* Dana O'Neil of ESPN names the Cards as her basketball team with too much hype around it heading into next season. Here's her reasoning...
It may seem silly to question the early buzz on a team that is coming off a Final Four run (and perhaps it is), but I am still not all-in with Louisville. There are plenty of things I like about the Cardinals -- the fact the heart of the team is back, that Wayne Blackshear will be in the lineup from the opening tip, that Mike Marra returns from injury and above all else, their defensive tenacity.
Here’s the worry: the offense. Louisville struggled to score last season and with its best outside threat graduating in the form of Kyle Kuric, that doesn’t look to get any easier. I thought Luke Hancock, the George Mason transfer, might help ease that burden but the Cardinals appear to be carrying their injury bug from last season into the next.
Hancock injured his shoulder in a workout and will miss the next few months, according to Rick Pitino. He should return by the start of the season, but it’s still a significant blow for a team that already plans to be without Rakeem Buckles (still, again, pick your qualifier).
Louisville overachieved last year by miles to make it to the Final Four, and while this team certainly has reason to hope, I think it’s still a little premature to presume.
In my opinion this is a pretty fair critique. There are a lot of question marks. I am doing my best to temper my expectations, with football too, and hold on to hope of what each team can become, but also stay grounded as to the difficulties ahead.
There are a number of questions, but the "Overhyped or properly hyped?" discussion really boils down to one name, Wayne Blackshear, and how he will tip the scale (get it? Cause he's so fat). Though each has room to grow, Gorgui-Siva-Chane are fairly known quantities that will provide the foundation. Wayne is the player to take us to the next level. If he's as good as adverstised, if the glimpses we saw become a nightly norm for 30+ minutes, then we're ranked right where we should be.
* Tom Crean recently said that in negotiations for a revival of a UofL-IU series the two were "miles apart". But now that the Hoosier's series with UK has gone the way of the dodo, now might be a time to close that gap. With the departure of some marquee programs from the Big East, the conference grind should not be so prohibitive of being more aggressive with nonconference scheduling.
I love the idea, and I hope Rick Pitino does too because right now, with emotions running raw from the Wildcat series cancellation, is the time to make something like this happen.
* As for Calipari and UK's motivations for ending the series by refusing the home-and-home arrangement, it's hard to wrap my brain around. I don't think UK is "chicken", as fun as it is to say. Because let's face it, they just won the title and have no reason to shirk playing anyone. They may not dominate a resurgent Hoosiers program like they did in the past, but I don't think UK is "scared" to play anyone. That's silly.
But I also don't believe the motivation is financial, as Matt Jones insists, though no doubt that will be the smokescreen and justification cited. UK basketball certainly is not and never will be struggling for cash and can certainly sacrifice a road game every other year in the name of tradition. To claim UK couldn't make the numbers work is equally silly.
So what is it? Honestly, I think the answer is simply the "because I can" mentality of John Calipari. At the pinnacle of his power and sway, I think Cal just kind of likes"doing stuff", rankling feathers, upsetting the established order and tradition because as he boasts, UK under his leadership "is a nontraditional program".
Because he knows that UK fans, despite any popularity of the rivalry and the emotions attached to it, will fall into line quickly once they receive their talking points with lots of emphasis on how UK is different and more elite and cannot be held to typical arrangements that dictated the past.
The effect on the Cardinals is two-fold. One, like I said above it may lead to a revival of the UL-IU game, which I would be thrilled about. Two, it likely ends any talk of UK seeking to cancel the Louisville game, a subject Cal also broached at one point in the past. He may be able to get away with cancelling one iconic rivalry, but even with his tremendous influence over his fans, two would be pushing it.
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About the Bloggers
Mr. Red is also known as Timothy Johnstone. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
Mr. Black is also known as Christopher Cunningham. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
CliffySmalls is also known as Cliff Elliott. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.