Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tennessee vs. Louisville: Team Preview

A Cardinal blogger has been nice enough to give us a preview if what they will look like tomorrow. Here are his thoughts:

By Charles Springer

Rick Pitino is no stranger to University of Tennessee basketball fans, having disappointed Volunteers on numerous occasions while coaching at the University of Louisville and in one of his former jobs at a rival university in Lexington, Ky. Pitino is at once a motivator, a tactician, often a comedian, always demanding, while setting high expectations for his teams.

If that sounds like Bruce Pearl, it is because both men are amenable to doing whatever it takes to get maximum effort from their players. It is also why the names of Bruce Pearl and Rick Pitino always surface when schools like Indiana University are shopping for new coaches.

The six Pitino years at U of L have been consistently plagued by injuries to key players and this season has been no exception. Senior center David Padgett was thought to have incurred a career-ending injury in the second game, but refused to go away, defying his physician’s advice and putting a possible NBA future in jeopardy. He returned in January despite obvious pain to help turn the Cards’ season around. Juan Palacios suffered a severe ankle injury before the season began but rejoined the team in late December.

Call it the Pitino factor or whatever. Neither player is 100% but they are big factors in whatever success the team has achieved thus far.

Padgett, a coach’s son, the proverbial coach on the floor, is also known as the point center, directing traffic, setting up plays, making key passes, opportunistically going to the basket. Doesn’t have big numbers (11.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg), but plays much bigger than his 6-11 frame in terms of sweat and grit.

Jerry Smith, another coach’s son, plays two-guard. Tennessee fans may remember the name from recruiting. Smith earned All-State honors in his junior and senior years. Good three-point shooter, averaging 10.5 ppg, but his most valuable contribution comes from his relentless effort on defense.

Terrence Williams, a 6-5 forward, is the heart and soul of this Louisville team and the most physically gifted. Lose him for a second on offense and you get a highlight reel dunk that fans download and view over and over. Averaging 11 ppg and 7.3 rpg, Terrence is more valuable when he’s distributing the ball. More valuable when he’s playing it straight rather than going for the spectacular.

The guy that most NBA scouts are eyeing is 6-8 Earl Clark who has some nasty physical skills that he is just now learning to use, that and a newfound emotion to go with his physical skills. When Clark is on, he’s difficult for anyone to stop. I get the feeling that even his teammates are in awe of him at times.

Numerous other weapons on this team, don’t want to disclose much more. The writer is a U of L fanatic, first and foremost, intimately familiar with the several thrillers between Louisville and Tennessee in last couple of decades. But be assured that every time you play the University of Kentucky, Tennessee will always be my favorite team on the floor.

1 comment:

OrangeCrush said...

Thanks for the preview, Mr. Springer. This is one matchup that is going to be extremely tough for the Big Orange. I'm looking forward to an exciting game.

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