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Luke Hancock

Cards swat SLU Billikens away to reach Sweet 16

Luke Hancock

By Annie Moore–

The University of Louisville basketball team defeated St. Louis University 66-51 Saturday afternoon, in a game that was anything but perfect, to advance to its third-consecutive Sweet 16. Both teams struggled to get started on offense until Louisville found its rhythm in the waning minutes of the second half.

 

“We said we had to be the prettiest team in an ugly game,” said Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino. “We just wanted to grind out a W, we grinded it out, and that’s what the NCAA tournament is all about.”

 

Luke Hancock had a leading performance for the Cardinals, the senior forward scored Louisville’s first eight points, and led all scorers with 21 points on the day.

 

Defense played a huge part in Louisville’s victory, especially its effort to stop Saint Louis from scoring the three-point shot. The Billikens were 0-15 from outside the arc and shot just 39.6% from the field.

 

“We were going to smother the three,” Pitino said. “We felt that if we gave up the three, we could lose the game today. So, we were going to take that away. We were going to hang our hat on taking away the three.”

Senior guard Russ Smith shared Pitino’s sentiment, noting his teams’ defensive maturation throughout this tournament, and this game.

 

“I think our defense got better at communicating,” Smith said. “Everything just went up a notch, Saint Louis is a great team, but we did a good job of locking it in the last fifteen minutes.”

 

Smith had 11 points and three rebounds on the day, but struggled offensively in the first half. His only field goal of the half came with just 45 seconds left before the break.

 

Offensive struggles continued for the Cards in the beginning of the second half, Louisville didn’t make a field goal until six minutes into the half. The Billikens tied it up with 14:33 left in the game, and the teams traded baskets for the following minutes, until Louisville started to pull away with 10 minutes remaining.

 

A three-pointer from Hancock put the Cards up six with 10:51 left, and it was all Louisville from there. Smith, Chris Jones and Montrezl Harrell all had shots down the stretch to secure the Cards’ lead.

 

Louisville advances to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis  to play the University of Kentucky Friday at 9:45 p.m..  Cardinal fans will doubtless be heading north on Interstate 65 for the game . SStay tuned as the Cardinal brings you unparalelled coverage of the NCAA Tournament from a student’s perspective.

 

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

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.”

The team celebrates their National Championship.

One thing you need to know: In The Ville, we care about our basketball

By Sam Draut–

Men’s Basketball NCAA National Champions

The team celebrates their National Championship.

The team celebrates their National Championship.

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team enters the 2013-14 season as the defending National Champions.

A team that set the school record with 35 wins in a single season returns three starters, 75 percent of their scoring, 72 percent of their rebounding, and 72 percent of their minutes.

Russ Smith decided against foregoing his senior year, he averaged 18.7 points per game and will be a preseason favorite for the Naismith College Player of the Year.

Juniors Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear are the other returning starters. Behanan is the leading rebounder and second leading scorer returning, he averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season. Blackshear added 7.6 points per game in 2012-13.

Louisville returns one captain from the National Championship team, senior forward Luke Hancock returns after being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and averaging 8.1 points per game throughout the year.

Sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell averaged 5.7 points per game and should see expanded minutes in 2013-14 with the departure of Gorgui Dieng.

Kevin Ware will continue to rehab during the summer months with the prospect of returning in the late fall.
The Cardinal 2013 recruiting class ranks in the top 10 in every major site, bringing in elite talent to create a deep back court despite the loss of three year starting point guard Peyton Siva.

Point guard Terry Rozier headlines the class, he holds a five star ranking and graded as the third best point guard on Scout.com.

The top Junior College point guard Chris Jones comes to Louisville to potentially replace Siva. Four star shooting guard Anton Gill and three star center Akoy Agau round out the four member class.

The 2012-13 season marked the formal ending of the traditional Big East conference, with this, Louisville enters into a one year stint in the American Athletic Conference before moving to the ACC in 2014.

The American Athletic Conference will include Louisville, Rutgers, Central Florida, Temple, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida.

Expectations will remain high for the 2013-14 season, the Cardinals will likely debut in the preseason top 10 in most media polls for the third consecutive year.

 

Women’s Basketball NCAA National Runners-upajl_4038 (1)

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team looks to respond after their historic 2012-13 season, the team finished 29-9 and appeared in the National Championship game.

The Cardinals return 88 percent of their scoring and 87 percent of their rebounding from a team that finished with the second most wins in school history.

U of L returns a majority of their roster, including leading scorer Shoni Schimmel, who averaged 14.2 points per game. The team’s leading rebounder Sara Hammond will return for her junior year, she averaged 6.4 rebounds to go along with 10.8 points per game.

Antonita Slaughter averaged 10.1 points per game and the second leading made three point field goals for the team.

Bria Smith’s 78 steals led the team and she also averaged 9.5 points per game. Smith transitioned to the point guard spot during Big East play, she returns for her junior year in 2012-13.

Jude Schimmel saw an expanded role from her freshman year, and as a sophomore averaged 5.7 points per game while finishing behind Smith with 74 steals.

Starting center Sheronne Vails averaged four points per game. Guard Megan Deines received meaningful minutes throughout the year and averaged 4.9 points per game, while forward Cortnee Walton added 2.8 points per game.

Through six years, U of L head coach Jeff Walz is 148-65, owning the second most wins in program history.

The 2012-13 season lost key players due to injuries, senior to be Tia Gibbs struggled with a shoulder and hip injury, while Shawnta Dyer played the first 11 games before tearing her ACL.

The Cardinals add freshman guard Emmonnie Henderson, an ESPN HoopGurlz top 50 recruit. Transfer guard Monny Niamke will be eligible to play the 2013-14 after sitting out one season.

The 2012-13 season marked the formal ending of the traditional Big East conference. With this, Louisville enters into a one year stint in the American Athletic Conference before moving to the ACC in 2014.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal

Luke Hancock, sealing the deal. Click to see all of our photos from last night.

Cardinals oust scrappy Shockers with late rally

Louisville to take on Michigan for the NCAA title

Luke Hancock, sealing the deal.
Photo by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal
See all of our photos from last night.

By Randy Whetstone Jr. – 

Louisville will compete for its third national championship in school history Monday, after coming from behind to beat the feisty Wichita State Shockers, 72-68, on Saturday.

The Cards have won 15 in a row and compiled a 34-5 record – the most wins in team history. Michigan defeated Louisville’s Big East foe Syracuse, 61-56, in the other semifinal contest to set up the title game – Louisville’s first since winning it all in 1986.

After the tense win, forward Chane Behanan said: “Having not been in a national championship in, – I don’t know when – before I was born, and having the most wins in Louisville history, that’s big, too. I’m glad to be a part of this tradition; it’s just an honor and a blessing.”

Luke Hancock came off the bench in the first half but started the second half and led a late rally for No. overall seed Louisville team, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half. Hancock hit a clutch three-point shot, which gave Louisville a five-point lead, 65-60, with 2:06 remaining in the ballgame.

That provided enough cushion for the Cards as they nursed a small lead, and a two-possession game. Free throws by Russ Smith and Hancock sealed the win for Louisville 72-68 placing them in position to win a national championship.

As a whole, Louisville didn’t play with the dominant demeanor everyone has been accustomed to see throughout the game. Many starters struggled and Coach Rick Pitino gave credit to Wichita State.

“Four of our starters had their worst night of the season,” Pitino said. “We had to win this game with our second unit of Stephen Van Treese, a walk-on, Tim Henderson, one of the best six men in all of basketball Luke Hancock, and Montrezl Harrell. There’s a reason our starters played poorly: it’s because Wichita State is that good. So we’re really happy to play in the final game.”

Louisville fans tried to rally the team and especially to pull for the injured Kevin Ware, holding “Win for Ware” signs. Ware was present with his teammates physically on the sideline, and present with the team spiritually on the court. In his physical absence on the court Hancock picked up the slack. Senior guard Peyton Siva in a poor shooting night, going 1-9 from the field, 0-5 from three point land, was encouraged by the efforts of his teammate.

“Luke is an excellent player and an excellent person,” Siva said of the co-captain. “He really showed his leadership out there tonight. He showed his leadership when Kevin got injured. He’s just an all-around great player and person. Tonight, he showed the world what he is capable of doing.”

The Cardinals found themselves in unfamiliar territory when they were down 12 in the second half. Russ Smith led the team with 21 points and explained his emotions when his team was so far behind.

“I feel like when it went to 12, I looked at it and the time kept going down and we kept fouling,” Smith said. “I was actually waiting for our run, and it happened; Luke exploded, then Chane exploded. It kept going and going, and obviously I knew it wasn’t my night, but I was so happy to see everyone else contributing; it was so special.”

One unlikely contributor was walk-on guard Tim Henderson. Henderson gave oxygen to Louisville when everyone in red was gasping for air. Behanan, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, commended his teammate for hitting two three-pointers to cut the lead to six.

“He does that in practice all the time, and I’m just happy it converted when it counted, Behanan said. “He gave us two big three’s down in the clutch. He contributed with Luke, myself, and Russ and I’m just happy we pulled it out.”

Siva, in assessing his performance with seven points, said, “It was just one of those nights.” After exalting his teammates, Siva said, “I just wanted to win. That’s all that mattered to me, whether my shot was falling or not, as long as we won I was fine with how everything panned out.”

Smith was pleased with the effort as Louisville dug in deep to rally to victory. “We just played super hard,” Smith said. “Nobody wanted to go home. Wichita State did a great job of hanging with us, sticking with their game. We just fought really hard.”

Coach Pitino will be coaching for his second National Championship. His win percentage in tournament play is 74 percent ranking him fifth among active coaches, and 13 all-time. He has led Louisville to three final fours, with this being his first attempt at finishing the season on top. Louisville will have one day to prepare for the grand finale versus the Michigan Wolverines. Both teams have the two best backcourts in the nation, one player being Trey Burke who was recently named national player of the year.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal

ajl_3250

All in for Kevin Ware

With 6:39 remaining in the first half of the Elite Eight matchup with Duke, sophomore guard Kevin Ware contested a three point shot by Duke player Tyler Thornton. Upon landing, Ware’s leg snapped in two places, thrusting the game out of the attention of everyone in attendance. The injury sent the crowd into shock, Duke into disbelief, and teammates and Coach Pitino into tears. But with a newfound motivation to play, the Cardinals would out play Duke in the second half winning 85-63, all in effort to “Get Kevin home” to the Final Four in Atlanta.

 

 

“All he kept saying – and remember the bone is six inches out of his leg – all he’s yelling is  ‘win the game, win the game!’ I’ve never seen that in my life. We’re all distraught and all he’s saying is ‘win the game’ while the bone is out of his leg – pretty special young man.”
-Coach Rick Pitino

 

 

 

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal

The final game of the regular season will be held on senior day this Saturday, March 9 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Column: Basketball team aims for national championship

The final game of the regular season will be held on senior day this Saturday, March 9 at the KFC Yum! Center.

By Nick Zelano–

With one week left in their regular season, the U of L men’s basketball team has regained the momentum many thought was lost. After their three-game losing streak in the middle of the season, the Cards have quietly won eight of their last nine games. That single loss was the five overtime marathon at Notre Dame. The Cards will finish up their last two games of regular season play at home against Cincinnati and will get a chance to avenge the loss to Notre Dame at home next Saturday, March 9 for senior day.

Looking back at the season it seems hard to believe that the Cards still have a chance at having at least a share of the Big East regular season title. Trailing only Georgetown by one game, the Cards have climbed their way back from being three games back to now a solid second place at 12-4 in conference place. Marquette also sits at 12-4, one game behind Georgetown for a share at the title as well. If Louisville can take care of business this week at home, winning both games, they will have at least a very good chance of getting a share of the title because Georgetown plays a Syracuse team seeking revenge for a midseason loss as well.

“Looking back at the loss at home against Syracuse, it felt like the season was over,” says senior Elementary Education major Thomas Lehnhoff. “I really thought we were invincible and losing that game hurt, but looking back, now it’s water under the bridge. We got them back on their home court, and now were back on track.”

With Georgetown and Marquette both winning on Saturday, March 2 as well, it means it will all but surely come down to the last Saturday of the regular season. Georgetown takes on Syracuse and as long as Marquette and Louisville take care of their own games, then all three will share a regular season title.

Justin Peterson, the coordinator of intramural sports at U of L, explains that while winning a conference title would be great for press, a national championship is what he wants.

“To win the Big East is more for bragging rights,” Peterson said. “Look at last year; we won the Big East tourney, which was great, but I want more this year; I want that national championship.”

Many Cardinal fans remain split about how important it would be to win a regular season title. Regardless, fans agree on this: we’ve come a long way since that losing streak in January. Now, given the position the Cardinals are in in the Big East, it is a great starting point for another late season push at a national championship.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal

infrared

New infra-RED jerseys arouse mixed responses

By Sammie Hill–

During this year’s Big East and NCAA tournaments, the University of Louisville surprised audiences by sporting Adidas infra-RED jerseys. Although some prefer the traditional uniforms, others—players included—have embraced the new look, regarding the vibrant jerseys as a staple of the Cardinals’ successful run to the 2012 Final Four.
“A lot of people don’t like them because they say we look like highlighters,” said junior guard Peyton Siva. However, the team has expressed their fondness for the jerseys.
“The players would kill me if I tried to change,” revealed head coach Rick Pitino after winning the Big East championship. “The players love them. They’re undefeated in them. It would be silly to change right now.”
Sophomore guard Russ Smith added, “I want these jerseys every game.”
Louisville has been joined by two other universities, Baylor and Cincinnati, in the adoption of these Adidas AdiZero uniforms.
“When you go out on a limb and take risks, not everybody’s going to like what you do, and that’s OK,” said Lawrence Norman, Adidas’ Vice President for Global Basketball. “I feel like, during this March Madness, once it’s over and in retrospect looking back, I’m very proud to say that we’re the talk of the tournament and that our teams have excelled in these uniforms.”
Despite the new uniforms, this year’s University of Louisville men’s basketball team embodies the timeless Cardinal tradition of excellence. Regardless of the color of their jerseys, the team has represented U of L exceptionally well, uniting not only the university but also the entire Louisville community. This year’s team has inspired pride in the students of this school and the residents of this city by exemplifying the success that accompanies diligence and resiliency.

shill@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy cardchronicle.com