Louisville CardFile: Clemson

Ever the contrarian, I must disagree with Rick Pitino, who was with one exception generous in his praise for the Cardinals after they broke Clemson just before halftime and continued the slaughter the final twenty, prevailing 92-60.

“The guys did a great job tonight in every phase of the game.”

“They were great on offense tonight. This is a very good defensive team. We shot 63 percent in the first half, 51 percent in the second. It was a great performance by our guys.”

When talking of Jaylen Johnson (12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, one of which was U of L’s best skip pass of the year to Deng Adel in the weakside corner for a three), RP called the Cards huskiest big “relentless in his work ethic.”

But, then, referring to the double technical that sent JJ to the showers along with his Tiger adversary Elijah Thomas, Pitino offered that the Kid from Ypsilanti “sort of spoiled a really good night by stooping to a different level.”

And that’s where I must disagree with the Cardinal coach, while acknowledging as I must that he has two national crowns and hundreds and hundreds more Ws than I. I shall not allow that resumé disparity get in the way of offering a contrary take.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson

Louisville CardFile: Duke

ccjoaniecardThough he hasn’t mentioned it much lately, Rick Pitino’s traditional mantra each season since the ’13 title has been, “We’re not a very good defensive team yet.”

Before this season, U of L’s coach was firm that man to man would be this year’s primary D. Of course, The Rick, as Cardinals fan have learned during his reign, could teach The Donald a thing or two about talking through both sides of his mouth.

Louisville’s D, a lot of man surely, but just as much or more match up zone, has been the best in the land for weeks now. At least that’s what the numbers say,

(Though I’m inclined to inquire of potential foes, would you rather play against the Cards’ D or West Virginia’s? But that’s another discussion for another time.)

This Duke game to see which team would creep above .500 in the ACC would be the ultimate test of that. Though this season’s Blue Devils are a team in some disarray, Coach K’s squads are always fundamentally sound, and generally able to exploit any holes their foe’s might reveal.

That wasn’t to be this Saturday noon. The Cardinals indeed showed there’s no better defensive contingent in the land. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Duke

Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Iccjoaniecardt was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . .

Charles Dickens, a Louisville Cardinal fan?

Who knew?

Has to be, right?

His opening of “Tale of Two Cities” is as fresh and wise a descriptor of last evening’s survival against Pitt, as well as the confusing state of U of L hoops as conference play gets serious, as it was of Britain and France in the 18th century.

Louisville’s isn’t it time for the final buzzer to sound 85-80 endurance testing W over a Pitt squad with no quit was, to morph Dickensian one more time, a Tale of Two Halves. (The Rick’s exact words to open his post game presser.)

U of L won the first by 21, hitting 50% of its shots, 5/7 from long range and 10/11 at the line. The Cards outscored the Panthers 18-4 in the paint, 15-4 off turnovers, 11 of which they forced. They got 14 points from guys who started the game on the pine.

U of L lost the second by 16, hitting only 44% of its shots, draining but 1 of 7 threeballs, and missing 10 of 23 FTs. Including 5 of 6 during a 50 second Pitt flurry near the end that cut the Cards lead to six with :35.9, plenty of time for a couple more treys to send the game to OT. U of L was outpointed 18-0 off the 11 turnovers it committed.

So, yeah, it was the Best of Halves, it was the Worst of Halves.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

ccjoaniecard“What can Brown do for You?”

Well, if you’re a University of Louisville Cardinal or a Red & Black loyalist, UPS, a major local corporate citizen, can get the hoopsters off the team charter plane at ATL, when all the airport gates are closed.

Which allowed the same day traveling Cardinals to get to the gym on time.

Not that the Cards seemed bothered early on.

Looking crisp and none the worse for wear, U of L tallied on four of its first five possessions. Deng Adel drained a trey first trip down the hardwood. Following a Donovan Mitchell miss from beyond the arc — one of only two on which he didn’t connect in 7 attempts for three — Anas Mahmoud canned a deuce, Adel dropped another bomb, followed by Q trey.

That 11-3 Cardinal advantage improved to 16-3 with a few ticks less than five minutes gone.

The Cards moved, passed the ball, played exemplary shutdown D deflecting the balls all the way to Varsity Hamburgers parking lot and hit the floor twice going after loose balls.

Then the bottom fell out . . . offensively anyway.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame

ccjoaniecardImprobably, as clumsy as Louisville played, falling behind Notre Dame from the tip and never having any control whatsoever over the tilt, the Cardinals still had three legitimate chances to steal a victory in South Bend. It would have been the first time since Ronald Reagan was a Fighting Irish pigskinner, exhorting his teammates from a hospital bed to win one for the Gipper, TDJ and Digger.

The Cards fell behind by double digits early, yet stayed within reach of the Golden Domers throughout, despite erratic, oft ill-advised shooting, and an often stifling defense that still couldn’t consistently keep the feisty foes from getting to the hoop one on one.

Yet, with U of L behind but a digit, there was Quentin Snider at the line for a couple FTs with 2:00 to play. He converted one. 68-68.

Then, with 1:20 to play, Louisville again down one, Ray Spalding, the best Cardinal after intermission, had the ball in the circle as his intended target Anas Mahmoud curled to the hoop for a high/low lay up. Ray threw it away.

Finally, with 1:05 left, down three after two more Matt Farrell FTs — the best FT shooting team in the land was 15/16 at the line in the 2d half — Deng Adel, who should never, never ever try a move where he has to dribble more than once, attempted to do just that. Driving the lane, he lost the ball.

After which, Steve Vasturia, who looks like pablum is pre-game meal, swirled into the paint for an over the wrong shoulder floater. 68-73.

There went the Cards chances for a victory. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame

Louisville CardFile: Indiana

ccjoaniecardWith 15:28 to play in the Countdown Classic in America’s best basketball arena, Indy’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Louisville’s once fifteen point advantage over Indiana had been whittled to 46-36.

During that media timeout, I turned to my pal Doc and offered that the critical juncture in this harum scarum tilt was at hand. Who was he to disagree?

Sure enough, the Hoosiers cut the U of L lead to six at the 11:57 media stoppage, 50-44. Plus IU would have possession when play resumed. The candy-striped crowd — the place, dominated by loyalty-clothed Hoosier fans, looked like Willie Wonka’s factory — was momentarily pumped.

It is at this point in my narrative that I need to and shall recant my opinion rendered in the Comments section of my UVa game report. Donovan Mitchell, it now appears, is no longer, if he ever was, mired in a “sophomore slump.” My apologies for that ersatz judgement.

When play resumed, Ray Spalding pilfered the rock from the Hoosiers. Mitchell then, as I am wont to say, grabbed the battle, such as a smackdown of this order might be called, by the short and curlies.

He drained a trifecta. 53-44. The Cards forced a turnover on their foe’s next possession. Mitchell put his ath-e-let-i-cism on display with a wondrous drive to the hoop. 55-44. After a quick IU counter, Mitchell pulled out the Bill Raftery dagger, plunging it into the Hoosiers’ heart with another three. 58-44.

All together now: Ball Game!!! Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Indiana

Louisville CardFile: Virginia

ccjoaniecardIt is very rare when the moment comes that I am able to recall specifically what I wrote about a Cardinal game from a previous season.

But I do clearly remember how I described what is the worst U of L loss in the Yum! Era. Which was last season’s 16 point beatdown, 47-63, at the hands of last night’s victor UVa.

I said of that loss that the Cardinals had been schooled by the Cavaliers.

UVa’s game is so fundamental, so befuddling in its unique complexity to the young Cards, that it was a teacher/ pupil situation.

U of L fared even worse against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, again failing to break the 50 mark and falling by 22.

Given last night’s seminar, another lecture by the visiting profs, it’s obvious there are still many lessons for U of L to learn. Certainly by Rick Pitino, who hasn’t been able to figure out how to attack or defend UVa’s system. And by the players who were confused the entire 40 minutes. Though thanks to some inner summoned grit, they closed the gap to something respectable by the final buzzer.

Truth: Since Louisville joined the ACC, Virginia has owned the Cards. Tony Bennett and his various squads are now 4-1 in these encounters, and but an improbable Mangok Mathiang fluke of jump shot season before last away from being undefeated against the Cards in league play.

The visitors tallied on four of their first five possessions, including a couple treys. While the Cards turned it over twice, missed two layups and a jumper and scored just a Donovan Mitchell fast break deuce.

That 2-10 deficit increased to 4-16, seven and a half minutes in.

Ball Game!!! Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia

Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

ccjoaniecardQ.

There is the only appropriate place to start when considering U of L’s counterpunching, oh so necessary, oh so much fun 73-70 victory over arch rival Kentucky.

With Q.

Need I spell out his full name, so that you won’t misunderstand of whom I’m speaking?

Not really. But I shall.

Quentin Snider.

Q.

He’s the homie from Ballard High, a kid who might not know many details if any at all from the ’59 Cards over Cats encounter in the NCAA, a youngster who wouldn’t be born for years after the Dream Game in Stokely, but a local, someone who grew up with the rivalry, someone who carries the resonance of this annual Feathers vs. Fur battle in his DNA.

Q.

The Louisville PG understood his Cards needed this Battle of the Bluegrass W on the hardwood, as much as that Blue School down the road needed the one it fashioned on the gridiron.

So Q grabbed the intense midweek slugfest by the short and curlies and made it his own. On a night when the media seats were filled with pro scouts coming to see ballers who can’t be recognized by a single letter, it was Q who made sure his team prevailed. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky Throttled; Mother of All Gauntlets Ahead

ccjoaniecardOK, so Billy Minardi was remembered for something other than sexual shenanigans in his dormitory.

Rick Pitino was honored for 400 wins on the Belknap Campus.

And the Cardinals, dressed sharp in clean white t-shirt top unis, overcame turnoveritis on their first three possessions, looked flaccid while falling behind 11-14, then outscored EKU 31-2 and held the visitors scoreless for 9:18 to take charge at 42-16, blocked 14 Colonels’ shot attempts (not a record) and cruised to a 87-56 romp in the last scrimmage before . . .

. . . The Mother of All Gauntlets.

When midnight strikes on January 4, U of L fans and hoopaholics nationwide will have a good idea of how good or not this edition of the Cards are/ could/ might be.

Between now and then this gang of Louisville hoopsters will venture where none of their predecessors have gone. It shall be an adventure like no other.

Never before in the storied history of University of Louisville basketball has a Cardinal contingent in the regular season played four Top 25 teams in a row.

Dead ahead for the #7 (KenPom) Cards are Kentucky (10-1, #4), Virginia (9-1, #3), Indiana (8-2, #16) and Notre Dame (9-2, #23). Continue reading Eastern Kentucky Throttled; Mother of All Gauntlets Ahead

Five Provocative Questions for Louisville Cardinal Fans

cardsOkay it’s a glorious time of year.

Bowl games. Conference play begins. NFL playoffs.

And the Holidaze, which means lots of parties, extra time for cookies in the coffee room at work, hanging out at night with pals.

Lots o’ time for sports talk.

And, bottom line, sports fans, even those who love the same team or school, love to argue over this or that.

The Louisville Cardinal faithful are no exception.

So, I got to thinking what could spur U of L fans, or even those who just observe Cardinal sports dispassionately, to some serious back and forth.

So, I came up with these five contemplations, looking to hear what my readers think? Continue reading Five Provocative Questions for Louisville Cardinal Fans