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February 28, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



The Morning Dish – Friday, February 28th, 2003

by Jon Gonzalez



Just a few short weeks ago, Louisville seemed destined to earn a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now, if doesn’t look as if the Cardinals will be the top seed in the C-USA Tournament.

Behind Dwyane Wade’s 28 points, No.10 Marquette avenged a 73-70 home loss to No. 9 Louisville suffered on Feb. 15. It wasn’t easy, but Marquette fought back from 19 points down in the first half to earn 78-73 victory Thursday.

After Wade hit a free throw with 23.4 seconds left, Marquette was up by three points. Louisville had a chance to tie the game, but Reece Gaines missed an open 3-pointer with 10-seconds left. Marquette then got the ball back and Travis Diener sealed the victory by sinking two free throws with 6-seconds remaining.

Marquette’s comeback started when the Golden Eagles were down 42-23 in the first half. Marquette (21-4, 12-2) would trim Louisville’s lead to 11 by halftime and came out smoking in the second half. With the Cardinals up 57-45 three minutes into the second half, Marquette went on an 18-4 run, took the lead and held off a late Cardinal run.

Louisville (19-5, 9-4), who was led by Francisco Garcia’s 24 points, has lost four out of its last five games after winning 17 straight. Marquette, on the other hand, moves closer to a regular season Conference USA championship.

What is going on with Louisville? Here’s a team that was on top of the world, being praised by every basketball expert in the country, and then they lost to St. Louis. If not for Reece Gaines against Marquette in Louisville’s prior meeting with the Golden Eagles, Louisville would be in the midst of a five game losing skid. Did the Cardinals start listening to all the talk of how they could win it all? Has the national recognition caused Louisville to lose its hunger?

Rick Pitino came to Louisville last season with high expectations. It was said that he would bring the Cardinals back to national prominence in due time. The Cardinals struggled last season, but after all, Pitino did get 19 wins and an NIT berth out of the Cards. Coming into this season, the bar was raised a little higher and a NCAA berth was the goal. But after the Cards went on a 17 game win streak, talk then shifted to how the Cards would not only be in the big dance, but have a legitimate chance of winning it. Pitino of course wants to win, but does he want the whole country singing his young teams praises so early? More importantly, does he want his players to listen? There is a lot of pressure involved when you are an inexperienced, young team that is then thrust into the national spotlight. All of a sudden, the Cardinals have high expectations to live up to.

But in all fairness to Louisville, their struggles can be found no further than the opposition they have played. Aside from that loss to St. Louis, who is playing quality basketball of late, the Cards lost to a good Memphis team and a good Cinncy team in Ohio. They were fortunate to beat Marquette the first time, but losing to one of the best teams in America is nothing to feel bad about.

The Cards have three games left until the C-USA tourney against teams they should beat. Should the Cardinals continue to falter before the NCAA tournament, Louisville might go into the big dance with expectations that are substantially lower than they were a month ago. It seems as if that is how the Cardinals like it.

Side Dishes

Cats Too Much: Salim Stoudamire made six 3-pointers and scored 20 points as No.1 Arizona (22-2, 14-1) defeated No.24 Cal 88-75 Thursday at Haas Pavilion. It was Cal’s first loss at home all season and snaps Cal’s 17 game home winning streak. The last time the Golden Bears lost at home, it was to Arizona last season. The loss also eliminates Cal (19-6, 12-4) from Pac-10 regular season championship contention. Arizona was just too much for Cal, proving why they are the best team in America. Brian Wethers led Cal with 18 points. Arizona can clinch the Pac-10 with a win Saturday against Stanford.

The Perfect Gift: Stanford coach Mike Montgomery turned 56 on Thursday, so his 19th ranked Cardinal decided to get him a gift. Stanford (22-6, 13-3) wrapped up Arizona State 88-77 Thursday night and gave their coach a victory on his birthday. Julius Barnes led Stanford with 29 points. It was the Cardinal’s sixth straight victory. Although Arizona State has dropped two in a row, the Sun Devils are a lock for the NCAA’s. Ike Diogu scored 26 points for Arizona State (17-9, 9-6)

Elsewhere, Tulsa tripped up Hawaii 76-51, Oregon stopped USC 79-66, Seton Hall dropped Villanova 57-56 and Manhattan lost to Siena 72-68.

Trouble in GA?: Tony Cole was kicked off the Georgia men’s team last season after he was accused of rape. Now, Cole is out for revenge. Cole told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that Jim Harrick and his son Jim Harrick, Jr.paid Cole’s phone and hotel bills and helped Cole fraudulently achieve high grades at two schools. If true, these actions are in violation of NCAA policy. The paid phone bills occurred when Cole was staying at a friend’s house during summer school. Cole ran up a 300 dollar phone bill and Jim Harrick, Jr.sent a 300 dollar money order to Eva Davis, the mother of Cole’s friend. ESPN showed the statement from the 300 hundred dollar money order. Harrick Jr. also paid for Cole’s hotel expenses when he stayed at a Howard Johnson’s before he was enrolled. As for the academic fraudulence, Cole alleges Harrick Jr. did schoolwork for Cole while he attended Lincoln Trail Community College in Illinois and gave Cole an A for a class taught by Harrick Jr. at Georgia that Cole never attended. Furthermore, Cole says he was forced by Harrick Jr. to sign a statement that stated Cole was able to take care of himself financially. Cole was cleared on rape charges against him.

Jayhawk Down: Wayne Simien’s season is over. The Kansas sophomore will miss the remainder of the year after dislocating his right shoulder for the second time in Kansas’ 85-45 win over Texas A&#38M on Wednesday. Simien first dislocated his shoulder on Jan.4 against Kansas City-Missouri. Simien will likely undergo surgery in March and will need at least three months of rehab.

Not Quite Yet: Colorado big man David Harrison will return for his junior season. The seven-foot center does not believe he is ready for the pro game. Harrison told the Rocky Mountain News that his love for college basketball and Colorado also helped him to make his decision.

Bye Bye Bonnie: Jamil Terrell, exit right. The St. Bonaventure center Jamil Terrell was declared ineligible by the NCAA for failing to meet transfer guidelines. St. Bonaventure did not disclose what guidelines Terrell did not meet, but university spokesperson David Ferguson said the school is petitioning the NCAA to have Terrell reinstated. The junior spent the last two seasons at Coastal Georgia Community College before joining the Bonnies this season. Terrell started 18 games this season.

Bad News For Heels: It’s official, Sean May will not see action in a Tar Heel uniform until next season. The UNC center was advised by doctors to sit out the rest of the season because of a broken foot. May, who averaged 12 points, broke his foot on Dec.27 against Iona and expected to be back within 8 to 10 weeks. Although the bone is healing as expected, May is still experiencing soreness and the risk of further injury is too great. Without May, UNC is 7-10 after starting the season at 7-3.

Tonight’s Menu

It’s Friday so we all know what that means: Ivy League Action.

&#8226 Princeton travels to New Haven to take on Yale, Dartmouth is at Columbia, Harvard is at Cornell and Penn travels to Brown. The Penn/Brown game is the biggest Ivy game of the night, as Penn is atop the conference at 9-0 and Brown is right behind at 9-1. All games tip at 7 p.m.

&#8226 Out west, St. Mary’s (CA) takes on Pepperdine at 10 p.m. and San Fran is at Loyola Marymount for a 10:00 p.m. tip.

&#8226 In the south’s lone match-up, Samford plays Belmont at 8 p.m.

OK kids, have a great day and enjoy your last day of February. Bye.

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