The Kentucky Freshmen are Not Selfish

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BY CHRIS HAAS

The Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team had a rough week. First, the Cats lost to a mediocre Arkansas team at home. Arkansas is fighting for an NCAA tournament berth and they pulled out a hard-fought win on the road. It happens, even in the sacred grounds of Rupp Arena. The majority of Big Blue Nation justified the loss (rightly so) but the sky above Lexington began to teeter on the heels of the 7th loss of the season.

Then came the loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks, who are by no means mediocre. The Gamecocks hosted the Wildcats with a resume that includes a 10-17 record, a RPI in the 180’s, and a loss to USC Upstate. South Carolina is bad, and there are less polite adjectives that could be used to describe them. After the loss, the Lexington sky went from teetering to an all-out freefall.

The perceived “one and done” players have received much of the scrutiny this week. Critics have said:

“They play for the name on the back of the jersey and not the name on the front.”

“They attempt to stuff the stat sheet instead of playing team ball.”

“They care more about their NBA future then their time at U.K. “

“They try to protect their bodies instead drawing contact and diving on the floor.”

While there is some truth to each one of these statements, the young players are not the ones to blame. In 2006, NBA Commissioner David Stern enacted what is now known as the “one and done” rule. The rule said a player couldn’t enter the NBA Draft until they are 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school. The reasons for this are obvious: The NBA scouts get to see a one-year audition before drafting talent. This allows teams to make better decisions in the draft, which increases the talent pool in the NBA, which makes for a better game, which makes for larger revenues.

The NCAA on the other hand is ensured that the best young players will at least make a pit stop in the college game. This allows teams to recruit at a higher level, which increases the talent pool in the NCAA, which makes for a better game, which makes for larger revenues.

It was a win-win proposition for the NBA and the NCAA. However, there is a third party that wasn’t considered: the players themselves. There is a fallacy in the thought that an 18 year old can die for our country but cannot play basketball in the NBA.

The rule effectively forces all talented basketball players with professional aspirations to play at least one year in the NCAA. The fact that the NCAA is not a place of employment and these players will not be compensated for their services, other than an education they aren’t interested in, only adds to the absurdity. The only other alternative that is a somewhat viable option is to play for the NBA’s D League. However, since the NBA and NCAA have essentially partnered up on this deal, the NBA has done nothing to entice players to join the D league as an alternative.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave his support for the NBA D-League as an alternative route for NBA prospects. He said this in an interview last week:

“I think what will end up happening — and this is my opinion, not that of the league — is if the colleges don’t change from the one-and-done, we’ll go after the one. The NCAA rules are so hypocritical, there’s absolutely no reason for a kid to go [to college], because he’s not going to class [and] he’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball. So if the goal is just to graduate to the NBA or be an NBA player, go to the D-League.”

Notice Cuban added “this is my opinion, not that of the league.”

Kentucky freshmen Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle and others have not been shy about their NBA aspirations. They want to play basketball professionally. They want to be paid millions of dollars to play the sport that they love on the highest level. That is their priority and their prerogative. The one and done rule has forced them into a position to pretend that they are “playing for the name on the front of the jersey.” They likely chose to attend the University of Kentucky because John Calipari puts players in the pros, not because Kentucky has an excellent agricultural program.

The players that John Calipari recruits are not your average NCAA athletes. They are elite prospects. Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison would have gone in the first round of last year’s draft. They were not given the freedom to make that decision as adults, so they made the next best business decision they could and attended the University of Kentucky. 99% of college athletes do not turn pro. 99% percent of the NCAA athletes are living their dream and achieving their goals by playing at the highest level of competition in college sports. Kentucky deals with the 1% who are still climbing the ladder.

Given their lack of choice in the matter, is it surprising an elite prospect would be more focused on their own career aspirations? When the NBA is on your doorstep, is preserving your body by not diving on the floor truly a poor decision? Is that selfish? What do they owe to the team on the front of their jersey? The free algebra credits? These questions are based on the assumption that the freshmen actually are dogging it, which I’m not convinced is true in the first place.

The irony is the University of Kentucky’s Men’s Basketball team was once viewed as one of the largest beneficiaries to the “one and done” rule. The tables have turned in the last two years though. By forcing kids to play in the NCAA for one year, the NCAA has eliminated choice. Instead of wanting to play, they have to play. I don’t blame the Kentucky freshman for being selfish, I blame the NCAA and NBA for being selfish when they enacted the one and done rule in 2006. The NCAA and Kentucky would be better off if the players actually wanted to be there, even if those players aren’t as naturally gifted.

 


Breakdowns in the Bluegrass

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

Last weekend was not ideal for basketball fans in the state of Kentucky. The No. 7 Louisville Cardinals fell at No. 21 Memphis, and the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats were upset by South Carolina. Expectations were set extremely high for both teams at the beginning of the season. UK boasted one of the best recruiting classes in history, and started the season being ranked No.1. U of L returned most of their national championship squad, except for Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng. Both teams were favorites to win the national championship in the preseason, and not that that outcome for either team is out of the question now, but both programs have hit obvious obstacles.1393771308000-USATSI-7778154

UK’s loss to South Carolina is their second straight, and their third in the last five games.    U of L lost to Memphis earlier in the season, and snapped a seven-game winning streak in a game whose ending was the antithesis of the previous week’s 58-57 last-second thriller over Cincinnati.

So what’s with the meltdowns? How does UK, a squad with eight McDonald’s All-Americans, fail to string together two halves against a conference bottom feeder? That answer is obvious. They lack maturity and clear leadership, and therefore rely on freshmen and sophomores to consistently make good decisions and not get flustered when things don’t go their way. If they find a way to fix that (which might not be easy if they have to watch their head coach get kicked out of the game), then they could be a huge tournament threat. Even though they shot an abysmal 26.9 percent (14-of-52 from the field), they still outrebounded South Carolina 46-28. Talent is obviously there, but the attitude may not be.

Even though U of L has a veteran team led by seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, they still show small bouts of immaturity. The Memphis game was a frustrating situation, especially given the fact that seven days earlier, the notoriously stressful Russ showed his seniority by passing the ball and patiently waiting for a good shot instead of doing something stupid. But the Memphis ending was full of shots that seemed forced and ended up as misses. Even Pitino said he knew his team was not in the right mindset when they “started acting like junior high kids” when they were up seven as the final minutes wound down. Despite Russ scoring 19 points and Montrezl Harrell scoring a career-high 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, them assuming the game was over when there were still five minutes left led to their demise.

These losses sting, but they could serve as a huge wakeup call at a really convenient time. March is the most important month for college basketball, so learning this bitter lesson at the start of the month could propel both teams into deep tournament runs.


The Reds Need to Answer the Bell in Tough NL Central

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BY CHRIS HAAS

The Cincinnati Reds arrived in Goodyear, Arizona last week for the start of the 2014 MLB marathon. Spring Training represents new beginnings and reasons
for optimism, even the town is named “Goodyear.” Provided how poorly they finished the 2013 season, I imagine this fresh start is a welcome sight for the
men in red.

The Cincinnati Reds ended 2013 as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ personal whipping boy. The Bucs swept the Reds in a pivotal season ending series that determined
home-field advantage for an inevitable one-game playoff between the two teams. After locking up home-field, the Pirates did not disappoint their
playoff-starved fans and embarrassed the Reds 6-2 in the Wild Card game.

The Pirates wanted it more than the Reds; it was abundantly clear to all observers. The Reds finished flat in every way possible- from their play to
their affect. The meltdown morphed a 90-win season into a disappointment and put Manager Dusty Baker out of a job. Dusty was a fine manager for 3 and a half
of his 4 years with the Reds but he lost his clubhouse in the second half of last year. Once a clubhouse slips away, it’s gone forever. While Baker’s
firing was a no-brainer, he should still be remembered as a great success in the context of his entire Reds career.

Following Baker’s departure, Walt Jocketty quickly promoted Pitching Coach Bryan Price to Manager. Jocketty stayed in-house, believing a major shakeup
wasn’t necessary. One would have to think he’s right. As disappointing as the Reds finished 2013, the fact of the matter is they return most of the talent
that led them to 90 wins and the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years. Starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo and center fielder Shin Soo Choo have moved on but
youngsters Tony Cingrani and Billy Hamilton are promising replacements. The rest of the team returns, including a pitching staff that finished 2013 with a
3.38 ERA, 4th best in the majors. Reds pitchers turned in that sparkling ERA despite the fact they play in one of the most hitter-friendly parks
in the world. It would not be a surprise if a rotation of Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Tony Cingrani, and Mike Leake finished 2014 as the
best in MLB.

The Reds aren’t the only team in the NL Central with loads of returning talent. The 2013 National League pennant wielding St. Louis Cardinals will almost
certainly field a contender. The Cardinals boast a nice mixture of sturdy veterans (Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina) and budding
youngsters (Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, and Matt Adams). They also have a consensus top 5 prospect in outfielder Oscar Taveras. Taveras will be ready to
contribute at the major league level sometime in 2014.

The young Pittsburgh Pirates are anxious to follow their first winning season in 18 years with an encore. The Pirates young core is still trending upward.
The Pirates can expect continued improvement from young players like Gerrit Cole, Pedro Alvarez, and Starling Marte. Gregory Polonco, one of the best
offensive prospects in the minor leagues, could join the Pirates outfield as soon as opening day. A potential outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte,
and Gregory Polonco could be an exceptionally formidable in 2014 and for the foreseeable future. When that outfield trio joins forces, their collective
athleticism will be unrivaled.

The Reds, Pirates, and Cardinals spent the 2013 season in a three-team dogfight and the Reds finished flat on their backs when the final bell rang. The
trio appears primed for a rematch. If the Reds hope to compete in 2014, they’ll need to come out swinging.


The Importance of Russ’ Shot

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

As the seconds wound down on Saturday afternoon, I thought for sure that the team would be clean-shaven for the start of the week. Instead, their sweet beards are still in tact, and Russ Smith hit a deep 2-pointer to knock off Cincinnati 58-57 inside Fifth Third Arena.maxresdefault

That shot was the best thing that could have happened, and not just because of the obvious reason that it won the game for Louisville. Russ absolutely needed to be the person who makes that shot. Even though their 23-4 record is nothing to sneeze at, this team has struggled to beat quality opponents, and the road to a third straight Final Four wasn’t looking as bright as it did pre-season. Russ making his first game-winner against a team that beat them earlier in the year is exactly the boost of confidence he needed at this point in the season to lead his team into March Madness. On paper (or off it), Russ is the best player on the team. He’s a senior captain, an All-American, and is the team’s leading scorer. There are other guys on the team who I think are great leaders (Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, I’ll even throw Chris Jones and Terry Rozier in there), but if the guy who averages 17.5 points and 4.5 assists per game is struggling confidence-wise, it’s going to create a ripple effect that has negative consequences for the rest of the team. However, that works both ways. If Russ is confident (but not cocky), the other guys will be too, and success is certain. Just look at guys Preston Knowles, Kyle Kuric, and Peyton Siva. All were underrated or overlooked at some point in their careers, but it was their attitudes and their skill that got them wins and made them memorable.

Russ’ shot made up for the otherwise forgettable game he had on Saturday. He scored an uncharacteristically low ten points, had a frustrating turnover, dribbled the ball off his foot, and shot a dismal 30 percent. With a rematch against Memphis looming, and the AAC tournament just around the corner, U of L needs Russdiculous (the good kind) to show up for every game left on schedule. I think that’s likely.


Shoni Schimmel Reaches 2,000 Career Points

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

Shoni Schimmel is among some pretty good company. In Wednesday night’s 81-62 beat down of Houston, she became just the fifth U of L basketball player to join the 2,000-point club, and only the second woman to do so behind Angel McCoughtry.louisville-temple-1-1-14

Shoni’s 2,000th point came on a free throw, and she now has 2,004 total points. Other than McCoughtry (2,779), men’s basketball legends Darrell Griffith (2,333), DeJuan Wheat (2,183), and Pervis Ellison (2,143) also grace this elite crew with their presence.

Shoni captured a lot of people’s attention during last year’s miracle run to the national title game. With all eyes on her this season, she managed to not only reach the 2,000-point mark, but made several other accomplishments as well:

  • Set a record for 3-pointers made in a game with nine against Memphis.
  • Program leader for 3-pointers made in career with 361. This means she scored over 1,000 points in 3’s alone.
  • Became the fourth player in program history to reach 1,000 points.
  • Also became the fourth player in program history to dish out more than 500 assists in her career.
  • Candidate for the Naismith Trophy.

I’ve been harping on how great Shoni is since she’s been here, so to see her earn an honor like this is elating. With the most thrilling stretch of basketball season around the corner, the Shoni show isn’t close to being over. She’s one of the best athletes to ever put on a Cardinal uniform, so let’s cherish these last few weeks with her.


Experts and Rating Systems Agree: The Cards are a Mystery

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BY CHRIS HAAS

The Louisville Cardinals remain a bit of a mystery with only a month to go in the NCAA basketball season. Experts and statistical rating systems alike are having a difficult time pinpointing just how good the Cardinals are. Louisville will get a chance to solidify themselves as contenders when they embark on the toughest stretch of the season when they play at Cincinnati, at Memphis, vs. UConn, and vs. SMU in a two-week stretch. In the meantime, here’s a review of some wildly varying opinions and rankings of the Cardinals ability:

Louisville IS a final four team according to: KenPom Ranking (6th)

Ken Pomeroy is the creator of a popular statistical-based college basketball rating system. He uses personally designed algorithms to determine computerized rankings based primarily on a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency. The accuracy of these rankings in determining game outcomes has helped crown it as the Holy Grail of ratings systems, especially for those involved in the sports gambling community. These rankings can be found on kenpom.com.

According to kenpom.com Louisville is the 12th best offensive team, 9th best defensive team, and 6th best overall team in country
based on their current body of work. These ratings take strength of schedule into account so Louisville will have a chance to climb the ladder when they play four quality opponents in the next few weeks. Ken Pomeroy’s rating system believes the Cards will be dangerous in March.

Louisville IS NOT a Final Four team according to: RPI (34th)

The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is a simple ratings system based on

-Wins and Losses

-Where those wins and losses occurred: Home, Away, or Neutral

-Strength of schedule

RPI does not care that most of Louisville’s losses have been close losses and most of Louisville’s wins have been blowouts. The RPI does not know that Louisville has the highest scoring margin (20+) in the NCAA.

What the RPI does know, however, is Louisville is 1-3 vs. top 25 teams and 2-1 vs. top 50 teams. A total of 3 wins and a .500 record vs. top 50 opponents is not impressive to the RPI and U of L’s ranking (34) is a reflection of that. Fortunately, Louisville will have a flurry of top 50 games in the final weeks of the season to paint a more favorable picture in the eyes of the RPI.

Louisville IS a Final Four Team according to: The Coaches Poll (5th)

The 31 NCAA coaches who vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll did not believe Coach Pitino when he said his Cardinals aren’t elite “objectively speaking.” The voters gave the Cardinals oodles of respect, slotting them behind only Syracuse, Florida, Wichita State, and Arizona. Those four teams have as many losses combined (4) as the Cardinals.

Louisville IS NOT a Final Four team according to the Associated Press poll: (tied for 11th)

The AP poll and the USA Today Poll are two subjective rankings and they usually agree with one another. Not this week. Somehow Louisville found a home in the top 5 of the Coaches Poll but fell outside of the top 10 in the AP poll.

Louisville IS NOT a Final Four team according to: ESPN’s Bracketology (6th seed)

Joe Lunardi creates a bracket each week of the season that gives an estimation of where the selection committee would seed teams if the “season ended today.” The selection committee relies heavily on RPI rankings so it’s no surprise Louisville is seeded as a middle of the pack team. If this seeding were to come to fruition, I could safely say the 3 seed in Louisville’s region would be shaking their head in disgust.

Louisville IS a Final Four team according to: Las Vegas (7th)

Las Vegas has money on the table so their opinion is generally well respected. Future odds and lines are of interest to fans, not necessarily because they are interested in betting, but because it gives a professionally crafted expected outcome. Odds makers currently have U of L as the 7th most likely team to win the Championship.

The one thing all of these rankings and metrics can agree on: Louisville has an important month coming up.


A Message to Fans

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

One of the most eventful things that happened in the sports world over the weekend was that Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart shoved Jeff Orr, a Texas Tech fan, during the Red Raiders’ upset of the Cowboys. Supposedly Orr said an extremely hatefulSmart-Texas-Tech-fan racial slur at Smart, but part of playing on a stage that large is learning to keep your cool in a hostile environment. Obviously, that was Smart’s big mistake, and I think suspending him was the right thing to do. But I think Orr deserves some sort of punishment as well. I can understand why Smart reacted the way he did. He’s a 19-year-old kid who had just been participating in vigorous physical activity that was not going to end in favor of his team. Then a random stranger says something extremely foul to provoke him. I don’t understand and will never understand why Orr, an adult man, would shout something offensive and rooted in hate to a person whom he doesn’t even know.

Isn’t the whole point of being a fan to proudly represent your team? Taunting other teams’ players, coaches, and fans not only reflects poorly on you, but also the school whose name you are wearing across your chest. That’s not fandom, it’s immaturity and poor sportsmanship, and it makes us all look stupid.

As a Louisville fan, I’m rarely embarrassed by other Louisville fans. All fan bases have idiots, but for the most part, we’re pretty tolerable. All the people who sit in my section at games are fairly tame and mostly positive. The only out-of-the-ordinary thing that ever happens is when the same guy shouts “I love you Ladybirds!” at the top of his lungs during the brief moment right before the music starts when the arena is silent. However, I was recently told something about some particular Louisville fans that makes me as irritated as when people smack talk to recruits on the Internet.

My dad was in the Louisville airport last week, and realized he was on the same flight as the players and coaches of a recent U of L opponent, whom they beat handily. While they waited to board, my dad started a conversation with one of the coaches and introduced himself as a U of L fan. The conversation started normally, with my dad asking the coach how he liked the Yum! Center. He was very complimentary about the facility, but didn’t seem too psyched on the people inside it. When my dad brought up the antics of the Memphis coach, who was blatantly yelling things to the crowd after they upset Louisville, the coach politely defended Memphis, and said that fans seated in the section behind the visitors’ bench were relentless about verbally harassing his players. Apparently the word “thug” was being thrown every which way, and he felt like his players’ efforts were disrespected, which they were.

C’mon people. It’s things that this that cause incidents such as the Texas Tech one to occur. Of course it should be expected that the athletes harness their temper and brush it off, but clearly that doesn’t always happen. Yelling discriminatory and hurtful things at college kids trying to play a sport is probably one of the stupidest things anyone could do at a game. It doesn’t help our team in any way, and if we’re going to condemn the fans of another school 75 miles east of the city for being ridiculous, we can’t then go and be ridiculous ourselves.

Fans heckle the athletes at varying levels of every sport all over the world, so it’s not like this is ever going to stop entirely, but we could at least try to make Louisville a respectable place.  If we’re going to be one of the best sports cities in America, start behaving like champions.


The ACC Can Wait

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BY CHRIS HAAS

Heading into the 2013-2014 season, The Louisville Cardinals basketball team was expected to be the star of the American Athletic Conference in their brief tenure. Experts believed that UConn and Memphis might provide some competition for the Cards but most found it difficult to pick against the reigning champions. The top-heavy AAC was expected to lack the depth other “power conferences” had. These low expectations for the conference were not much of a concern for Louisville fans, however, since Louisville had been accepted to join the ACC the following year. The University of Louisville would be gracious visitors and would take whatever the league could offer, including no doubt, the league championship trophy.

It is understandable why U of L fans would look forward to 2014-2015. The ACC will likely represent the best conference in NCAA basketball next year and for years to come. The anticipation of joining the storied traditions of Duke and UNC while re-kindling the old rivalries of Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame is hard to ignore. Joining the ACC is absolutely reason for excitement; however, this excitement should not prevent Louisville fans from appreciating the here and now in the AAC.

The Week 15 Associated Press Rankings were released today and for the first time in three decades the Southern Methodist Mustangs joined the list. The Mustangs are ranked 23rd after blowing the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-3, 11-1 AAC) out of the water last week. The Mustangs beat up on the first-place Bearcats to a tune of 76-55. SMU is a legitimate contender as long as they continue to shoot the ball at a 49.6% rate. The Mustangs have the 7 th best shooting percentage in all of NCAA Division 1.

SMU wasn’t the only team in the AAC to have a big week. The Memphis Tigers broke the century mark against Rutgers, winning 101-69 on February 4 th. On February 8th the Tigers beat the always-tough Gonzaga Bulldogs 60-54. Gonzaga was ranked 23rd at the time. The Associated Press voters took notice of the Tigers’ big week and moved Memphis up to 20th in the new rankings.

Cincinnati (10th), Louisville (13th), and UCONN (24th) also landed in the top 25 this week.

Don’t look now, but the stepping stone conference now has 5 teams in the top 25. That’s half of the conference. The AAC is currently tied with the Big Ten for the most ranked teams in the NCAA. The mighty ACC? They only have four teams ranked this week and are currently looking up at the AAC.

AAC teams play each team in the conference twice. So, if you go by this week’s rankings alone, Louisville will play 10 top-25 games in the AAC regular season. Not so bad for the conference Louisville fans couldn’t wait to escape.

Here’s how the schedule is shaping up for the last 5 games of the season:

February 22nd- at #10 Cincinnati

February 27th- vs. Temple

March 1st- at # 20 Memphis

March 5th- at # 23 SMU

March 8th- vs. # 24 UCONN

Four of Louisville’s last five games will be played against ranked opponents, in what should be a 5-team dog-fight for the regular season conference championship. The conference tourney should be highly competitive as well. Louisville fans can look forward to the final few weeks of the AAC, while the ACC excitement can be temporarily put on hold.


Louisville Football’s 2014 Recruiting Class: News and Notes

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BY CHRIS HAAS

Overview

Having been named the Louisville Head Coach just three weeks ago, Bobby Petrino and his staff scurried around the country to piece together Louisville’s 2014 class. Some of the big fish slipped away, but Louisville was able to retain a number of players that Charlie Strong laid the ground-work for while signing some new names as well. Rivals.com ranked Louisville’s class 45th in the nation. Here are Louisville’s class rankings since 2010:

2010- 44th

2011- 33rd

2012- 42nd

2013- 50th

2014- 45th

Some have viewed the 2014 class as a disappointment- if not an expected one, given the recent coaching change, but this year’s ranking is right around Louisville’s average for the past 5 classes.

Top Recruit:

1. QB 4 Star- Reggie Bonnafon- The former Trinity High School star is a versatile quarterback who possesses great arm strength and the ability to attack defenses with his legs. During his press conference yesterday, Bobby Petrino said Bonnafon had plenty of other suitors that tried to pry him away from his hometown school. Luckily for the Cards, they held onto the best talent from their own backyard. Reggie Bonnafon could be the next name added to Louisville’s illustrious list of notable quarterbacks.

Biggest Strength of Class: Offensive Line

The Cards signed four offensive linemen:

OT- Lukayus McNeil 3 Star

OT- Kelby Johnson- (Junior College Transfer) 3 Star

OT Danny Burns- 3 Star

OG- Jimmie Terry- Not Ranked

Rivals.com ranked Lukayus McNeil as the 39th best offensive tackle prospect in the country and ranked fellow OT prospect Danny Burns as the 43 rd best. Kelby Johnson, a junior college transfer, has experience in the ACC from his freshman year with Virginia. Jimmie Terry, a native of Mississippi, has flown under the radar but has huge upside at 6-4 and 350 lbs. This crop of offensive lineman is one of the most highly touted groups Louisville has seen.

Immediate Impact: OT- Kelby Johnson

Offensive Tackle, Kelby Johnson spent his freshmen year at Virginia and Sophomore season at ASA- The College of Excellence, a Junior College in New York. He is transferring to Louisville as a juco and is expected to make an immediate impact for the Cards. The experienced lineman is 6’9 and 310 lbs and could start on the offensive line as early as Louisville’s 2014 opener.

Sleeper: Corner Back Trumaine Washington- 2 Star

Trumaine Washington is listed at 5-10/170, making him under-sized and perhaps underrated at the corner back position. His lack of size has not stopped Washington from shutting down wide-receivers for Miami Killian HS in Miami, Florida. If he can be a shut-down corner in the fertile recruiting grounds of Miami, Louisville had a good reason to take a chance on him.

Could have used another: Defensive Lineman

In his press conference yesterday, Petrino said he hopes to add another interior defensive lineman. He said, “he needs interior guys who can let his linebackers run free.”

*All star-levels and rankings are courtesy of Rivals.com


The Strange Saga of Chris Jones

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

The University of Louisville basketball team has had four losses handed to them this season, and while they were all to quality opponents, it’s safe to say that the honeymoon phase of the national championship is long gone. With some of the performances we’ve seen from U of L recently, it’s hard not to wonder if the team does in fact have a shot at going to its third-straight Final Four and repeating as National Champions. There’s no way to know until March rolls around, but we can at least analyze some of the pieces of the puzzle and therefore drive ourselves insane over if history will repeat itself or not.Chris jones

One of the most confusing players this season has been Chris Jones. With the gaping hole that Peyton Siva left at the one spot, Jones was widely regarded as the best possible person to fill that hole. He lived up to those expectations the first few games. In his regular season debut, he scored 12 points, five assists, six rebounds, and two steals. In the next game, he had 20 points, seven assists, one rebound, and four steals. Those are pretty solid stats for a 5’10” junior college transfer who took over for a player who won a national championship and then moved on to the NBA.

Something weird has been going on with Jones ever since the Kentucky game on Dec. 28.  I think it mostly has to do with his injury and having to miss three games in a row, but Jones scored 18 against UK, and hasn’t scored in the double digits since. That’s a bit discouraging seeing as before the Cards played the Cats, Jones had scored 148 points and was averaging about 12 points per game.

Here’s the thing: Chris Jones is good and has some similarities to Siva, but the two are actually very different. In my opinion, Jones is more like Russ Smith, and is more of a natural shooting guard than point guard. Guys who play the point are usually more valued for their assists than their point total. That IS the whole purpose of the position after all- to run the offense and create scoring opportunities. This is where the huge difference between Jones and Siva lies. The most assists Jones has tallied this season is seven. In his senior year, Siva began the season with ten assists. He had double-digit assists in five games last year, the most being the 13 he dished out in the loss to Villanova. However, Siva’s scoring column was almost as impressive as Jones.’ At the same point in the season where Jones had scored 148 points, Siva had scored 137 points. Here’s the obvious difference between these two players: Leading up to the UK game, Jones had 30 assists on the season. A year ago, at the exact same point in the season, Siva had tallied 75 assists.

It’s obvious what the issue is here. Siva was more of a true point guard than Jones. Instead of throwing up questionable threes, or driving through the lane like he’s Dwayne Wade only to have his 5’10” body ricochet off a defender, Jones needs to channel his inner Siva and create some opportunities for his teammates. I’m also not opposed to him being Russ’ backup, and the point guard torch being passed to Terry Rozier.