Whither U of L Football 2017?

So I pulled out my Detroit Lions ballcap yesterday.

Stay with me here, this isn’t some LSD flashback, an indecipherable rambling rumination about nothing much, I shall get to the Louisville Cardinals and the upcoming campaign in a sec. Just want to provide some context.

I was born in Motown, and even though my family moved to Louisville when I was but a mere babe, I follow and root for Detroit’s pro teams. Including the perennially hapless Lions of the NFL.

As you all too well know, it’s the time of year when hope springs you know what– that’s right, eternal — for every franchise at every level of pigskin.

It’s true in Motor City.

It is true in Derbytown, USA.

And it’s welling up inside Cardinal fans either because of or despite the pall that hangs over U of L football no thanks to that the three game nosedive that ended last campaign. The Red & Black Faithful are ready and raring to go.

The L1C4 Nation is dreaming the Cards can be a contender, return to the upper echelon, where they were perched in ’06 before spitting out the bit at Rutgers, and where they were poised last autumn before braying about disrespect, then laying down at Houston, against the Cats and in the Citrus Bowl.

Here’s why there is reason for bullish expectations, in no particular order of importance. Continue reading Whither U of L Football 2017?

Seedy K’s Ready for Some Football, Aren’t You?

Unless Kim Jong Un launches some nervous uncle he doesn’t like to bronco buck a nuke-fitted ICBM into Mercedes-Benz Stadium like Slim Pickens’ Major “King” Kong did to the delight of General Jack Ripper and the suddenly ambulatory Dr. Strangelove, college pigskin is just over the horizon.

None too soon if you ask me. Now that I’ve watched that wacko ending to last year’s Georgia/Tennessee game in replay on the World Wide Leader too many times. (Sayonara Verne Lundquist, just in time.)

That SEC finish reminds me to mention from the get go how much I adore Big 12 football, where every game is like that. So what that there’s no D. 58-54 on the telly from Lubbock as the sun sets and the Impellizzeri’s pizza has been ordered on an almost crisp late September Saturday afternoon is more than fine with me. Those games from out on the prairie remind me of the early days of the AFL. Bambi frolicking across the middle for the Chargers against the Raiders from Balboa Stadium with Charlie Jones on the call.

Back and forth. Forth and back.

OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, now that I’ve looked back — too many times frankly — to relive when James Quick should have zagged but zigged late against Clemson, cementing the Cards demise in Death Valley a season ago, I know it’s long past time to move on. Continue reading Seedy K’s Ready for Some Football, Aren’t You?

Beating those Sportin’ Summertime Blues

Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do/ But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.

Actually the whole point of this late July sports catch up — just to let you know that Seedy K hasn’t retired — is that there are cures for sports fans in the heat of summer.

Buuuuut, I love me some Eddie Cochran (And The Who’s “Live at Leeds” version of the tune if that’s your reference point), so I had to throw in some rock & roll, don’t ya know.

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Anyway, as I accelerate ever more swiftly into my dotage with the attendant cognitive life changes attendant, it’s nice to report that I’ve discovered a situation where my memory loss is actually an advantage.

Though I loved Wimbledon, cherish the coverage of the Tour, must admit to having caught a moment or two watching the Coming of Lonzo in Vegas, and have the final round of what I am required by the specter of Old Tom Morris as well as Royal & Ancient British Golf Authority to call The Open (Not British Open), I remain first and foremost a college sports fan. Gimme a pigskin Saturday, or Friday or Thursday or Tuesday; or a hardwood Sunday afternoon from the Carrier Dome or Cameron Indoor, and I’m a happy camper.

Not to mention that such status places me firmly in the majority of sports fans in my neck of the woods, who love the college games.

So, I lingered longer than I should last night as The World Wide Leader replayed one battle on its list of last season’s Top 25 college football tussles. Continue reading Beating those Sportin’ Summertime Blues

Troubles in the House of Cards

Ahhhh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears/ Bury the rag deep in your face/ For now’s the time for your tears

— Bob Dylan (Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll)

I am sad.

I am mad.

I am ashamed.

This is a fourth incarnation, a fourth written recitation, a fourth attempt to gather and express my jumbled thoughts about the state of the University of Louisville and University of Louisville basketball program in the wake of the NCAA penalties.

There have been umpteen more conflicting contemplations roiling about in my head and heart, since the recent announcements about malfeasance at the Foundation and the basketball penalties and the defiant, in your face response by the powers that be at U of L to NCAA sanctions.

I had essentially decided to abstain. I was tired of thinking about it. There’s been enough said already, it seems. What does one more opinion matter?

But, for some odd reason, and honestly I’m not sure why, I’ve been implored by readers and fans for my opinion. Beats me why, to be frank. I’m simply a half century U of L Cardinal acolyte, a double alum, a guy with too much vocabulary but enough knowledge of Word Press to type out some opinionation and click the publish button.

But my take on the matter is no more valid than anybody else’s.

But the gauntlet has been thrown down. Continue reading Troubles in the House of Cards

Riffing on the Warriors’ Title

In this little riff on the NBA championship series, consider yourself forewarned. I am going to reminisce about a moment from the Louisville Cardinals’ first national crown.

As if you’re surprised in the least.

First, the lead in.

As overwhelming as Kevin Durant’s offensive numbers were in the title run, as stifling as his previously underappreciated defense was — ask Kevin Love about that play late in Game 5 when he had it in the post and KD wouldn’t even allow him a breath — and as magnificent as he was holding off the last gasp of the LeBrons Monday night with key buckets, the transfer from OKC sealed the deal in Game 3.

Recall that Golden State tallied the last 11 points in that win in the City By The Burning Lake to take a 3 zed — Read: Insurmountable — advantage.

The capper in that tilt was a walk up trey from the left elbow extended with but a handful of seconds to play. Durant just about skipped into the shot. His adversary Mr. James, already showing signs of over exertion, peeled back to the hoop a bit quickly and couldn’t get out to cover.

Almost nonchalantly, KD fired. All twine.

He was ready for his Cecil B. DeMille moment.

Thus, as I’m wont to do, I was reminded of the evening of March 24, 1980. Market Square Arena, may it rest in peace. Continue reading Riffing on the Warriors’ Title

Brooms ‘r’ Us: Cards Sweep Cats, CWS Next

Well, then, the University of Louisville nine swept through arch rival Kentucky in the Supers, as it had the weekend before through Radford, Xavier and Oklahoma in the Regional.

Like a team being sponsored by O-Cedar Brooms.

Like a team hellbent on returning to the College World Series after two frustrating years of walk off disappointments when heavy favorites.

Like a team focused such that no impediment would prove an obstacle.

Such as, you know, the somewhat disturbing reality that the best player in the history of the program, who happens to be the best player in the sport this year, has so far hit a less than glossy .148 (3/21) for the NCAA tourney so far, including an ofer in the two Ws over UK.

But the dude in hurler mode was all that on the mound for six and two-thirds in the capper. He hit a batter for the first time all season. No biggie. Then, with Cats on 1st and 2d and one gone in the bottom of the 6th, he flinched while on the rubber. It was his first balk of the season.

No biggie. With the runners each having advanced a sack on the gaffe, Brendan McKay went K and K.

From the bullpen, Sam Bordner, as he’d done the weekend before, was brilliant and closed the deal.

Meanwhile, McKay’s Bash Bro, Drew Ellis rocked two more taters over the wall — he also homered in the series opener — going 3/4 and drawing a walk. Logan Taylor had two hits, scored twice and knocked one across. Devin Hairston was also 3/4, with a BB and a run scored. Continue reading Brooms ‘r’ Us: Cards Sweep Cats, CWS Next

Moxie Meets Its Match: Resilient Cards Meet Comeback Cats in Supers

High Noon.

Would we want it any other way?

Arch rivals U of L and UK are set to battle for a trip to the CWS in Omaha.

First pitch. Friday. 12:00 Noon.

The University of Louisville Cardinal nine had to dig deep into its reserve of pluck and guile to capture a fifth straight regional crown.

Do not be mislead by 11-6 and 11-1 victories over Radford and Oklahoma in Games #1 and #2. Each was fraught with peril, victory far from a certain until late.

The come from behind, come from behind, come from behind finale, a back and forth 8-7 escape over Xavier to live for another weekend, is a far more accurate portrayal of the Cards fifth consecutive NCAA Regional sweep.

Ahead: The Cardinals’ hated arch rival.

Meanwhile down the road, Kentucky’s Wildcats survived rain delays, and captured three straight elimination games, including a comeback against NC State in the finale, to advance to their first ever Super Regional.

Ahead: The Wildcats hated arch rival. Continue reading Moxie Meets Its Match: Resilient Cards Meet Comeback Cats in Supers

Monday Afternoon PG: Another Game 7, Pucks, Russ’s Misdirection, Where’s J.B. & More

Speaking of point guards, Duke just got a commitment for next season from the highest rated ball handler left. Actually the highest rated PG committed or not.

Meaning Coach K and Coach Cal have once again corralled enough Golden Arches superüberduperstars with enough free burger coupons to sate every fan that will be in the Alamodome for next season’s Final Four.

The question of course is, will the Blue Devils and Wildcats actually be there to participate themselves?

I know stuff happens, kids don’t pan out like they’re supposed to, extraneous diversions affect team performances, etc, etc, but, given how they’ve harvested talent in the last decade, shouldn’t UK and Duke make it to the last weekend of the season every season? And win the dang thing more than they do?

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There’s a NBA Game 7 tonight. Boston and Washington shall battle to see which gets whipped by the Cleveland LeBrons in the Eastern Division finals.

It ought to be an exciting tilt. The squads are pretty even, if flawed.

My sense is the Wizards shall prevail, even though the game’s in Beantown. But that’s not why I bring it up.

Which is that I’m as mesmerized as the next hoopaholic about Celtic Isaiah Thomas’s offense. The guy can score. The guy can score at crunch time. From inside, despite his diminutive stature. From outside, even when closely checked by leaping bigs with a huge reach.

(We shan’t mention Thomas’s D. Because I could guard guys better than he does. And there are analytics to prove that. At least to provide evidence how bad he is. I haven’t seen any statisticians checking out my footwork recently.)

Now my point. When I see Isaiah Thomas play, I see Russ Smith.

(Except Smith knows how to play D.) Continue reading Monday Afternoon PG: Another Game 7, Pucks, Russ’s Misdirection, Where’s J.B. & More

Cardinal Nine on a Collision Course???

Since The Schnell pontificated that now infamous and iconic proclamation about his pigskinners — “We’re on a collision course with a national championship; the only variable is time” — several other U of L athletic programs have ascended further and faster than football.

Like, say, women’s hoops, men’s soccer, swimming. Of course, there’s that ’13 NCAA crown worn by the men’s basketball program.

And Dan McDonnell’s Cardinal baseball program, a once moribund sector of U of L sports, is now a perennial national contender. To which we tend to pay more attention than some of those other successful programs. Because baseball, ever unique, ever bucolic, remains the national pastime, if no longer America’s favorite sport.

A balmy night at the ballyard remains one of our nation’s treasures.

It is generally believed that one of these seasons, U of L will shake off the shackles and prevail in Omaha.

The Cards have made it to the Elite Eight thrice, ’07, ’13, and ’14, with a lone CWS victory over Mississippi State during that first appearance. And, truth be told, the team should have made it four straight years, meaning in both ’15 and ’16.

But, such are the vagaries of the game. Two seasons ago, the Cardinals’ ace reliever Zach Burdi couldn’t shut the door on Cal State Fullerton at The Jim. The Cards lost 4-3 in 11. Last season, when considered by many wags to be the nation’s best squad and title favorite, it was deja vu all over again. Burdi, regarded as the country’s premier closer, gave up a walk off tater at The Jim, and UC Santa Barbara prevailed by another 4-3 margin, then headed to Nebraska instead of the Cardinals.

But the Cards remain steadfast, continuing to reload as McDonnell works his dugout magic. Continue reading Cardinal Nine on a Collision Course???

One Quick Look Back & A Peek Ahead

Despite the misguided musings of more than a few national pundits, the University of Louisville Cardinals — my favorite team — did not come within three time zones and the same number of victories of University of Phoenix Stadium, the behemoth football complex with its sliding turf on a tray that hosted the Final Four.

Thus we didn’t discover whether the same malaise that caused full bearded Polish mountain man Przemek Karnowski to short arm seven of his eight field goal attempts would have similarly adversely affected Anas Mahmoud, the Cardinals’ lanky Egyptian pivot man with his sometimes on sometimes off close to the hoop game?

Nor did we find out whether the lack of focus havoc engendered by Jim Nantz’s cloying play by play and Bill Raftery’s silliness would have crimped Donovan Mitchell’s long range bombing as it did Tar Heel Justin Jackson’s. (Though some credit is due Nigel Williams-Goss for his D that was more tenacious than Jack Black, and so energy-sapping it undermined NW-G’s O.)

One never knows how the glare that is ever present on the last Monday night of the season is going to crimp or not the plans and schemes of the last duo of contestants standing.

Or others involved, like the zebras, who didn’t seem to understand this time around that they didn’t need to blow their whistles every twenty seconds whether an infraction occurred or not. And, failed to comprehend that when a player at their feet is touching the ball while his hand is resting on the hardwood a foot out of bounds means the other team gets the ball.

(Though the striped shirts should be eternally grateful that the Gonzaga faithful appear a more circumspect lot than those of some other schools whose vociferous and feral fans feel they wuz robbed by the refs during the Dance.) Continue reading One Quick Look Back & A Peek Ahead