Red Rage

Danny Schoenbaechler

Timeliness is next to Godliness.

If that saying is true, then the Western-Louisville game is far from having pious characteristics.

The game was originally scheduled for two years ago, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino chose to use a buyout clause in the contract.

This angered Western Athletic Director Wood Selig. He even called the Louisville athletic department “gutless.”

The state legislature discussed having a bill that would make the two teams play, but an agreement to play tonight’s game made political interference unnecessary.

Pitino said he doesn’t resent the Western (0-3) program for the way things unfolded.

“I have nothing but good feelings toward Western,” Pitino said. “I think their AD (felt it was) personal. His remarks should have been made behind closed doors. But one person doesn’t represent a university. I hope we do play down the road again.”

Western coach Darrin Horn said that despite the buyout issue and it being a rivalry game, it is just another game.

“It’s the next game on our schedule,” he said. “That is how we approach it.”

Now that the game is on for 7:30 tonight at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, the natural rivalry can be carried out.

There may be only one similarity between senior Nigel Dixon and the two Louisville (0-1) centers he will face tonight.

Foul trouble.

Dixon has accumulated 14 fouls in three games, while Kendall Dartez and Otis George combined for 10 in the Cardinals lone game this season.

Other than a propensity to draw whistles, Dixon will have almost no likeness to his counterparts.

First of all, Dixon will only be facing someone his size if George decides to jump on Dartez’s back.

Dartez, 6-foot-10, 225 pounds, and George, 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, were completely ineffective before fouling out in Louisville’s season opening loss to Iowa last Saturday.

The two managed zero points, zero rebounds, zero blocks or zero assists in 27 minutes.

Pitino acknowledged the massive difference between Dixon and his centers.

“They add another 100 pounds to their five man. He’s an excellent basketball player,” Pitino said. “Our teams are very similar except the five spot.”

Dixon is averaging 14.7 points and six rebounds per game in less than 20 minutes per game.

The potentially huge numbers would match his 6-foot-11, 320-pound frame.

“Wherever he wants to go, he is firmly planted,” Pitino said. “This young man is an unmovable object.”

Dixon said that he won’t approach this game any differently.

“I’m just going to keep the same mind approach,” Dixon said. “I want to be physical and dominant.”

The Louisville coach said that Dartez’s size and demeanor aren’t suited for rebounding. He also said that George’s troubles against Iowa had to do with bad luck.

George fouled out but Pitino said that three of the fouls were bad calls.

“Otis is the type of guy that goes to a dance and gets the opportunity to dance with the prettiest girl there and then falls down,” he said. “He just has bad luck.”

Western will hope that George’s bad luck doesn’t run out, and that the Hilltoppers will get redemption for the contract buyout.

“The fans take great interest, but for us it’s a team we have to beat,” Horn said. “I don’t think it’s going to feel the same as being in Diddle Arena.”

Reach Danny Schoenbaechler at [email protected]