THE BEAK DAILY(Pitino Revived & 4 Prospects to watch closely)

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Thursday evening Coach Pitino sit down with ESPN’s Andy Katz for a segment called Katz Korner. Coach Pitino seems like he has been revived and seems to have a new outlook on his coaching career. He told Katz that he has been energized coaching this recent Cardinals crew the past two seasons. Pitino talked to Katz about his contract that ends in 2017 and said that he would coach until then. He said that his feelings would be the same if it ended in 2021. Thursday night Rick Pitino did not sound like a coach that was nearing the end of his career. Instead, it sounded like he was ready to grab the bull by the horns and work for another 20 years.

Rick also commented on the Big East and his comments were very favorable to the conference. He seems to have a real passion for the Big East and the history behind it. He talked about how the addition of Temple and Memphis were going to be great for the basketball aspect of the conference.

Pitino said the biggest surprise so far in workouts has been guard Kevin Ware. Pitino said it probably was not fair to him to bring him in midseason. Its very good news to hear that Ware is doing well because of the recent circumstances surrounding recruit Terry Rozier.

It is nice to see Coach P with a little extra fire in his belly especially heading into a season that has the most promise of any we have seen in a long time.

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Over the next few weeks, some names that you should really be watching on the basketball-recruiting front are Kyle Washington, Demetrius Jackson, Moses Kingsley, and Akoy Agau. Offers have recently been made to these guys and the buzz is in the air that out of this group a commit will be coming really soon. If you would like to learn more about them, you can check out their profiles on the recruiting page.

I really hope that we do get some action soon on the basketball recruiting front. It would be nice to hear the decisions of some of these guys. We would be in good shape with any of them. They all have very high ceilings and tons of potential. Just the kind of guys coach Pitino and his staff are working hard to get. Stay tuned.

THE BEAK DAILY (Rozier out, Ware/Hancock in?)

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– Rozier out, Ware/Hancock in?

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We learned yesterday that 2012 commit Terry Rozier will not attend Louisville this season. Last September, Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino received a verbal commitment from 2012 point guard Terry Rozier. Rozier, who was considered a Top-100 prospect by some, was expected to provide backup minutes to returning guard Peyton Siva. “I’m still committed to Louisville,” Rozier told CardinalAuthority.com. “But I talked to coach [Pitino] and I think this is the best thing for me. I’ll be able to spend a year getting better and am still excited about coming to Louisville.”

Rozier plans to attend Hargrave Military Academy (VA), where he will team up with fellow 2013 commit Anton Gill.

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The question is with Rozier out what is the backup plan for the Cardinals? We have heard all off season that Kevin Ware has been the most improved and most impressive player during the summer workouts. Pitino spoke with Drew Deener on Early Birds and said the soon-to-be sophomore has been impressive during workouts. Pitino also mentioned to Drew that Luke Hancock could provide some back-up at the PG position. He also hinted that they may not be done recruiting for the 2012 season.

There are a few different ways that Louisville could use Kevin Ware and Luke Hancock. By playing them at the at the 1 to help take pressure off of Peyton Siva, and also allow Russ Smith to play off the ball and concentrate solely on his offense. And as Rick Pitino mentioned this morning with Drew Deener help cut down on turnovers.
Ware’s handle was notoriously shaky while a prospect, so I wonder whether tightening his ball handling skills has been an offseason priority. If Ware plays off guard, he adds some size to the backcourt, or if Pitino shifts Ware to the 3, the Cardinals could feature an undersized, but speedy, lineup.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see, but in the meatime it is fun to speculate and debate.

THE BEAK DAILY (Basketball Starting Lineup?)

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– Contemplating the starting lineup for the upcoming basketball season

Our Louisville Cardinals have arguably the top team in college basketball next season. We will return much of the rotation from the team that reached the Final Four. We are also bringing in two players that were ranked in ESPN’s top 100.
With all of that said, it is always a fun debate in the offseason to predict a starting lineup. Coach Pitino was asked this very question Saturday morning on his website but did not give any concrete group.

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What Pitino says here is correct in that his system does not necessarily need a set amount of players taking up the bulk of minutes. Guys will be interchanging often, so who begins a game is trivial.

My prediction for the starting five is Peyton Siva, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng. And I think we all would agree that Russ Smith will be the first guy off of the bench. And I’m not counting him out to sneak into the starting lineup at some point this season.

We have a very deep and talented team returning this season. It is good enough to get our Cards back to the Final 4.

THE BEAK DAILY (Caravan wrap-up & Pitino Blog)

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-Caravan wrap-up & Pitino Blog

This past week was a great time for Louisville Cardinal Fans as the Cardinal Caravan travelled around the state making various stops. I was able to attend the events in Frankfort and at Captains Quarter. There were great turnouts at both of these events. There were several 100 in Frankfort and around 1600 at Captains Quarters. I was proud of Cardinal Nation for showing their support for the athletic programs. Below is some video and photos of the events I attended.

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Rick Pitino is back to his blogging ways again this weekend and he answered the 3 questions he’s been asked the most over the summer. He first recommends that Jay Bilas take over the job of John Marinatto, who resigned as Big East Commissioner in early May. He then answers questions about the pressure of the upcoming season and starting line-ups.
Says about pressure that fundamentals must improve and that players must stay hungry and humble.
He says that only two players currently locked into starting line-ups are Gorgui and Peyton. All the other guys are battling for their spots. He says that competition will make them better players.

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(Courtesy RickPitino.com)

THE BEAK DAILY (Caravan & Recruits)

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-Caravan & Recruits

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The 11th annual Cardinal Caravan kicks off tomorrow with stops in Frankfort and Newport. The Caravan will run from Tuesday July 17 through Thursday July 19.
The Caravan was created in an effort to reach fans across Kentuckiana. And in my opinion is an awesome family event. The Caravan has great timing as well. I am so ready for anything UofL sports related. I strongly urge everyone to get out and attend one of these events this week. Lets show our athletic department that the BIG RED WAVE does exist.

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The live period for college, basketball recruiting began this weekend. College coaches were allowed to go watch their recruiting targets but were not allowed to make any type of contact. There were two major AAU tournaments taking place that were hotspots for these coaches. One was the Adidas Invitational in Indy and the other was the Nike Global Challenge in DC.

Several Louisville targets took full advantage of this big weekend to shine brighter than ever. Some had breakout performances. Maybe one of the most outstanding performances came from 6’8” 2014 prospect Shane Hall. Shane is a well-known player here in the state of Kentucky were he plays high school basketball for Johnson Central in Paintsville but the nation was mostly unaware of him until this Sunday. Shane had a breakout performance for his AAU team the Louisville Magic in the 16U championship game at the Adidas Invitational. He made big plays on both ends of the floor, and even had seven blocked shots. He had some nasty dunks as well. The twitter world was a buzz over this young man and most assume after Sunday that he will become one of the most sought after recruits in 2014. Hope Rick is listening. I really think this kid would be a great addition to the Louisville program. Right now, his only offer in this state is from NKU.

The other prospect that looked very good is D’Angelo Russell. Russell also plays on the 16U Louisville Magic squad. Unlike Hall, he is already a nationally known name. He also had a huge game on Sunday making explosive plays on both ends of the floor. Folks in attendance said that Russell made it very clear that he belongs in the discussion among the elite shooting guards in the class of 2014. While many major schools are knocking on his door, most believe it will come down to Russell making the decision on whether he looks good in Red or Blue.

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We have been hearing a lot about Troy Williams over the past couple of days. Especially since, it was mentioned by him that he could end up coming to Louisville as a package deal with his best friend Anthony Barber.
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Williams shined this weekend at the Nike Global Challenge. He dominated both ends of the court and impressed the coaches and scouts in attendance. Williams also posterized several defenders with dunks including the one in the video below in which he drove the baseline and slammed with two hands on a Chinese defender.
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Anthony Barber also had a big weekend. He also dominated both ends of the floor with his superior play. Most in attendance considered him the best guard in the tournament. Standing 6-foot-1, Barber is lightening quick with a tight handle, which makes him a nightmare to try to stay in front of. And with his quick hands and feet, he is not fun to be guarded by.
If Williams ends up coming to UofL with Barber, they could do some damage going forward. And it would be great times ahead for our Cardinals.

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I would also like to mention a future Card in this discussion. 2014 Louisville commit Quentin Snider also shined bright this weekend helping the Louisville magic U16 team win the title in Indy and winning the MVP. No doubt, that this guy was a great get for Rick Pitino and he just keeps becoming more and more impressive. I cannot wait to see him dunking on Big East opponents in the Yum center in a few seasons.

THE BEAK DAILY (UofL returns fire and 4 Basketball players honored)

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– UofL returns fire in the billboard wars and 4 basketball players are given high honors.

Today the University of Louisville fans fired a return shot in the summer billboard wars. The #LexingtonIsForTheBirds billboard is up. You can see the billboard on the right side of Interstate 64 just before exit 58 in Frankfort Ky. It was announced this morning by a tweet sent out from @BigTimeYurts. No doubt Louisville fans will flock to the spot to see their achievement. I attempted to be the first one out there this morning but was beat to the punch by another passionate fan.

In 53 days the annual Battle of the Bluegrass will take place on the football field, but today the battle rages on high above interstate 64.

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Senior Kyle Kuric and juniors Mike Marra, Peyton Siva and Stephan Van Treese were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches 2011-12 Honors Court as announced Tuesday by the NABC. The award recognizes those collegiate basketball student-athletes who excelled in academics during the 2011-12 season. The NABC Honors Court is an annual academic award that recognizes junior and senior college basketball players who have completed at least one full year at their school with a GPA of 3.2 or higher.

I’m very happy to see these guys preparing themselves for life after basketball. The NABC Honors Court recognizes the talents and gifts student-athletes possess off the court, and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom. In the ever changing environment of college basketball it’s good to see that our program still has the traditional model of the student athlete. And it is great to see them be honored for being student athletes. It should be mentioned that Louisville is the top school for players receiving this honor in the Big East.

Kudos to these guys for their hard work and to the Louisville coaching staff for running a program that still believes in the importance of classroom work.

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(Courtesy UofL Sports)

THE BEAK DAILY (WDRB’s interview with Gorgui Dieng)

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– A candid interview with Louisville Cardinal Gorgui Dieng.

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A remarkably candid interview with Gorgui Dieng was just reveled by WDRB’s Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich. All I can say about this interview is wow. We have a wonderful young man in our basketball program. This kid is such a great ambassador for his nation and for our athletic program. He understands the importance of community. This is something that is lacking in our athletic environment today and the world as well. It will be a long time before we see another young man come through our program with such a grounded mentality. Gorgui has a good set of values, a sense of the common good and of caring for one’s neighbor. We could all take a lesson from this kid in that department. I would like to say kudos to Momma and Poppa Dieng for raising such a great person, and thank you for sharing him with us.

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(Courtesy of WDRB, Eric Crawford, and Rick Bozich)