RedRage Blog: Rave Reviews

If the national jury was still out on the Louisville Cardinals prior to it's Sweet Sixteen game against top-seeded Washington, it no longer is. Rick Pitino's Cardinals built a 12 point half time lead and then controlled the remaining twenty minutes, winning 93-79 over the 5th-ranked Huskies.

Louisville's defense held the nation's second highest scoring offense under it's average, while the Cardinals offense continued to stroke the nets. Francisco Garcia once again proved to everyone why is very much ready for the NBA, as he poured in 23 points to go with 3 blocks and 3 assists. The junior is averaging 23.6 points, 3.3 assists and 2.7 blocks per outing through three tournament games.

One thing that continues to impress me each time the Cardinals take to the court is the coaching performance that U of L head coach Rick Pitino has done this year. Until now, Pitino's style of ball was described as fast-paced, three-ballers and full court press. Who would have ever imagined that Rick Pitino would pull a 2-3 zone out of his back pocket?? Who could have guessed that Rick Pitino would convert Ellis Myles into an amazing high-post passer?? And, who created this guy named Larry O'Bannon?? Bravo Pitino!

So, back to my original point...Louisville now has the nation believing. The doubts are gone.

Huskie fans logged on to the messageboards at InsidetheVille.com immediately following their team's loss to U of L to share their thoughts on the Cardinals...

I have to root for my boys from the Pac 10, but if you don't meet Arizona I'm rooting for you all the way to the championship game. Your team is athletic AND disciplined. That's a very rare combination. If you play like you did tonight there's a few NBA teams that wouldn't stand a chance. -- dawgncarolina

You guys have an amazing shooting team. Can't imagine anyone beating you if you continue to shoot 55%. - SaxmanUW

The Huskies standout point guard Nate Robinson agreed...

They're a physical and tough team and played a helluva game. I wouldn't be surprised if they won the whole thing.

Some in the national media were also quick to give the Cardinals their "props," including ESPN.com's Dick Vitale and Andy Katz.

"What a journey it has been for the Cardinals and Pitino," wrote Vitale. "Is there any doubt that the man is a basketball genius? Louisville has come back to the national spotlight and rightfully so."

CBS Sportline's Senior Writer Pete Prisco also chimmed in...

This might be his best coaching job yet. It has to kill him to play a slow-down style of sorts, rather than press and run and roll waves of players into the game.

No matter the results of the season from this point, Rick Pitino must be strongly considered as Coach of the Year and the Louisville basketball program has returned to it's proper place among the nation's best.


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