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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.

 

Preview: Cardinal softball

By Justin Stephenson

In U of L Athletics, there is a common pattern of up and down.  After winning the Sugar Bowl and being on the rise, we lost our football coach Charlie Strong. After winning the national championship, we lost our best rebounder, Chane Behanan.  And after posting a 47-13 record last season, the U of L softball team loses three of their top five sluggers in Katelyn Mann, Alicja Wolney and Jordan Trimble. Even in the wake of such important departures, these Cardinals refuse to be grounded; in fact they hope to soar into this season just as good as ever.

“We hope to capture the AAC crown this season, as well as win the conference tournament; I also think that making a deep run in the tournament, at least to the super regionals, is totally possible,” Head Coach Sandy Pearsall said.

But, as is often the case in sports, winning is a privilege, not a right. Dictating from the Cards’ strength of schedule, wins will be at a premium this season.

“We face a lot of stiff competition this season,” Pearsall said. “Just look at the first half of our season before conference play; we have number 18 Missouri and UNC on the road and then we have two huge home games facing two softball powerhouses, number four Michigan and Wisconsin. Not to mention number nine Kentucky, who has a phenomenal squad this season.”

So who will be the anchor in this avalanche of adversity; who will step up this season to guide this team along the winding and narrow road that defines this team’s success?

“I am looking for production particularly from Katie Keller as well as our shortstop Whitney Arion, I also see Maggie Ruckenbrod and Taner Fowler playing a huge part for us this season on the offensive side of the ball.”

And why wouldn’t they play a huge part? With the departure of last year’s seniors, Keller is the unquestioned statistical leader on offense. The three-time All Big East and two-time All-American leads the team in slugging percentage at a whopping .709. She also leads the team in home runs with 12, hits with 76 and runs with 62. She is also tied for the most doubles on the team with 18 and has the most walks with 32.

Next up on the mound is senior catcher and All Big East selection Maggie Ruckenbrod, whose 59 hits, .551 slugging percentage, 22 walks and 41 runs batted in is good for second on the team. Senior Catcher and two time All Big East selection Hannah Kiyohara paces the team in batting average, as she is right behind Keller hitting at a clip of .342. She is second in walks with 22 and third in total bases with 63.

Rounding out the top tier is junior shortstop Whitney Arion, who is arguably the Lady Cards’ most athletic player and undeniably their most clutch.

Her game winning RBI against Longwood, her game-winning three run home run against Pitt as well as her late-inning heroics against a tenacious Hofstra squad has her earning the respect of players and fans alike. Her 33 runs, 51 hits and 12 doubles are top three on the team. She also has the second most bases on the team with 86.

“On the defensive side of the ball, we have a solid front in Maggie Ruckenbrod and Whitney Arion, as well as a reliable stopper in Katie Keller,” Pearsall explained. “We also have four pitchers this year which is a luxury. Caralisa Connell and Rachel LeCoq definitely have the experience by far, but Tiarra Sanabria and Maryssa Becker will definitely have to step up and help us out with innings.”

Along with being a veritable offensive threat, Ruckenbrod doesn’t mind stepping up to make some stops. As indicated by her 340 chances, a team high, as well as her 290 putouts, which is also a team high. She also leads the team in fielding percentage at 98.8 percent. Another dynamo on defense is senior shortstop Katie Keller. Keller leads the team in assists with 114  and leads the team in double plays with 14.

The pitching staff is led by senior and All Big East selection Rachel LeCoq, who posted an astounding 2.12 earned run average last season, holding opponents to an even more incredulous 1.56 ERA during conference play. She also held the opposition to a grand total of three stolen base attempts last year, resulting in a team low .277 percent on stolen base attempts. She leads the team in shutouts with nine and in saves with three.

Coming out of the bullpen is senior and three-time All Big East selection Caralisa Connell, who leads the team in winning percentage at .833 and in strikeouts with 209. She also posted a team low for the season in doubles with 19 and triples with three.

With their one year in the AAC the softball team has their chance to leave their U of L mark on the American Conference, hopefully winning it in its inaugural season.

The Cards open up their newly-renovated Ulmer Stadium against Northern Kentucky on Friday, Feb. 21 at 2:00 pm.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Baseball team gears up for 2014 season

By Lilly Trunnell

The University of Louisville Baseball team takes the field for the first time with a Valentine’s Day dual against West Virginia on February 14. With the season just around the corner there is only a little bit of time left to linger on the success and magic of their College World Series run during The Year of the Cardinal.

2013 was a truly memorable season for Louisville Cardinals Baseball. Topping off the season, the Cardinals became Conference Champions, and went through the NCAA Tournament all the way to the College World Series. The 51-14 team was held up largely by the then-junior and senior players under the guidance of Head Coach Dan McDonnell and Assistant Coaches Chris Lemonis and Roger Williams.

The 2013 squad’s impressive 51-14 record came with a conference record of 20-4 in the competitive Big East. At home they boasted 33-5, but their away record didn’t falter at 15-4, which brought in 3-5 at neutral locations. This neutral location record was their demise in the College World Series, which takes place at third-party fields. Upon arriving at the CWS, the Cards lost two in a row, eliminating them from the series. First was a 2-0 loss to Indiana followed by 11-4 elimination versus Oregon State.

That in no way means the team wasn’t solid. The pitching staff boasted an overall ERA of 2.52, which included a strikeout to bases-on-balls ratio of 629-223. This balances out roughly to nearly three strikeouts for every walk allowed. Despite these extraordinary numbers, it may be difficult for the Cardinals to replicate the numbers again this year. They lost four impressive junior pitchers to the draft. RHP Dace Kim, RHP Jeff Thompson, RHP Chad Green and LHP Cody Ege will all be joining professional teams in their minor league organizations for the upcoming season.

Defense is an often-overlooked strength of many teams. While the Cardinals weren’t necessarily the strongest in the area, they held up a solid .969 fielding percentage and committed a total of 77 errors in 65 games total. The pitching staff kept the need and opportunity for a fantastic defense to a minimum, and the offense made up for any lost time there may have been.

With all but one batting average above the Mendoza line, the total average for all the Cardinals was. 283, with seven players going above the .300 mark. They outscored opponents 404-212 runs, had a winning streak of 16 and a losing streak of only three in comparison. Lost from the offense and defense will be drafted 3B Ty Young, OF Chad Johnson and OF Adam Engel. There are also a handful of graduated senior who will not be returning.

With Dan McDonnell, Chris Lemonis, and Roger Williams returning to lead a fresh set of faces in 2014, it’s certain to be an intriguing season. The Cardinals will have to find new approaches to success in 2014. It’s going to be a year of rebuilding and discovery.

Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com

Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

By Annie Moore

 

At first glance, Super Bowl XLVIII looks to be a clash between the powerhouse offense of the Denver Broncos and the league-leading defense of the Seattle Seahawks. But the league championship games provide a better look at the threats presented by both teams, on both sides of the ball.

 

Super Bowl XLVIII will be just the fifth Super Bowl since the AFC-NFC merger to pit the leading scoring offense in the league , against the leading scoring defense.

 

Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense have put up big numbers in almost every game this season. Manning eclipsed league records for touchdowns and passing yards in a single season — 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards to date. And why not? With a slew of targets from Wes Welker to Demaryius and Julius Thomas and Eric Decker, to name a few.

 

On the opposite side of the contest, the Seahawks defense has been shutting down some of the most elite offenses in the country.  In 16 games, Seattle allowed a combined 231 points, which led the league. Carolina was close behind with 241, San Francisco was next with 272, and the rest of the league was at least 70 more points behind.

 

This game is being highly touted as the best Super Bowl matchup in many years, these teams dominance has been talked about for weeks. What may be the biggest unknown and the x-factor in Super Bowl XLVIII, the weather.

 

The Meadowlands are anything if idyllic in early February and some would argue that planning a Super Bowl there is a recipe for disaster. Contingency plans have already been made in case of extreme winter weather or dangerous storm systems on the East Coast.

 

But, no matter what day the game is played on, what the weather conditions are, and wherever Roger Goodell decides to sit, Super Bowl XLVIII looks to be a great game, a truly Super, Super Bowl.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Men’s basketball AAC preview

By Dalton Ray

 

CINCINNATI BEARCATS

Mick Cronin’s teams are known for rebounding on the offensive glass, long athletic

defenders, and low percentage jump shooters. This year’s team should fit the same mold and

will be led by senior guard Sean Kilpatrick. Last year’s team went 22-12, 9-9 in conference

but had a very disappointing postseason. After beating Providence in the first round of

the Big East Tournament they lost to Georgetown by 19 in the quarterfinals and then

followed that up with a four-point loss against Creighton in the second round of the NCAA

Tournament.

Even though four projected starters for the 2013 team are upperclassmen only two,

Kilpatrick and senior forward Titus Rubles, averaged more than 20 minutes per game. Once

again the Bearcats shouldn’t have a problem with defending or rebounding as they return

their top three leading rebounders in Kilpatrick, Rubles, and fellow senior projected starter

Justin Jackson. In addition Cronin added the athletic four-star power forward Jermaine

Lawrence, 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, to compliment their length and rebounding.

Like previous teams, this one has most of its questions coming on the offensive end.

Kilpatrick averaged more points per game with 17 than the rest of the projected 2013 starter

lineup combined at 15. The offense will need contributions from starting junior guard

Ge’Lawn Guyn, talented and now-healthy sophomore Jeremiah Davis III, and newcomers

Kevin Johnson and Troy Caupain.

Cincinnati will come into the year in the top 45 and will have games on their schedule

that could bump them to a top 25 team. North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Xavier and

number-23 New Mexico headline the non-conference schedule for the Bearcats. They will

have their hands full when it comes to conference play as the newly-formed American

Athletic Conference provides one of the deeper conferences in the nation. No. 3 Louisville,

No. 13 Memphis, No.18 UConn and Cincinnati are the heavy hitters in this conference.

The returning talent from Temple, SMU, South Florida, Houston, and Central Florida

could provide a very strong first year for the AAC.

CONNECTICUT HUSKIES

Kevin Ollie is in his second year as the head coach of the UConn Huskies and after

posting a record of 20-10 overall and 10-8 in conference play the Huskies are now done

with their postseason ban. The team returns all five starters and offers one of the best

starting guard combinations in the nation with Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier.

Napizer, 17.1 points per game, 4.6 assists per game, and Boatright with 15.4 points per

game and 4.4 assists per game, were both selected to the AAC All Conference Team. Napier

was one of three unanimous selections.

The outcome of the 2013-2014 season will mostly rely on the senior Napier and junior

Boatright but just how good the team can become will depend on the development of junior

forward DeAndre Daniels, sophomore Omar Calhoun, and junior Tyler Olander. The guard

play will be there but how Daniels, who averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, and three

blocked shots over his last four games, and the streaky shooter Calhoun can contribute will

be a large factor in UConn’s success. The Huskies will have size on the front court with

Daniels 6-foot-9, Olander 6-foot-10, Phillip Nolan 6-foot-10, Kentan Facey 6-foot-9 and

freshmen Amida Brimah who is 7 feet tall, that will pass anyone’s eye test. If the front court,

mainly the center position, can get boards and play solid defense then this team could be

very dangerous heading into March.

Calhoun and Daniels both averaged double digits last season but the next two leading

scorers that return are Olander with 4.2 and Nolan with 1.7. The front court must

contribute in order for this UConn team to live up to full potential. Starting off the season

ranked number 18 in the nation, the Huskies will face their toughest non-conference games

against Maryland, No. 10 Florida, Washington, and Boston College.

HOUSTON COUGARS

Coming from Conference USA, the Houston Cougars finished out last year with a 20-

13 record and a 7-9 in conference mark. The Cougars fell in the quarterfinals to UTEP in

the conference tournament and then they were invited to play in the College Basketball

Invitational in which again they were defeated in the quarterfinals by George Mason. Three

starters return from this 20-win basketball team.

With the returning wing duo of TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House, Houston has

the play makers in place to make a stamp on their first year in the AAC. Head coach James

Dickey has improved his win total over the past two years but continuing this streak might

be a difficult task. The jump from the C-USA to AAC could be a rough transition for the

Cougars as ranked 269 in nation last year in defensive efficiency and allowed opponents

to shoot 49% from two-point range. With conference opponents such as Russ Smith, Joe

Jackson, Shabazz Napier, Isaiah Sykes and Anthony Collins, it can be a long season for the

Cougars if their defensive intensity doesn’t step up. If Houston can play quality defense then

they can be a competitor, but if not the Cougars will have their first year in the AAC as

one they can forget about. They won ten games last year by five points or less, with stiffer

competition those close wins could easily turn into losses.

Houston might have one of the better frontcourts in the AAC with Thomas, Freshman

of the Year in C-USA House, returning senior starter J.J. Richardson and 6-foot-10 transfer

Danrad Knowles. While the front court seems to be set the back court isn’t as clear. Joseph

Young, the starting point guard for the 2012 team, transferred to Oregon. With the loss of

Young, Tione Womack will take over the point but averaged only 2.7 points in the 2012

year. Jherrod Stiggers hit 67 threes last season but really hasn’t proved anything else. The

Baylor transfer L.J. Rose should provide points off the bench as he was a top-75 recruit

before coming out. If Rose, Knowles, and Stiggers step up their performance then Houston

could easily become an underrated team in the AAC.

SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

The 2012-13 year was one to forget in south Florida. The school had 58.8

points per game (331st), 32.6 rebounds per game (256th), 11.3 assists per game

(278th), and a .389 shooting percentage led to a 12-19 record and a 3-15 Big

East record. Last season’s team had a large problem with rebounding due to

their lack of a true center and interior depth. Head coach Stan Heath looks to

patch this up as he added center John Egbunu 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, forwards

Chris Perry 6-foot-8, 245 pounds and Dre’Kalo Clayton 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, as

well as returning last season’s leading rebounder.

Egbunu and Perry were both four-star recruits and will look to help out

sophomore forward Zach LeDay in the paint. Egbunu will provide the inside

presence they will need to get attention away from outside players and Perry’s

7-foot-5 wingspan will help the Bulls’ rebounding woes. With the arrival of some

young talent, senior Victor Rudd 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, will now have some of

the defensive pressure off of him and should be able to take advantage. Rudd

is easily the team’s go-to guy as he led the team in points at 12.3, rebounds at

6.9 and was second in minutes at 34 . Anthony Collins will be the starting point

guard, who led USF to the tournament in 2011, led the team with 36 minutes per

game and 6.5 assists last season.

JaVontae Hawkins and junior college transfer Corey Allen will be guys who knock

down open shots as a result of new post play. Freshman Bo Ziegler 6-foot-6,

180 pounds, will also get some time giving Heath a deeper bench, something

he didn’t have a year ago. The Bulls will be bigger and better but they’re still

rebuilding. Unless the bigs make a huge improvement on the boards and the

team increases their defensive pressure then this won’t be a NCAA tournament

team.

UCF KNIGHTS

Central Florida might not come out and win every game in the AAC but they will more

than likely cause some match-up problems. This UCF team is not the average college

basketball team. The primary ball handler is the small forward and the center led C-USA in

three-point shooting last season.

Isaiah Sykes is the Knights’ do-it-all player and led the team in points at 16, assists at 4.5 and

steals at 2.3. He was second in rebounds at 7.5. He was also selected to the AAC preseason

All-Conference Team.

If Kasey Wilson continues to improve then Sykes and the rest of the Knights could have a

successful first season in the AAC. The 6-foot-7 forward hit 42 of his 84 attempts last season

and forced opponents to pull their big men out of the paint, but his 4.4 rebounds a game

must increase. The Knights as a team need to focus more on rebounding, last season their

66.9 defensive rebound percentage ranked them 229th in the country, and that was with the

school’s all-time leading rebounder in the lineup. UCF has some serious issues defensively

inside, allowing foes to shoot 49.4 percent from 2-point range. Eugene McCrory, a 6-8

junior college All-American last season, will be looked to make a difference, and the two

sophomores Staphon Blair and Dylan Karell should contribute.

Tristan Spurlock excels more when he’s not banging away inside at the center position

but the 6’8, 230lbs senior can do it if need be. Senior Calvin Newell should also add some

consistent scoring as he averaged 11 points per game last season. Returning five of the top

seven players off last year’s 20-win team and adding new young talent the Knights will be

experienced and competitive in the AAC.

MEMPHIS TIGERS

Memphis had a 2012-13 record of 31-5 with a perfect 16-0 record in conference play and

has his team headed into the 2013-14 season as the number 13 overall ranked team. Josh

Pastner has followed in John Calipari’s footsteps in Memphis, in a way. Pastner always finds

a way to land big-name recruits, between his 2012 and 2013 classes’ he has hauled in a total

of six four-stars and one five-star in Austin Nichols. Now add this to the guard play of Joe

Jackson and Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford on the wing and this Memphis team can

run with most teams in the country. The biggest problem for Memphis in recent years is all

of Pastner’s talent that has came through has not always lived up to the full potential due to

inexperience and not having a quality team around the players.

Memphis has a chance to break this routine as they have a combination of experienced

veteran players and as usual talented young players. Forward Shaq Goodwin (6’9, 245lbs)

showed many signs of the type of player he could be in just his freshman year. Finishing the

year with 7.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG he needs to be more consistent in order for the Tigers to

move on to the next level. Another factor standing in Memphis’ way of success this year will

once again be how they fare with turnovers. Last season’s 20.8 turnover percentage, which

ranked 225th in the country, cost them games they could have won. Pastner’s high tempo

offense is one reason for the turnovers but he hopes his upper-class filled back court will

cut down on this state drastically. Senior transfer Michael Dixon Jr. and freshmen Kuran

Iverson, Nick King, Rashawn Powell, and Dominic Woodson will all look to contribute

immediately.

Memphis’ defense hopes to be as good as it’s been in recent years. Last season they

ranked 24th in the nation in defensive efficiency and 18th in steal percentage with 12.7%.

With two match-ups against top ten teams in #8 Oklahoma State and #10 Florida plus the

move to the AAC the Tigers won’t have as soft as a schedule as they had when they were

in the C-USA. The stiffer competition could cause problems for Pastner’s team but he has

the talent to match up with most teams in the country. Another 30-win season might not

be in the horizon for the Tigers but all the makings are there for competing for an AAC

championship and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

Last year Rutgers went 16-16 with a Big East record of 6-14. Not many universities

have had as rough as a 2013 year as Rutgers. Between the videos of former head Mike Rice

throwing balls at his players, multiple transfers that followed his departure and new AD

Julie Hermann’s controversial past the Scarlet Knights needed a head coach that could lead

this team out of the darkness. They reached into the NBA to find a coaching candidate and

selected Eddie Jordan to take charge of this team.

Jordan’s team lost five players off last year’s team and he will ask many fresh faces off

the bench to put in a large work load. Four juniors and a senior will make up a line up that

shouldn’t make too many rookie mistakes led by junior guard Myles Mack. Mack, a very

underrated guard, led the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage last season, led the team

in minutes per game, was second in scoring with 13.6 wile shooting 48% from the floor. The

rest of the line up didn’t average more than seven points but they do return their top two

rebounders in Wally Judge and Kadeem Jack. Guard Jerome Seagears will be looked at to

step up on the offensive end to help Mack as Malick Kone’s presence is felt in the defensive

side of the court.

Rutgers has been given a big lift within the past couple of weeks as the NCAA ruled

that transfers Kerwin Okoro from Iowa State and J.J. Moore from Pittsburgh will both be

immediately eligible. Both should challenge for major playing time and starting roles and

along with junior college transfers DVon Campbell and Craig Brown should give Rutgers

more firepower. Defensive struggles will need to be addressed; otherwise this season won’t

be very pretty for the Knights.

SMU MUSTANGS

There’s a very interesting situation in Dallas, Larry Brown’s team will return all five

starters off last year’s team that went 15-17 overall with a 5-11 in conference record, but

there is a chance none of them might start. Each of his starters last season averaged at

least 32 minutes per game but with five new comers to the team there will be competition

for starting roles. With new competition, talent, and a Hall of Fame coach in Brown the

Mustangs can really turn some heads this year.

Last year’s starting guards Nick Russell (14 PPG) and Ryan Manuel (12.1 PPG) were two

of the team’s leading scorers, now both will be pushed for playing time by four new arrivals.

Illinois State transfer Nic Moore is expected to take over the point guard spot as he averaged

10 points and 3 assists last season as a freshman. McDonalds All-American Keith Frazier

(6’5, 190) has good range, great athleticism, and will almost start immediately. Transfers

Crandell Head and Sterling Brown will also fight for back court minutes. The front court is

just as crowded. The two returning starting forwards and center are joined by No. 1 JuCo

recruit Yanick Moreira (6’11, 220lbs) and Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy (6’9, 245lbs).

Jalen Jones, Shawn Willaims, and Cannen Cunningham started for the Mustangs last season

and combined had an average of 31 points, 19 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals per game.

With Russell and Jones being the only starters off last year’s team expected to start despite

returning everyone SMU should be one of the deeper teams in the AAC. Since Brown has

been at SMU the talent level has increased and at this point Brown has the pieces in place,

all he has to do is fit everything together. The Mustangs will travel to No. 24 Virginia in late

November and that could prove to be their toughest non-conference opponent.

TEMPLE OWLS

In recent years the Temple Owls have been one of the more consistent teams in the

nation, they’ve won 20 games six years in a row now, last year posting a 24-10 overall

record and an 11-5 in conference record. But like most new teams to this conference the

increased overall competition might put a halt to that. Better competition, small amount of

experience, and lack of proven scorers could cause Temple a hiccup in the six consecutive

seasons with 20 wins or more. After losing Khalif Wyatt, Scootie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-
Jefferson the Owls may not be able to bounce back.

Without a double-figure scorer on a team that already has to address some significant

defensive issues this could be a long season for the Owls. Temple’s D allowed 49 percent

effective field goal shooting, and conference opponents hit 38.6 percent of their 3-pointers.

Plus not to make anything better they lost five of their top seven key players from last year’s

squad. Not only will they need to focus on scoring by committee and team defense but they

will be doing this with unproven, inexperienced players. Anthony Lee (6’9, 230lbs) and Will

Cummings (6’2, 175lbs) return for their junior seasons and the guard and center combo will

need to adjust their game to the changed, slower offense. Lee averaged 9.8 points per game

and 6.8 rebounds per game last season. Lee and Cummings will both be more involved on

the offensive side this season.

Senior Dalton Pepper will be leaned on for his defensive impact and sophomore guard

Quenton Decosey is the team’s scorer. The backcourt is thin but coach Fran Dunphy’s team

will rely on freshman Josh Brown to play some minutes if needed. The front court is a little

on the small side. Outside of Lee (6’9) and Devontae Watson (6’10) the Owls have one

person 6’8 or taller in freshman Mark Williams. Temple will more than likely come in the

year a small-ball, team-ball type approach. If sophomore and starting forward Daniel Dingle

(6’7, 225lbs), Brown, and Williams all step up this could be a 20-win team

Photo by Austin Lassell

Men’s basketball season preview

By Noah Allison

For the first time since 1987, the Louisville Cardinals Men’s basketball team enters

the regular season as defending National Champions. Rick Pitino’s number-three ranked

Cardinals will try to win the school’s first-ever consecutive titles without Peyton Siva and

Gorgui Dieng, who both play in the NBA now. Siva was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and

Dieng was selected in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In college athletics, programs must move forward with the annual loss of impact players.

But along with the loss of two of the program’s greatest comes the reassurance that this

year’s team still has six players that have been a part of the Cardinals’ past two Final Four

runs, and nine players returning from last year’s championship squad.

The Cards are led by their three captains. Senior shooting guard Russ Smith, an AP

Preseason All-American, led the Cards in scoring last year averaging just over 18 points

a game. Senior small forward Luke Hancock was last year’s Final Four MVP and scored a

combined 42 points coming off the bench. Sophomore power forward Montrezl Harrell

honed his raw athleticism his freshman year and is ready to emphasize the power from that

position.

Last season point guard Peyton Siva set the Cards single-season steals record with 90. He

also orchestrated the offense and defense as one of the nation’s most unequivocal leaders.

In an attempt to fill the void of losing one of U of L’s greatest-ever athletes, Rick Pitino has

brought in point guards Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Anton Gill.

Jones is a transfer from Northwest Florida State Junior College where he played for two

seasons. Last year he averaged 21.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.0 steals on his way

to being named the 2013 National Junior College Division I Player of the Year.

Backing up Jones will be freshmen Terry Rozier and Anton Gill, who played along side

each other at Hargrave Military Academy in North Carolina. Both Rozier and Gill averaged

at least 28 points in their time at Hargrave and were both top-100 rated recruits.

Center Gorgui Dieng’s presence was most felt in the paint where he blocked a total of 267

shots in his three years at U of L, including the single-season school record of 128, which he

set his sophomore year. Replacing Dieng will be a dual effort from red-shirt senior center

Stephan Van Treese and red-shirt freshman Mangok Mathiang.

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Van Treese had pivotal playing time coming off the bench in

the Cardinals championship run last year. His 11.2 rebounds per 40 minutes average was

second best on the team to Dieng’s 12.1 and his experience and time spent in the system will

prove vital in tough times throughout the season.

The 6-foot-10, 200-pound Mathiang comes in after red-shirting his freshman year. He

practiced with and against Dieng and the National Championship squad. The combination

of Van Treese’s size and experience and Mathiang’s length and youthful energy will have to

make up for the loss of Dieng’s presence.

Junior small forward Wayne Blackshear will be given a greater role this year as the team’s

starting small forward while team captain and small forward back-up Hancock battles his

shoulder injury.

Not only will Blackshear play significant time at the three, but power forward Chane

Behanan’s indefinite suspension will have Blackshear playing at the four as well, giving him

a chance to display his versatility with a 6-foot-8 frame and an ability to hit a jump shot.

The Cards can also rely on the return of junior guard Kevin Ware. His infamous Final

Four broken leg was a rallying point for the Cardinals who, when facing double digit deficits

in both the Final Four and National Championship game, found a way to “Win for Kevin.”

Ware had his best game against Oregon before his injury and his leadership, length and

athleticism will make him more valuable as a player than a symbol.

The Cardinals will play this one season as a member of the AAC, a conference that may

not prove to be as tough as the Big East. The AAC still has talented teams though.

An early season non-conference matchup with number-one ranked University of Kentucky

will be the measuring stick for how this team will handle the success of being defending

National Champions.

Barbez reimagines history in ‘Bella Ciao’

Bella Ciao is the new joint by Brooklyn band Barbez, released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label. The seven-piece plays Nelligan Hall this Friday.

Barbez_byGabriellePlucknette4

By Lara Kinne

Bella Ciao is a significant anti-fascist anthem in Italy; now it is also the significant title of Barbez’s latest album, a message its composer, Dan Kaufman, envisioned from a historical site in Rome.

He visited the narrow Via Rasella during a trip in 2009. The exact street where on March 23, 1944, a small group of Italians took on 120 German soldiers using a homemade bomb and mortar shells. Thirty-three Germans died. It was a brief triumph for the Italian Resistance before the Germans murdered 335 people in retaliation. Those deaths included 70 Roman Jews. One building at the end of Via Rasella is still splattered with cracks and holes, reminders of one of the most horrible war crimes of Nazi-occupied Italy.

The original folk song “Bella Ciao” surfaced with the Italian partisans of WWII. Barbez covers this song on the new record. The threads of Jewish music are instrumental in Barbez’s framework for the album; it was Kaufman’s way of honoring its history and combining that with Roman influence.

Kaufman was first introduced to this type of music by a friend and fellow composer, Yotam Haber. While in Rome, Kaufman immersed himself in the archives at the historic Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cicilia music institution, where he found several traditional Italian recordings preserved by ethnomusicologist Leo Levi. Roman scholar Elio Piattelli was also a substantial contributor to the preservation of oral Roman Jewish traditions after the war. Those discoveries planted the seed for Bella Ciao.

Kaufman was moved by the story of Via Rasella and felt “Bella Ciao” carried that sad, yet hopeful message left by staggering loss.

“We wanted to say something without being too dogmatic,” Kaufman said. “I feel like it worked in its way to get a message out there.”

The album accomplishes the story of two eras. On one side, the ghostly presence of old Roman and WWII-era sounds. The other side: his father, who was hospitalized in critical condition during the album’s creation. He died in January 2013. Kaufman paid frequent visits to the hospital between working on the record.

“There’s stuff under the surface [of Bella Ciao] where I’m like ‘oh my God’; I kind of remember what was going on when I was writing that song, or tracking, or mixing it.”

He added that the album felt like a snapshot of his life. In the most disheartening experience, he inverted those emotions into what you hear on Bello Ciao – uncapped compositions, surging with instrumental vigilance, dripping poetry.

“All the intensity of feeling was already there, but it was positive.”

The poetry comes from two wartime poets: gay communist and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and hermetic poet Alfonso Gatto.

Spoken-word presentations of those poems on Bella Ciao dramatize the orchestral mosaic of the seven-piece Barbez. Violin swoons mourn the lives lost. Clarinet compliments the brew with a warm, klezmer tone. Splashes of vibraphone, organ, piano and theremin enter like passing voices on the street.  Kaufman’s electric guitar interjects with a post-rock kick. The outcome is practically a new level of Roman Jewish sound.

“That kind of why I felt like it was important,” Kaufman said. “Taking something really distant from the past…there is a message that’s kind of universal.”

That very statement marries what Alfonso Gatto wrote post-war: “The Resistance … is not an exceptional moment of being; it is the opposite – a period that endures in time and in history to form a common conscience.”

Welcome back Barbez this Friday, Nov. 15 at Nelligan Hall.

2010 Portland Ave.

$8; Show at 9 p.m.

facebook.com/nelliganhalllouisville

AAC Preview

By Sam Draut

Cincinnati

The Bearcats return 13 starters from a 10-3 team that started 5-0 and reached the Top 25 in 2012.

Tommy Tuberville was hired as head coach in the off season after Butch Jones left for Tennessee.

Cincinnati returns both quarterbacks who started last season, seniors Munchie Legaux and Brendan Kay.

Kay appears to be the starter after going 4-1 last year, but Legaux will split time initially. The defense

returns five starters from a unit that ranked in the top 15 nationally in defensive scoring average.

Cincinnati has been as consistent as anyone in the Big East, winning four conference championships in

the past five years, the transfer to the AAC should not alter their winning ways.

UConn

Paul Pasqualoni enters into his third year at UConn with a noticeably warm seat after two consecutive

5-7 seasons. The Huskies offensive returns eight starters from a unit ranking 110

offense a year ago. Junior running back Lyle McCombs battled injuries last season after rushing for

over 1,500 yards his freshman year. On the other side of the ball, the top 25 defense in 2012 returns 5

starters. The Huskies saving grace last year was their defense, this year; more questions open up about

their defense paired with an offensive that struggled a year ago.

Houston

The Cougars offense brought them into the national spotlight, including a 13-1 campaign in 2011. Head

coach Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M and Tony Levine was brought in. Houston continued to move

the ball in Levine’s first season, ranking in the top 15 in total offense, but the defense struggled, and

struggled mightily. The Cougars return 14 starters from a 5-7 team a year ago, 10 of those returnees are

on the offensive side of the ball, continuing to leave question marks on defense. Houston plays a soft

non-conference schedule, so returning to a bowl game should seem realistic.

Memphis

Memphis returns 17 starters from a team went 4-8 in 2012, but ended the season on a positive note at

3-0. Second year head coach Justin Fuente has shot some life into a struggling program, though picked

to finish last this season, Memphis plays seven of their first eight games in the state of Tennessee.

Senior quarterback Jacob Karam returns for his senior season, while a commitment to running game will

remain intact with the return of running back Brandon Hayes and five offensive linemen with starting

experience. Seven starters return on defense led by junior middle linebacker Charles Davis. The soft

schedule and momentum could allow the Tigers to surprise some teams.

Temple

The transition to the Big East did not go as smoothly as Temple had planned a year ago. Finishing 4-7

added with the loss of head coach Steve Addazio left the Owls searching for answers. Matt Rhule takes

over a team that returns 15 starters, but plans to switch to the spread offense, a contrasting style from

Addazio’s run oriented offense. The defense returns Tyler Matakevich, the Big East Defensive Rookie

of the Year in 2012. Once again, the Owls will be transitioning, but with games against Notre Dame,

Louisville, and Cincinnati early on, the season could take a rough turn early.

SMU

SMU enters into its inaugural year in the American Conference with early tests and questions

offensively, while trying to rebuild the front four. The Mustangs play Texas Tech, TCU, and Texas A&M

in their non-conference schedule, but do not play AAC league favorite Louisville. A team that finished 7-

6 a year ago returns starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert and four starters in the secondary. The early

schedule is loaded, so for Mustangs to reach their fifth consecutive bowl appearance, they must win

games in conference.

Rutgers

Rutgers started last year 9-1 and was in the driver’s seat for the Big East conference championship

and BCS berth, but the final weeks ended in disasters for first year head coach Kyle Flood. The Scarlet

Knights returns 14 starters from a 9-4 team in 2012, but must replace 11 players drafted or signed by

NFL teams. Quarterback Gary Nova returns, but the stout defense from a year ago returns just four

players. Rutgers was picked to finished third in the AAC this season, but Kyle Flood will begin to define

his program as players from the Greg Schiano era sift out.

USF

Willie Taggart was hired after a disappointing 3-9 campaign led by head coach Skip Holtz in 2012. The

Bulls return 11 starters, but is the only team in the AAC to not return a starting quarterback. Four

players have competed for the starting job at quarterback, senior Bobby Eveld, sophomore Matt Floyd

and Steven Bench, or freshman Mike White. The defense has a core group of returning, including a pair

of talent defensive ends in Ryne Giddins and Aaron Lynch. The Bulls were picked to finish 5

but Taggart will face an uphill battle with games against Michigan State, Miami, and Louisville.

UCF

The Knights finished 10-4 last season and return 11 starters from a year ago. George O’Leary enters

his ninth season at the helm of UCF, the longest tenured head coach in the AAC. The team will be

tested early with matchups against Penn State and South Carolina. The offense returns 6 starters, but

the defense will be missing seven of the top ten tackles from last season. The Knights were picked

to finished fourth in the AAC, and can potentially benefit with the early tests before they enter into

conference play.

The AAC has seven bowl tie ins for the 2013 season.

The league champion has a guaranteed berth in a BCS Bowl. The Russell Athletic Bowl versus an ACC

opponent, the Belk Bowl versus an ACC opponent, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl versus a Big 12 opponent,

the BBVA Compass Bowl versus an SEC team, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl versus a Conference USA or SEC

team, and the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl versus a Conference USA opponent.

Reloading a star-studded program with future stars for the upcoming season

By Annie Moore - 

The University of Louisville men’s soccer team had a successful season in 2012, to say the least. Big East Red Division champions, NCAA tournament quarterfinals and an overall record or 14-6-1, 7-1-0 in conference play would be a tough act for any team to follow. But Head Coach Ken Lolla has reloaded the Cardinals for what looks to be another exciting season in 2013.

 

Possibly the biggest challenge for the NCAA Preseason #25 ranked Louisville team will be replacing defensive midfielder Andrew Farrell, who not only lead the Cardinals last season, but was also the first-overall pick in last year’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft. The Cards will also be missing Greg Cochrane and Paolo DelPiccolo, both of whom were selected in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft.

 

Hoping to fill the void are some of the top transfers in the country, Nolan Moore and Louie Berra at midfield, as well as defenders Mitch Lurie and Jimmy Ockford. The class of impact recruits — which also includes forward Jonathan Brown, formerly of the University of Kentucky — all have collegiate experience and will need to step in and make a difference right away. The transfers will have help from another exciting recruiting class, which includes defender Andrew Brody and midfielders Romilio Hernandez and Jeremy DeGraffenriedt.

 

Perhaps the biggest piece of the Cards success the season will be the return of MF Will Vitalis. Vitalis lead the team in assists and shots last season, with seven and 35 respectively. Other returning players include MF Marlon Hairston and MF Ade Akinsanya who both helped Louisville’s defense end last season with seven shutouts.

 

The 2013 team will undoubtedly look different from the vastly successful 2012 team, but if it can learn to adjust to the losses and focus on the talent of the new additions, it could see much success in its only season in the American Athletic Conference before heading to the highly-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.

Junior running back Jarel McGriff-Culver stands at 5' 11 and came to Louisville from Downers Grover, IL.

Defensive Preview: 2013-2014 Louisville Football

By Xavier Bleuel–

The Louisville Cardinals’ defense has much to improve looking forward to in their last season in the Big East.

The Cardinal defense under-performed in 2012, finishing 49th in stopping the run, and in the year prior, dropped 39 spots from 10 in the country. The one bright spot in the defense was the secondary; the passing defense finished 16th in the country.

However, the defense more than made up for any shortcomings during the season with a dominating performance against Rutgers and against Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

Defense this year has the depth that was lacking in previous years. The Cardinals have plenty of playmakers at each position. Here are a few players to look for in 2013.

Defensive line:
Marcus Smith: 6-3, 252, Senior. The quarterback-turned defensive end has grown exceptionally since his transition to the defensive line. Although he didn’t bring eye-popping numbers in the Sugar Bowl, he was all over the field, making Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel’s day a miserable one. He has all of the physical tools to become a dominate end. Expect him to have an outstanding year.

Deiontrez Mount: 6-5, 234, Junior. The always giddy Mount is the charismatic leader on the defensive line — he’s also every bit as affective on the field. He is the complete package at the defensive end. If needed, he can play outside linebacker as well. His length, speed and strength make him virtually unstoppable. Mount played in every game in 2013 and had 26 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFLs and a pass breakup.

BJ Dubose: 6-5, 273, Junior.  Some call him Louisville’s most athletic defensive end. Dubose had 15 tackles, 0.5 TFLs, 1 pass breakup and a QB hit in 7 games during 2012. He was suspended in mid-season for disclosed reasons. Expect Dubose to return his junior year with something to prove to his teammates, coaches, and fans. U of L’s recently released depth chart listed Dubose at Defensive Tackle. It’s something to keep an eye on and he could remain on the outside when the fall comes around.

Lorenzo Mauldin: 6-4, 242, Junior. Lorenzo is a crowd favorite. The former tight end found a home as a full-time defensive end in 2012.  Mauldin had 22 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in 2012. Two games missed due to injury put the defensive line at a disadvantage after Dbose’s suspension.

Sheldon Rankins: 6-2, 287, Sophomore. Rankins came into Louisville as a defensive end. With his great strength and size, it was an easy decision for the coaching staff to move him to the interior. He had a productive season in 2012, playing in nine games, registering seven tackles and a sack in the Sugar Bowl.

Linebackers:
Preston Brown: 6-2, 255, Senior.  As a junior, Brown led the Cards in tackles with 109 in 2012.  He played in all 13 games. Brown is the leader of the defense, starting as middle linebacker, the position characterized as the quarterback of the defense.

George Durant: 6-0, 235, Senior. Durant busted on the scene in the later stages of the 2011 season and followed up with a great 2012 campaign, playing in all 13 games and finishing sixth with tackles on the team. Work pays off.  Durant is currently Keith Brown’s backup but he will get adequate snaps on the field while competing with the sophomore linebacker.

Keith Brown: 6-1, 230, Sophomore. The true freshman came in and shined at each linebacker position in 2012. His ability to quickly adapt to the college level and lead a defensive is something that makes Card nation excited for in the years to come. The Army All-American played in 10 games —starting five of them —and finished fifth on the team in tackles with 57. He also added 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Brown was rewarded for his efforts on the field by being named to the Freshamn All-American team. He is the second player under Coach Strong to receive the honor; Teddy Bridgewater held the same title one year prior.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said he will move Brown to outside linebacker to maximize the linebacker unit as a whole.

James Burgess: 6-0, 213, Sophomore. Like Brown, Burgess played significant minutes as a true freshman, filling in for departed senior Daniel Brown. Burgess played in 10 games and had 28 tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 INTs and a forced fumble.

Nick Dawson: 6-3, 250, Red-shirt freshman. Dawson came to Louisville with Keith Brown as Army All-Americans. Unfortunately, Dawson was red-shirted to deal with a family death. The former high school standout will come into this season pushing to start.

With Keith Brown, James Burgess, and Nick Dawson, the Cardinals will be set in the linebacker position for years to come.

Cornerbacks:
Terrell Floyd: 5-10, 199, Junior. The junior out of Fort Pierce, Fla. made big play-after-big play for the Cardinals. His biggest play in the Sugar Bowl, intercepting Florida Gators QB Jeff Driskel on the opening play from scrimmage for a touchdown, swung all momentum in Louisville’s favor. Everyone remembers that play, but Floyd had made big plays throughout the year. Floyd interception of Rutgers QB Gary Nova on Rutgers final possession clinched the game.  He also sealed the game against Cincinnati in overtime with his interception of Bearcats QB Munchie Legaux. Floyd finished the season with 34 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, three interceptions, five pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 2013.

Andrew Johnson: 5-9, 187, Junior. Opposite to Floyd on the starting depth chart, Johnson played in 12 games despite injury and registered 26 tackles. His physical prowess isn’t off the charts like his football IQ. He is always in the right position at the right time, a player with instincts, which makes him a great open-field tackler. For example, he had the game-winning deflection in the end zone against North Carolina. In 2011, his touchdown return off of a block punt against West Virginia was the biggest play of the game in the victory.

Stephan Robinson: 5-10, 170, Junior. Robinson is in his third year out of Central High School.  He is a solid corner with his off-the-charts speed and his physical play at the line of scrimmage.

Safeties:
Hakeem Smith: 6-1, 187, Senior. A three-time all Big-East performer, Smith is looking to close out his fourth career as starter as a national champion. He has recorded 245 career tackles.

Calvin Pryor: 6-2, 213, Junior. In his second year as a starter at the free safety position, Pryor became the defensive MVP in 2012. The hard-hitting sophomore finished with 100 tackles, five forced fumbles, five pass breakups, 2.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery. He was also second Team All-Big East.

Jermaine Reeve. As a freshman last season, Reve made crucial plays all year, including knocking the ball from the Florida Gators, and future NFL tight-end Jordan Reed in the end zone, stopping any potential momentum. Reve finished with 32 tackles, a sack and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Gerod Holliman: 6-0, 208, Red-shirt freshman. A former U.S. Army All-American has all of the potential to be one of the better players on the defensive side of the ball. In limited action, Holliman played in just three games, registering two. Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford recently mentioned Holliman as a red-shirt freshman. He will have to fight with Pryor,  Smith and Reve to see the field.

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