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What to Read While Buying Me a Half-Birthday Present

Four words: Nerf Bow and Arrow.

Good stuff on the turnaround, the magic of Rick Pitino, and the enigma that is Derrick Caracter from MSNBC's Ken Davis. It seems that there's a piece like this nearly every day now, and though they're all acceptably similar I don't find myself getting tired of reading them.

If you want to know what makes Pitino such a great coach, all you had to do was listen to him talk about Caracter after the UConn game.

"He's the easiest target, as a coach, to get upset with," Pitino said, "because every day it's something new with him. Then you take the flip side, whether you think the bottle is half-empty or half-full. The flip side is he has lost 57 pounds. The flip side is he is playing semi-hard in practice. He's making most of his classes and then running at 6 a.m. to the ones he misses.

"You know the thing I'm most pleased with about that young man? We have made it ... that he is either going to be a player or he's got to pack it and go home. He has always taken the easy way out in everything he has done in high school. If a coach got on him, he transferred schools.

"But never once did he say, `I'm going to leave or try the NBDL.' He just kept saying, `I'm wrong. This is the place for me. I'm sticking it out.' He never wavered and that's why he's here today. He's had more latitude and more rope than 50 players I've coached. But because of the fact he has stayed loyal and he owns up to things, I said we're going to be loyal to him and we're going to change him. I can't blame him for 10 years of acting this way. It's not going to happen overnight.

"He deserves a lot of credit. He has helped the team get to this point."

Very few coaches -- and I mean very few -- would have gone out of their way to praise a headache like Derrick Caracter at this point in the season.

Maybe that's why Rick Pitino has had so much success during his coaching career.

And maybe, just maybe, that's the reason why Louisville has emerged as a team to be reckoned with during the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Just watch and see.

I haven't been able to pay much attention to the NFL Combines (what with Cardinal basketball reminding each of us of all that was, is, and could be great with the world), but I did get the chance to read this piece by Karen Crouse of the New York Times on Amobi which I highly recommend checking out if you have a few minutes to spare.

When it came time to choose a college, "My dad was big on going to Harvard," Okoye said. "I was big on playing football." He had attended summer football camps at Louisville, and felt comfortable there.

"Not to downgrade Harvard," Okoye said, "but I'm just saying Louisville had the best of both worlds for me as far as academics and athletics-wise."

Okoye started out as a biology major with an eye toward entering medical school. But after playing in 13 games as a true freshman and starting one game as a sophomore, he changed his major to psychology with an eye toward graduating in time to enter the 2007 N.F.L. draft.

He graduated in December with a 3.0 grade-point average. On the football field, Okoye led the Cardinals' defense as a senior with 55 tackles, 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. At the Senior Bowl, his teammates nicknamed him Phee, which was short for phenom.

Okoye's football prowess has gotten in the way of graduate school, which he eventually plans to attend. "At Harvard," he said, smiling.

One of my favorite Big East sites is the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, which has been on a particularly hot streak of late. Currently on the TNIAAM front page are a heart-to-heart between traditional league members and St. John's, a homoerotic conversation between the insuffereble Eric Devendorf and the highly likeable Demetris Nichols, and all the videos of Carrier Dome court storming you could ever want to see.

Moronically, Yahoo! (lose the fucking exclamation point before my testicles disappear from typing it too often) Sports has offered up what is to my knowledge the first 2007 Big East football preview of the offseason. If you care at all (and you really, really shouldn't) Louisville is picked first.

Video highlights of freshman running back to be Dale Martin are available, and impressive. Let's just hope the kid likes competition.

Peace, love, Cards.