Hell in the Hall – Louisville Sports Blog

Dedicated to the joyful noise of the Card faithful

# 1 is Done ! Cards Take Down Pitt 69 -63

Posted by frankpos on January 18, 2009

What a ride!

pitt-109-jerb-funnytwillposterpittgame

We just took down the #1 team in the country,and did it with a full house of fevered Card fans standing and screaming and urging their team on in the Hall.

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And then….  after the game,  we sang  Happy Birthday to  Earl Clark as he celebrated his 21st , with the Cards perched  atop the strongest conference in the land  at 4-0.

Pittsburgh Louisville Basketball

“We made great plays down the stretch,”  Rick Pitino said. “This is the fourth game in a row right now where we did really smart things down the stretch.

“I would have been extremely proud of our guys even if we didn’t win the game. They showed unbelievable heart in the second half. (Pitt) is a great team. ”

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The Card faithful bring it for the big games–they always had since at least the 80’s–and I remember some wild games in the 70’s too.

It’s awe-inspiring to be at the Hall and see EVERYONE –including the bluehairs on the floor–standing, screaming, shaking their fists

urging the team on.

It’s like the stretch drive frenzy of the Derby…but for a solid 5-10 minutes or more.

It is amazing there are not more heart attacks….

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It wasn’t a fun, run-n-gun game like Notre Dame.  It wasn’t very pretty really– low % shooting  and a lot of turnovers by both teams.

But…we out-rebounded one of  the best rebounding teams in the country, and we cracked their crack-proof point-guard General.

A bit frustrated tonight, Mr. Fields?

A bit frustrated tonight, Mr. Fields?

Most importantly– we  strongly closed out a second straight game against a top 15 opponent.

The Cards vise-clamped   on Pitt with 8 minutes to go–and us behind by 10 points- and we finished with a 19-3 burst to put them away, shooting 50% in the second half –including 5 of 7 3-balls–after shooting 30% the first.

The Panthers shot just 30% in the second half.

Pitt turned it over a season-high 20 times, including six by “General” Levance Fields.  He had only six turnovers in his previous four games combined. Using three different types of presses, the Cardinals trapped, rushed and generally frustrated Fields.

Preston Knowles knows: “Usually, [Fields] tries to go by you.  We could see that he and their other guards were starting to turn their backs a little bit. They were speeding up their dribbles and throwing outrageous passes. That’s how we create turnovers and quicker shots.”

“Give them credit, they beat us,” said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon.  “We played well, they played well. They made shots down the stretch.”

In two weeks, the Cards have now won four thrillers over top 25 opponents (throw UK in there) and have emerged with  a five game win streak.

T Will again led the way: 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. During this streak, this has been  the T Will we have all hoped and dreamed for– the do-it-all POY who can lead his team to the pinnacle.
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On his birthday, Earl added 16 pts and 11 boards.  Out of control and awkward on most of his drives–again–E5 makes you cringe.  But he  still has so much raw talent, he somehow ends up with double-doubles most of the time.

And Samardo…For the second straight game, Samardo got the other team’s big guy in foul trouble, this time the rebounding monster Blair, who is actually the first player this year I’ve seen that is more thickly muscled in the chest and shoulders than Samardo.  Oh, and Sammy added 10 pts and 7 boards, and a nice touch on his free throws.

During this wild stretch of games, Samardo is learning quickly and proving effective against some of the best big men in the country.  And this is a very good sign for us at this point in the season.

“We definitely had something to prove,” Samuels said. “All the talk coming into the game was that Pitt was giants, that they were monsters. But we look at ourselves as monsters, too.”

Preston Knowles nailed 3 treys in the last 10 minutes to help bring us back, which were huge in this low-scoring game.  His D on the General was just brilliant as usual, as was McGee’s.

Preston: “We try to hang our hats on being in the best shape of any team in the country.  Then, come five minutes or three minutes left in the game, they don’t have their legs any more. And that’s how we thrive.”

And just for fun, in the first half, Terrence Jennings timed a Pitt pass, snatched it at mid-court and dribbled a looooong way for him, and dunked it with glee.

That steal and dunk was fun, wasn't it, TJ?

That steal and jam was fun, wasn't it, TJ?

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Pitino: “If you rely on offense and you get down, you get down more because you can’t come back.  We’re so good at the defensive end, and our effort is so good that we can always come back, and we believe in that. Once the effort got to the level where we want it to be, I think we became a good basketball team.”

Earl: “Rankings don’t really matter and we don’t look at it, but I’m going to go ahead and say it.  Coach might get mad at me, but I say put us back in the top 10.”

T Will for the last word: “We are strong-willed and a strong-minded team. For us to be 4-0 (in BE) and beat great competition and the No. 1 team, it speaks volumes. We’re not done yet until we hold up that last trophy.”

What a ride.  And it ain’t over yet.

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Other observations:

The crowd is really getting into the primal scream with T Will in the video during the player intros.

I had four obnoxious Pitt guys behind me.  After that scream, I heard one of them go “Wow” softly  and laugh nervously.

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The 1983 Dream Team signed autographs for an hour before the game.  Most of the key players and coaches showed up, except Milt (who was at UTEP coaching) and Billy Thompson.

Rodney McCray, superfan Gail Finn, and Scooter.  (Photo courtesy of Gail.)

Rodney McCray, superfan Gail Finn, and Scooter. (Photo courtesy of Gail.)

When I told Coach Crum I’d been at the Game and showed him my original game program from that day for him to sign, he marveled at the old program, leafing through it, and chuckling at the old pics.  In fact, as I went down the line, meeting each player in turn, they all got a kick out of the old pics and  passed the program around some.

Robbie Valentine and the guys signing before the Pitt game. (Photo courstesy of Robbie Valentine.)

Robbie Valentine and the guys signing before the Pitt game. (Photo courstesy of Robbie Valentine.)

Jeff Hall, whose deadpan humor when we mentioned meeting his mother-in-law was bright and hilarious…Lancaster Gordon, who laughed when my wife presented her poster for signing and waved her away, since she knows him from work.  He also commented to the other guys that I had a blog, since Lancaster had stopped by my site to read my Original Dream Game article…most of the guys had no idea what a blog was, but Lancaster noted Robby Valentine was the one who gets out on Facebook… Charles Jones–the savior of the Dream Game with his block of Minnifield’s layup–was there….and then Rodney and Scooter.

Original Dream Game team was introduced at halftime of the Pitt game.  (Photo courtesy of Robbie Valentine.)

Original Dream Game team was introduced at halftime of the Pitt game. (Photo courtesy of Robbie Valentine.)

Coach was most gracious, as were all the guys.  I handed out all the Hell in the Hall cards I had, and they were  accepted with a smile.  The guys have put on a few pounds, and lost a few hairs–but hey, so have I.

Robbie and Coach.  (Photo courtesy of Robbie Valentine.)

Robbie and Coach. (Photo courtesy of Robbie Valentine.)

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Other links to stories:

ESPN

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=290170097

Brian Bennett:  http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=3841209

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09018/942674-175.stm

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09018/942680-175.stm

Pittsburgh Tribune

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_607725.html

Kentucky.com

http://www.kentucky.com/232/story/662314.html

MSN

http://msn.foxsports.com/cbk/story/9094958/No.-20-Louisville-hands-No.-1-Pittsburgh-first-loss

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