Blog Entry

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

Posted on: December 3, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: December 3, 2011 11:57 am

By Jeff Goodman

LOUISVILLE - When my eyes scrolled across the court in the plush Yum! Center prior to the start of the game, it hit me. The ball didn't even need to be tossed up, Rick Pitino didn't need to make a substitution or bark at one of his players. This wasn't the sixth-ranked team in the nation. Couldn't be. 

Pitino's Louisville Cardinals earned a hard-fought overtime victory over a Top 25 club, Vanderbilt, on Friday night after Peyton Siva provided the heroics with the game-winner with 1.4 left on the clock. It was a win to celebrate, for Pitino to pump his first with emotion, yet another reason to marvel at a Hall of Fame coach who in the past year-plus has done wonders -- arguably his finest coaching job. 

"Maybe it's the injuries or that other teams have more talent," Louisville's Kyle Kuric said. "But we understand we can't just show up and win." 

Pitino maintains that there are three NBA players that took the court for his Cards in the 62-60 victory -- Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan. 

That could be the case. It could also be accurate that not a single one plays in that league down the road. But that's not what's relevant to Pitino right now.

"Not since 1987 have I had this much fun coaching as I have in the past two years," Pitino said. "This team epitomizes everything you want in a team." 

Pitino's winning with a team that's fun for him to coach because these guys are more concerned with the front of the names on their jerseys instead of the names on the back - and he is optimistic that this ballclub will still maintain the same grit and determination to go along with a few more bodies, talented ones, come January. 

"Once we have all the pieces ... ," Pitino said. 

Rakeem Buckles will, barring a setback, return next Wednesday against IUPUI. Freshman Kevin Ware is expected to join the team after the first semester and give Louisville a competent backup point guard that can spell Peyton Siva. Wayne Blackshear, considered the prize of Pitino's heralded recruiting class, is slated to return to the court in January after he rehabs from another shoulder injury. Elijah Justice has a broken nose and will likely return in a couple weeks while reserve big man Stephen Van Treese is out indefinitely with a knee injury. 

"We're still waiting to get some guys back," said Kyle Kuric, who finished with 15 points and hit a couple of huge shots down the stretch. 

If Blackshear does somehow get 100 percent by the middle of Big East play - and Louisville avoids the injury bug that has plagued the program for the last year-plus, there's no reason to believe that the Cardinals can't eventually become the No. 6 team in the land. 

But they aren't there right now. 

They struggled to beat a Vandy team that is extremely vulnerable without their 7-footer Festus Ezeli on their own home court, a Commodores team that is desperately clinging to its Top 25 ranking without its least dispensable player. 

"We continue to win," Pitino said. 

Last season, with a team that was picked to finish eighth in the Big East, Pitino wound up finishing third in the most daunting league in the country. 

And this team, if and when it gets healthy, is deeper and more talented. That means Pitino can utilize his pressing defense more to his liking to speed up opponents instead of being forced to keep opponents guessing by constantly switching defenses. 

"We'll be able to play differently once we get everyone back," Pitino admitted. "And our offense will improve." 

"It's a treat to coach these players," Pitino added. 

And fun to watch them get the most out of their ability. Even if they aren't the No. 6 team in the land. 


Since: Apr 14, 2009
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:38 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

Put Louisville up against UK or OSU and lets see how they fare

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:06 pm

It doesn't matter

Thankfully, the NCAA Basketball Tournament crowns a true champion in the arena of competition.  Consequently, among elite teams, the rankings don't really matter, becuase the best teams usually win.  

In the last twenty years, a team with a seeding lower than two, has won the NCAA Championship four times.  In other words, 80 percent of the time, one of the top eight teams wins.  In those twenty years, the other seeds to win were either a three or four.  So, not only does the committee get it right 80 percent of the time, but teams that are truly underrated are able to prove it on the floor.  
Two conclusions can be drawn from the data:
1.  In the current era, only the top 16 teams have a legitimate chance to win, so any complaints of bubble teams are unfounded.
2.  They should really try this with football.   

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:09 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

Been a UofL season ticket holder for 34 years.  Love this team - but if the Cards are the sixth best team in Division 1, then Division 1 is not very good.  This team will continue to get better, but right now I don't think they quite measure up to the so-called elite teams. But we will see in the next few weeks.

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:20 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

****  RIGHT ON Mr.GOODMAN...   &nbs
p; YOU ARE  RIGHT  ...... "UofL  is NOT worthy of #6 ranking "...  Just see what this Weeks AP  & COACHES Poll Say--  Guess you're brighter than them & Know something They don't...  Either Way-- you Are Right ... They shouldn't be #6...  ...  4th or 5th Maybe BUT NOT #6...  GET A GRIP  !!!

Since: Oct 13, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:57 am

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

You can say what you want about LBSU. They will be in the tournament this year, and will probably go to at least the Sweet 16. They're experienced, athletic, and long. Their OOC schedule is going to set them up to dismantle their conference.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 10:49 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

Considering They've won 7 sraight this year  (several signatures).
Several signatures?

The Vandy win was a great win for Louisville, no doubt, but c'mon man.  They're 7-0 against teams that are averaging more than 3.5 losses.  The mighty Ohio is the only other team you've played so far that is more than one game above .500

Considering the injuries that they've had to deal with, Pitino and the Cards are doing a remarkable job so far.  There is no need to embelish it with a bunch of false bravado.  You sound like a damn UK fan hen you do that.  Louisville's accomplishments stand just fine on their own.

Since: Dec 3, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:32 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

UK's ranking is not over rated.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2011 6:16 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

I think the article is fair. The Cards are ranked on potential: when we get our top recruit (Blackshear), our backup PF (Buckles), our backup C ( Van Treese), and another top 100 recruit (Ware), we will be a top 10 team.

Since: Sep 2, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2011 6:11 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

Bluevette if you wait until Monday when the new ratings come out duke won't be #3.

Since: Dec 3, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 5:24 pm

Pitino's Cards aren't worthy of No. 6 spot - yet

If Duke can be ranked number 3 after a 20 point loss, the the Cards should be number 2, BUT if L'ville was to lose to Ohio State by 20 as the PUKIES did they would have dropped out of the top 25

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