NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Preview: South Alabama vs. Louisville

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South Alabama Jaguars @ Louisville Cardinals
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
Saturday December 4, 2010
Time: 1:07 pm EST
T.V.: WHAS (Ch. 11 in Louisville; also: Wazoo Sports statewide) Drew Deener, play-by-play; Bob Valvano, analyst.
Radio: WKRD (790 AM, 101.7 FM) Paul Rogers, play-by-play; Doug Ormay, analyst.
Series History: UofL leads 10-1 (8-0 in Louisville, 1-1 in Mobile, 1-0 neutral)
Officials: Tim Higgins, Sean Corbin, Brian O’Connell

Ronnie Arrow and his South Alabama Jaguars will roll into Louisville on Saturday afternoon to take on the still unbeaten, and barely tested Cardinals. This is Arrow’s 12th year in Mobile, Alabama and he has compiled a record of 179-132 at South Alabama, giving him a career record of 313-223 in his 20th year of coaching. This will be the second of three Sun Belt Conference East Division opponents for Louisville this season, following Florida International and preceding a trip to Western Kentucky later this month.

The Jaguars have been anything but impressive this season, with its only two wins coming at home against Spring Hill and Central Michigan. They have been slaughtered on the road at the hands of Southern Miss, UAB and Alabama, and fell to LSU in Mobile at the Coors Classic.

South Alabama does not have a true freshman on their roster, but do have a wealth of new and incoming players, seven in total with three who redshirted last season. Their biggest scoring threat is 6′ 3″ junior guard Tim Williams, who led the Jaguars and the entire Sun Belt Conference in scoring last season, has picked right up where he left off, leading South Alabama through six games with an average of 14.8 points per contest. Williams was a preseason First Team All-Sun Belt selection and also pulls down 5.2 boards a game.

The Jaguars one-two punch also remains the same as it was last season, as their 2nd leading scorer and rebounder is back as well in 6′ 5″ sophomore guard/forward Martino Brock. So far this season he is second on the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game, but has only managed 4.5 boards a contest. He has improved his passing abilities however and is second on the team in assists with 1.7 per game.

South Alabama’s “big” man at center is 6′ 6″ Augustine Rubit. Rubit is a redshirt freshman who has a knack for cleaning the glass. He averaged 15.5pts and 9.0reb in exhibition play and so far in the regular season he is flirting with double-double numbers, scoring 9.2ppg while grabbing 8.7rpg.

The Jaguars starting five is rounded out with two sophomores, 6′ 2″ Rico Sanders, who led Region 22 in 3-pointers last year at Alabama Southern CC, and 6′ 6″ forward Javier Carter, who led the team in blocks last season with 31 swats.

Channeling his innermost Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, Senior Gary Redus will come off the bench in a role he flourished in last season. In 22 games as a sixth man last year, he averaged 8.4 points per game, fourthmost among all players, including starters. Redus shot a team-best 47.5% from 3-point rangein 2009.

South Alabama’s strength is in its rebounding and athleticism, which could spell trouble for the Cardinals. So far, early in the season Louisville’s one glaring weakness has been on the boards. While their defense has been effective in creating turnovers and forcing bad shots, it doesn’t do much good if offensive rebounds create easy second-shot opportunities for their opponents.

The Jaguars also like to press and are likely the most athletic team Louisville has faced this year. We’ll get a chance to see how well Siva, Justice and the rest of the Cards handle a long, athletic full-court press. South Alabama fits the stereotype to a “T” however, in that a pressing team doesn’t like to be pressed. Turnovers come in buckets for these guys and if Louisville comes out like they did against Zeke and FIU in this one, it could be over before the first TV timeout…

Fun fact that will likely entertain you more than Saturday’s action: Senior Gary Redus is the son of former major leaguer Gary Redus. The elder Redus spent 13 seasons in the bigs with fi ve teams, mostly notably with the Pirates where he played in three straight NLCS from 1990-92. In what Pirate fans inevitably do not call “The Redus Curse”, since he left Pittsburgh in 1992, the Pirates have not finished above .500 ONCE, accumulating EIGHTEEN STRAIT losing seasons. Redus is currently a roving instructor with the Houston Astros organization.

Fun fact II: South Alabama was the first opponent the Cardinals faced under Rick Pitino and UofL delivered a 92-38 victory in Freedom Hall on Nov. 18, 2001. The Cards forced 36 turnovers in that game, second most ever by a U of L team. More of the same on Saturday… and more free cheese!!!!!!

Louisville 104, South Alabama 62