Tag Archives: Noah Allison

Photo by Austin Lassell

The Monster is back: Harrell returns for junior year

By Noah Allison

Card Nation held its breath awaiting an announcement from forward Montrezl Harrell on whether he would declare for the NBA draft or return for his junior season. A first year in the ACC without him could have proven quite long and frustrating, but alas the youngest of this last year’s captains has returned and no rim is safe.

After averaging 14 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore Harrell was named the AAC’s most-improved player. His 98 dunks shattered Louisville’s single-season dunk record of 59 and his 12 double-doubles and 311 rebounds led the Cardinals.

With one simple announcement the spirits and attitudes for next year took a giant leap forward.

“I’m ready.” Harrell said. “I’m ready to get back into the gym with my team and with my coach and prepare to have another great season. If the young guys come in prepared to work we still have a good core group of guys that were on the team this year and we have a lot of experience from this year coming back.”

Harrell will be the prominent big-man on a roster that along with returning red-shirt sophomore center Mangok Mathiang at six-foot ten, boasts a lot of height.

At center the Cardinals bring in seven-foot-two Matz Stockman, seven-foot-one Anas Osama Mahmoud and six-foot-ten Chinanu Onuaku. Backing up Harrell is six-foot-nine power forward Jaylen Johnson.

At six-foot-eight, 235 pounds Harrell may be the shortest of the group but is undoubtedly the biggest. His tenacious work ethic and relentless motor is what separates Harrell from the competition and its nothing but beneficial for this young squad of bigs to learn from the best.

“I feel like with the work ethic I have and the way that I compete those guys will come along,” Harrell said. “I can tell you first hand being a freshman coming in here that first week and a half kicked my butt. It comes to a point where you just get tired of it and you go to work from there. I feel like those guys will follow behind me and try to do some of the same things I’m doing and just work as hard as I am.”

Working as hard as Harrell is easier said than done. There is a reason Harrell made such a big improvement from his freshman to sophomore year. But Harrell isn’t just coming back and getting better for his draft stock. As the face of this program now he is getting better to keep the standard of Louisville basketball.

“Coming back I know I am going to have to play a huge role in our program and I’m fine with that. I’m fine with being one of the go-to players on the team and that doesn’t faze me, that just gives me extra motivation to work,” Harrell continues. “Having that spotlight is really an honor so you just have to take it and use it as motivation to get better.”

A returning captain Harrell joins up with senior forward Wayne Blackshear to captain this squad into the ACC. With a year of leadership experience under his belt Harrell carries with him first hand experience of being a part of championship basketball and will not shy away from expecting it.

“Honestly I am just one of those guys who are going to try to tell it like it is. I’m not trying to sugar coat anything because when you’re out there we are all playing for the same thing, to win the game,” Harrell said. “If someone is not doing something right and I feel they should know better on what they’re doing then I am going to be the one to speak on it. I am going to hold everybody accountable including myself.”

Harrell returning gives the Cardinals a chance to have a starting rotation of all returning players. The six freshmen coming in and returning bench players will all have to step up.

Harrell is the difference maker on this team and with it likely being his last season there is no doubt that he has more than just personal growth on the mind. A chance at another national championship is hard for any competitor to pass up.

“I feel like I can get back to another one, with the team that we have everybody just has to get to work in the gym, listen to what Coach P says and buy into the program,” Harrell concludes. “If guys come in willing to work and get better than there is no telling what we can do.”

Photo by Tricia Stern

Kevin Ware transfers to Georgia State

By Noah Allison

Junior guard Kevin Ware has found his new home and it’s in a familiar place. Ware will be returning to his home in Atlanta, Ga. to play for Ron Hunter’s Georgia State Panthers.

Ware, the six-foot-two guard, only played nine games in the 2014 season before reinjuring his leg against Missouri State.

Ware was granted a medical red-shirt and still has two years of eligibility left to play.

Georgia State is a member of the Sun Belt conference. The Panthers went 25-9 overall with a 17-1 in-conference record. They went on to lose to Clemson in the NIT.

Ware will be joining a number of prominent transfers on Georgia State’s current roster. Most notable is former Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow who along with Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter played as one of the best mid-major back courts.

Along with Harrow Georgia State got considerable contribution from former Virginia Tech transfer Manny Atkins who led the Panthers in rebounds. USC transfer Curtis Washington was second on the Panthers in rebounds.

Ware is starting anew among many teammates who also took the non-traditional college route.

The Panthers of Georgia State return a full roster of talented players who were able to compete adamantly in their respective conference.

The storybook ending to Ware’s story would have had him remain at Louisville, but nothing can be changed now.

Kevin Ware is now a Panther and will finish his collegiate career at Georgia State. After breaking his leg against Duke in the Elite Eight nobody wanted anything more than to bring Kevin home to Atlanta. Now he is home, and hopefully can get back to the court.

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.

 

Photo by Austin Lassell

Bracketology has defending national champion Cardinals a four seed

By Noah Allison

Despite finishing the season as the nation’s fifth overall ranked team, winning 12 out of their last 13 games played, and rampaging through the American Athletic Conference Tournament, Louisville is ranked a four seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.

With familiar faces in the number one seed Wichita State, two seed Michigan, three seed Duke and eight seed Kentucky, Louisville has a chance to see many of the same foes from last year’s tournament run. As hot as anybody in the country though this Louisville team is classically peaking at the right time, surely sending a slight tingle up the spines of those teams who felt the Cardinals’ wrath last year.

Despite being inconsistent through the first few months of play, Pitino has righted the ship with his Cards. As his credo goes, “February is the time to get better, March is the time to win.” Louisville went 7-0 in February and heads into March Madness as one of the hottest teams in the country.

The Cardinals rank second in the country in steals per game. Pitino’s vaunted defense wreaked havoc in the AAC Tournament, snagging 39 steals and forcing 64 turnovers during the three game stretch.

The three captains of the team are not just the three best players on Louisville, but also three of the best players in the country.

Sophomore Montrezl Harrell, seniors Luke Hancock and Russ Smith have been a constant throughout the whole year.

Harrell leads the Cards in rebounding with 279. He is also second in scoring with 482 points and second in blocks with 44.

Hancock has been savvy with the ball all year long and is second on the team in three point shots made with 59.

Smith is the ultimate hero and has led the Cards in scoring with 621 points, three-point shots made at 68, steals with 71 and assists with 159.

With their talents peaking, it is the rest of the team stepping up that gives Louisville a legitimate chance.

Senior center Stephan Van Treese has done his part pulling down rebounds at the second highest rate on the team with 193. Guards Chris Jones and Terry Rozier don’t allow Louisville to lose a beat when either or are on the court ranking second and fourth on the team in assists. And forward Wayne Blackshear is overcoming his regular season woes and contributing the points, rebounds and defense that he needs to.

Louisville can feel snubbed by the lack of respect for AAC play. Louisville arguably could be the fourth one seed with the acknowledgment of their talent and experience. But Louisville is a four seed, and maybe the final thing this team needs to make a run is a chip on their shoulder.

Nobody wants to see the tough teams Louisville will have to face, but those teams definitely do not want to see Louisville.

It all starts against Manhattan on Thursday. Rick Pitino, Russ Smith and the Louisville Cardinals have their work cut out for them. But this is the time of year we’ve all been waiting for in Card Nation, and there is plenty of reason to tune in.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Swim and Dive hosts,wins AAC Championship

By Noah Allison

The University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium played host to the American

Athletic Conference swim and dive championship. U of L’s men and women combined to

win eight races and both relays. It was the last time swimming at home for many Cardinals.

“Hats off to the administration here, they did a fantastic job at creating a championship

environment under what I consider fairly difficult circumstances. We never looked at it as

transition. This was our Superbowl right here and we came to play today. It was a great way

to end the meet,” Head Coach Arthur Albiero said.

Albiero was named AAC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year. Albiero has had the U of L

swim program, like many athletic programs here, on the rise.

“The men broke top 10 and got up to nine but we want to be better than that. The

women have been ranked 22 three years in a row and we are sick of that, we want to be

better,” Albiero said. “This group understands that, these are special competitors and a great

group of kids. On behalf of my staff its been an honor, they’ve given a lot to this program

and today the seniors were fantastic and they carried the way from the beginning to the end.

I’m very proud of this group.”

Junior Tanja Kyllianinen was named Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer and senior

Joao De Lucca was named Men’s Most Outstanding Swimmer. Both Kyllianinen and De

Lucca set school records and made the nationals cut with their performances on Saturday.

De Lucca is defending national champion in the 100-free and will be returning to defend

his crown.

“He surprised me, I did not expect him to swim as fast as he did. Our focus has been the

NCAA’s and we really didn’t break training coming in to today. He really surprised me and I

think it shows how competitive he is what a team player he is. He knew this was important

to the team and he swam his heart out,” Albiero said.

De Lucca is one of many seniors to swim his last race in Ralph Wright. Lucca has

undoubtedly proven to be a pillar Cardinal in the swim program.

“It passed by quick, I’m proud of what I’ve done these four years and to have this last meet

at home is an amazing thing,” De Lucca said.

“Right now I’m very confident about my swimming, I wasn’t rested and was still able to

put up those fast times. I feel like when I’m rested I can go a lot faster.”

On Saturday the Cardinals set five school records and seven pool records. Four Cardinals

made the NCAA A-cut, as a first team swimmer and seven NCAA B-cuts as a back-up

swimmer. The Cardinals are back to work, as the NCAA Championships are just a month

away at the end of March.

“We have some pretty big goals that we’ve had for quite some time, we are well on our

way to the national scene,” Albiero said. “We want to do something special and reach new

levels that the program never has before.”

Photo by Austin Lassell

Nobody dunks like Montrezl dunks

By Noah Allison

Louisville is a basketball school, and of all the basketball schools Louisville is one that is

known for its dunkers.

The rims are still shaking from the power of past greats. Last year, forward Chane

Behanan won Dunk of the Year and tied U of L’s single season dunk record with 59.

Terrence Williams, otherwise know as T-Will, could throw it down on anybody. National

Champion and All-American center Pervis Ellison originally set the single-season dunk

record. And of course there is the great Darrell Griffith, Dr. Dunkenstein, enough said.

The list goes on, and this year sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell has put himself at

the top of it. Through 26 games of his sophomore season Harrel broke Ellison’s record of

59. He got dunk number 60 at home against the University of South Florida and has four

more games to add to it.

“I was 14 the first time I dunked,” Harrell said. “It’s an aggressive play and I’m an

aggressive player attacking the rim. Once you go up to dunk the ball it’s a for-sure two

points. There are not too many dunks that I’ll miss.”

Harrell has possibly the most famous dunk in school history with his lead taking, monster

alley-oop at the end of the first half of last year’s National Championhsip.

For not playing all too much his freshman year, Harrell has taken a huge step of

improvement being the teams leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. The young

captain is contributing far more than just his dunks to Louisville this year. But the dunks

have not gone unappreciated.

“It’s really remarkable that he set this record as a sophomore,” head coach Rick Pitino said.

“And especially when you consider that he didn’t play that much as a freshman so for him to

set it as a sophomore is really something. You’d think Doctor Dunkenstein would have this

record by 100 or something, but Montrezl set it as a sophomore.”

Harrell is sixth place all time for Louisville’s leader board of dunks. He is less than ten

away from tying Cornelius Holden who played for Louisville from 1988-92.

“There are a lot of great guys on that list,” Harrell said. “Coming in here I didn’t know too

much about it, but then once it started to dawn on me that I had a chance to break it, it is a

blessing. Now I hold that record and it’s just a matter of how high I’m going to set it.”

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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

 

Photo by Austin Lassell

This is Louisville

By Noah Allison

As sudden as life is here comes the month of February. First semester started long ago, Teddy throwing touchdowns is but a blissful memory, and here is our men’s basketball team heading into the month of February with us.

With one month of regular season play left the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals have an 18-4 record. There is a great support for these heroes of Cardinal lore, but there is also a genuine level of expectation that is not being met.

The Cardinals entered the year ranked number three overall, with returning seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock back to defend the title, and a cast of experienced members of the championship team returning with them. But there were questions about the schedule; at first glance the college basketball culturally familiar opponents were limited to a few.

North Carolina, Kentucky, Memphis, UConn and Cincinnati were the teams that U of L had history with. In the meantime the rest of the schedule were games Card Nation expects to win, and must win until getting to face a true test of a team.

And it goes without saying now, that almost all of those possible statement games the Cardinals played, they lost. Which is starting to make a statement itself.

Yet, one can’t get carried away.

Entering the month of February one year ago the Cardinals record stood at 17-4. They had just ended a three game losing streak in the Big East, and they had some things to figure out.

This current team has overcome and had to face its fair share adversity in the form of injuries, growing pains and the dismissal of junior power forward Chane Behanan.

In the loss to North Carolina, they were missing lay-ups all game, if they fall like they normally would, the Cardinals may win.

Against UK they fought shot for shot with Kentucky and took the lead with roughly seven minutes left. From that point forward leading scorer Russ Smith didn’t score. If Smith had continued his Russdiculous rhythm then maybe the Cards win.

Against Memphis the Cards were a few rebounds and a little maturity away from winning.

Against Cincinnati the Cards came from 17 down to take the lead, and again failed to rebound at crucial times and broke down due to lack of maturity.

All of these things could have changed the outcomes and any or all of those losses could be wins.

The Cardinals, for all the problems they face as a team could have figured out how to win those games. And if they had how worried would Card Nation be right now? The Cardinals still have a home game against UConn and tough road games against SMU, Memphis and Cincinnati and the AAC Tournament to figure out who they are as a team.

The Cards of last year continued to adjust to growing pains throughout February and that is when they figured it out, because they had to. The potential is there with this team; there have been too many segments of brilliance throughout the season to legitimately count them out of anything.

The only thing to do now is appreciate 17-4, and the fact that there are players like Luke, Russ and Montrezl Harrell, and a coach like Rick Pitino to put the winning formula together.

It is college basketball and this is Louisville. This is when things get interesting

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

Photo Courtesy of Adam Mathieu/ the Oracle

Louisville routs USF

By Noah Allison

The twelfth ranked University of Louisville men’s basketball team rolled over USF 86-47 Wednesday night at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida stretching their conference winning streak to four games.

Once again, U of L, 17-3, received a boost off the bench from junior forward Wayne Blackshear.  He led all scorers with 16 points and hit three of the Cardinals twelve three pointers.

Montrezl Harrell contributed with his fifth double-double of the season, he finished with 14 points and ten rebounds.

For just the second time in his career, Mangok Mathiang scored in double figures, finishing with 10 points.

Chris Jones remained out of the lineup due to injury, in his absence; Terry Rozier scored 9 points and dished out five assists.

Luke Hancock added 14 points.

U of L faces Cincinnati next Thursday at the KFC YUM! Center at 7:00.