayla Sweeney was pitching for the visiting Rutgers and she lead the Knights to a strong defensive effort in the second game. The Cardinals wish they could of said the same thing but minor slip ups in the in-field on liners and ground balls kept adding up for Cards as they kept giving the Knights chances.

Juniors Kayla Soles would hit her second homerun of the day along with an RBI, cutting the lead to 5-2 Rutgers in the fourth. In the fifth inning Rutgers’ Jackie Bates’ triple would drive home Chandler Howard for a 6-2 lead. At the bottom of the inning the Cardinals looked to take advantage of Arion’s RBI triple and base-on-balls Maryssa Becker standing on first, with runners on the corners and two outs Sweeney would strike out the last batter ending the threat. In the next inning the Scarlet Knights would take advantage of their given opportunities as they put together five hits and four runs, expanding their lead to 10-3.

In the final inning the Cardinals would not give up. After two doubles from Kiyohara and Kayla Jones, and Arion’s second homer of the day the score was 10-6. The visiting Knights would then wrap up the game with a ground out, strike out, and a fly out in center. The Knights stingy defense was too much for the Lady Cards, as they couldn’t get a ball past the infield for most of the game.

After starting at pitcher the first game freshman Maryssa Becker was moved to first base. In the second game she started out at first, moved to pitcher, then back to first. Caralisa Connell, Rachel Le Coq, Tiarra Sanabria, and Becker would all pitch for the Cards on Saturday. Becker has really showed her versatility over the course of the year.

“The pitchers definitely work as a staff, all four of us, we all have the same mentality of if when we get put in. We have to know when one of us is having an off day so that the person behind us can get the job done.”

Sunday’s series finale that ended up in a 11-3 rout between the schools stayed scoreless until the top of the third when Jackie Bates’ two-run single gave Rutgers a 2-0 lead. Katie Jones put in a ton of effort at the bottom of the inning as she had a single, stole second, advanced to third on an error and was then sent home by Arion giving the Cards their first run. Brittany Duncan would help give the Cards a 3-2 lead on her two-out double.

Becker got herself out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth as she struck out the last batter with the bases loaded as the game was tied 3-3 heading into the fifth. Arion, Jones, Keller, Becker, Ruckenbrod, Duncan, and McDuffee would all get hits in the last innings as the Cardinals would pull away in a strong way as they scored eight unanswered runs. McDuffee’s double finished off the game, as the Cards would cruise through the last innings. Now 18-11 overall and 2-1 in conference the softball team will be in action again against DePaul March 26th and 27th.

Women advance with opening round win over Idaho

By Sam Draut

The University of Louisville Women’s basketball team opened up the first round of the NCAA tournament with a commanding 88-42 victory over Idaho.

Louisville, 31-4, was led by Sara Hammond, who was one of five Cardinals to score in double figures.  The junior forward finished with 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting.

Idaho, 25-9, played Louisville close through the first eight and a half minutes trailing 12-11, but Louisville responded with a 14-2 run, sparked by six points from senior guard Shoni Schimmel.  She finished the game with ten points and 11 rebounds.

“The first four minutes I thought offensively we just rushed. We never got the ball reversed. We were just trying so hard to make things happen. Then we finally slowed down, we worked the ball around,” coach Jeff Walz said.

Junior guard Jude Schimmel also contributed to the burst, scoring nine points in the first half, ending the game with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and adding four assists and three steals.

“Jude is our spark coming off the bench. I think everybody on our team knows that. At the beginning we were kind of a little flustered,” Hammond said. “We were a little too excited to get out there and play. Jude came in and set the tone on defense. I think that’s what started our run.”

After leading 40-21 at halftime, Louisville extended their lead to 63-30 when Tia Gibbs connected on a three with eights minutes into the second half.

Louisville shot 71 percent from the field in the second half.

After missing the run to the National Championship game last season due to injury, Gibbs and Asia Taylor returned to the NCAA tournament.

Gibbs had seven points, four rebounds, and three steals.

Taylor finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Fellow senior Antonita Slaughter connected on all three of her three point attempts, finishing with 11 points.

Stacey Barr, the Western Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year was held to four points on 1 of 7 shooting.  Barr averaged 17.9 points per game.

Third seeded Louisville plays the six seed Iowa on Tuesday night.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited to play every game. Regardless of who we get, we’re going to be prepared mentally and physically,” Shoni Schimmel said. “Today’s game, we got it under our belt. We got the flow of everything. We’re ready to continue and keep playing.”

Photo by Austin Lassell

Game on, one super sweet sixteen matchup of Louisville and Kentucky

By Noah Allison

Last year Louisville won the National Championship, the year before that Kentucky took home the crown. Now this next game may not be the National Championship, but for the epicenter of college basketball, this U of L v. UK Sweet Sixteen is the ultimate best two-out-of-three match.

For a Louisville fan it was hard to watch the round of 32-matchup between undefeated Wichita State and vaunted rival Kentucky without feeling a bit nervous. The game had the intensity, flow and high caliber play of a national championship. Kentucky overcame a tough regular season and was able to shock the Shockers 78-76 to advance. Now the Sweet Sixteen in Indianapolis will play host to another chapter in the Louisville v. Kentucky basketball rivalry, with everything under the sun on the line.

In late December the then one loss Cardinals travelled to Rupp to take on Kentucky where they fell 73-66.  Those few months feel like a lifetime ago though, with both teams finding their identity and classically hitting their strides at the right time.

In the loss at Rupp Kentucky’s length and size gave Louisville trouble, the Cats outrebounded the Cards 44-36. The size of the two teams hasn’t changed since then, Kentucky doesn’t start a person shorter than six-foot-six. Louisville’s backcourt size of Chris Jones, five-foot-eight and Russ Smith, six-foot, could create problems. Not too mention Kentucky’s two seven-foot tall centers compared to Louisville’s six-ten Stephan Van Treese and six-eleven Mangok Mathiang.

But if there is one thing about Louisville v. Kentucky it’s that you can throw common sense and tales of the tape out the window, this is no mere game. The energy of the moment takes over and it’s all about who is going to refuse to lose.

At Rupp the Cards took the lead with just under ten minutes to play. The games leading scorer was Louisville shooting guard Russ Smith with 19 points, but he went totally dry and did not score a point in the last seven minutes of the game.

Smith leads the Cards in scoring with 650 points, assists with 169 and free throw attempts with 207.  He has yet to look excellent in the tournament thus far, but he has done everything the Cards have needed out of him in order to win. Against Saint Louis Smith’s shot was not falling, so instead he relentlessly attacked the basket to draw fouls and get to the line. Smith scored 11 points against Saint Louis, five of which coming from the line. He also had seven assists to get the rest of the team involved.

Louisville cannot imagine beating Kentucky without Russ Smith stepping up, he doesn’t have to play out of his mind and he doesn’t need to try and score forty, that is what Russ has learned. But he does need to play great, whether that is via assists, steals, drawing fouls, or heck Russ, go ahead and score forty.

Kentucky is a veracious rebounding team with seven different players pulling down at least 100 rebounds on the season, and the Cats are led by freshman power forward Julius Randle who has 383 on the season. Randle also leads the Cats in scoring with 542 points. It will be a scheme and team effort for the Cardinals to stop Randle, but the brunt of the load will be put on the shoulders of Louisville’s own phenomenal power forward, sophomore Montrezl Harrell.

During that first matchup the Cardinals still had forward Chane Behanan, he was permanently dismissed from the team following that game. Since then Harrell has more than risen to the challenge of being the team’s big man. Harrell leads the Cardinals in rebounds with 303 and is tied for most blocks with 49. Harrell is quite simply a monster, his drive and work ethic has him an entirely different and far better basketball player than the first time these two teams met. It will be a clash of titans with Harrell and Randle on the court and maybe physicists will be able to watch and study to see what happens when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object.

Perhaps the biggest difference from that game to this upcoming one is the health and play of Louisville forward Luke Hancock. Hancock had yet to get his first start and was still troubled by an Achilles tendon injury during the early season loss. Hancock has since proven to be everything the Cardinals already know him to be, dependable. In the opening round battle with Manhattan Hancock scored the last eight points to break the hearts of the upset hungry Jaspers. He followed it up with scoring the Cards’ first eight points against Saint Louis, he led all scorers with 21 points in that game.

Luke is the MVP of the Final Four and the reason the Cards won the Championship. In Indianapolis when 30,000 people looked away in fright at the sight of Kevin Ware’s broken leg, Luke didn’t hesitate one moment before joining his brother’s side to say a prayer and get him through the horrifying moment. The Luke the Cats saw in December is not the Luke they will see in Lucas Oil Stadium.

But those are the players that have stepped up all year and there is no doubt the Cards can’t win without them. It is going to be Stephan Van Treese bringing the hustle, Mangok Mathiang getting key blocked shots, Terry Rozier bringing stability, Wayne Blackshear bringing the situational plays and Chris Jones bringing his big game potential that is going to make the difference.

Kentucky is playing their best basketball right now and they are knocking down shots at a higher rate then they did all regular season. They feel on top of the world and know that they deserve to be in this situation. They’re young enthusiasm can be their key or their kryptonite.

Rick Pitino is undefeated in Sweet Sixteen games, and these Cards have been there and done that. It’s a tale of NBA talent versus championship experience, but as far as anybody in Louisville and the state of Kentucky are concerned, it’s just game on.