WDRB College Basketball Notebook: Pitino on the Big East, Calipa - WDRB 41 Louisville News

WDRB College Basketball Notebook: Pitino on the Big East, Calipari on everything

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- We're only two weeks to the start of college basketball practice, and already there's no shortage of developments. Straight to The 'Book, a no-nonsense version this week  . . .


Though Mike Marra hadn't shot a high percentage from the 3-point line in his time as a Cardinal, the University of Louisville senior at least was a threat to be able to knock down three or four in a given game. His loss to a second ACL injury in as many seasons leaves the Cards looking a bit more suspect from the outside.

But speaking with ESPN's Andy Katz, U of L coach Rick Pitino said he expected his squad to make only 6-7 three-pointers per game anyway, and did not expect it would be dependent on three-point shooting.

The Cards have a couple of slashing scorers in Kevin Ware and Wayne Blackshear, and should have one of the nation's better frontcourts, led by Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan and freshman Montrezl Harrell.


Speaking with WHAS Radio's Terry Meiners, Rick Pitino said that the departure of Notre Dame doesn't particularly hurt the Big East, with Temple and Memphis coming into the league. But he did say that the conference's runaway numbers could be a concern for hoops.

"Big East basketball will always be strong," Pitino said. "The uniforms and names may change, but we'll still be one of the strongest conference in basketball."

When asked how he'd feel if Tom Jurich made the call to accept an invitation to another conference (disclaimer: no such invitation appears imminent in the short-term), Pitino said: "I'm obviously very Big East biased, it helps me in everything. But that being said, if Tom wants us to play in an overseas conference, I'll play overseas."

DePaul is always one of the most popular basketball trips for University of Louisville fans. Busloads of Cardinals' fans make the journey -- including busloads of fans from Louisville churches. It's less than six hours, and there are always plenty of good seats available because the struggling Blue Demons can't fill Allstate Arena.
Beginning with the 2013-14 season, another half-hour could be chopped off the trip. According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, DePaul is strongly considering a move to the United Center, the home of the Chicago Bulls and the Michael Jordan statue.
The United Center is several miles west of downtown Chicago. Allstate Arena is 20 miles north of downtown in the flight path to O'Hare International Airport. It's the worst facility in the Big East, dark, drafty and generally gloomy.
The United Center is also well lit, surrounded by parking, lined with luxury suites and adorned with spacious locker rooms. All-State Arena is a dump. Or whatever category is one spot below dump.
DePaul is reportedly considering the move because the United Center is closer to campus. Maybe they'll close the deal just to please The Notebook.


U of L will stage three opportunities for a preseason look at the 2012-13 Cardinals with three Red-White intrasquad men's basketball scrimmages in the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday, Oct. 13; Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m.

The game time for the Oct. 13 scrimmage, which occurs the day after the first official day of practice for college basketball, will be set later so as not to conflict with the Cardinals' football game at Pittsburgh also that day.

The Oct. 13 scrimmage is in concert with U of L's "Return to the Nest" Homecoming on Main festivities, which will include activities on the Norton Healthcare Plaza of the KFC Yum! Center prior to the game.

Tickets, priced at $10 for lower side and corner arena seats and $5 for end zone seats, are on sale at both U of L Ticket Offices, located near Gate 2 of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium off Floyd Street; and on the third floor of the Swain Student Activities Center. They also are available via Ticketmaster.


Each summer, John Calipari sits down with a select group of local reporters for a conversation that spans just about everything, with the results embargoed for a particular date in the Fall when preseason basketball reporting begins.

Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal isn't doling out the goods piece-by-piece. In his blog, he provides a transcript of the whole deal. Two excerpts -- though you can hit his blog for the nearly 9,000-word entirety (click here to read):

Calipari talking about the biggest surprise among his newcomers, big man Willie Cauley-Stein:

"Willie's the guy that I would tell you that I did not (foresee). First of all, I never saw him play in a high school basketball game. I saw him play football a bunch. I went to the high school and he had a tennis racquet. And we're walking around, ‘Kid do you ever play basketball? Do you ever think about that sport?' He was a kid that would play Wiffle ball… . I told  him when we recruited him, ‘You don't even know how good you're gonna become. You have no idea what's going to happen for you.'

"He and I were sitting in the Lodge the other day, and I said, ‘Are you kind of amazed?' He says, ‘Yeah.' You say, ‘You're better than you thought, aren't you?' He says, ‘Yeah.' He's taking on the sport for the first time where he's really focused on this sport. He's gained weight – 20, 25 pounds – his skill set has absolutely improved. He's fast, he's nimble; you see him on the football tapes. So now he gained ground on Nerlens (Noel) because Nerlens wasn't here. Those eight weeks of conditioning, weight training and 16 one-hour workouts put him on a different level than Nerlens."

And on big man Nerlens Noel:

"I asked Anthony (Davis), ‘How was Nerlens?' because that's who he matched up against mostly. He said, ‘He's good, coach. He'll block some shots.' I said, ‘How was he offensively?' He said, ‘I kind of pushed him off the post.' I said, ‘You pushed him off the post?' Which is kind of like, OK, we've got to teach the kid how to sit down and hold your position until he gets stronger. But what he is, he's not ever going to be Shaq. That's not how he is. But he's really quick and fast, and he's got a quick twitch. If a kid is slow going to the ball or reacting to the ball, he can't play. I don't care what you say. He cannot play. If a kid is quick – really quick – going to the ball, now he's got a chance of being special. Anthony was really quick getting to balls. Michael Gilchrist was really quick. Now we had two that were just ‘Bang!' to balls. Well, this kid is the same way. He's the quickest on our team getting to balls and doing stuff like that. If he's on that baseline or he's in the high post area with hand-offs and rolls and all that stuff, he'll finish with dunks. But he's not in shape right now. He's physically behind. Back hurts. No kidding; you're out of shape. You just started here. But I think he'll be fine."


It's not Midnight Madness, but in some ways, it could be more interesting. At 5 p.m. On Oct. 13, ESPNU will televise an entire IU practice, with Dan Dakich and Jay Williams providing commentary.

While other schools will have their Midnight Madness programs televised, IU is the only one that will feature an actual practice.

In a press release sent out by the network, ESPN's Andy Katz said, "The remarkable turnaround for Tom Crean and the Hoosiers is now complete. IU is a favorite to be in the Final Four, win the Big Ten, and have player of the year in Cody Zeller. The pressure is immense but the team and the staff have embraced the challenge."


Jeremy Kendle is 24 years old, with a career that has included three injuries, a dramatic comeback effort at Bellarmine, and back-to-back All-American seasons that include a national championship and a return trip to the Division II Final Four. He even got a bit of a surprise when the NCAA granted him one more semester of eligibility last season, which would essentially allow him to play most of one more season with the Knights.

Instead, this week the former Jeffersonville High School star said he has decided to pursue a pro basketball career in Europe while he still can. He already had earned a degree from Bellarmine and had been working on a graduate degree.

"Jeremy has done an excellent job on and off the court," Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport said. "He earned his degree and began graduate school last year. He overcame serious injuries throughout his career and never let any obstacle stand in his way academically or athletically."

Kendle persevered through serious illnesses to both parents, and now is getting interest from top leagues in Germany, Greece, France, Australia and Mexico. He also could have options in the NBA's developmental league.

He finishes his Bellarmine career as the only player in school history to rank in the top five in both scoring and assists.

"My experience at Bellarmine will be something I cherish forever," he said. Winning a national title and all that goes with it is a feeling so great it's really hard to describe. I really appreciate all that the Bellarmine staff and coach Davenport have done for me and my family both on and off the court. I've really grown as both a player and a person, and that's something I'll carry with me forever."


North Carolina coach Roy WIlliams spoke for the first time Sunday after undergoing surgery on a kidney tumor on Sept. 19. Speaking on the Tar Heel Sports Radio Network, the 62-year-old Williams said he still is experiencing some discomfort and lack of energy, but expects he'll be able to be with the Tar Heels for the start of practice on Oct. 13.

"I've been very lucky," Williams said. "I feel like a blessed human being."

It turned out to be a benign tumor that doctors removed from Williams' right kidney. The tumor was diagnosed as an oncocytoma, which can be difficult to distinguish from a cancerous growth, according to reports. Williams also will have a tumor on his other kidney to see if it's the same thing. If so, he won't require a second surgery.

"It was scary," Williams said. "I'd always heard that it hits you and you don't have time to prepare. Your mind starts racing. It was a pretty emotional time."

The Notebook knows that Jabari Parker, the senior from Simeon Academy in Chicago is supposed to be this year's version of the next LeBron James. At least that is what the cover of Sports Illustrated said last spring.
But it appears that there is already another candidate cutting the line for the Next LeBron crown – from the high school Class of 2016. And he is playing at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio, the same high school that produced James.
Ohio State has already extended a basketball scholarship offer to V.J. King, a 6-foot-5 forward who will be a freshman this season. As an eighth-grader, King played on the same high school team with Indiana University freshman Peter Jurkin at United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C.
King is also one of 46 players who has been invited to the USA Basketball Developmental mini-camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., next weekend.
Louisville, not Syracuse, will be the pick to win the Big East as the Orange make their farewell tour before departing for the Atlantic Coast Conference. But even though Fab Melo is now a Boston Celtic and the Orange have lost several other quality players, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is not ready to concede anything to his pal, Rick Pitino.
Boeheim is appearing at a coaches' clinic in Omaha, Neb., and agreed to a question-and-answer session with Steve Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald. Here are some of the questions – and his answers:
Q: Big-picture question, Jim. What's your take on the state of college basketball these days?

A: There is a lot more equality in college basketball. A lot of teams have a chance to compete and that brings great balance to the game. There's much more parity, with the middle teams closer to the top and the bottom teams closer to the middle. That's a good thing. I think a lot of the movements in all the conferences are a little crazy. I've always been a guy that sees value in playing in your own area but we're not going back there. Overall, I think college basketball has put itself in a great position.

Q: Syracuse is one of those schools making a move in conferences, going from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast. What are your thoughts on the move?

A: As I said, I'm old fashioned. I'd like to stay close to the area where we're located. And that's one reason we're going to the ACC. The Big East was getting too spread out, now that there are going to be two schools in Texas. In the ACC, other than our trip to Miami, most of our other trips are within an hour and a half. Plus, there will be six former Big East schools in the ACC.
Q: What's the outlook for this season?

A: We lose four top players — our conference's defensive player of the year and our top three scorers. Normally, when that happens, you're going to have some issues but we played 10 guys regularly last year. We have six guys back, and they're not just bench players. We have a couple of starters coming back, and we had two outstanding freshmen — guys that are as good as any we've had.
Donnie Tyndall departed Morehead State for Southern Mississippi after last season. He'll get his chance to coach against Larry Brown (SMU), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Tim Floyd (UTEP) and the other headliners in Conference USA this season.
But at Southern Miss there is one former athlete that everybody knows – and wants to meet. That's former Golden Eagles quarterback Brett Favre, who retired to Hattiesburg after his long NFL career.
Tyndall said that he has texted with Favre and spoken with him on the telephone, but has yet to meet him. He said that he tried to see Favre two weeks ago when he attended a Southern Miss football game against East Carolina.
No luck. Tyndall couldn't crack the line outside the end zone suite where Favre watched the game.
"Literally, people were lined up 100 deep at the suite, waiting to get autographs," Tyndall said. "I'm sure we'll get together at some point."
Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook All-American Team
Guard – Peyton Siva, Louisville
Guard – Michael Snaer, Florida State
Center – Cody Zeller, Indiana
Forward – DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State
Forward – Doug McDermott, Creighton

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