June is the month for summer vacations, family cookouts and relaxing by the pool. But here at ITV, we don't believe in relaxing or the term "off season." And how could we in the midst of basketball recruiting season and with summer basketball camps in full swing. And that's not all, football summer conditioning is rolling along and the high school football camps around town have kept us busy the past two weeks. And if that weren't enough, the pending move to the Big East Conference is looming and has kept us on our toes for the past several weeks.
There's always lots of things happening around the UofL athletic program and we enjoy being a part of the action and bringing it to you in an exciting format like no other.
So without further ado, here's some interesting and exciting tidbits to get you through the "off season."
Ellis Myles is doing well with his recovery from a ruptured patellar tendon and Coach Pitino told us at the Cardinal Caravan at Huber Farm Monday night that he expects the 6'8 forward from Compton, CA to make a full and complete recovery…after sitting out next season as a redshirt. Pitino continues to insist he will hold Myles out of action during the 2003-04 season and anticipates having the conferences best rebounder back in action for what promises to be an exciting 2004-05 season.
The Cardinal basketball schedule for the 2003-04 season is taking shape and looks to be one of the nation's toughest once again. The Cards will face Iowa in the John Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis early next season. They'll take on SEC powers Florida (Minardi Classic) and Kentucky in Rupp Arena in two made for TV pre-conference Top 20 battles. At home, Louisville will welcome back former assistant Mick Cronin and the Murray State Racers, and face both Seton Hall and Holy Cross. The Cards will also take on Tennessee in Knoxville once again in what figures to be a tough road test for the Cards.
Coach Pitino and staff are taking advantage of the June "quiet period," in which it is only permissible to make in-person recruiting contact with prospects on the member institutions campus. Already this month, Donta Smith, who committed during his official visit, Rajon Rondo, Henry Salter, Justin Lee, Jared Carter and Aaron Agnew have matriculated to the UofL campus and more visits are anticipated during the coming weeks.
At the Cardinal Caravan on Monday, Coach Pitino told members of the media that he anticipates to have the final three slots of his 2004 recruiting class completed by the end of July. Pitino further indicated that he anticipated more verbal commitments right around the time the big shoe camps are in full swing.
After being burned last year by James Lang, Coach Pitino has employed a first come, first served recruiting philosophy to round out this class. And J.R. Smith proved to be the first casualty of Pitino's recruiting strategy. When Donta Smith accepted Pitino's offer to join the program, the Cards ceased their recruiting efforts of the talented New Jersey swingman immediately. Moral to the story: If you snooze you lose! So if you want to play for the Louisville Cardinals and the offer is on the table you had better be ready to take the offer or one of the nation's other top prospects will beat you to the punch.
ITV first told you that Field Turf would be the chosen replacement for the natural playing surface currently in PJCS weeks ago. We understand that the installation process could begin as early as the end of this week with the removal of the current playing surface. Field Turf combines a sand and rubber base and is the unquestioned leader in the sports field industry.
Apparently, several teams with lottery picks in the 5-9 range really like Reece Gaines but don't feel they can take him that high in thedraft. Some of those teams are looking into trading down with teams in the 10-15 slots in order to pick him up. While Reece would probably prefer to be picked higher in the draft, think $200,000 salary reduction for each lower slot in the first round, don't be surprised if he ends up with a team like the Utah Jazz who could use a big point guard to run the show and contribute immediate minutes next season.
Francisco Garcia is playing like an All American. The 6'7 forward has added about 15 pounds to his frame during the off season and the additional strength has made him virtually unguardable. His jumper from three point range is automatic, he's unstoppable going to the hole and his on court leadership and savvy place will likely make him rich one day soon. He's a special, special player and you've got to love his competitiveness and desire for improvement. Look for a huge year from Cisco!!
Newcomer Nouha Diakite has quickly made his impact felt on the court. A phenomenal athlete, Diakite challenges every shot in the paint and is a ferocious rebounder, particularly on the offensive boards. He'll have to learn to curb his aggressive approach on the defensive end but he has some nice moves around the basket and has surprising offensive abilities. Diakite's presence will make the Cards a better pressing and fast break team.
Finally, senior Preliu Davis won't concede the starting point guard
slot to freshman Brandon Jenkins without a fight. Davis, who struggled
last season after a preseason injury, looks to be regaining his form. He's
consistently knocking down the open three pointer and always plays hard on the
defensive end of the floor. Jenkins will have his work cut out to unseat Davis
for the starting nod.