Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame

Note: This was written early in the AM, without a full night’s sleep. There may be mistakes. Be gentle with your corrections.

Get ready for it.

I’m going to lead with a trope scribes oft invoke at such euphoric moments.

The last time a University of Louisville basketball team won in South Bend, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were newlyweds, the Jennifer Anniston “Rachel” was the hairstyle du jour, Kenneth Starr was sitting behind the desk now used by Robert Mueller, “You know what they call a quarter pounder in Paris?” was the question being asked, Kenny G had the biggest holiday album on the charts, Rick Pitino was wearing a blue tie and David Padgett was nine years old.

On a night when Clemson remained ofer Chapel Hill, Louisville’s ascending Cardinals broke another streak. Days after ending Florida State’s long home winning skein, the Cards beat the Fighting Irish on their home court for the first time since 1994.

Of course, it took an overtime. Then another. That’s what happens when these two meet on the hardwood.

It took overcoming a double digit disadvantage in the 2d.

On a night when it surrendered an unfathomable 26 offensive rebounds, U of L again persevered. In front of a raucous crowd, the Cards stayed the course, never panicked and won 82-78. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame

Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech

Back in the day, professional degree on the wall, but when I was still trying to figure what I wanted to do when I grew up, there was a period I’ve called my “first retirement.” During which I made do with this and that endeavor, one of which was managing a nascent blues band.

The members were an enthusiastic lot, but still finding their chops. Especially the guitar player, a fellow of gentle demeanor who had come from a different tradition and had trouble letting it rip on his Les Paul.

Until one weeknight at a local haunt in front of a smattering of stragglers, when out of the blue during a Muddy Waters cover, he let rip a ringing, stinging solo of the nastiest sort. Unlike any he’d played before. The band’s leader and I locked eyes, both of us with the look of “Where’s this been before?”

That sort of moment and what it could portend for this U of L team came to mind twice late during the Cardinals’ intense win yesterday over Buzz Williams’ Hokies.

David Padgett called an astute timeout with 2:51 to play. The previous five minutes of back and forth, et tu Brute action had been especially fierce. Bucket matched bucket. Charity toss matched charity toss. Defensive stop matched defensive stop.

The Cards couldn’t shake Tech. Q hit a couple FTs for a 76-74 lead. The visitors were thwarted the ensuing trip when Ray Spalding blocked a second chance effort and Deng Adel was fouled while grabbing the board. He converted the 1+1 for a four point advantage, but that was matched by the Hokies at their end. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech

Louisville Distaff CardFile: Notre Dame

Though of this mind for awhile, I shall, for dramatic purposes, take literary license and offer the following moment as evidence of my firm opinion.

For what happened last night at the Yum!, the performances of the University of Louisville’s undefeated women in toto and Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen specifically, was nothing if not dramatic.

Not drama in the classic sense of sports competition, a closely contested battle won in the final moment, but dramatic performance of the highest order, genius of the craft. Like, say, Michelle Williams in “Manchester by the Sea,” or Meryl Streep in “Sophie’s Choice.”

And Asia Durr on the hardwood. Continue reading Louisville Distaff CardFile: Notre Dame

Louisville CardFile: Florida State

It may not have been biblical, but this win on the road, this conference win on the road, this conference win on the road against a Top 25 foe, this win on the road against a Top 25 conference foe with a 28 game homecourt winning streak, this win on the road against a Top 25 conference foe with a 28 game homecourt winning streak from 13 down at the half sure felt like Old Testament.

Especially during the seemingly interminable timeout with 2:34 to play, before which the Cards had carpe diemed the whole affair, doubling up the Seminoles 36-18 after intermission for a five point lead.

How long was that sphincter-tightening stoppage while some staff guys used to lacing pigskins were trying to fix the net on the home team’s goal? According to my timepiece, it was longer than the forty days and forty nights it took Moses to trundle down the Mount with 15, make that 10, Commandments, but not quite the forty years he and his fellow Hebrews wandered the desert.

Long enough for me to hit the head, hit the bowl of pistachios thrice, clean my glasses, empty the dishwasher, read “Moby Dick,” wonder nervously which team might benefit and which might suffer for the delay, and call my man Doc on the phone and bellow, “Isn’t there some sort of automatic forfeit for unplayable court or something?”

Not that I was nervous, understand? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Florida State

Louisville CardFile: Clemson

If we learned nothing new from Louisville’s defeat in an eminently winnable game at Clemson, there was some confirmation of what we should have realized and accepted all along.

Given the eruption of circumstances immediately before the season commenced, there was simply too much to ask of the survivors who would carry the Cardinal banner into the ’17-’18 campaign.

We should have known it wouldn’t be close to business as usual.

It was too much to expect neophyte David Padgett and his put together on the fly patch work staff to provide any sense of mature continuity.

It was too much to expect players used to dictatorial Parris Island-style regimentation to self propel into the Final Four-quality unit they were incorrectly thought to be.

I will admit, as someone who loves this program and this beleaguered squad and prays for a turnaround starting in Tallahassee,  I’m fighting falling prey to a sky is falling take of the season.

These Cardinals have four times faced Top 25 teams and four times fallen.

In three victory was in reach. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson

Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Savor the blessings when they come.

Opening conference play at home against a woeful Pitt team starting five freshmen was a godsend. To its credit, U of L did not look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. The Cards played hard, if not with distinction.

Cardinals 77, Panthers 51.

Now the gauntlet.

U of L dives into the deep end of the game in game out grind of ACC competition with legitimate questions to be answered. Not the least of which is: Will Louisville be able to defend the Yum! and steal one or more wins on the road before they visit the Steel City in February?

We’ll find out soon enough. Visits to kenpom.com #19 Clemson and #25 Florida State are dead ahead.

There are puzzles to be solved: Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Random New Year’s Thoughts on Cardinal Hoops (M & W)

My heart aches.

I just don’t remember a U of L team showing as little heart as the Cardinals did Friday at Rupp.

I am trying to keep perspective. To accept what a truly decimating set of circumstances has befallen U of L basketball. And how that has and will continue to adversely affect this year’s team, a gang which is obviously not going to meet unrealistic expectations.

 * * * * *

So, I am thinking of the spirit force of the Two Arts, which I have invoked through the seasons when a Cardinal steps to the  charity stripe with the game on the line, or soon to be.

The first Art is Arthur Kaplan. My father. From whom I inherited the need to wear a mustache, ritualistic breakfast habits, the imperative to wash my face as thoroughly as my hands, and an unyielding love for U of L basketball.

The other Art is Art Zubrod, from whom I might have inherited my winking crankiness. But for the reality that our only familial connection is that his seats at Freedom Hall for Cardinal games were right behind those of my father’s and mine.

What the Two Arts had in common other than a first name and fealty dating back to days when the Cards balled at the Jefferson County Armory was an incantation, oft uttered in unison, as a Cardinal toed the free throw line.

“Make the first one.” Continue reading Random New Year’s Thoughts on Cardinal Hoops (M & W)

Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

Well . . . uh . . . um . . . ah . . . yeah . . . well . . . okay . . . there’s this.

Not only was this not the worst loss in U of L hoops history, at least from an actual point differential if not psychological decimation — Centre 61, Louisville 7 on 02/18/20 holds that record — it wasn’t the worst loss to the Wildcats in the series.

UK 76, U of L 46 on 12/18/99.

So Friday’s 29 point evisceration could have been, and has been, worse.

So the Cards got that goin’ for them. Which is, uh, not really so nice. But some benediction from the Lama, any kind, soothing words would be welcome.

Ya know, kids, there’s simply not much to say. The Cards were wopped up the side of their heads by arch rival Kentucky.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

Louisville CardFile: Grand Canyon & Beyond

Context: My purpose here with these game breakowns is severalfold.

To riff about the team I love, of course. To, frankly, offer an entertaining read.

To attempt in some semi-professional way with quasi-expertise to give perspective on the game being dissected, while spotlighting crucial moments and aspects on which the result was determined.

And, most important before I got going on the 18 point victory over Grand Canyon, to observe and offer opinion on what the Cardinals need to work on if they are to be the best they can become going forward.

At this juncture, with the patsies and tuneup tests out of the way, the latter aspect of this endeavor is the most pertinent.

Kentucky awaits in Rupp Friday, after a brief Christmas holiday for the squad and coaches.

Then presenting itself is an ACC schedule arguably as tough as U of L has faced since joining college basketball’s best conference. That U of L faces Duke and Carolina just once is hardly consolation. The Cards play every serious league contender on the road, save for the Tar Heels, traveling to face the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor, along with treks to South Bend, Blacksburg, Miami, Charlottesville, and Tallahassee. Plus away games against better than expected Clemson, tricky NC State and Pitt.

The home slate features the defending national champs, ‘Cuse and second matchups with the Hokies and Cavaliers.

All together now: Daunting. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Grand Canyon & Beyond

Louisville CardFile: Albany

What you see is what you get with this year’s University of Louisville Cardinals.

Last late night’s two point victory over Albany is this ’17-’18 season in microcosm.

And, on this the morning of the darkest day of the year, taking all factors into consideration, despite how the escape appears on its face, I, for one, am not as disheartened as I expected to be, or as much as maybe I should be.

It was a night when the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels fell in the DeanDome to Wofford, ranked #196 by Ken Pomeroy coming in.

It was a night when the Great Danes, whose coach joked that VJ King is taller than his center, were +14 on the offensive glass, and +10 in the paint.

It was a night when Louisville was outscored in second chance points, 13-0.

It was a night when the Cards, who coming in were hitting an almost record setting 78% of their free throws on the season, netted only 13 of 21, missing 5 of 6 in the last three and a half minutes.

It was a night when Deng Adel, yet again out of position defensively, with Cards up a deuce, got away with fouling a three point shooter right before the buzzer.

It was a night when the Cards played steadily and with focus, building a double digit advantage, until it went on a 7:33, 1/13 FG drought to fall behind 62-65 with 3:55 to play.

It was a night when the Grinch was poised to steal Christmas. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Albany