Season in Review
Luke Hancock produced another huge game off the bench, scoring 22 points, and Pitino became the first coach to win national titles at two schools when relentless Louisville rallied from another 12-point deficit to beat Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA championship game Monday night.
The University of Louisville menís basketball team, playing in its third national championship in school history, faces fourth-seeded Michigan on Monday, April 8, at 9:23 p.m. ET in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.
''I just kept telling the guys ... 'We're going to make a run. It's about defense,''' coach Rick Pitino said. ''The tempo is not ours. Give them their credit, but the bench won the game for us tonight. Unbelievable display.''
All Wichita State had was the cute-and-cuddly underdog angle. Now the Shockers don't even have that.
Blackshear received the award during the Men's Final Four Salute Presentation on Thursday evening.
Ware had the bone re-set, the wound from the injury closed and a rod inserted in his right tibia during approximately two hours of surgery. He suffered the injury with 6:33 remaining in the first half of the Cardinals' 85-63 Midwest Regional Championship victory over Duke.
Russ Smith scored 23, Gorgui Dieng had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, and top-seeded Louisville put aside the shock from Ware's gruesome leg injury to earn a second straight trip to the Final Four with an 85-63 victory over Duke on Sunday afternoon.
With his teammates struggling with a bug and top-seeded Louisville facing its toughest test of the postseason, Smith put on his best show yet. He matched his career high of 31 points and the Cardinals proved they can win close games, too, beating Oregon 77-69 on Friday night.
Hearing what coach Rick Pitino said afterward is going to be downright terrifying.
Then he paused and peered over his glasses.
"But he came up lame without a rebound. So we're very disappointed with that. We're going to do drills in the ballroom with Russ rebounding tonight," Pitino said before he gave up, letting a smile cross his face. "Russ is a really special player," the coach continued. "He said he was like a blender tonight, just moved around and moved around."
Louisville, which will be competing in the bracket's Midwest Region, faces No. 16-seed North Carolina A&T on Thursday, March 21, at 6:50 p.m. ET in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
The Cardinals got their third title by overcoming a 16-point deficit in the second half - almost double the previous record in a championship game - and they kept pouring it on once they got the lead, going ahead by as many as 18 points.
Russ Smith scored 20 points and Peyton Siva added 12 to lead No. 4 Louisville to a 69-57 victory over No. 24 Notre Dame on Friday night, the third straight year the Cardinals beat the Fighting Irish in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
Smith scored 28 points in a bittersweet homecoming, carrying the fourth-ranked Cardinals into the Big East tournament semifinals with a 74-55 victory over Villanova only hours after the death of his esteemed high school coach.
This season alone, Siva has accumulated multiple honors away from the hardwood. After earning a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District first team, the sociology major landed a spot as the program's second CoSIDA Academic All-American in late February. A second-team pick, Siva boasts a 3.37 cumulative grade-point average and was named Louisville's American Eagle Outfitters Institutional Male Scholar-Athlete, as chosen by the BIG EAST Conference's Academic Affairs Committee.
On Monday, the junior center was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, making him the Cardinalsí first major league award winner since the team entered the BIG EAST in 2005-06. The awards were based on a vote by the leagueís head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Dieng and Smith earned first-team honors, marking the first time in school history that Louisville had two first-team picks. Siva, who earned his second career league honor, was named a third-team selection. Overall, it is the first time the Cardinals - excluding the all-rookie team - have combined to place three on the all-league first, second, and third team squads.
Judging from Louisville's second-nature execution in a 67-51 defeat of Cincinnati, Pitino probably could have saved his voice. The Cardinals forced the Bearcats into a season-high 21 turnovers, several coming during a 25-7 run over a 10:03 stretch in the second half.
The Cardinalsí menís and womenís teams will suit up in the adizero uniform systems beginning with their respective BIG EAST Tournaments. The womenís tournament runs from March 8-12 in Hartford, Conn., while the men will play from March 12-16 in New York City.
Thursday night provided another example of the heights the Cardinals guard can reach when his game is on.
Smith scored 21 second-half points, including 12 straight over a 3:03 stretch that put No. 12 Louisville ahead for good and helped the Cardinals beat St. John's 72-58. He finished with a game-high 24, a huge recovery from Saturday night's 104-101, five-overtime loss at Notre Dame that included several ill-advised shots.
And while some concerns remain to be addressed over the second half of their league schedule, the No. 12 Cardinals reclaimed some of their swagger with Sunday's 70-51 rout of No. 25 Marquette.
Guard Russ Smith and center Gorgui Dieng didn't care how it looked, as both focused solely on securing the outcome for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals' focus now is on reclaiming the top spot and holding on when it matters - through the season's end in April - after falling to No. 6 Syracuse 70-68 on Saturday.
It took the same amount of time for their guards to show they could be the best backcourt in the country even when they don't spend all that much time together on the court.
The Cardinals produced a collective 3.41 grade point average for the 2012 UofL fall semester, with 15 of the 17 student-athletes on its roster achieved a 3.0 or better grade point average. Both are record numbers for the men's basketball team, which has hovered around a collective 3.0 GPA for nine straight semesters. The team produced a combined 3.16 GPA for the 2011 fall semester and had a 3.13 GPA for the 2012 spring semester. A dozen Cardinals have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or better.
In the Cardinals' only game of the holiday week, Smith totaled 21 points, three steals, three assists and matched a career-high with seven rebounds as Louisville beat intrastate rival No. 23 Kentucky 80-77. Smith, who ranks third in the BIG EAST in scoring (19.8 ppg), scored 17 of his points in the second half and produced his eighth game with at least three steals.
Makes sense, considering he played a key role in ending the No. 4 Cardinals' four-game losing streak against the rival Wildcats.
Smith scored 21 points, including five of Louisville's final 13, along with seven rebounds to help the Cardinals hold off Kentucky in an up-and-down game.
Especially from the father, who's always in his ear.
In Louisville's only game of the week, Behanan scored a season-high 22 points and added three rebounds and two steals as the Cardinals overcame a 16-point deficit to win at future BIG EAST member Memphis. Behanan scored 16 points of his points in the second half, including his first three-pointer of the season during a 13-0 second-half run which gave the Cardinals a lead they would not relinquish. He hit 7-of-12 shots from the field and 7-of-8 free throws.
Luckily for them, Chane Behanan helped make sure Louisville took home the victory.
Behanan scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, and the Cardinals rallied from 16 points down in the first half to beat Memphis 87-78 on Saturday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Without its shot-blocking center, Louisville got big efforts from its backcourt and a seldom-used backup to escape a Saturday scare from Illinois State.
Guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva traded turns taking over in the second-half of the No. 5 Cardinals 69-66 comeback win. Stephan Van Treese sparked Louisville in the middle, playing 34 minutes off the bench in place Gorgui Dieng who is out with a broken left wrist.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Louisville junior guard Russ Smith has been named to the BIG EAST Conference weekly honor roll for his performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Smith averaged 17 points, six rebounds, 3.3 steals and three assists in three games of the Battle 4 Atlantis as the Cardinals reached the championship game before falling to then-No. 5 Duke. Smith and backcourt mate Peyton Siva were both honored on the Battle 4 Atlantis all-tournament team.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Louisville center Gorgui Dieng will be out four-to-six weeks while recovering from a broken wrist he suffered last Friday.
"With a little luck, Gorgui will be back by the start of our BIG EAST schedule," said UofL Coach Rick Pitino. "We will miss his defensive presence and passing ability, but it is time for other guys to step up their performances."
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) - Peyton Siva scored 19 points for the No. 2 Cardinals (5-1) and Russ Smith added 17, but the No. 5 Blue Devils beat Lousiville 76-71 in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Duke and Louisville were so close for so long until Quinn Cook took charge.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Five impressive high school, prep and junior college products have each signed a national letter-of-intent to continue their basketball playing careers at the University of Louisville, ranking this Cardinal group among the nation's top recruiting classes.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Russ Smith's perfectly happy at No. 2 Louisville and showed Manhattan how much on Sunday.
The junior guard scored a game-high 23 points to help the Cardinals pull away for a season-opening 79-51 victory against the Jaspers. Smith had considered transferring to Manhattan to follow Jaspers coach Steve Masiello, who was a Louisville assistant from 2005-11.
NEW YORK - Coming off a season which culminated in a BIG EAST Tournament title and a Final Four run, the University of Louisville men's basketball team was picked as the unanimous choice to win the 2012-13 BIG EAST men's basketball regular-season crown in the league's preseason coaches' poll, conference officials announced Wednesday.