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April 8, 2014
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
CardinalSports.com's Howie Lindsey has been taking a weekly look at the good, bad and ugly in local and national sports for years in the Louisville SportsReport magazine. Check out this week's set of news and notes...
BAD - College basketball season ends tonight when undefeated UConn takes on undefeated Notre Dame in Nashville in the women's Final Four. After Jason Coffee and I drove from Final Four to Final Four last season, covering both Louisville's men and women on the biggest stage, it seemed incredibly odd to watch both events on television this season. Louisville's men and women were good enough to make Final Four runs this season, but each ran into a tough stretch in a key game. For the men, it was the final four minutes against Kentucky. For the women, it was a seven minute scoreless stretch against Maryland. For both, it was a lost banner.
BAD - On the men's side, seeing Connecticut and Kentucky in the national championship just twisted the knife for Louisville fans still playing through all of the "What If" scenarios from the Sweet 16 loss to the Cats. Seeing Kentucky, your arch rival and a team you were beating for 38 minutes, and Connecticut, a team you beat three times by a total of 55 points, playing for the national title couldn't have been easy on Louisville's players either. These Louisville players wanted to repeat as national champions. Seeing those two particular teams play for the title? We wouldn't blame them if they didn't want to watch.
GOOD - Connecticut's Shabazz Napier finished his four-year career with more national championships (2) than wins over Louisville (1).
UGLY - The post-game celebration went all Kanye West for a bit when Napier took the mic and decided he was going to make a statement, "Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at the hungry Huskies, this is what happens when you ban us, last year, two years, we worked so hard for it, two years." It could not have been a very proud moment for NCAA executives. After winning the NCAA title in 2011, UConn was banned from post-season play after atrocious graduation rates under former coach Jim Calhoun. Napier, the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player, has been severely critical of the NCAA. For the NCAA it was really a no-win situation. The team UConn beat, Kentucky, is led by the only coach two have two Final Fours vacated for NCAA violations. Truth be told, though, the NCAA is likely laughing all the way to the bank. Last night's game was a ratings winner, and that's what fuels their bottom line.
GOOD - If it wasn't Louisville winning the title, it is at least comforting that another conference mate won it this season. Although, given Louisville's conference move, it would have been better had it been an ACC team, but all those were gone by the Elite Eight. In a weird twist, Kentucky's season has ended with a loss to a team from Louisville's conference seven times since 2003: 2014 - UConn, 2011 - UConn, 2010 - West Virginia, 2008 - Marquette, 2006 - UConn, 2004 - UAB, 2003 - Marquette
UGLY - Prior to last night's game, former Wildcat Rex Chapman tweeted that he was hearing John Calipari would leave Kentucky - win or lose - to coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season. Chapman's tweet was refuted by Lakers execs and scoffed at by John Calipari after the game prompting UK fans to pound Chapman with angry tweets and messages. I'm not sure whether Chapman was right or not to tweet what he did, but I will say this - of the two coaches in that title game, the coach most likely to make the leap to the pros is Connecticut's Kevin Ollie.
GOOD - Congratulations to Albiero, Louisville's swimming and diving coach, for another incredibly successful season. The Cardinals had their highest finish ever on the women's side (15th) and their second-highest ever finish on the men's side. UofL brought home two more NCAA titles to go with the two the program has already, and Albiero has Louisville competing for the top swimmers in the world, not just the United States. The Cardinals step into the ACC next season, and will be immediately competing for the conference titles along with NC State, Florida State, Miami, West Virginia and Notre Dame. The ACC had nine men's teams finish in the NCAA's top 30 at the NCAA Championships last week. On the women's side, Louisville's 15th place finish trailed only No. 11 Virginia among ACC teams. NC State and Notre Dame tied for 16th, UNC was 19th, Miami was 21st and Virginia Tech was 24th.
GOOD - Many fans and local leaders were emailed a questionnaire Tuesday, asking their opinions about the expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. This is the next step in a process that could lead to an expansion in the next few years on the north end of the stadium near the massive scoreboard. As Louisville transitions into the ACC, the Cardinals will need more space for fans who will want to see Louisville take on Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami and others.
GOOD - I am glad to see Steve Masiello keep his job at Manhattan. Masiello, who made national headlines when he agreed to terms to the be the new head coach at USF only to have the deal fall through because he didn't get his degree while he was playing for Kentucky, will not get to stay on as the Jaspers head coach. "After an extensive review of the situation and extenuating circumstances, we determined that Mr. Masiello executed poor judgment but did not intentionally misrepresent himself in applying to the College," school president Brennan O'Donnell said. "After participating in graduation ceremonies at the University of Kentucky, he enrolled in summer courses with the intention of completing his degree, but never followed through to make sure that the degree was awarded. We appreciate the counsel of all involved in assessing this complex situation. Our policy was always that the coach must have at least a four-year undergraduate degree. We are confident that Mr. Masiello will be able to complete his degree this summer and return soon thereafter to resume his duties." Manhattan will be rewarded for their grace with wins. Lots of them.