Louisville Has The “Best” Fan Base In The Country: Says Who?

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 30th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

College basketball fan bases are a personal and intensely provincial point of debate. Fans of teams around the country take their passionate school fandoms more seriously than they ever should, and when one university’s supporting group dare make a definitive statement elevating its own team-endorsing fervor over others, tension is inevitable. Shouting matches and recriminations are a natural evolution of the conflict. Fans care about their college basketball teams, but more than that they care about their college basketball teams more than you care about your college basketball teams. You can imagine how these kinds of debates play out amongst college hoops’ insanely obsessive followers, the Dukes and North Carolinas and Kansases of the world. The antagonistic bite on the court – that intangibly rousing feeling you get while watching Duke-UNC or Syracuse-Georgetown (ugh) or Kansas-Missouri (double ugh) – cuts just as deep as the fan base bitterness. Naturally, these arguments cross over into the unnavigable ether of comment sections and message boards and Reddit. The result is almost always a solution no one feels satisfied with. Nobody wins.

An impossibly blissful offseason somehow got better for Louisville wonks Wednesday, who can now, even if mostly unfoundedly, proclaim their fan base superiority (AP).

An impossibly blissful offseason somehow got better for Louisville wonks Wednesday, who can now, even if mostly unfoundedly, argue their fan base’s unmatched stature (AP).

A new analytical authority tried to bring order to the psychological fan base warfare by ranking college basketball’s fanbases on a system that is…..completely unpsychological. Indeed, Emory Sports Marketing Analytics came out with its list of “Best Fan Bases” Wednesday and (drum roll, please) the Louisville Cardinals claimed the top spot. The logical next question – in what solar system is Louisville the “best fan base” in the country, and Kentucky, you know, not? – will not make members of the #BBN particularly happy; it took little time for this specific bit of information, the disparity in the rankings, to ruffle the feathers of internet-dwelling Wildcats fans. UK came in at seventh, behind the likes of Arkansas and Texas.

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Big East M5: 03.26.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 26th, 2013

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  1. Not only does Louisville own the number one overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but the Midwest region favorites are also the most profitable college basketball program in all the land. The value of the KFCYum! Center and an abundance of donations to the program have led to the landslide top ranking in this year’s Forbes list of the most valuable basketball programs in the country. Syracuse was the only other Big East squad in the top 20 of Forbes’ list, coming in at ninth.
  2. During Syracuse’s round of 32 game against California on Saturday night, Michael Carter-Williams‘ family’s house in Hamilton, Massachusetts was destroyed by a fire, which is believed to have started in the chimney. The family was inside the house watching his game when the fire started, but luckily everyone made it out of the house without injury. Carter-Williams’ aunt told the Boston Globe that the point guard is a bit “shaken up because he can’t do anything to help,” but that he remains focused on the NCAA Tournament, and won’t return home until after the East Regional games in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
  3. Saturday’s Third Round game between Marquette and Butler could very well mark the beginning of a budding rivalry in the new Big East conference. Both schools play similar, bruising styles of basketball and thrive in close-game situations, this one won by Buzz Williams’ squad. Both are private urban universities in midwestern cities with proud recent basketball histories and top flight young coaches. Where some of the programs that joined the Big East in the mid-2000s expansion failed to live up to their basketball promise, Marquette has played at a consistently high level, and the new conference led by the Catholic Seven will look to Butler to make an immediate impact in a similar fashion.
  4. While Pitt fans seem a bit split on Jamie Dixon, especially after another early NCAA flame-out, Dixon is very happy to be sticking around the ‘Steel City‘.  The university has locked the coach up for the next 10 years, ending much speculation that Dixon would take the vacant job at USC.  The signing gives Pitt security heading into a new conference, if nothing else, and gives the Dixon family a similar sense of stability: “My family’s excited. Our administration felt it needed to be done, so we’re excited and happy.”
  5. There is, of course, a fourth Big East program still dancing… or at least shuffling its feet off away from the spotlight. Providence knocked off notorious Kentucky-killers Robert Morris 77-68 in the second round of the NIT at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, setting up an upcoming quarterfinal with Baylor. In the team’s final hurrah at home, coach Ed Cooley made sure to deliver a message to the Friars faithful to try to kick-start some momentum heading into 2013-14: ”We want to see this place full next season as we begin our quest for a national championship.”  While an NCAA title might be a gaudy task for next season, an NIT crown should be attainable this year, and it would be a nice feather in the cap for a program that was better than many probably thought this season.
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Can Louisville Adapt to a Life Without Threes?

Posted by Will Tucker on November 15th, 2012

Will Tucker is an RTC correspondent and a Big East microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday night’s Louisville-Samford game.

Louisville overwhelmed Samford in all facets of the game tonight, 80-54, to advance to 2-0 and defend their #2 ranking. The box score and postgame highlights will depict a dominant display befitting of an elite team, replete with a 53-28 rebounding margin, a punishing 38 points in the paint, and numerically terrifying double-doubles from Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng. But any Louisville fan that watched the game and knows a lick about basketball (read: almost all of them) will temper the glowing conclusions you’d reach from a brief recap. Their team shot 1-8 from three in the first half, but elected to judiciously move the ball into the paint more often than jack up threes. When Samford finally packed the paint with a zone defense and served up wide open looks from beyond the arc in the second half, the Cards took the bait and went 6-23, finishing at a 23% that elicited increasingly frustrated collective groans from the 20,016 on hand at the KFC Yum! Center with each successive brick.

Louisville needs to utilize Chane Behanan to score more efficiently

Despite all the things this Louisville team does well (and several things they already do great), their first two games of the 2012-13 season have exposed just how badly they lack a reliable three-point threat. Tonight’s contest refuted any notion that this Louisville team may achieve even average outside shooting. Rick Pitino had displayed uncharacteristic concern over his wings’ jump shots in his postgame press conference last Sunday, after former McDonald’s All-American Wayne Blackshear and transfer Luke Hancock combined to shoot 3-14 from beyond the arc against Manhattan. Tonight, they delivered a dismal 2-18 (11%) performance from outside, while streaky shooter Russ Smith (4-7 3FG) was the only one who salvaged Louisville’s team stat of 7-31 from long range. Blackshear and Hancock, both billed as capable jump shooters, have looked noticeably frustrated in the first two games of the year. Pitino tonight related Hancock to a hitter in a slump, forcing his shot in a fruitless effort “to make contact.” Blackshear, for his part, seems headed in the right direction, appearing much more assertive and confident as he built a somewhat inefficient stat line of 13 points and five rebounds tonight.

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Night Line: Louisville Starting to Find Their Form in Big East Play

Posted by EJacoby on February 7th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

Monday night saw Louisville completely dominate Connecticut in the second half during an 80-59 victory, and while the major focus was on the Huskies’ sorry effort, the Cardinals deserve credit for another impressive win after a horrible start to conference play. Monday’s victory was the team’s fifth straight, all of which have come by nine or more points. Louisville was clearly overrated when they were ranked in the top 10 during an undefeated start in December, but Rick Pitino’s team is starting to come around and establish themselves as one of the more talented teams in this year’s muddled Big East. Plenty of difficult matchups remain on the schedule, but the talks of the ‘Ville being on the NCAA Tournament bubble are long gone, and this team is looking to peak at the most important time of the season.

Chane Behanan is Improving with Each Game for Surging Louisville (AP Photo/K. Srakocic)

Back on December 23, Louisville had finished its non-conference schedule without a loss and was then ranked #4 in the AP Poll, but quickly crashed down to Earth once the competition ramped up. The team lost five of its next seven games, including home defeats to Notre Dame and Georgetown, and it was unclear if the Cardinals were even a top 10 team in their conference, much less the entire country. But collective intensity and defensive effort was never an issue during that midseason slump, and the Cards are now gaining confidence offensively that could make them a sneaky dangerous team down the stretch.

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What Shall Be The Fate Of Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on August 25th, 2011

Make your pilgrimage now, Kentucky fans, and take as many photos as you can, for the Rupp Arena you have worshiped for so long is on borrowed time.

An article from Tuesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader by Beverly Fortune and Jerry Tipton has us thinking that it’s merely a question of time, now, and which model to follow. Do the powers that be in the Bluegrass go the Fenway Park route and make piecemeal renovations over several years to the existing structure in downtown Lexington, or do they adopt the Yankee Stadium philosophy and build a brand new church arena elsewhere? Among UK backers, a discussion on this matter can get every bit as heated as one between Red Sox and Yankees fans about which group has the right to claim moral ascendancy.

Renovate the Old Or Start Afresh? Rupp In Its Current Form (image: uky.edu)

Fenway might call itself the oldest sports venue used by a sports franchise in the United States, but it’s undergone an almost yearly series of alterations since 1999 to bring up to speed everything from the sod to the seats to the scoreboards. Heck, there’s even a party deck. Most importantly, the renovations have been so well done that, even though this isn’t your grandfather’s Fenway Park, Boston officials say that the place has another 60 years of life in it and you can forget any plans for a replacement. Yankee Stadium, as we know, received a different treatment; the one built in 1923 hosted its inhabitants for the last time in 2008 and was demolished in 2010, a year after the Yanks had moved into a brand new glittering jewel of a stadium called…Yankee Stadium. Aside from a tendency for balls hit to right field to carry a little longer than they did in the old park (this happened even when the Yankee pitching situation was more stable), it opened to raves, not to mention a championship in its first year.

So what fate, then, for old Rupp Arena? If it can be updated in its current location, should it be? Or is it time for a brand new facility?

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Butler-Louisville to Christen New KFC Yum! Center

Posted by rtmsf on April 19th, 2010

With the announcement today that the new downtown Louisville basketball arena will be named after local corporation KFC Yum!, the artery-clogging conglomerate that brings you such tasty fare as Pizza Hut’s Meat Lovers Cheesy Bites pizza (460 calories per slice) and Taco Bell’s Volcano Nachos (1000 calories) in addition to the new gastronomic delight of chicken, bacon and cheese known as KFC’s Double Down (1,430 mg of sodium), you’ll forgive us if our burgeoning chest pain means we can’t muster the energy to cheer this latest encroachment of corporate America into college athletics. 

So YUM!

Cardiologists throughout the area, however, put deposits down on additional properties in Mexico as Yum! will pay $13.5M over the next ten years for naming rights to the arena.  The deal also gives the company as many as eight concession spots throughout the building, ensuring a steady stream of in-game revenue from the good citizens of what Men’s Fitness ranked as the tenth fattest city in America in 2009.   

To their credit, the key principals in this deal are toeing the party line with their celebratory talking points.  Jim Host, chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, said with respect to this deal, “We’re just tickled to death with the way it worked out.”  Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson added, “This is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top the icing.”  Color us cynical, but these statements are no more coincidental than Rick Pitino finding the keys to Porcini’s at the bottom of his trousers pocket.

Luckily, Louisville officials have shown considerable foresight in this regard and have already covered all of their bases.  We kid you not.

Now if that isn’t a classic example of rack ‘em and stack ‘em, then we don’t know our process improvement theory.  Louisville will host defending national runner-up Butler on November 16, 2010, to christen the building.  Over/under on fan visits to the Norton care center that night? 

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