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What to read while loving Louisville

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I spent the better part of this morning roaming the backside of Churchill Downs, and there's simply nothing like watching the sun come up and cover both the twin spires and the beautiful creatures parading around below them; even when it's 38-degrees and you're one of maybe three people there who decided not to bring a jacket.

After a couple of hours, I found myself walking next to Steve Kragthorpe in a group of about 50 people stalking Big Brown, the horse Mike Battaglia will likely make the early Derby favorite tomorrow afternoon. Aside from Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford, no one in the group went out of their way to introduce themselves to or converse with Kragthorpe. It made me think: it what other city could the head coach of the local D-1 football team be completely big-leagued by a horse? For about half an hour he was just another dude squirming to get a look at a million dollar animal.

Also, for anyone interested, Bob Domine likes Colonel John. So, do with that what you will.

I know a lot of people can't bring themselves to get into the Derby, but to me, there are few things better. So you can go ahead and brace yourself for a steady dose of horse talk for the next three days.

There's no better week to be a Louisvillian.

The folks over at Cardinal Empire have a fantastic story updating us on the careers of former Cardinals Taquan Dean and Otis George. Both are playing in Italy, and both still have dreams of making an NBA roster.

Both players say they followed the '07-'08 U of L team, and it should come as little surprise which Cardinal captured Dean's attention.

"I kept up with the Louisville team this year and I can't get enough of Preston Knowles," says Dean. "But T-Will and the guys really showed heart and I'm hoping they will win it all next year."

Says George, "I think that they have a lot of talent. I think they have more talent than our team did, but talent without heart can't make you win games or make it to the Final Four. I think that they need to humble a little and play with heart. They have to fight and sacrifice for the team."

"I think they have a good shot, but they have to want it, they have to think of the team and not themselves. They should watch our road to the Final Four and see how we fight, how we never give up, how we play with heart and desire."

Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman recently ranked the 20 freshmen he believes will have the biggest impact in the 2008-2009 college basketball season, and a soon-to-be familiar face claimed the top spot.

1. Samardo Samuels, 6-8 1/2, 240, C, St. Benedict's (N.J.), Louisville -- He is extremely physical and brings effort every possession of every game. He may not have the potential of say, B.J. Mullens, but Samuels will be a terrific college big man and should waste little time making Cardinals fans forget David Padgett. He will try and overpower opponents rather than finesse them.
2007-08 HS stats: 24.2 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 4.1 bpg
Comparison: Carlos Boozer

This morning Goodman released his super early top 25 for '08-'09, and gave the Cardinals some more love at No. 5.

5) Louisville

2007-08 Resume: 27-9, Lost to North Carolina in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament
Declared: Derrick Caracter
Likely Early Departure: Caracter

Senior David Padgett is gone and will be difficult to replace, but Rick Pitino got huge news when versatile forward Earl Clark announced he was coming back to school. Initially, Clark was going to test the waters and maybe even sign with an agent. The Cardinals will also have Terrence Williams, Jerry Smith and Andre McGee back. Reginald Delk is eligible after sitting out and Louisville will add arguably the best big man in the country in freshman Samardo Samuels.

North Carolina is Goodman's current preseason No. 1, followed by Michigan State, Connecticut and Duke.

Brian Brohm's score of 32 on the Wonderlic test was the highest among quarterbacks in the NFL Draft class of 2008, while Andre Woodson and John David Booty brought up the rear with dueling scores of 14.

Still no official word on the future of Art Carmody, but Malik Jackson has signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders.

And finally, please keep former Cardinal Broderick Clark in your thoughts this week, as he is reportedly in the hospital recovering from a serious car accident that occurred over the weekend.