Louisville Card File: Pittsburgh

joaniecardOne of the major tenets of the Lore o’ The Rick is: If he’s got a week to prepare for an opponent, that opponent better watch out.

Thus, the Cardinal nation had eight days a week to see if, in this odd but so far successful Cardinal season, and after a seriously disappointing effort against Duke, that doctrine would hold true in Steel City?

So it came to pass. Against a lesser than usual Panther squad, in an arena where Pittsburgh stood 13-1 all-time against Top 10 foes, but an arena where the Cards somewhat inexplicably are now 4-1.

Make that 13-2 now, Panthers. Continue reading

Thursday SportsFlash: Elevation, Deflation, Exasperation

allsportsSo, I awoke in my favorite recliner in repose in front of the telly from my usual mid-evening nap, just as OKC’s Thunder and and Washington’s Wiz started OT.

And a splendid five minutes of extra time it proved to be. Back and forth, until Russell Westbrook zipped through an opening in the defense wide enough to allow the Bud Clydesdales passage . . . with room to spare . . . for the winning layup.

But I’m here to consider Kevin Durant, whom the D.C. crowd kept imploring to pull a LeBron/E.T.and come home. He’s listed as 6-9, but he knows that you know that I know that Adam Silver knows that’s a considerable misundermeasurization.

Lithe and silky smooth, the guy handles the ball like a PG, slithers to his spots like a SF and his shot reminds me of Pete Rose in his heyday. Which is to say that, so wicked was his way with a Louisville Slugger, when Ramblin’ Gamblin’ man didn’t get a hit, you had to wonder what happened? Continue reading

Tweaks ‘r’ Us: Louisville Cardinals Mid Season Report

joaniecardThe natives are restless. You know who you are, Red & Black Faithful.

Exasperation has replaced expectation.

After a national title, two journeys to the Final Four, the best W/L % in the land over a three season span, such success becomes a birthright. Or so many Cardinal loyalists have come to believe.

Every loss brings furrowed brow, hand wringing, acid reflux consternation. A fender bender turns into a 90 care pileup at Spaghetti Junction.

After Louisville’s loss to Duke Saturday, and its attendant continuation of woeful shooting, the naysaying has ratcheted up. The gym’s on fire. Every fan, the perceptive ones as well as those who haven’t a clue, but love the Cards, has a suggestion how to “turn things around.”

I, a long time acolyte, am not immune. But, before I get in touch with my own inner Coach Cal Tweak Mode, weighing in with my $3000 annual “voluntary donation” to the U of L Athletic fund’s worth, and come up with some suggestions for improvement and greater success, a look at where the Cards are now. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Hoosiers, Hoyas, Hoos & HooHaws!!!

b-ballIU fell behind 11-2 from the get go of its Big Ten battle in Champagn-Urbana against the Fighting Illini.

It was an early afternoon tipoff, and with the NFL conference title games on later, I figured I’d better get my trip to the grocery out of the way.

When I returned, I clicked on the telly, and there were the Hoosiers up 10.

So, I set to unpacking my vittles. When I next took notice of the game, about five minutes of game clock later, Illinois was up 9. I figured this game deserved my attention.

Which proved to be so. The Crimson & Crean came back again, going up one with under a minute to play, then setting a great trap for a steal and score to increase the advantage to 3, then closing out the home team, in front of the largest crowd ever for a game in C-U, 80-74.

Scintillating January conference action. Continue reading

Louisville Card File: Duke

joaniecardFact: Louisville’s task yesterday against the Blue Devils was going to be difficult under any circumstances.

U of L’s offensive inefficiency this season is well chronicled and statistically proven. Until Rick Pitino is able to nurture more points from Wayne Blackshear, Chinanu Onuaku, Shaqquan Aaron, David Levitch, Anton Gill or some combination thereof, the Cards are going to struggle against other top shelf teams.

Effective defense alone can only carry a club so far.

For the doomsayers, remember this. U of L is a perennial Top 25 school. Some years, that translates to a #1 or #2 seed. Other campaigns, like this one more than likely, it means a #4, #5 or #6. Deal with it. It happens. The folks who are faithful to the Gators, Sparty and the ‘Cuse are also wearing furrowed brows today.

The good news is that it’s still mid-January. There’s a full week before Louisville’s next encounter, a visit to Pitt. And, for all the nit picking with The Rick’s ways, he’s a competitor, and gives 100+% effort during the season to improve his teams. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Conference Craziness, Cardinals, Curiosness

b-ballIt is the time of the season.

When scenarios morph curioser and curioser in the Big Tent that is College Hoops.

Messrs. K and H assure the public/ Their production will be second to none/ And of course Henry The Horse dances the waltz!

Not the least stunning of which developments is viewing the sport’s preeminent color announcer, the usually straight forward Jay Bilas, showing up to do the Arizona/ Colorado game, wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Sitting alongside smirking Garciaphile Bill Walton, who, deadpan, pretending to be the voice of reason, intones, “Enough foolishness. There’s a game going on here. Let’s get to the action.”

This morning’s USA Today had a catch up article on this year’s doings. Two months into the season, the paper obviously felt compelled to catch us up on what’s been happening. The undercurrent, one supposes, being they thought we couldn’t possibly have been paying attention until the CFP was over and done.

Really? Continue reading

Louisville Card File: Virginia Tech

joaniecardYou know it’s really a scrimmage disguised as a conference game when the Sosa play works to perfection.

The reference is obviously to Edgar Sosa, the less than beloved former point guard, who had the annoying propensity to fritter away scoring opportunities, when handed the rock in end of half situations. Dribble in this direction, dribble the other way, to little effect most of the time. Often, the ball would be stolen for negative last first half points.

Though I have no firm stats, anecdotal remembrance tells me the affinity of The Rick to give the ball to his PG with the clock winding down at the end of first halves — be it Sosa, for whom the phenomenon is named, or Siva, or Smith, or McGee, or Jenkins or Northern — works neither as well as the coach would like. Nor as fans, who dissect every Cardinal twist and turn, wish.

It’s supposed to be, I surmise, dribble, drive, draw defenders and dish. Or deliver.

Way more often than not, it’s not delivery, its’ DiGiorno, a cardboard made at home imitation of a pizza. No score. As opposed to a sublime slice of Impellizzeri’s pie, the equivalent of a trey. Continue reading

Brutus Bashes Quack, The Vig is Vexed: College Pigskin Wrap Up

foot1Pope Urban Meyer confirmed last night what we have suspected.

He’s the equal of that Saban guy, the one who coaches the Crimson Tide.

So, the scary thing for the rest of the Pigskin Planet is that the two most storied and successful schools in the sport have the two best coaches currently in the sport — two of the best ever — roaming their sidelines.

It’s a bracing thought for the upstarts.

Like Phil Knight University, which has now climbed the mountain twice, but failed to plant the flag.

Whatever do the Ducks do now? Install more marble showers and burled wood lockers? Continue reading

Louisville Card File: North Carolina

joaniecardRepeat after me, University of Louisville Cardinal Fans, that’s right all of you, repeat after me.

The sky is not falling.

You can do better. Again.

The. Sky. Is. Not. Falling.

Okay, then. Yes, U of L could have beaten, should have beaten the Tar Heels. If Mango just hadn’t dribbled it off his foot out of bounds, if Wayne had “finally made a big shot” and canned that three, it they’d have cut off Paige’s lane to the hoop on the winning basket, if they’d have given up just one or two less offensive boards, if they’d gotten any points whatsoever off the bench, if they could have held on to a 13 point lead for 8:43, if, if . . .

All conceivable. But, trying to move beyond my default fatalism, I provide some perspective.

In only its third ACC game ever, second on the road, against a legit Top 25 team (#10 in Ken Pomeroy’s respected computer rankings), against a storied program with a Hall of Fame coach on its home court, giving up 17 offensive rebounds and 17 second chance points, being outscored in bench points 0-20, the Cards fell by but a single digit after a legit All-American candidate made a wonder shot high off the glass. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Cramping & Conference Conflicts

b-ballA bump in the suicide rate from Prestonsburg to the Purchase was avoided the other night, when the buzzer finally sounded and the Cats had finally finished off upstart Ole Miss, a 22 point dog. That the impending defeat was at Rupp in the SEC opener had the good ol’ boys hanging ropes from the rafters, figuring life might not be worth living if the Johnny Rebs hung on.

The circumstances of the game are a great excuse to share one of my favorite bits of shtick from comedian Robert Klein:

One of the most interesting of the ironclad safety measures was that my father insisted I wait one hour after eating before going in swimming; something about dangerous cramping. This was probably derived from some myth about a kid who drowned in the East River in 1924 after eating an entire pot roast. Waiting a bit after a meal before swimming is not a bad idea. But with true Ben Klein hyperbole, I was warned that if I didn’t wait one full hour and not a second less, I would instantly sink like a rock and die a choking, gurgling death. “You’ll go right to Davy Jones’s locker,” my father would say ominously.

I was therefore scrupulous about waiting the full amount of time, regardless of the hot sun and the sight of other kids swimming happily ten minutes after eating. Their parents were evidently irresponsible. The idea of waiting exactly one hour was etched into my brain like a mental tattoo, as if the food would know precisely what period of time had passed since I ate it. One hour – okay; fifty-nine minutes – dead. When I got a little older, my father explained that I really didn’t need to wait a full hour. The actual amount of time a child would have to wait before swimming depended on what the child ate, and my father was the arbiter at the pool or beach who would decide such things. “What did you have, a tuna-salad sandwich? With a pickle?” Continue reading