CARDS HOPING EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF
After winning the national title last season, the University of Louisville is back in the NCAA Tournament and ready to defend the title.
The Cardinals started the season ranked in the top five, went through some rough times but finished the season as a top five team and can grab win No. 30 tonight against Manhattan.
Many experts and analysis believe Louisville is peaking at the right time and something that could help is experience.
Russ Smith, Luke Hancock and Stephan Van Treese played a ton of minutes last season, while Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear were also key performers on the title team.
"I hope experience pays off," Hancock said. "We have some veterans who have been there before, so we are hoping it pays off for sure."
Russ Smith said he was going to make sure the newcomers in the rotation - Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Mangok Mathiang - were "relaxed."
"They'll be fine," Smith said. "Experience is good, but I want them to just play their games. We just all need to play ball."
VAN TREESE HAS THE NICKNAMES DOWN
Senior center Stephan Van Treese said he knows he's well-liked by his teammates and the fans.
Maybe that's because he has more nicknames than anybody else on the team.
"Too many of them," Van Tresse said. "I have so many nicknames it's not funny."
The 6-foot-9 Van Treese said his favorite is the simple one of 'VT,' noting that "I just like that one. It's my favorite.
Others include Stephan Van Threese, SVT, Big Hustle, The Janitor and Vanilla Gorilla among several others with Van Treese saying "there's plenty more I am sure.
"I'm the guy you can joke around with," Van Treese said. "I am a big target for guys to tease on me, but I get back at them. But it's fun."
GILL BACK FROM INJURY
U of L freshman Anton Gill missed the AAC Tournament last week because of concussion.
But Gill is back in uniform this week and has been cleared to play. He was hit by a Montrezl Harrell elbow in practice two days before the tournament but said he "feels great" now.
"It was tough," Gill said. "It just feels good to be back and I hope that I can help out. I feel great and everything is good, I was cleared.
"I have to get back in shape a bit, but it's good and I hope to just help out the team."
The 6-foot-3 Gill averages 1.4 points a game and has played in 5.8 minutes a game in 23 games. He had played double-digit in three of his previous five games and said he was "really starting to feel like I had picked it up."
CARDS AS THE 4 SEED
U of L is making its 40th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the ninth time as a No. 4 seed since 1979.
The Cardinals are 14-8 as the No. 4 seed, making it to the Final Four two years ago.
U of L did lose in the opener against Morehead State three years ago.
CARDS LOOKING FOR WIN NO. 30
A win tonight would give Louisville an eighth 30-win season in school history and the third in a row for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals went 30-10 two years ago when they made it to the Final Four and had a school-record 35 wins last season at 35-5.
The previous school record for wins was 33 in 1979-80 and also 2004-05. U of L won 32 games in '82-83 and '85-86 and had a 31-6 mark in '08-09.