Louisville CardFile: North Carolina State

It is the pundit’s predicament, the writer’s dilemma.

Which of America’s preeminent observers to quote/ paraphrase in situations such as the University of Louisville football program is currently mired?

Is there a path for this team’s immediate reinvention, a way to find some comfort in the most disturbing Louisville pigskin campaign in eons?

Or, like one of the cowpokes in the new Coen Brothers’ classic “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” do you pull out the six shooter and save the steed his misery?

On the one hand, there’s Yogi Berra, master wordsmith, a man of poignant observation.

“It ain’t over until it’s over.”

On the other, there’s T.S. Eliot, whose work resonated with the young and literate. At least when I was young and literate.

Whose final lines of “The Hollow Men,” I’ve stolen and skewed many a time at moments such as this.

This is the way the season end/ This is the way the season ends/ This is the way the season ends/ Not with a bang but a whimper

Of course, Kentucky’s still left. The Wildcats visit this coming weekend. An opportunity for the U of L Cardinals to summon some heretofore absent energy and fortitude, and end this horrid season upbeat. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: North Carolina State

Louisville CardFile: Vermont

Here’s how Coach Chris Mack generally assessed the Cardinals performance in last night’s 8 point W over Vermont: “I thought our team, for the first 32 minutes, played as well as we have all year against a really good team.”

That is understatement. Which is what good coaches do with teams still under development.

Truth is, for the first 32 minutes — 32:45 to be exact — the Cards were vastly better than in their first two tilts against significantly lesser foes than the Catamounts.

They moved the ball more crisply on offense. As often as not making the extra pass to a guy most open. They were aggressive to the hoop, even the usually hesitant VJ King more than he has shown so far this campaign.

The Cardinals were shooting it really well. At that juncture, over 60% in the 2d. They finished at 57% for the half, 53% for the game. They continued to drain their FTs at a 70+% rate.

Most important, they’d turned the ball over only FOUR times. Tell me the last time a U of L team had been that steady?

Then matters got tweedly. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Vermont

Louisville CardFile: Southern

Before we get to a discussion of the Cards improved performance in a 50 point rout of #343 Southern, I feel compelled to comment on the three fellows who turned this into the most boring couple of hours — or me anyway — since I attempted to watch on Netflix the new Orson Welles release, “The Other Side of the Wind.”

It is the zebras to whom I refer. A.J. Desai. Tony Chiazza. Jeffrey Anderson.

As they blew whistle after whistle after whistle after whistle, throwing in a replay review now and again and again to ensure there was no flow to the game, I wondered if they hadn’t been watching “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” before the game.

“Just whistle while you work/ And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place.”

I mean, come on, guys. 65 fouls. A third of them on the offensive end. (Which, in context, was arguably a blessing. Otherwise, we’re talking 80-90 FTs, instead of a mere 64.) I know, the opener against Nicholls State was bad, but this seemed even more laborious.

Fortunately, this is so far U of L’s best performing gang at the charity stripe in years. The Cardinals were 31/39 against the Jags, which is but a smidge under 80%.

Those three Least Valuable Players in the stripped shirts turned the game into a wearisome slog. Shame on ’em.

(For contrast, take the threesome who worked the harum scarum up and down back and forth frolic that was Georgetown’s entertaining 88-80 W at Illinois. Pat Driscoll, Paul Szelc and John Gaffney were judicious with their foul calls, never impeding the play unnecessarily. What a pleasure that was to watch after the Cards took care of their biz.)

 * * * * *

Let’s hear it for the Cardinals’ Animal Ball mentality. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Southern

Seedy K’s Peerless Pigskin Prognostications: Week XII

On a weekend when there wasn’t much movement among those who aspire to the Final Four, there were a couple of, uh, let us say, interesting results with local implications.

And, more important, those results handed your inveterate game picker a couple of Ls on the dreaded right hand side of the ledger.

Kentucky, the nation’s darling just a couple weeks ago, continued its plummet back to the norm. The Wildcats followed their loss to Georgia with a haven’t we seen this before mediocre performance in Neyland Stadium. Which means, victories almost assuredly ahead against Middle Tennessee and rival U of L, the Cats will more than likely not be Fun is Bowling in the New Year’s Six.

Jeff “Oh my, does I have a life altering decision to make” Brohm’s Boilermakers were throttled in the balmy clime at Minnesooooooota. Might he have been looking ahead to next season back home? Of course, he wasn’t, but Louisville fans fervently wish it were so.

But, Pitt, Syracuse and Washington State all prevailed, the latter under the newly mustachioed tutelage of Mike “All my synapses aren’t connected” Leach.

So, three up, two down for the weekend. Entering rivalry time, yours truly stands 33-22 for the year. Could be worse.

This week’s slate of games, upon first blush, looks to be the most boring of the entire campaign. Let’s hope some surprises are in store. Except, of course, for the games I predict.

Here goes: Continue reading Seedy K’s Peerless Pigskin Prognostications: Week XII

Red & Black Rants & Raves: 11/12

On a winterish Sunday that seemed far less restful than the biblical imperative would dictate, most Cardinal fans were riveted on the employment changes in the Schnelly Football Complex.

You know that to which I refer.

Meanwhile there was some truly nifty stuff going down in Cary, North Carolina.

In what was essentially a home match for the opposing #4 Tar Heels, the University of Louisville futbolers won their first ACC Men’s Soccer Tourney Title.

Cherif Dieye booted the game’s only goal into the netting from 12 yards out 29 minutes into the match. The Cards D held strong the rest of the way.

Sunday’s W capped a wondrous eight day run for U of L. The Cards gave up but a single goal in victories over three top 20 foes (2 in Top 10), #18 Notre Dame, #4 Carolina and the country’s top ranked squad, #1 Wake Forest.

Five Cardinals made the All Tournament team. In addition to Dieye, Lamine Conte, Ziyad Fekri, Jake Gelnovatch, and MVP Tate Schmitt.

Louisville’s seeding and path to a conceivable national title will be revealed Monday. The ACC, easily the strongest league in the land, is expected to have at least 8 or 9 schools in the field of 48.

One supposes the Cardinals will host a game or two at The Lynn. Stay tuned for the schedule. Continue reading Red & Black Rants & Raves: 11/12

Louisville CardFile: Syracuse

For those of you Cardinal fans who said “to hell with it, I’m going to watch a football game where both teams are actually competing to win,” and stuck with Fresno State/ Boise State after the World Wide Leader switched the “battle” you were watching to ESPN7, the final tally was 54-23, favor of the Orange.

As if that rarely invoked TV coverage slight isn’t enough to confirm the desultory state of Louisville pigskin, as was on display again last evening, there are these two I’ve never really seen anything this bad before observations.

Syracuse coach Dino Babers on the Cards’ ineptitude: “Four turnovers in the first half and someone said they had four turnovers on four straight possessions. I’m not even sure I’ve been part of something like that in 35 years.”

Or TV color man Kelly Stouffer during Louisville’s second quarter meltdown, after the Cards had committed penalties on three consecutive plays, their 8th, 9th and 10th transgressions of the half — there would be another before intermission — who opined, “I’ve never seen anything close to it.”

So, yeah, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than surrendering 77 in Death Valley, it has. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Syracuse

Louisville CardFile: Nicholls State

Before we get to the salient Reality Check, let’s savor what the Cardinals did do right in Chris Mack’s inaugural game as the head man.

After going ofer the long ball in the opening stanza, well traveled grad transfer Jeremiah Jefferson had taken six treys in the 2d, and drained them all. When teammate Gavin Peppers added one of his own with 3:40 left, the never quit, foul laden Colonels from Thibodaux, La. (tib-uh-dough) had whittled the nervous Cardinals lead to a deuce at 68-66.

You could almost hear the sphincters tightening. On the court. In the stands.

During the final media timeout, Mack assigned defensive ace Darius Perry to check Jefferson.

The beleaguered Cards did the tighten up.

U of L scored but one FG from then on. After VJ King drained the second of two charity opportunities, Perry broke the press, went end to end for a layup.

In the last two minutes of the nerve rattling contest, U of L went to the line fourteen times.

Here’s how they did.

Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. Net. (Hold your barbs, ye purists, I’m speaking figuratively all twine, not literally.)

Steven Enoch: 2/2. (He was 9/9 on the night.) VJ King: 2/2. Christian Cunningham: 2/2. Perry: 2/2. Cunningham again: 2/2. Dwayne Sutton: 2/2. Cunningham once more: 2/2 to make it an 85-72 final.

In a game when the Cardinals did little else objectively exemplary, they connected on their last 15 charity tosses to seal the deal.   Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Nicholls State

Cardinal Hoops: The Chris Mack Era Tips Tonight

The Sports Illustrated College Basketball Preview issue — such as it is in a diminished state — arrived a few days ago.

I was reminded of one of my favorite off the court accoutrements of Cardinal fandom, one of those moments that confirmed and strengthened my fealty.

Among others, there was the practice I got to attend as a ten year old, after which John Dromo presented me with a regulation leather ball. I played with it in the alleyways of my youth, always hitting the last second shot for a U of L W even if time needed to be extended. Eventually the roundball wore down to its rubber bladder.

There was the Atherton football game when my older brother and his teammates beat Male  High for the first time, 6-2 in a pouring rainstorm at Maxwell Field. I was with my dad, a pal of his and future Cardinal great Don Goldstein, a star on the ’59 Final Four team.

But what I thought of the other day was the similar day in the Fall of ’74 when that year’s SI hoops issue came. The cover was a fold out, a great cartoon of the mascots of contenders for that upcoming season chasing after a Cardinal Bird, flying ahead of the pack.

“Louisville’s got the Cards,” it read.

UCLA’s title streak was intact, but the ‘zine went with the outlier on the uptick coached by Denny Crum in his fourth season at the helm, and led by Bridgeman and Murphy and Cox and Bond. They picked the Cardinals to win it all.

The vision of that cover brings chills to this day. (Did I save it? Of course not. But I did spend an inordinate amount of time tracking it down and converting it to a .jpeg to include here.)

The cover was a confirmation, the imprimatur of America’s leading sports magazine had been bestowed.

My beloved Cardinals were finally upper echelon. Continue reading Cardinal Hoops: The Chris Mack Era Tips Tonight

Emergency Hoopaholics Anonymous Meeting Necessary

“Thanks so much to all of you for showing up on such short notice. After watching you know who last night score 118 points, I needed a meeting, needed some perspective. I had nightmares about Zion Williamson dunking my head through a hoop of fire.

“Oh yeah, I’m Seedy K and I’m a hoopaholic.

“I mean early in the evening, I was so afraid of what the election results might be, that I actually watched Kansas/ Michigan State with Dick Vitale and the sound on. I know, right, that’s pretty sick.

“Then later, after watching what Duke was doing to Kentucky, I was so afraid that the season was already over, I actually had to switch channels and watch Steve Kornacki, the Ken Pomeroy of elections, break down house races precinct by precinct. I know, right, pretty sick.

“But, I mean, it was like a relapse back to the days when UCLA never lost. I watched Duke and got sick to my stomach. Is the season already over? Can anybody here provide some experience, strength and hope?”

“Hello, my name is Jeremiah, and I’m a hoopaholic. Continue reading Emergency Hoopaholics Anonymous Meeting Necessary

Seedy K’s Peerless Pigskin Prognostications: Week XI

There are at least a couple of regular readers for whom it would appear they seem to derive their whole sense of well being from my weekly follies here at Prediction Central. They are ever quick to point out my miscues, and draw great delight from same.

When I suffered four losing weekends in a row — Weeks III-VI — they were full with a deluded sense that all was right in the world. When I picked a bunch of locks to go 5-0 in Week  VII, they scoffed.

After the following consecutive 3-2 weeks, they smirked warily.

And, after last weekend, another perfecto for yours truly, they . . . well . . . they . . . let’s just say, to coin a cliché,  the silence is deafening.

For the stat geeks amongst ya, I’m 16-4 over the last four weeks, now 30-20 on the campaign.

Yo, dudes, ye who would be quick to naysay, uh, where are you? How about some well deserved propers? Some R E S P E C T.

Not that I mean to trumpet my own triumphs or anything like that.

Anyhow, the season is entering the home stretch. Those last two spots in the CFP remain somewhat up for grabs. Bowl eligibility is the target for many. And U of L Cardinal fans are checking fifteen times a day for that Tyra Tweet, advising a change is gonna come.

Confidence restored, my prognosticatorial legerdemain patently evident once again, I provide this week’s winners: Continue reading Seedy K’s Peerless Pigskin Prognostications: Week XI