BOZICH | Why isn't Cat Barber at Louisville? Great question - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Why isn't Cat Barber at Louisville? Great question

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NC State coach Mark Gottfried and guard Cat Barber. NC State coach Mark Gottfried and guard Cat Barber.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WDRB) -- If you were recruiting a point guard in the summer of 2013 (and you couldn't get Andrew Harrison), you recruited Cat Barber.

Connecticut wanted Barber to come to Storrs and team with Shabazz Napier.

Virginia thought it could keep Barber home because he was an in-state kid who grew up in Hampton.

Other heavyweights were involved. Barber visited three schools – Kansas on Aug. 31, Louisville Sept. 8 and North Carolina State Sept. 15.

You know the rest of the story – except for the parts that have been whispered about but not filled in since Barber made his decision.

After Barber's visit, Louisville abruptly stopped recruiting him. North Carolina State secured the commitment on the weekend Barber visited Raleigh.

The first time Barber played against the Cardinals in February his N. C. State teammates said that he was taunted by several U of L fans in the KFC Yum! Center – and Barber responded with 21 points, his fifth-best scoring performance this season.

“We didn't do a good job of guarding the pick and roll and he took advantage of it,” said Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear.

Louisville couldn't keep Barber off the foul line. He made 10 of 13 free throws, sealing a North Carolina State upset, a victory that started the Wolfpack churning toward the NCAA Tournament.

In fact, Barber was a bit of a “Cat Burglar” during that game, contributing a pair of key steals. He's remained good, leading N. C. State in scoring during the tournament at 15 points per game, nearly three more than his season average.

The second time Barber will play against the Cardinals will be more significant. It is Friday night at 7:37 in the NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinals at The Carrier Dome.

Why didn't Cat Barber become the next Peyton Siva or Russ Smith?

“I don't know,” Barber said. “It was just a coach's decision.”

Did something happen on Barber's visit that convinced the Louisville coaching staff to stop recruiting Barber?

“Whatever happened, it wasn't nothing, for real,” Barber said. “They just went in another direction. I did, too. They offered me (a scholarship). We just went our separate directions.”

Actually the scholarship offer was made during the summer. Louisville was not interested in Barber following his visit.

“It's not a big deal,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “We just went in a different direction, which happens in recruiting. It's not anything more than that.”

According to several N.C. State players, some Louisville fans were convinced there was more to the story. There were taunts for Barber when the Cards played at the KFC Yum! Center on Valentine's Day.

“A couple of fans were saying something to him,” said N. C. State reserve BeeJay Anja. “It got him fired up a little bit and he came out and played a great game.”

This is how Barber responded: By making certain the visitors outscored the Cardinals, 33-22, over the final 14 or so minutes in a game N.C. State won, 74-65.

Credit Barber with 21 points, four assists, a pair of steals and bragging rights – for at least a month.

He kept his name in the headlines last weekend in Pittsburgh. The Wolfpack trailed Louisiana State by 14 points at halftime. They won by a point. Barber scored 17.

For their next move, they toppled Villanova, the top seed, in the East Regional, 71-68. Barber scored 13 points. But that was not the reason Barber stirred headlines after the game.

During the post-game locker room celebration, Barber used an expletive to criticize President Obama for not picking North Carolina State to advance in his NCAA Tournament bracket. As expected, the video went viral.

Barber apologized through former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, an alumnus of North Carolina State.

“It was just in the heat of the moment that I was excited,” Barber said. “I just wanted to put out what was wrong with (President) Obama's bracket. It wasn't nothing personal. We reached out to him. He reached out to us. It's all good.

“He (the President) knew it was in the heat of the moment. It wasn't nothing bad. People were trying to make it bad. It's all good now.”

Good with President Obama? Apparently. Good between Cat Barber and Louisville? Tune in Friday night.

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