Cardinal Basketball

The Third Commemorative Markers Mark Bottle Will Feature Tom Jurich & The ACC

Photo | @KKCards

Photo | @KKCards

The third and final edition of the University of Louisville Commemorative Markers Mark bottles are expected to go on sale later this week. The third bottle will feature UofL athletic director Tom Jurich and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Former football coach Charlie Strong was featured on the first bottle in 2012 while basketball coach Rick Pitino was featured on the second bottle following the 2013 national championship.

All proceeds from the bottle will go towards aid in fundraising efforts for a new academic center on the UofL campus.

“We’ve been proud to support the efforts to make the Academic Center of Excellence a reality,” Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels said in an official release from the schooll.

“We selected Tom Jurich to be featured on the final bottle in the series because he has truly brought the entire athletic department to a new level of achievement. U of L athletics play a huge role not only in the lives of student athletes but also in shaping our entire community, and clearly Tom’s leadership has been nothing short of remarkable.”

“Maker’s Mark is an icon in Kentucky,” said Jurich. “The support we have had from the Samuels family through the years has been terrific. Their partnership has been extraordinary for the academic center, which could be the most important facility we have built on this campus. It means so much to us to have a company with the prestige and tradition of Maker’s Mark to partner with us for a center that will mean so much to all of our student-athletes.”

The Academic Center of Excellence will be located beneath the Norton Terrace at the South end of the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The center will house the academic operations for the entire athletic department and all student-athletes and academic staff will be located in one building. The center will feature tutorial areas, laboratories, office areas and classroom space. Fundraising is continuing for the facility.

Jurich, Samuels, Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels, Jr. and Master Distiller Greg Davis will autograph bottles at a special ticketed signing event next month.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on July 30, tickets for the autograph session will go on sale for $1 each at this link.

Each ticket allows the bearer to have one bottle signed, and only the ticket-holder will be admitted to the event. Bottles must be purchased at a retail outlet prior to the signing; there will be no bottles for sale at the event. There will be 700 tickets sold online on a first come, first served basis. Participants must be at least 21 years of age to attend the signing. Only the 2014 Jurich commemorative bottles will be signed.

The bottle-signing will be on Wednesday, Aug. 13, from 5-7 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center main lobby. Previously purchased tickets will be available to be picked up at the KFC Yum! Center main front lobby beginning at 4 p.m. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Questions regarding the bottle signing event may be directed to Christy Waltrip at (502) 852-0706 or via email at

Montrezl Harrell Says He’d Play A Defensive Possession For Bobby Petrino

Pete Cautilli - The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli – The Cardinal Connect

Thanks to the folks at CardsTV, the Louisville Cardinal basketball junkies have gotten a small fix over the summer. In the past few weeks, UofL has uploaded brief interviews with a couple of the players to the CardsTV YouTube account. Earlier this month we heard from Wayne Blackshear and on Tuesday morning an interview with Montrezl Harrell was uploaded.

Harrell revealed some pretty interesting facts during the interview, such as who he’d like dunk on the most and which ACC team he’s most looking forward to playing. However, the most interesting quote from Harrell was the fact that he’d participate in one play for Bobby Petrino if he was asked to.

“If coach Petrino needed me to play any possession in football, I’d be ready to play one possession of defense a game,” Harrell said. He also noted that he’d be a football junkie. A physical specimen like Montrezl Harrell playing football is a scary thought.

ESPN Says Terry Rozier Could Be Taken In The First Round Of The 2015 Draft


Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

It’s been well noted that Louisville sophomore to be Terry Rozier has made quite a name for himself this summer. Rozier was one of the top performers at both the Kyrie Irving Elite Point Guard Camp and the Lebron James Skills Academy. Not only is Rozier being regarded as one of the top players in the country, he’s now being tabbed as a potential first round pick.

ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman recently ranked ten players who he thinks are flying under the radar for the 2015 NBA Draft. Goodman had Rozier and No. 2 and thinks he could be a first round pick next year.

2. Terry Rozier, 6-2, 190, G, Soph., Louisville Cardinals

Chad Ford’s Rank: 39

I’ve been higher on the athletic 6-2 combo guard than most for the past year — and feel he has a chance to go in the first round due to his ability to get into the lane and make things happen both for himself and teammates. He was inconsistent as a freshman, but it was difficult playing with Russ Smith and Chris Jones. Rozier will need to be a point guard at the next level, and he’ll need to develop that aspect of his game as a sophomore this season.

Full In$ider Article

Being a first rounder next year may seem like a stretch, but if Rozier has the season that most are expecting, it’s certainly possible.  It was tough for Rozier to consistently stand out last year as he was playing behind Russ Smith and Chris Jones. The Cleveland native is one of the better athletes on the team and can effectively play both guard positions.

The San Antonio Spurs & The Louisville Cardinals Are More Similar Than You’d Expect

Andy Lyons Getty Images

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

With Monday’s commitment of Deng Adel, Rick Pitino continued his trend of wooing international players to play for Louisville. It was no coincidence that Pitino was asked about the World Champion San Antonio Spurs during his summer update press conference last week. The coach’s affinity of foreign talent is beginning to match that of Spurs leader Gregg Popovich.

When asked about San Antonio, Pitino marveled at the team’s passing. He talked about attending Game 5 courtside and watching them eviscerate the Heat. He couldn’t help but notice the foreign connection: “the foreign players are used to passing the basketball.”

When he arrived at Louisville, Rick Pitino had a few international players. However, we never quite got the impact performances from Simeon Naydenov or Joseph N’Sima.

As he eased into his tenure, the foreign presence grew limited aside from Francisco Garcia and Juan Palacios. That was until 2012, when Mangok Mathiang made 2012’s roster the first since 2005 to have more than one international. Since the numbers have begun to skyrocket. Akoy Agau joined the team while Gorgui Dieng left, and now this season Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman have become Cardinals. With the addition of Deng Adel, the Cardinals should have at least five international players on the roster next season.

INT players

Because the Pitino offensive scheme rewards strong passing with easy buckets, Pitino has begun to embrace international players with open arms. Gorgui Dieng’s ability to become not just a quality big man, but also a quality interior passer has become the blue print for Louisville’s centers. Expect to see Mangok Mathiang’s inside passing, given that Pitino mentioned his growth as a player this offseason.

Some have also suggested that the Spurs’ unselfishness on the court may come from experiences off the court. Grantland’s Bill Simmons has discussed a similar bond among players from San Antonio. He once described working with Avery Johnson, a former Spurs teammate, and one occasion when his old team came to town. Simmons spoke about Johnson ditching a pre-planned dinner just to eat with Duncan, Popovich, and many of the current team members. He made it clear that the friendships in San Antonio were bigger than normal, and theorized how much that factored into the team’s years of continued success.

In recent years (Pitino’s “revival” as he may call it) the coach has instilled a similar sense of total graciousness and togetherness that is seen among the players in San Antonio. Sports Illustrated’s cover for the Cardinal’s title triumph was titled “Brothers, Champions”, and it was spot on. The Cardinals of late have created a brotherhood that is unique and doesn’t end when you leave Louisville. It’s a relationship that means more than just what happens on the court.

SPurs ParkerBut perhaps the biggest link between the two squads is their rejection of highlighting the individual instead of the team as a whole. The rise of “Louisville First, Cards Forever” is very similar to the unselfishness of San Antonio’s stars. Just as the Spurs clashed regularly with the publicity machine known as LeBron James’ Miami Heat; the Cardinals are constantly embroiled with the marketing behemoth of Kentucky Wildcat basketball.

Tim Duncan’s sparse contract is over $10 million less per year than he can earn, and is likely entitled to. But he doesn’t care. Just in the way that you’ll always hear Louisville players refuse to take all of the credit for their success. No matter their reputation for being outspoken or otherwise, the Cardinals attribute a victory to the team and to Pitino’s guidance.

With both the Spurs and Cardinals, this has led to unique individual performances rising far beyond expectations. Who would have guessed that Luke Hancock or Kawhi Leonard would deliver on the biggest stages? Under these two team cultures, players like Tim Henderson, Patty Mills, Stephen Van Treese, and Tiago Splitter can become valuable pieces bred for certain roles.

And just in case these similarities between San Antonio and Louisville’s team cultures weren’t enough: just hours after Rick Pitino wrapped up his update talking about coaching for much longer than expected, Popovich signed a contract extension with the Spurs. While Pop is a few years older than Pitino, no one would have blamed either of them for walking away any time soon. But the recent success of each of their teams has reinvigorated them. The desire for each’s players to buy in has made them want to keep their day jobs.

Thank goodness Pitino gives better interviews than Popovich. But aside from that fact, these two incredible basketball coaches continue to look more and more similar.

Recap: Jeff Walz’s Summer Update On The Lady Cards

Crystal LoGiudice |USA TODAY Sports

Crystal LoGiudice |USA TODAY Sports

University of Louisville Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jeff Walz addressed the media on Tuesday to discuss the impending season, the expectations, his roster including its five newcomers, the new conference as well as a couple of his FIBA participants. Here are some notes from the very loose gathering that included quite the cameo by his 13 month old daughter Lola.

  • All five freshman are on campus and doing well in summer class while also participating in summer workouts.
  • Myisha Hines-Allen and Arica Carter arrived a few days ago. Sydney Brackmyre, Ariana Freeman and Mariah Moore have been around for second and third sessions.
  • Mariah Moore will travel with Head Coach Jeff Walz on the 26th to Colorado Springs for the 2014 FIBA Americas 18U (under 18) Championship and will have an opportunity to represent the United States. (Moore also previously participated in the 16U in 2011)
  • Two players have decided to transfer. Monny Niamke (potentially bound for NAIA) and Starr Breedlove will move on.
  • Just like Coach Walz knew he wouldn’t be able to replace Angel McCoughtry, he has the same attitude toward WNBA Rookie & AllStar Shoni Schimmel.
  • Opportunities are opening up so newcomers and returnees alike will have to step up. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of freshman in starting roles.
  • Shoni & Angel in AllStar game is proof of what the program can do and it’s paying off on the recruiting trail. Asia Taylor will play in Italy during the WNBA offseason. Could see seven or eight former players overseas.
  • Walz says the freshman will be counted on and the growing pains will lead to the ultimate goal of playing at their best by March.
  • Hammond playing In the 2014 FIBA USA 3×3 World Championship Team has hopefully increased her speed and she will be counted on to be a leader for this unit.
  • Sheronne Vails and Shawnte Dyer are doing well on the road to recovery. Both are doing some drills but Sheronne is not going full speed. Each of them should be ready to go by the start of full practice.
  • Very impressed with Deines this offseason. Took lack of playing time to heart and has worked hard to improve ball handling and shooting.
  • To no surprise Jude Schimmel, Sarah Hammond and Bria Smith would likely start if he had to create a roster today.|
  • Has six scholarships available for next season but only looking to sign four to five in that class.
  • Looking forward to the travel, competition and new scouting in the ACC which he feels is the greatest league in the country. The bottom of the league is now much tougher than it was in the early 2000′s when Walz was on the staff at Maryland. Non conference schedule should be released soon. Cal, UK, WKU and Belmont will be be a handful of those opponents as well as Iowa in the Big10/ACC Challenge.

Study: Louisville Basketball Has The No. 1 Fan Base

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

The folks at the Emory University Sports Marketing dept. are back again this year with their annual College Basketball Fan Equity Rankings. For the second consecutive year, the formula used by Emory has revealed that the University of Louisville men’s basketball program has the best fan base.

According to Emory’s published report, their rankings based on a statistical analysis of self-reported revenue data. They create a statistical model of revenue as a function of team quality (winning percentage, NCAA tournament qualification, etc.) and market potential (conference affiliation, median income, area population, number of students, etc.) and then compare the model’s prediction to the self-reported revenues.

Photo |

Photo |

Duke climbed this year from No. 2 to No.3, jumping ahead of Arizona. Kentucky once again finished in seventh place. I’d be lying if I said i fully understood how this study was put together, but as you could expect, I love it.

For more on the concept of fan equity, please here and here.

Matz Stockman Has Finally Arrived In Louisville

Matz Stockamn

As of last week, just four of Louisville’s six signee’s from the 2015 class had arrived on campus. Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud, Chinanu Onuaku and Shaqquan Aaron have already moved in and have been participating in workouts.

Norwegian center Matz Stockman was still waiting on a VISA and Michigan forward Jaylen Johnson was waiting to receive clearance from the NCAA. As of Sunday evening, Stockman has finally arrived on campus and Johnson should be in town soon.

Stockman sent out this Tweet on Sunday evening.

Welcome to your new home, big fella.

The Louisville basketball program now has two 7-footers on the roster for the first time ever.

In regards to Johnson, Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal reports that Pitino has informed him that the Ypsilanti native finally received the necessary paperwork from the NCAA. Johnosn should arrive in Louisville early next week.

Terry Rozier: “We’re Going To Be Darn Good”

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

If you’re active on the Twittersphere, I’m sure you’ve probably seen a few Tweets regarding Terry Rozier’s performance at the Lebron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas. Rozier has reportedly been one of the top college performers at the event. The sophomore guard is one of thirty college players participating in this week’s event and has more than held his own.

Despite having a solid freshman season and a good showing in Vegas amongst the nation’s best, Rozier knows he has big shoes to fill as he heads into his second season as a Cardinal.

“If I told you replacing Russ would be easy, I would be lying to you,” Rozier tells Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports.

“It’ll definitely be tough. He played there for four years, and he’s tough. But that’s something that we’re doing right now, playing constantly, getting to know each other. Someone has to step up and do it.”

Rick Pitino had high praise for Rozier when speaking to the media on Wednesday. He says the Cleveland native is going to have a breakout season. When mentioning the leaders for the 2014-15 squad, Pitino mentioned junior forward Montrezl Harrell and senior swingman Wayne Blackshear.

I’m not sure if that was intended as motivation for Rozier, but he seems to see it that way.

“I just want to be a leader,” Rozier tells Borzello. “I just want to play that leadership role, because I think that’s probably what we don’t have right now. I think if someone leads the pack, everything else will come together.”

“We’re going to be darn good. I’ll leave it at that.”

With a core of Rozier, Harrell, Jones and Blackshear this team certainly has potentially to be a Final Four contender. The big question will be what type of production will they be able to get from the newcomers and will returning players be able to adapt to new roles.

Pitino & His Staff Are Geared Up For The July Recruiting Period

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

During his press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Rick Pitino briefly discussed recruiting.

Due to NCAA rules he’s not allowed to mention players specifically, but with the first of three five-day July evaluation periods beginning on Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m., he did briefly elaborate on the process.

“We’re after ten players in the rising senior class,” Pitino says.

“On the way we’ve got to follow the sophomores and juniors. We try to cover regions.”

Although they’ll definitely be keeping track of all of the sophomore and juniors to be, the staff has already seen enough from their top targets in the 2015 class.

“We’re evaluating the sophomores and juniors, but we’re not evaluating the ten guys we’re going after,” Pitino said.

“We know those guys can play.”

Pitino along with newest assistant Kenny Johnson were in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night in Philadelphia for the Reebok Breakout Classic.

I imagine Pitino will be making various rounds throughout the weekend. Here are all of the notable events going on during the first open contact period that runs until July, 13.

July 8-11

  • Reebok Breakout Classic (Philadelphia)
  • Hoop Group Elite Camp (Reading, Pa.)

July 8-13

  • LeBron James Skills Academy (Las Vegas)

July 9-10

  • Live Player Showcase (Suwanee, Ga.)

July 9-13

  • Adidas Unrivaled (Chicago)
  • Adidas Invitational (Indianapolis)
  • Double Pump Summer Tip-Off (Los Angeles)

July 10-11

  • Nor Cal Junior College Jamboree (San Bruno, Calif.)

July 10-13

  • Best of the South (Suwanee, Ga.)
  • Battle of the Best Summer Showcase (Atlanta)

July 11-13

  • Pangos Summer Sweet 16 (Long Beach, Calif.)
  • George McClellan Invitational (Houston)
  • Chicago Summer Jam (Chicago)

July 12-13

  • The Showdown (Philadelphia)
  • Hoop Group Elite Team Camp (Reading, Pa.)
  • Nor Cal Summer Tip Off (San Francisco)

I’d expect Wyking Jones to spend some time on the West Coast as that has almost always been the region that he targets. Mike Balado is expected to be in Las Vegas this weekend for the Lebron James Skills Academy, however Pitino mentioned during his presser on Wednesday that one of the recruits they’re targeting was no longer participating in the event. Kenny Johnson has strong connections on the East Coast so I imagine he’ll be spending some time at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

Stay tuned to The Cardinal Connect over the next few days as we’ll do our best to keep you updated.

Recap: Rick Pitino’s Summer Update

Photo | Adam Glanzman

Photo | Adam Glanzman

Rick Pitino met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to provide a summer update on the program. Below is a recap of what Coach Pitino had to say. As you could expect, he’s eager for the 2014-15 season.

Opening statement on Russ Smith

Since we haven’t talked in a long time, I’ll realty a conversation I had with Russ Smith after the draft. I obviously heard about his press conference and he wasn’t too please to be selected in the second round. I told Russ, you came in here as a non recruited kid. You ended up one of the top players to ever play here and a consensus All American. Your first response is to say t you’re going to prove people wrong. I told him he needs to prove the people right. Prove all the people in Louisville who have believed in him.

We’re extremely excited as he’s signed a contract. A guaranteed contract and I couldn’t be any more pleased with this young man. It only takes one team at the NBA level to believe in your talent. We always believed Russ Smith would be an outstanding pro.

What Pitino thinks of his team thus far

We’ve been working out a players for a short period. We’ve had a couple of guys who recently came in like Shaqquan. Our guys have been working very hard.  The positives are we have a lot of talent and size. The negative is we have to get guys ready right away. We’ve had tough Big East schedules before, but we’ve never had a non conference schedule like this. You take three Big 10 teams and then Kentucky who is going to be the consensus number one.

Harrell & Blackshear stepping up as leaders

We’re getting great leadership from Montrezl Harrell and Blackshear. This is the best I’ve seen Wayne Blackshear look in quite a long time. I’m really excited about the way he’s dedicated himself. Montrezl has come back as a motivated leader.

Agau & Mathiang most improved

The two biggest improvements on the team are Mangok and Akoy. Akoy has really matured physically and emotionally. Mangok has improved physically. Those two guys really stand out. Anton Gill has improved immensely. He’s not quite as physically noticeable as the others.

Back-court of Rozier & Jones

Terry Rozier is going to have a breakout year. He’s what you expect. It’s taken us a long period of time to get Chris Jones where we want him. We’re getting there now. We were trying to get ten pounds off of him. Our assistant coach Kenny Johnson has lost 65 pounds since April. In that time frame we’ve finally got Chris Jones down ten. We’re proud of Chris right now because he’s as good as any guard I’ve coached from a speed quickness standpoint.

Snider ready right away

Q is the most ready right now physically. He’s gotta get in better shape. Offensively he’s ready, but defensively he’s not, so we’re working on that.

Jaylen Johnson still not in town.

Jaylen has an academic situation, but he’s fine. There were consolidation of his high school’s which means they’re just now getting everything in order. Unfortunately for him he’s going to be behind.

Anas Mahmoud likely to redshirt

He’s probably going to need a redshirt season because he’s so thin. Just 186-pounds. He’ll be tremendous in the future, but he’s just not ready right now physically.

Chinanu Onuaku learning to get in shape

He’ll be a good guy off of the bench. He has the most room to grow because he’s just now learning how to get in shape.

Shaqquan Aaron is similar to Garcia 

Shaqquan reminds us of Francisco Garcia. Was supposed to come in at 185 and came in at 168. The bad news he has Cisco’s body, but the good news is he’s got Cisco’s game.

Stockman waiting on his VISA

Matz is just waiting on his VISA. He’s been cleared.

Snider will play right away

Q reminds me of Edgar Sosa. Very ready offensively, but he’s not defensively. He’ll play as a freshman though. He’s not going to be like Anton, he’ll play. He’s going to get better because he has to guard Terry and he has to guard Chris Jones.

Open recruiting periods in July

We’re after ten players in the rising senior class. On the way we’ve got to follow the sophomores and juniors. We try to cover regions. We’re evaluating the sophomores and juniors, but we’re not evaluating the ten guys we’re going after. We know those guys can play.