Cardinal Basketball

If There Is One Player Who Will Break A Backboard In A Real Game, It’s Montrezl Harrell

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

I don’t write things with the intention or belief that any member of a University of Louisville athletic program reads what is posted here.  It would be foolish and presumptuous of me to think that my opinion could have an impact on any real live game scenario.

That being said, I need someone to reach out to Montrezl Harrell for me.  I need a message relayed to him.

Dear Trezl,

It’s me, the guy that never forgets the L at the end of your name.  I feel confident that I speak for all fans of The University of Louisville when I say that we are all impressed with your ability to desecrate a backboard.  We were all left marveled at your most recent rim dismantling in Florida.  You really butchered that last backboard, and it will never trifle with you again.   I am still feeling confident when I say that all Cardinal fans wish to see you exterminate one of the backboards at the KFC YUM center, during a game. 

We know that you can channel your inner Marshawn Lynch so as to go “Beast mode” on the rim.  The backboard will surely not be about that action boss.  Let me break it down Trezl.  No one in the history of the Louisville basketball program has broken a backboard in-game.  At least I have never seen it. 

The crowd goes ape whenever you violently construct one of your acrobatic dunking mosaics, imagine the fever pitch when all of the glass shatters onto the ground.  The roof may literally catch fire from the energy of a crowd that appreciates fine dunking.  A tear would most certainly arise to the eyes of Dunkenstein, Alvin Sims, and many other Louisville laureates of the throw down.  Do it for us Trezl, the people who love to watch you soar through the air and get angry at the rim.  Do it for The ACC. 

The conference was spared of you when that whole Virginia Tech thing fell through, show them what they’ve been missing.  Break our rims, break their rims, break all the rims in every game if you have to.  No one has a rim that is ready for you this year, and you haven’t been stopped yet.  Most importantly though Trezl, do it for yourself.  It’s obvious that you enjoy breaking backboards, you’ve taken out two already this summer.  If shattering backboards gives you peace then I want you to be at peace my brother.  Our symbiotic fan/player relationship can be exercised in one of its most pure forms this season. You could give yourself and 22,000 other people the greatest feeling on Earth with one effortless act on your part. You hold the key to the loudest noise ever made inside the YUM center with one of your favorite activities.

I don’t know what got into Montrezl recently, but I foresee this backboard violence continuing.  Montrezl Harrell was an eye popping athletic specimen from the first day he stepped on the court.  It would be a scary site to behold a polished, high-flying power forward getting up and down the court in an up tempo offense.

Montrezl is already one of the stars of this season’s Louisville basketball team and will most likely be one of the best players in The ACC this upcoming season.  Boston College and Georgia Tech may want to reinforce the backboards in their gyms when Trezl comes to town.  No rim is safe around Montrezl Harrell, hopefully not even our own.

Montrezl Harrell Shattered Another Backboard On Sunday Afternoon

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

In just a few months time, Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell has managed do break a backboard while dunking a basketball. In late April, while working out in Florida, Harrell broke a backboard at a high school while playing pick-up basketball.

It turns out Harrell did it again on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati during a summer league game. Below is picture from Cincinnati photographer Anthony Tribble.

I’m sure the rims and backboards at the Yum! Center are more capable of handling dunks than high school gyms, but with that said, I don’t think anyone would be surprised if this happened during a real game.

Ray Spalding’s Grandmother Played A Role In His Decision To Stay Home

Photo: WSTXSports.com

Photo: WSTXSports.com

There is something special about a highly regarded homegrown prospect who decides to stick around and attend the University of Louisville. Some of the best players in the history of the Louisville basketball program were from right here in the Derby City. Male High School’s Darrell Griffith led the program to their first ever national championship, while Ballard’s Dejuan Wheat was one of the best guards to ever play for Denny Crum.

In the past decade, the city of Louisville hasn’t produced as many high level prospects as it did in the 80’s and early 90’s. However, that appears to be changing. Former Ballard Bruin Quentin Snider is entering his freshman season with the program and is regarded as one of the top 30 prospects from the 2014 class.

Pitino landed another Louisville native last week as Trinity’s Raymond Spalding verbally pledged to the Cardinal program. He made his decision less than a month after picking up a scholarship offer from Louisville. The hometown school was perceived as a huge favorite for Spalding throughout his recruiting process. As it turns out, his family also had an influence on the decision to stay home.

“Growing up my mom and grandmother they always loved Louisville,” Spalding said in an interview with WLKY on Thursday. “They’ve always loved everything about it. We’re from here and nothing beats your hometown. It’s just really exciting.”

Spalding says his mother wanted what was best for him, however it was a different story with his grandmother. She was pulling for Louisville all the way.

“She was in his ear all the time saying UofL, UofL,” Spalding’s father tells WLKY. “I think they had a big influence on the choice he made. But the whole city has been recruiting him pretty much. I do think it’s a really good fit.”

Spalding is currently playing with “The Ville” in the AAU Nationals here in Louisville. His squad is undefeated in pool play and will be back in action on Saturday at 5:20 PM. With Rick Pitino in attendance, Spalding scored a total of 37 points and grabbed ten rebounds in two games on Thursday.

Anton Gill Expected To Have A Much Larger Role In His Sophomore Season

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli | The Cardinal Connect

Anton Gill arrived on campus last season amid much fanfare and admiration for the incoming class.  Unfortunately, not much of the calamity was directed at this particular former Hargrave Academy product.

Gill’s prep school teammate, Terry Rozier, was quickly seen as a reliable hand for the Cardinals at an early part of last season.  Gill was sequestered to the bench after showing glimpses of offensive firepower in intrasquad scrimmage games as well as preseason games.

It was the lack of defensive qualifications that kept Gill firmly rooted to the Cardinal bench all season long.  Questions arose about Anton’s availability, but they were all quickly shot down with the same “concerned about defense” redirect.   This season it will be hard to deny Anton Gill what is rightfully his, a spot in Rick Pitino’s rotation.

Gill will have no pressure to start for at least another year while Chris Jones and Terry Rozier are expected to marshal the back court for the Cardinals next season.

The Raleigh native can provide a dead-eye shot from long range off of the bench as well as score off the dribble.  Nailing three-pointers off of screens was Luke Hancock’s thing, Anton Gill can do that.  Creating space off the dribble was Russ Smith’s thing; Anton Gill can do that too.  I’m not alone in my assessment.

ESPN’s C.L. Brown recently released his List of Sophomores to watch for this upcoming basketball season, and Anton Gill is all sorts of on it.

Anton Gill, guard, Louisville. Gill’s offensive skills weren’t questioned, but as strictly a shooting guard, he wasn’t versatile enough to work his way into the backcourt rotation. He still figures to be coming off the bench, with Terry Rozier and Chris Jones starting, but Gill will make an impact this season. 

Veteran guys will need to shoulder more of the load, which means an increased roll for Gill if he wants it.  The Cardinals will be in need of some scoring this season, and Anton Gill could be one to provide it.  The University of Louisville lost two of their top three scorers from last season.  Those points will be difficult to make up if Chris Jones and Wayne Blackshear are the final options in terms of scoring points.  Gill can be a deadly another option on the court as well as an excellent floor spacer if he can bring it all together.

Gill represents an unknown potential that has yet to be unlocked.  He could come into his own during his sophomore year by assimilating quickly into a productive role.  The flip side of that coin would be that Gill never quite figures it out on defense and is eventually recruited over.  His Hargrave Military Academy comrade, Terry Rozier, figures to be an impact player for the Cardinals this season and rumors have already begun to circulate about Rozier’s NBA future.  Gill will not likely have the opportunity to leave early and it is very possibly that he could be a four year player at The University of Louisville.  The basketball career of Gill will begin to be judged here in what will be his sophomore year.  He has shown that he has the talent to play for The University of Louisville; we will see the true depth of that talent very shortly.

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 christy@gocards.com.

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 | Emory.edu

Photo | Emory.edu

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.