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Louisville 61, Northeastern 41

Jerry Smith is the best player on the team. T-Will and Padgett both want the role desperately, but Jerry Smith is the guy.

In a game that otherwise made you envy Allen Ray circa early March 2006, Smith's play gave Cardinal fans a glimmer of hope just one week before the team's Jan. 3 Big East opener at Notre Dame.

The freshman led the Cardinals in scoring for the second straight game, netting 16 points and hauling down eight boards. Padgett added 12 points, and Juan Palacios grabbed 10 rebounds as the Cards dominated the undersized Huskies 44-25 on the glass.

Jerry needs to trademark the fist pump/horse hop
celebration combination ASAP.

Louisville trailed by two at halftime and at that point had more fouls (9) than field goals (8-of-28). Smith was the only bright spot in the first 20 minutes, going 3-of-4 from the field including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc with his only miss being a desperation launch at the half's buzzer.

Things didn't get any better early in the second half, but Northeastern failed to take advanatage and when the Cardinals finally did make a run, the bottom level Colonial Athletic Conference squad predictably had no answer.

To summarize, at no point in this game did I have any fun.

Is anyone else finding themselves at some point in the game on the verge of lobbying for a certain player to come in and provide a spark only to realize that there's nobody on the bench that you really want on the floor? I do this at least once a game.

Pitino Speak:

Though we didn't look good at times, this was a very good win because we had to rely on our defense to win the game. This team is not as long at Conneticut They went up 20-5 against Syracuse at Syracuse. They are very difficult to play against if you're not tuned into every possession. We are very happy that we played that type of defense in the second half and obviously we rebounded the ball terrific. But so far this season free throws have hurt us, enhanstially, most of it psychological and our players just have to get over it and stop being too concerned with it. They just have to get out there, get their rhythm and shoot it. But it's a good win, believe me it's a good win because we could have lost that game tonight because they had their tempo. With the exception of one maybe, Pittsburgh, no one has been able to get their tempo on this team. They control it, they do a very good job doing it. They deserve a lot of credit."

(On Jerry Smith) "He's progressing because he's more emotionally mature. What I try to tell the guys is I said, `moody people go to the line and miss a couple of free throws and they'll worry about it and then make a defensive mistake. Positive upbeat people will miss a free throw and say alright, I'm going to make big defensive play next time.' And that's what Jerry is. He is positive energy and that's what we need. He's a little more mature than the rest of our people even though he's a freshman. "As well as drives and rebounds. What I love about him is, look, I know he can shoot, I know he can penetrate, is when I recruited him I didn't know he could rebound like this. He's got a toughness about him and he's just a freshman, he makes mistakes all the time. But you'll see it in his face, you don't see if he misses, a grimace, you don't see those things and that's looking at a person who has a highly successful attitude."

(On Edgar Sosa) "Edgar's got to grow up. He was the same way in high school; he's just got to grow up. I'm not worried about his psyche. I just gave him a good lesson on the game of life. He's got to grow up and understand he's at the University of Louisville, he's on a scholarship. Every pro player I have that speaks to a basketball team says the same thing, `How much money I have, I don't care, but I'd like to have one more year of college.' You all know that what we would give to be that age. But they don't realize it, no matter how much they tell them. So he's got to grow up a little bit emotionally, forgetting about the basketball. He's a good basketball player, he'll make his free throws, but he's got to grow up emotionally. He's got to understand how lucky he is. He's at the finest University in the country. He's got to appreciate that."

The magic continues tomorrow night.