Louisville Cardinal Hoops: One Last Look Back at ’14-’15

joaniecardIf you have been fortunate enough to visit Barcelona, one of the world’s great cities, you surely are aware of Sagrada Familia.

It is a church of grandiose character and proportion, designed by my favorite architect, the ever unique, Art Nouveau master Antoni Gaudi.

Construction commenced in 1882.

I was fascinated from the first moment I ever saw a photo of the place, sometime back in the 70s, I suppose. It looked, with all its towering swirls and whirls, as if constructed of filigreed chocolate mousse.

So, when I had the good fortune to visit that world class burg in Catalonia about a decade ago, Sagrada Familia was my go to spot to visit.

I was stunned to find the edifice, surrounded by cranes, great portions of it, wrapped in construction netting to prevent falling objects. And realized it’s never been finished.

In fact, only one facade was completed at the time of Gaudi’s death. It is that beauteous concoction I fell in love with. But the powers that be decided to complete the task, yet funding has come fitfully only from private donations. And other architects have been involved, such that the newer portions bear only peripheral resemblance to Gaudi’s iconic original.

So, Sagrada Familia to this day remains a marvel of a building, an object of considerable fascination and controversy . . . and, almost a century and a half later . . . still under construction.

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Which reminds me of my beloved University of Louisville Cardinals during the Rick Pitino era. Continue reading

The Rick Pitino Soap Opera Continues

rickSince U of L met Michigan State in the Elite 8, I’ve had some email communications with an old pal, who lives near Motown and is a major Spartan fan.

When he sent me a condolence email after his team’s W, I told him it wasn’t necessary, that U of L had overachieved, and I wasn’t despondent. I added that the loss is easier to take since I, having been born in Michigan myself, have long been a fan of Sparty.

And, Izzo in particular.

In fact, I wrote, as good a coach as Rick Pitino is, I’d trade him even up for Izzo right now.

(Actually I went on, and said I’d trade Pitino and Petrino for Izzo and Dantonio, and I’d throw in an Asst. A.D. and a volleyball coach to be named later.)

It’s not that I think Izzo is a better coach than Pitino, though he might be. And, I’m advised by a national scribe who has been privy to practice sessions of all the major programs, that Izzo is as tough, perhaps tougher, than Pitino on his players . . . in the privacy of practice. Continue reading

Louisville Card File: Michigan State

joaniecardRemember I must, during this sad but inevitable aftermath that befalls 67 of the 68 invitees to the Dance, that reaching potential is the goal, that striving for the greater is admirable, that acceptance of what is, more so.

Remember I must what I’ve thought and written during these Days of Dance, that advancement to the Round of 16 meant this U of L team, given the reality of it limitations, had maxed out; that when it surged a step beyond, it had succeeded past legitimate expectations.

Of course, I am disappointed. But not despondent.

There are those instances from Sunday that I ponder, but, truly, only for a moment.

What if Mango’s second FT near regulation’s end had gone down?

What if Wayne hadn’t dipped his toe in the lane on a missed State FT, allowing the Spartans anther opportunity and another point?

But, those laments dissipate in a blink. Continue reading

Cardinals Face Sparty for Final Four Spot

SeedyCardAs I sit here with dawn breaking this morning, I am reminded of this day’s predecessor, also a Sunday, also a March 29 .

In advance of one of that day’s Elite Eight battles in 2009, also between the Louisville Cardinals and the Michigan State Spartans, I arrived early at the cavernous media room in the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium.

While some bare bones basics are the same — Cards vs. Sparty, Izzo vs. Pitino, F4 on the line — there are some drastic differences.

That U of L team, one with high expectations all year that rarely abated, the top-ranked #1 seed in the Dance, was on a 13 game win streak, was coming off a 39 point drubbing of Arizona in the Regional Semis, and was steamrolling toward what many Cardinal fans expected to be Rick Pitino’s first title at U of L.

As I am wont to do, given my penchant to focus just on U of L and, given that I rarely blog previews to games, I hadn’t viewed Sparty through a microscope.

Which, since there was plenty of time to kill, I did that morning. Frankly, it was bracing.

What I recall thinking: This game is not a given. The Spartans are good.

Prescient thoughts, those. Continue reading

Louisville Card File: North Carolina State

joaniecardThere are any number of expressions which are apropos of what’s going on with the surging U of L Cardinals these days.

It can be said, that, after an up and down season on the court, and turmoil off the court, these tournament games are “icing on the cake.”

Or, perhaps, that, given the Cardinals unexpected arrival in the Elite Eight, Louisville is “playing with house money.”

But, given my affection for all things New Orleans, which I visit annually for JazzFest, I am inclined to call this marvelous, post-season surprise run, “lagniappe.”

Which generally translates as “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.” Or, “a little something extra,” like the thirteenth doughnut in a baker’s dozen.

Since a surge to the Elite Eight is, frankly, more than a “little” something, I’d better capitalize my designation.

Lagniappe, how sweet this is.

* * * * *

Anton Gill.

ANTON GILL!!! Continue reading

Throwdown Thursday: Cats Roll, Knights Stymied & Mo’

b-ballOther than his remarkable way with words, I don’t know much about T.S. Eliot.

Except this. He wasn’t a college basketball fan.

Contrary to his famous poesy, March, not April, is the cruelest month.

As the commercial goes, “everybody knows that.”

But, did you know . . .

. . . as with Murray State, whose chances for the Dance were thwarted by a late, late long ball, and whose advancement in the NIT was dispatched by a midcourt miracle, Bellarmine’s season was abruptly terminated last night in the DII national semis by a treybomb with the clock winding down?

Damn it.

In a scintillating basketball game, which met my expectations that it would be the most intriguing and exciting of the evening, top-ranked, top-seeded Florida Southern 79, Bellarmine 76. Continue reading

Knights Slay Dragons: Bellarmine Rolls into National Semis

BellarmineOh mercy, she was a headline writers dream, wasn’t she?

Bellarmine Knights 92, Minnesota State-Moorhead Dragons 75.

Knights. Dragons. The former winning readily easily over the latter. Slaying them, if you will. And I do.

You get it?

Of course you do.

If only it was so easy all the time.

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What wasn’t quite so easy was watching the game.

While tonight’s Division II national semi-finals in Evansville will be televised on CBS Sports Network (TWC HD, Channel 968), last night’s viewing required a computer.

And, as if we need yet another thing the NCAA does to complain about, we got one. Whereas watching a streaming game on ESPN is in HD, and one can go full screen without losing much fidelity, that wasn’t the case with yesterday’s Div II quarter-finals, airing at ncaa.com.

The little bitty picture was fine. But, when expanded to full screen, fidelity faltered, extreme pixelation ensued, and I couldn’t hit the Esc key fast enough. My septuagenarian eyes faltered as the game progressed.

Which plaint is proffered for the less than fully astute analysis to follow. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Most Wonderful Time of the Year

SeedyCardCorrected 3/25 at 10:48 am

Have you heard the one that starts out like this?

So, Christian Laettner and U.S. Reed walk into Check’s for a bowl of Bean Soup . . .

No, well, neither have I.

But, if there exists a joke, the punchline has to be Robert Morris or Kenneth Fareid or, if it’s really sick, Billy Clyde Gillispie.

But Reed’s name did come up, when I was lunching yesterday with my pal, fellow Cardinal acolyte, Bruce. Because, well, because we talk U of L hoops, regardless of the season, most especially now, and, because I mentioned that, as locked into Cardinal basketball as I have been for decades, I was stunned when I realized this is the first time Louisville has made it to four straight Sweet Sixteens. Continue reading

Louisville Card File: Northern Iowa

joaniecardFingernails, length intact, remain unbitten.

In an opening round squeaker, the Cards, flummoxed by the presence of a 7-6 Senegalese Anteater aberration, were pushed to the brink before prevailing. While last night in its Round of 32 encounter, U of L took a 14-13 lead it never relinquished over favored Northern Iowa after 8:21 of play, keeping the Panthers measured until midnight tolled for the erstwhile Final Four wannabe from the Mo Valley.

So, prone to frustrate even its most ardent fans, but fortitude rich and full of pleasant surprises, this feisty 2014-15 edition of the University of Louisville Cardinals forges ahead to a Sweet Sixteen date in Syracuse with conference chum North Carolina State.

As one loyalist hummed, as the clock ticked down, the victory secure, “You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.”

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That the Cardinals never lost the lead in the second half, doesn’t mean there weren’t moments that increased the heart rate. This was, after all, the NCAA tournament, with the last berth of the second weekend’s games the prize. Continue reading

Louisville Card File: UC Irvine

joaniecardIn the Jewish faith, into which I was born, reared and still reside, and thus with which I am most familiar, it is known as Bar Mitzvah.

Literally, it translates as “son of commandment.” In the tradition, it is the ritual when a boy. upon turning 13 years old, is deemed a man. Thereby, presumed capable of, and required to assume responsibilities of adulthood, both within the faith and daily life.

Obviously, it is an artificial demarcation. Given the exigencies of real experience, that moment of transition is not foretold, not pro forma ritual. It happens when a situation is presented, and he who was youth acts with a previously inarticulated maturity.

Boy to man.

Yesterday, in Seattle, during the University of Louisville Cardinals’ opening round tussle of the 2015 NCAA tournament, Cardinal fans were able to observe not one, but two such moments of passage. Continue reading