Since 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
Remember 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
As 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
There 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.
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ANTON GILL!!! Continue reading
Other 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?
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
Oh 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
Corrected 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
Fingernails, 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
In 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
After the most scintillating afternoon of NCAA basketball I can recall — You can read my take here — there were two questions to be answered, as the evening’s slate of eight tilts commenced.
1) Would it be possible the evening’s fare could match the drama, excitement and controversy of that which preceded it?
2) Exhausted as I was, from a full afternoon watching all the action, and buzzed from way too may peanuts and more than my fair share of Vernor’s and A&W Diet Root Beer, would I be able to persevere throughout the evening until it’s post-midnight conclusion?
Since the answer to the second question is, sadly, no, my observations of the totality of the evening’s fare are not all first hand.
I must, your Honor, rely on hearsay.
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Cincy’s OT W over Purdue was compelling imperfection. Continue reading