Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Hump Day Edition

b-ballI started one of these blogs yesterday, never finishing it.

You’re all the more lucky for it. It wasn’t very good, since I used the first night of Hanukkah as a theme, and not very well. I gratuitously threw in the line, “Dinah Shoreah lights the menorah,” of course, but I didn’t link up to Adam Sandler singing the whole song. Lucky you, again.

Anyway, I was kind of writing in circles, so I discarded the whole rant, starting today with a blank screen.

Usually I save Today’s Final Four until the end of these meant to be regular but actually they’re just periodic college basketball ruminations.

Today that feature is at the top, because, frankly, I’m tired of all the shit I’ve gotten for two of the four schools I tabbed last time around. Which happen to be two of the the same four schools I project for the season’s final weekend on this the ninth day before Boxing Day.

Today’s Final Four: Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, Virginia Continue reading

Louisville Card File: UNC Wilmington

joaniecardWell over a decade ago now, during the uneasy transition period of the first few seasons after Rick Pitino replaced Denny Crum, there was considerable trepidation among Cardinal fans. The consensus was the new guy, as sterling a reputation as he had, wasn’t nearly as good a bench coach as Cool Hand Luke.

Yes, it was understood, Pitino was marvelous when it came to preparation, but what happens when adjustments need to be made during the heat of a hotly contested tournament battle?

Of course, most of those fears have dissipated, given the successes of the last few seasons.

Yet that arguable flaw in The Rick’s resume still nags for those whose memory of Cardinal hoops predates the Francisco Garcia/ Taquan Dean Era. I thought of it last night, during the Cards’ victory over UNCW, which was far more difficult than one would have expected.

It appeared to me that Pitino had three things he was focused upon for the game: 1) Running a high/ low post offense,  where the big at the top of the key would take a pass, turn and feed his counterpart low or get it to the open wing, 2) Playing pressing full court man to man defense, then switching all screens in the half court, and 3) Starting to shorten his rotation for conference play. Continue reading

Louisville Card File: Indiana

joaniecardNow that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

Louisville 94, Indiana 74.

We learned that this edition of the Louisville Cardinals can take a punch, chew some canvas in the second half, then get off the mat to finish the fight as victor.

We learned — yet again — that Montrezl Harrell, when he stakes his claim to that semi circle around the hoop, is the Ruler of His World.

We learned that Terry Rozier, who unfortunately shall be toiling in a Utah Jazz or NJ Nets jersey next year, would, were he to decide to extend his stay on the Belknap Campus, become one of the elite all-around Cardinal guards . . . ever.

But let’s start with Chris Jones. Continue reading

Shaqquan Aaron Eligible 12/20

joaniecardThe full text of U of L’s press release:

Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron Can Play His First UofL Game Dec. 20

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville freshman guard Shaqquan Aaron can make his debut with the Cardinals’ men’s basketball team on Dec. 20 when U of L plays at Western Kentucky.

During Aaron’s NCAA amateurism certification for initial eligibility, it was determined that his family received extra benefits related to housing.  He must sit out the first nine games — 30 percent of the season — and will have repayment and community service hours to fulfill his reinstatement.

A 6-7 freshman from Seattle, Wash., Aaron has missed the Cardinals’ first seven games and will remain on the bench for UofL’s game against Indiana in the Jimmy V Classic tonight and for Sunday’s home game against UNC Wilmington.  He has continued to practice with the team while awaiting completion of the NCAA process.

A two-time first-team AP Class 3A all-state selection and the Washington state player of the year as a senior, Aaron averaged 19.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists last season in leading Rainier Beach High School to the Washington Class 3A state championship.

Cards Meet Hoosiers in the Gahhhhhden

dunikcardThough it is a circuitous route, most often made longer by a side trip for those biscuits and that to-die-for apple butter in Brown County, the drive from Louisville to Bloomington is only 105 miles.

Whereas, it’s 650 miles as the crow flies — 766 by car — between the home of Rick Pitino’s Cardinals and the coach’s beloved Madison Square Garden.

Which is to say, it’s neat that U of L and IU are battling tonight in NY, NY, at the world’s most famous arena, to benefit the Jimmy V Foundation.

But, why oh why aren’t these teams meeting on a regular basis here in Kentuckiana? Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Upsets ‘r’ Us

b-ballOne of the things I love about NJIT — other than, of course, that the Highlanders perpetrated the most out of the blue upset in college hoops since Chaminade beat Ralph Sampson and UVa — is that the school keeps the “I” in its name.

Unlike Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech, the folks in Jersey are proud of being an “Institute of Technology.” So their athletes wear all four letters proudly on their orange unis.

Because you might be mildly curious, let me edify you a might about the school. Which is located in beautiful, downtown Newark, the comeback city of the millennium. 10,000 students, give or take a dropout or three, including lots of majors in computer sciences. Read: Future Hackers apply here. Ranked the 149th best school in the land by U.S. News.

And, now, thanks to its improbable 72-70 W in Ann Arbor, NJIT, still an independent without conference affiliation, has made it into the hoopaholic vernacular.

Perhaps the school should change its nickname to Hackers. How cool would that be? Continue reading

Fun is Bowling & More Playoff Yackety Yak

funbowlNow that I have made a complete 180º turn in my attitude on this whole college pigskin bowl thing — and more about that in a moment — I feel compelled to co-opt the tagline of Ten Pin Lanes, even though this type of bowling hasn’t a thing to do with strikes, spares and Wrong Foot Lou Campi.

So, should the owner of that bowling establishment have that catchy phrase copyrighted, I implore you, please don’t file trademark litigation. It just seemed so appropriate, and I borrow it for use here with only the highest regard.

* * * * *

Which brings me to this upcoming college football bowl season. Continue reading

College Football Playoffs, Here We Come

foot1“Welcome to Bedlam.”

That was Fox announcer Joe Davis’s great call, when Okie State punt returner Tyreek Hill zipped, scampered, slithered and scatbacked 92 yards with :45 on the clock for the tying TD against its perennially underperforming rival Oooooooooooklahoma yesterday.

Davis might as well have been talking about the dialog in the CFP selection committee’s war room, and the firestorm that’s surely to follow this Sunday afternoon, when the final rankings are released, along with the semi-final pairings and those of the other extra special bowl games.

Bedlam. How apt.

Thus, I feel it necessary to grab a long time tool of those of us who review films, and handicap the Oscars.

Who will get in? Who should get in? Continue reading

Louisville Card File: Florida International

joaniecardRevised 12/06 6:20 am

When U of L telegraphed in a performance like this during the previous coaching administration, Denny Crum was wont to say, “You need to have a healthy respect for your opponent.” One early reader of this blog recalls Denny’s admonition as “honest respect for your opponent.” Could be my memory is faulty. Whichever, I trust you get my point.

Obvious from the moment the squad tonight sauntered onto the court for warmups, was that the Cardinals had no focus whatsoever.

They looked bored. They played bored.

The word that comes to mind: Deplorable. And, yes, boring.

There is only one number from the stat sheet that needs to be examined.

Thirteen (13). Continue reading

Hoopaholics Gazette: Questions & Answers (Maybe)

b-ballThere are really only two questions in college hoops. The answers to which will come clear only after the rims are netless in early April.

Actually there’s a third which will never be answered: Where would the 76ers be ranked in the Top Ten?

The other two:

1) Q: Can anybody beat Kentucky?

A: Truth be told there is an obvious answer to that. Of course, the Wildcats can fall. Nova over G-town. Chaminade over UVa. Bobby Morris over UK. As long as they play the games, it’s possible for strangeness to rear its wacky head in forty minutes, for Edgar Sosa to make a game winning shot.

2) Q: Will anybody beat Kentucky? Continue reading