Jurich talks arena, men's hoops and bowl game

InsideTheVille.com caught up with University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich prior to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new downtown Louisville arena.

Since his hiring as the University of Louisville's Athletic Director nine years ago, Tom Jurich has continually moved the school's athletic programs towards the future with new facilities, coaches and hopes for conference and national championships. Jurich's vision for the future continued on Tuesday morning when he joined U of L President James Ramsey, as well as plenty of state and city politicians, for the groundbreaking of a new downtown arena which will house the Cardinals men's and women's basketball teams.

"I think it will be important for all of us," said Jurich of the project that has a November, 2010 completion date. "It's going to be a new home for us. The thing that I don't want to get lost is that we are going to leave a great place. Freedom Hall has been a tremendous home for us, so there will be some sad feelings there when we leave, but being able to move into something that is fresh and new I think all of our teams are greatly excited. It's a wonderful home for our men's and women's programs and I think they will be able to grow and prosper. Certainly moving downtown is going to be different and unique, but it is something that we're willing to tackle and make it the best possible arrangement that we can."

While the new arena will come will all the bells and whistles found in most of today's new arenas, Jurich admits that replicating the rich tradition found inside historic Freedom Hall will be a difficult task.

Tom Jurich & President Ramsey
"That will be a lot of work, there's no doubt about it," said Jurich. "I don't think you can to be honest with you. We'll certainly have all the banners and decorations, but there are so many great memories of the fairgrounds and playing in Freedom Hall that I think it will be tough for people to forget."

After dropping it's last outing against Dayton on Friday, the men's basketball team will return action on Saturday evening in Freedom Hall against Sacramento State. While the 68-64 loss against Dayton in Cincinnati last week has some Cardinal fans concerned about the potential of the 2006-07 season, Jurich has no concerns about Rick Pitino's youth-filled squad.

"Not at all," he said. "We have to get healthy first of all. Once we get healthy I think this team will be fine. It's a young team and we have to be patient with them. If fans aren't patient they won't enjoy the season."

"It'll be exciting when Derrick (Caracter) gets out there and when Andre (McGee) gets back," Jurich continued. "Andre was having a heck of a preseason, he played great during the tour in Canada, he played well in the exhibition games, and he certainly played great against Northwestern State."

Prior to the men's hoops game Saturday evening, U of L will host Big East Conference foe Connecticut at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for the football program's regular-season finale. A win over UConn, coupled with a West Virginia win against Rutgers, would give the Cardinal program it's first-ever Big East Conference football title and a spot in one of the lucrative BCS bowls.

"The sad part about it is that our destiny isn't in our own hands," said Jurich. "Certainly we have to take care of business on Saturday and hopefully West Virginia will follow suit, play well and win (against Rutgers). If not, it's been a great season. We'd be 11-1 and wherever we go it's going to be a good bowl game. It'll be exciting wherever we go - we'll play a great opponent. We couldn't be happier."

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