This week has been a good one in Louisville, filled with many highlights and even fewer lowlights. The Cards had major action in three sports, and for the most part, everything went well. However, there were some points during the week where Louisville fans had a sense of “more of the same” in regards to a specific football player.
Football: Saturday’s matchup at Boston College had the potential to be a nightmare trap game for the Cardinals. Coming off an incredibly disappointing loss at home vs. No. 2 Florida State, the Cards ventured into unfamiliar territory to take on the Golden Eagles.
Before the game even started, Louisville fans had an “uh-oh” moment watching WR James Quick. Saturday afternoon, prior to kickoff, head coach Bobby Petrino announced that Quick was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. He had no further comments, which left Louisville fans only with the all-too-recent memory of Quick’s suspension earlier this summer for marijuana usage. Though the loss Quick will likely not affect the Louisville offense all that much, it’s still upsetting to see a player who was supposed to be a superstar sitting out twiddling his thumbs.
Louisville played an exceptional game against BC despite the distractions. The offense seemed to be clicking, something it was unable to do in the first half of the season. WR DeVante Parker continues to demonstrate why he will be playing on Sundays next season, accumulating 144 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Cardinals were again impressive. They forced four Boston College turnovers, and were able to give the offense numerous chances to put points on the board. Gerod Holliman had three interceptions, adding on to his incredibly impressive nation-leading total. Louisville experts cardchronicle.com even made an argument that Holliman should be in Heisman consideration. Hard to argue with that given his 13 interceptions through 10 games.
All in all, it proved to be a great win for Louisville. Their 7-3 record is one that of course could be better, but for a first-timer in the ACC, is a record Louisville fans should be proud of. The voters agreed, and Louisville received votes in both the USA Today poll as well as the AP Poll.
Soccer: Overshadowed by Louisville’s great football and basketball teams is their exceptional soccer squad. This season has seen some disappointing losses for the Cards, but they continue to rack up wins against top five opponents. Sunday afternoon saw another victory for Louisville in the ACC tournament, as they advanced to the semi-finals with a 1-0 win against (2) North Carolina. The Cards have been a player in the ACC all season, and in true post-season form, came up with a win when they needed it most.
Forward Ivan Gutierrez came up with the only goal of the match and propelled Louisville into the semi-finals. Their next opponent is the number two seed in the tournament, Syracuse. Louisville defeated the Orange in their last meeting, but everyone is a threat in the postseason. Friday’s matchup with Syracuse will undoubtedly be another great game, but that’s just how it goes in the ACC. It’s something Cards fans are learning in every sport.
Basketball: Just five days away from tipping off the regular season, Louisville hosted Bellarmine University on Sunday for a friendly scrimmage. The Cards were hoping to use this matchup as a final chance to fine-tune the little details that needed some tweaking before they begin the road to March (and hopefully April). The biggest highlight of the game came from 15 year-old Patrick McSweeney, a leukemia patient, who scored the first basket for the Knights. The crowd erupted in what was truly a special moment. From there on, it was all Cardinals. There were some major positive takeaways from the scrimmage that Louisville can hang their hat on to start the season.
1. ‘Trez will be ‘Trez. Pre-season All-American and my pick for National Player of the Year Montrezl Harrell is already in midseason form. He is running the floor, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and even shooting three pointers. Yes, the 6’8″ freak athlete dunk machine is shooting perimeter jump shots. If he is able to continue to be consistent from there, I don’t think there is anyone in the country capable of defending him.
2. The starting five is dangerous. Louisville returns four starters this season, having only lost Russ Smith. However, he is replaced by Terry Rozier, who some (including myself) believe could be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. All five players played solid games, led by Chris Jones’ 14 points. Their chemistry is palpable and once Rick Pitino is able to develop them as a unit, their potential is unmeasurable.
3. The freshmen are ready. Chinanu Onuaku, Quentin Snider and Anas Mahmoud all played more than ten minutes in the exhibition matchup, and they were all impressive. Onuaku has cut weight dramatically since arriving at UofL, and he – simply put – does not look like a freshman. He’s timid, but he can board and bang in the post. He will likely be the third big man in the rotation after Harrell and Mangok Mathiang. Snider has been a little all over the place this early on, but he is quick and crafty, which is right up Louisville’s alley for guards.
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images North America; Featured Photo (above) credit to Nelson Chenault, USA Today Sports