Cards focused on task at hand

LEXINGTON --- With an overwhelmingly friendly crowd on-hand at Rupp Arena in Lexington, the sixth-seeded Cardinals made easy work of Stanford on Thursday afternoon.

Playing just an hour east of the University of Louisville campus in Lexington, the sixth-seeded Cardinals received a home court type welcome when they took to the Rupp Arena court early Thursday afternoon to face Stanford in the opening-round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Just a bit over two hours later and following the easy dispatch of the Pac 10 program, those same Cardinals received an unusually long standing ovation from thousands of U of L fans in attendance.

"Coach Pitino told us not to worry about the fans, just go out there and worry about Stanford and what they are doing and don't play for the crowd and stay focused," said freshman Derrick Caracter, who totaled 12 points in 11 minutes of action on Thursday. "It seemed like it got louder here in Rupp and all the noise just came right down on the court."

Senior Brandon Jenkins, who has played in Rupp Arena twice - both against Kentucky - said that while he tried to keep his attention on Stanford and not on the near capacity crowd, admits that the atmosphere felt similar to that found at home.

"I have played here at Kentucky before when they were against us," said Jenkins. "Here we have our fans, but I just blocked that out and focused on Stanford. Personally, it felt like Freedom Hall."

While a similar home type crowd is expected when Louisville faces No.3 seed Texas A&M on Saturday, David Padgett, who scored 16 points in the 78-58 win, knows that he and his teammates can't view it as an advantage.

"We had really good fan support today," said Padgett. "We didn't know if we were going to have a lot of fans here or not, so we were just focused on beating Stanford. The farther that you get in the tournament the farther you're going to be from home, so we didn't focus on the fans."

Building off the electric crowd, Louisville flourished on both ends of the court. Offensively the Cardinals connected on 49% of their field goal attempts, while on defense they totaled 11 steals and forced 21 Stanford turnovers.

"We were putting a lot of pressure on the guys," said Jenkins, who totaled 3 steals on Thursday. "We knew what was at stake and we were really focused. With our loss at Pittsburgh last week, we really wanted to come in and focus on this game."

"I thought it was a key to the game," added Padgett. "The way that our defense is set up we try to do that every game. Good defense tends to lead to fast break points."

In addition to the supportive crowd, the Cardinals will need a similar type of performance on Saturday when they face the higher-seeded Texas A&M Aggies.

For Williams, who went scoreless, but dished out four assists in 26 minutes of play against Stanford, believes that if the Cardinals continue that type of play that they are capable of making a deep tournament run.

"We can go as far as the tournament goes, it just all depends on what team shows up," he said.

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