Checking In On Cardinal Hoops

It has been an oddly busy first month after the season for U of L basketball — both for the males and females, for good and not so good.

And I’m not talking about Coach Chris Mack’s replacement body part.

So it’s time to inventory the whole situation.

Let’s start with the asset side of the ledger.

Former Cardinal, former Final Four MOP as a freshman in ’86, Pervis Ellison, who coached him in AAU ball, has dubbed St. Joe grad transfer Lamarr Kimble, not only “Philly tough,” but an incarnation of Cassius Winston.

How positively “Fresh.”

Of course, the worry wort Red & Black Faithful are wondering how Darius Perry and David Johnson, the other PGs on next year’s team are taking the news of another grad transfer? It’s not even Derby yet and there is worry over team turmoil. Hopefully it will make the others work on their skills, and compete harder for PT.

Having a trio is better than having nobody competent to distribute the rock. Continue reading Checking In On Cardinal Hoops

Opening Playoff Games a Mixed Bag for Former Cards

We got your Terry Rozier wearing Celtic green. Silent L Harrell coming up big in the paint for LA’s other team. And Donovan “Did We Call Him Spider When He Was A Cardinal?” Mitchell.

If the object of the game is to win, score more points than the other team, then Rozier had the best first tilt.

Because, bottom line, Boston prevailed over the Pacers, 84-74. The Clippers and Jazz fell.

Rozier played a solid, but statistically inconsequential 18 minutes. (Seems like Kyrie Irving is playing both guard positions at the same time anyway.) The former Card was a mathematically neutral +/- 0. A veritable place holder.

He scored 5 points, but was only 1/6 from the field, grabbed five rebounds — He was one of the best rebounding guards ever to wear the Red & Black — and dished out a couple dimes.

If the point of this exercise is which of the trio had the best individual game, Montrezl is the easy winner.

He was a beast underneath — Imagine our surprise — especially in the first half, though his Clippers fell by 17 to Golden State.

26 points on 11/15 shooting. Five boards. Two assists, two steals, two blocks. Alas, he was -13.

It was an under par evening all around for Mitchell. He scored 19 but didn’t have an assist. Five rebounds.

The Jazz — Isn’t it time Utah changed its nickname which worked in New Orleans, but doesn’t fit at all in Salt Lake City? — were overwhelmed by Houston, 122-90.

DM shoulda stayed in bed.

— Seedy K

UVa’s Not So Cavalier Road to Redemption

The conversation with the former U of L Cardinal hoopster took place on a school charter flight to New Orleans for the ’82 Final Four.

He shall remain anonymous. He’d spent the wait before departure at one of SDF’s mini-bars, and didn’t have the clearest of heads.

To be fair, I was more than a bit jacked up myself. One, because that trip to the season’s last weekend was far from a given for my favorite team, all things considered. And, two, because, well, it was back in the day, and you know, well, you know. Let’s just say, my pal who drove me to the airport suggested I might consider a Thorazine drip as an antidote.

Anyway, when the two of us were chatting in our excitement, I kept mentioning how the Cards were going to the Final Four and vaunted, Ralph Samspon-led UVa was not.

“Yeah,” he responded, quizzically since I wasn’t really making my point clearly, “they lost to UAB.” Which U of L had then dispatched on their home court in Birmingham to advance, after the Blazers had upset Virginia, who easily had U of L’s number.

OK, not a great story, but my point — then and now — is that Virginia has been viewed as one of college basketball’s chronic underachievers. Going back to the that era, when Sampson & Mates, often ranked #1, only made it to one Final Four, and an Elite Eight.

Plus, the Wahoos have been at the wrong end of inarguably the two biggest upsets in the sport’s history. To Chaminade in December of ’82. And, yes I know you know, by twenty points last season in the first round as the highest seed to UMBC, the lowest seed.

Coach Tony Bennett has for a number of years carried around the same baggage as such as Dean Smith and Jay Wright before him, “best coach never to win the crown.” Bennett, for his regular season successes had never even made it past the regionals.

Which is to say this monkey on Virginia’s back goes back further than just last year’s wipeout during the first No Break on the Dance floor.

Which is not to say Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy andĀ  De’Andre Hunter, who didn’t even play in that infamous L because he was injured, and their teammates haven’t had to deal daily with that devastating setback 24/7 for 52 weeks, plus 3 more.

Until last night. Continue reading UVa’s Not So Cavalier Road to Redemption

UVa vs. Texas Tech: There Will Be D

There was the moment when it fell apart for Virginia.

More than any other team in the land, Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers stick to the plan, never wavering from their disciplined, measured style.

Then they didn’t. To ill effect.

Up 57-48 with just under five minutes to play, Ty Jerome had the rock, in the post with a smaller Auburn defender checking him. The Cavaliers usually beauteous offense flow stopped. As his teammates ceased their normal cutting and weaving and picking to watch, Jerome tom-tomed the ball, backing the War Eagle down for a close in turnaround.

He missed. He thought he was fouled. And compounded the disruption and failure to tally by committing his fourth personal immediately thereafter in the backcourt with 4:32 left. Virginia’s catalyst took a seat on the pine.

Bryce Brown netted a trey. Then another after a Samir Doughty offensive board. Then Danjel Purifoy drained yet another second chance three.

Then, after Mamadi Diakite missed two freebies, Brown bullseyed another triple at 1:56. 59-57 in favor of the Bark-leys.

One guy’s opinion, that one little departure totally took the Cavaliers out of their flow. Emboldened, devoid of quit, Auburn took advantage.

Two Auburn FTs, and UVa was down four and :17 seconds from a second seriously disturbingĀ  NCAA tournament meltdown in a row. Continue reading UVa vs. Texas Tech: There Will Be D

Who Cares What CBS Thinks of the Final Four?

Perspective. My observation point.

I am a college basketball junkie. A hoopaholic.

Even though my team was the very first one eliminated in this year’s tourney, I still spent hour after hour after hour in front of my flat screen, berating myself for microwaving then consuming the entirety of yet another bag of Skinny Pop, enduring Chris Webber, watching googly-eyed as Carsen Edwards went en fuego, failed to notice that a spring cold was filling my chest cavity until it was too late, while watching just about every dribble, missed call and Coach K sneer.

I could not care less — actually I’m pleased as punch — that Rock Chalk Jayhawk, the Baby Blues, Big Blues, Go Blues, and Dukie Blues won’t be in the house come Saturday evening.

For the casual fans, those folks caught in the star maker machinery that’s propelled Zion Whatsisname into mainstream consciousness, sayonara. Enjoy your visit to the cineplex to see “Us.”

I’ll be in front of the telly, embracing this cockamamie quartet of Sparty, UVa, Texas Tech and Auburn. Continue reading Who Cares What CBS Thinks of the Final Four?

And Then There Were But Four

In a seriously compelling four days of battles, when the Big Dance field was whittled from 16 to 8, then halved again to Four for the Final weekend of the college hoops campaign, one sequence, for me anyway, stands out above all the other moments, both boffo and otherwise, depending on one’s particular and peculiar rooting interest.

With about five seconds to play, the Virginia Cavaliers were down three to Purdue, and perilously close to another Tony Bennett failure to make to the season’s last roundup. PG Ty Jerome was at the charity line with the possibility of cutting the lead to a single digit.

Jerome made the first. Jerome missed the second. He says his intent was to make the free throw. I’ve watched the video any number of times and it seems so. Though there is a contrarian view that he really intended to miss the shot, that UVa practices for such scenarios every day in practice.

Whatever. Here’s the deal. Here’s what Bennett’s charges do that most teams of caliber do not. And did do in that moment. Continue reading And Then There Were But Four

Sixteen As Sweet & Chalky as the Candy of My Youth

If you are old enough to remember the Bard Theater, now long gone from its spot on Bardstown Road just northwest of the Taylorsville Road split, where you like me might have spent adolescent Saturday afternoons cutting up with pals, terrorizing the manager and taking in double feature matinees of Red Skelton and Abbott & Costello; if that registers in any way, then you might remember, or perhaps even have savored the candy of my youth.

Necco Wafers. A nickel at the concession stand after your mom dropped you off so she could play cards with her friends in peace for a few hours. They were the go to treat, since they lasted so long. Though that braying you hear in the background is some contrarian feedback from the Milk Duds crowd.

Anyway, Necco Wafers came rolled up like quarters in waxed paper and were a mix of mildly fruit flavored discs, plus chocolate and cinnamon and maybe clove. I took to getting the all chocolate roll when available, which was like, you know, a really cool development when you are 11 years old and only had that nickel to spend after the twenty cent admission.

Like I indicated the candy’s longevity was its primary asset.

Because, to be honest, those flavors were but a vague hint. There was sweetness, since they were probably all sugar, but the primary recollection, which never dissuaded me, mind you, is that they tasted mostly like chalk

Sweet. Chalk. Like this season’s last sixteen standing. Continue reading Sixteen As Sweet & Chalky as the Candy of My Youth

Louisville CardFile: Minnesota

Now is not the time for coulda woulda shouldas.

Neither for the finale, a ten point loss to the Golden Gophers, nor for the season as a whole.

This Louisville contingent, as Reggie Miller pointed out, composed of last year’s subs and three unheralded grad transfers, won 20 games, and, beyond any reasonable expectations, made it to the Dance.

It is time to cherish the positives of this transition season, not to belabor the issues that have discussed ad nauseum from the get go.

Soooooo, if you’re looking for the Cards mighta been in it, mighta moved on for a rematch with Michigan State, if this guy had drained this three, if that guy hadn’t lost the ball trying to do too much, or if Mack hadn’t subbed Z for Y with XX:XX minutes to go, you need to look elsewhere.

There are no breakdowns contained herein, no exposition on turning point moments, no strategic extrapolation. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Minnesota

It’s March, and I’m Just Mad about Madness

The bracket, thank you for your annual beneficence Naismithius, has arrived.

As usual, it is a veritable menagerie of creatures, strange and not so.

Bruins, Bison, Bulls, Bulldogs, Buckeyes, Bears, and Bearcats.

Once again, our memories short, we are compelled to inquire: What exactly is a Billiken?

Cavaliers and Monarchs.

Cyclones and Flames.

Anteaters and Ducks.

Sooners and Volunteers.

Gaels, Gators and Grizzlies.

Tigers and Wildcats and more Wildcats.

Since we know that Orangoutangs, none of which sadly shall be participating in the Dance, are skeptical of changes in their cages, there is another query soon to be answered.

With Carl Spackler on their side, will Louisville’s Cardinals eradicate those varmint Golden Gophers?

And, while we’re at it, will Rick the Elder escape from exile in Greece to watch Rick the Younger coach against their former school? I mean, it’s the kind of thing this father is prone to do. Continue reading It’s March, and I’m Just Mad about Madness

Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

Every team with a legitimate shot at sitting on the top shelf, every quintet that yearns to be among the upper echelon, needs a go to guy.

A baller who can hit the J, who can get it to the tin, who has the will and talent to take over a game if need be. At both ends of the hardwood.

In this regard, the Cardinal moment I often refer back upon came in Knoxville in ’83. The Cards couldn’t quite catch up with the Cats in the 2d at Stokely. After a Big Blue score, Lancaster Gordon grabbed the ball as it dropped from the net, slammed it to the floor and exclaimed with force and conviction, “Enough of this shit!”

I needn’t explain to U of L fans what Caster and his mates did from then on.

It is this ’18-’19 overachieving but still not-quite-ready Louisville Cardinal contingent in microcosm that Jordan Nwora aspires to be that guy. There are instances when it works, for him and the Cards. And just as many, probably more when it doesn’t.

At the 7:35 media break of the 1st, the Tar Heels iconic transition game had the Cardinals heads spinning. Jay Bilas noted, “it looks like a lay up line for Carolina.” U of L was down 21-34.

Then came this boffo interlude. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: North Carolina