AAC M5: 10.22.13 EditionPosted by Mike Lemaire on October 22nd, 2013
- It’s possible that only in Kentucky can you find more than 1,400 people to attend a college basketball event in the middle of a Monday afternoon. I guess it also helps if you are the defending national champions and you have a legitimate shot at making your third-straight Final Four appearance next April. Louisville held its tip-off luncheon yesterday at the downtown Marriott, and in addition to some good ole-fashioned roasting from coach Rick Pitino and his two senior captains Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, the Cardinals’ head coach even allowed himself to say that the program was on its way to becoming “a mini-dynasty.” The unexpected loss of forward Chane Behanan has put a damper on Louisville’s lofty preseason rankings, but Pitino — who has dealt with the loss of key players before — is saying all the right things and has really been pumping up sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell pretty hard. Hopefully Harrell is up to challenge.
- Speaking of the Cardinals, news that guard Kevin Ware may be healthy enough to suit up in the team’s season opener is a bright spot for fans still reeling from Behanan’s suspension. Apparently Ware refuses to watch the video of his injury, and who can blame him, those watching the game live can probably still remember the visceral reaction of the nearby Cardinals and the awful televised replays. Ware has been practicing with the team, but he is still being held out of full-contact drills while the bone continues to heal. Right now, his timetable will likely force him to miss a game or two as he ramps up the contact starting in November, but Ware holds out hope that he can push the timetable up by proving his durability in drills.
- Every year the good folks at CBSSports.com have the enviable job of participating in a just-for-kicks fantasy draft of college basketball players and since Jeff Goodman recently left for ESPN, this year’s draft was a three-man affair. It didn’t take long for the first player from the AAC to get taken as Louisville‘s Russ Smith was understandably popped sixth overall right behind Duke’s Jabari Parker. It was also nice win for the AAC to see Smith’s teammate Montrezl Harrell go with the 17th overall selection, but after Harrell, only one other player was chosen from the conference (Shabazz Napier with the No. 24 overall pick). All told, only three players from the AAC were selected among the 39 picks, not exactly a strong showing for the league, especially considering the Cardinals won’t be around much longer to inflate the numbers.
- If they were still playing in Conference USA they would probably be a favorite to win the league, so it’s good to see that Houston is excited about playing in a tougher conference. The Cougars’ players (or at least Danuel House) sound excited about the opportunity to gain exposure for both themselves and the program, and also to play against tougher competition. Everyone has been talking about how SMU may sneak up on some folks this season, but Houston has the talent and depth to make some noise in their new conference as well. They will have to play much better defense and replace the scoring of the since-transferred Joseph Young, but there are enough pieces in place to finish in the top half of the league standings right now.
- You know it’s a slow news day for the conference when I am talking about Memphis‘ new Nike basketball uniforms that don’t really look all that different from the program’s current uniforms. I guess there are some cool designs on the fronts and backs of the jerseys, but yeah, Memphis has new uniforms, and Michael Dixon couldn’t look any happier about it.