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: Dec 3, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 5:20 pm


HOW can Duke be number 3 in the AP poll after getting killed by Ohio State? If that would have been any other team they would have dropped out of the top 25. Why don't we just make Duke number 1 all the time, it seems like ESPN and the AP are in love with the Dukies, makes me want to throw up in my mouth!!!!!!!!

Since: Dec 28, 2010
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:20 pm

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

All I have to say is if the Cards had lost, every analyst, column writer, so called expert, would be ripping this team calling them overrated, undeserving of this rating, kind of like of Goodman here.  But's that's okay because typical L'ville teams get better as the season grows old, and this team can only get better starting off 7-0.  GO CARDS ALL THE TIME!!!!!!

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:50 am

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

***  I AGREE  -  I also Think the Apology Is Already Due  !!!      Let it play out .. Then Mr.Goodman --Expect you to be a MAN about it ... Hope thats Not too much to ask  !!!    WHY offend someone who does Not deserve Offending ??  They deserve some Respect for What They HAVE accomplished with what they have --Not pot shots !!  Do "WE" have a UofL Problem or Agenda here ??  Hope not !!

Since: Nov 19, 2007
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:27 am

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

Strider, I couldn't agree more. This Vandy team is worthy of a top 20 ranking even after Louisville beating them, and for Louisville to go out there with so many pieces missing, after having slow-paced practices, and run with a quick team like Vandy has got to say something about the team. How can you say an OT win against a great team like Vandy isn't worthy of a #6 ranking? Earlier in the year I may have agreed, but they continue to win despite facing great adversity due to injury and comments like yours. They even beat Butler on the road, and despite having many players leave, Stephens' teams only lost 5 games at home since he became coach. Give Louisville some love, I'm sick of every single writer and analyst bashing them. If they end up being 12-1 or 13-0 going into the UK game, you may owe Cards Nation an apology.

Since: Feb 17, 2008
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:24 am

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

Like Pitino said, "Once we have all the pieces...." ,Watch out!!:)

Since: Apr 6, 2008
Posted on: December 3, 2011 10:37 am

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

As a Cards fan, I have no beef with this article.  We got our pre season ranking based on a team that included Blackshear, Ware, Marra, Buckles, SVT, and Justice all of which could not play last night.  Siva has already missed time too.  We have the potential to be great but we are not ready for UNC, OSU, Duke, or even UK (also overrated which we will see today). 
It's early and rankings are meaningless right now anyway.

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:35 am

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

**TX Strider---  Finally a Man with Objectivity & Common Sense ...  Qualities of Which some Writers seem devoid  !!   KUDOS !!!

Since: Jul 27, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:25 am

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

You admittedly stat that since Vanderbilt is missing their 7-footer Festus Ezeli, that they are not as good as they could be. Yet you name five Louisville players in your article that were out currently, and they continue to win.  Not to name the countless that have missed some games in the past, one being Peyton Siva arguably their best player. To still have the ability to remain undefeated with those pieces missing does say that they should keep their ranking until a lesser ranked team shows them the ropes. Until then they should be in the top 10 of the country.  Downplaying them because of close games to other injured teams is naive at best. Remember you said that Vandy was #7 at the start of the season, but since they are missing one piece are losing they have dropped. If Vandy had kept winning would you still say they shouldn’t be ranked that high, or would you be writing articles about how they win despite missing key people?

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:54 am

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

***   You are Right Mr.Goodman.. They're Not a #6 team---  they Should Be # 4 or 5 ...    Considering They've won 7 sraight this year  (several signatures).. Without 3 or 4 Starters each game .  Yet . someone like you Always points out Who the "other" team is missing ...Seems like Mr. Goodman Doesn't Want or Wish UofL success or their Earned Ranking  - Wonder Why ???  Tell me ... After UK ,in your book , Should all the rest even bother Playing ??  Terrible Article --You WILL EAT This down the Road .. TRUST ME  !!!!

Since: Oct 18, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:19 am

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

UK_razy...let it go. Just let it go. For the last time, didn't leave UK for Louisville. He landed here after a miserable stint in the NBA with the Celtics. It had nothing to do with Big Blue Nation. The UofL job was the most attractive thing out there at the time. So get over it already...

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