Cardinal Caravan visits Mike Linnings

South End Card Fans Agree : "This is going to be the year for Louisville!"

Otis George, known for his energetic and frenzied style of play, provided the quote above and the crowd of well over two hundred cardinal fans couldn't have agreed more. Mike Linnig's Restaurant was site of the final stop on this years Cardinal Caravan and the atmosphere was electric. Among those in attendance were Rick Pitino, Bobby Petrino, Otis George and Stefan Lefores.

After signing autographs and posing for pictures, Louisville's athletic celebrities got the show underway June 17th at 6:20pm. Shawn Moth did what he does best in pumping up the crowd for the day's event. The non-revenue sports were once again well represented and provided much insight into the direction of their athletic programs.

Each was enthusiastic on the opportunity to join the Big East Conference. Zenarae Pieters, an assistant basketball coach for the women's team, stated that "It's a great recruiting tool for the class of 2005". Women's Soccer Coach Karen Ferguson added that she is "definitely excited (about the Big East)" and that since the announcement "We've been fortunate to be able to keep local talent (in Louisville)"

Otis George starting things off right for the Basketball program by announcing that Cardinal fans were really special to him, much to the crowd's delight. "I'm so far away from home and this is just like a family for me." After making it clear that he believed that "This is going to be the year for Louisville (basketball)", George handed the microphone to Coach Pitino.

Pitino was not at a loss for words by any means. He fed off the crowds energy and delivered great news and information. He started off by mentioning how shocked he was at the overachievement of last years team and how he thought that they weren't going to be very good at the seasons start. Of course everyone wanted to know about this coming year's team and Pitino did not disappoint with his answers. "This year we're the real deal." Pitino said of his team. The team will be lead by forward Francisco Garcia and Pitino had this to say about him. "He came in at 162lbs he's now 195lbs, he bench presses 270lbs, he couldn't even lift the bar when he first came here...I think he is the best college basketball player in the country…he's unguardable". Coach went onto say of this year's team that Taquan Dean is recovering from his double hernia surgery and that Larry O'Bannon has once again shown significant improvement.

Coach Pitino turned his attention to recruiting from there on. "The first couple years were difficult (but) finally everything's clicked for us…I can't be anymore excited about the recruiting right now." "We hired Reggie Theus to enhance our border, so to speak...I'm not a big California recruiter, I never really spent much time out there...We hired Reggie and we're already making great in-roads." A thunderous round of applause followed and Coach Bobby Petrino took the stage next.

Bobby Petrino wasted no time in showing his feelings on the Kentucky game. "It's the best way to open our season" said the coach. He also had kind words for sixteen year old defensive lineman Amobe Okoye. "Amobe has gone a nice job, he's up to about 315lbs and still growing." He then joked that Okoye had just recently started shaving. Petrino seemed to be defensive minded and spoke on what he thinks needs to be done in order for the defense to be successful in the Big East. "We need to be the fastest team in the conference." He followed that up by speaking on his recruiting strategy for defense, stating that he plans on recruiting mostly speed.

Stefan LeFors topped the night off by speaking highly of his men in the trenches. "That's where it starts (on the offensive line)…they're mean, they're hungry, and they're smart." LeFors also quipped that "there aren't enough footballs to go around", in regards of his potent offense.

The Cards made a lasting impression and anyone who wasn't a fan when they got there had to be when they left. Mark it down as another successful year for U of L's Cardinal Caravan.

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