Sunday’s Sports Musings: Lots of U of L & More

reporterHoops that matters is back in the form of NBA playoffs.

It’s a good thing.

It’s also early, since the opening slate of first round games isn’t even complete as I write this, early Sunday evening.

I do have one observation.

I took note to check out Brad Stevens. He who is formerly of the Butler Hinkles, currently with the Boston Celtics, and forever topping the wish list of every college basketball fan, whose favorite team is ready for its next coach, the one that will surely lead them to One Shining Moment.

My observation. Stevens looks awfully comfy in front of the Celtics bench.

He does not appear to be a guy ready to jump back to college, so he can try to rah rah sis boom bah for some fat cats’ alma mammy.

* * * * *

Also in the category of Coaches Every Fan Wants Roaming His School’s Sideline, is, or actually, was, Shaka Smart. Continue reading

Monday Morning Sports Shots

allsportsNo. I do not have any reports from spring practice.

I don’t do spring practice.

In fact, I don’t do practice at all. I haven’t enough expertise to discern who is playing better, and who worse?

Allow me to remind you, I’m the guy who did go to practice when Teddy Bridgewater was a rookie. I watched him tossing the ball in drills, and thought the other QBs, guys whose names are long since forgotten, had stronger arms and were more accurate.

Which is why, allow me to reiterate, I don’t do spring practice.

In fact, I don’t do practice at all.

I leave it to the good ol’ boys, the wannabe JV assistants, in their double knit shorts. Continue reading

Shaqquan Aaron Transferring from U of L

cardsThe official announcement:

Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron Will Transfer
 
               LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville freshman guard/forward Shaqquan Aaron will leave the Cardinals’ program at the conclusion of the spring semester.
 
               “We are in total agreement with Shaqquan transferring and we wish him the best,” said UofL Coach Rick Pitino.
 
               Aaron averaged 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in 23 games as a freshman.  He totaled a season-best 11 points and five rebounds at Wake Forest on Jan. 4, but scored 15 points for the remainder of the season.  He had to sit out the Cardinals’ first nine games of the season due to an NCAA eligibility issue.
 
               The 6-7 wing from Seattle, Wash., led Rainier Beach High School to the 2014 Washington Class 3A state championship.  A two-time first-team AP Class 3A all-state selection and the state player of the year as a senior, he was ranked among the nation’s top 35 high school prospects by most media outlets.

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Duke on the Grassy Knoll

b-ballConspiracy Theorists unite.

You know who you are.

Ye who are sure beyond peradventure that there are covert ops in the NCAA Selection Committee meetings, making sure that Duke gets the easiest path to the Final Four.

Ye who are convinced that the refs who call Duke’s tourney games have an envelope full of cash, awaiting them after the final buzzer sounds.

Ye who demand to know, what does NCAA prexy Mark Emmert know, and when did he know it?

Re-form the Warren Commission. Investigate whether Mike Krzyzewski has ever visited Cuba. Is Jeff Ruby, owner of the premier steakhouse in the epicenter of college hoops, related to Jack Ruby?

Most important, if the refs of Monday’s championship game, Joe DeRosa, Michael Stephens and Pat Driscoll are, as some fervently believe, the hoops equivalent of Lee Harvey Oswald, is Director of Officials John Adams the guy on the grassy knoll?

Coming soon to a bookstore near you, another exposé by the authors of “Duke Sucks, And You Know It,” to be titled “How The Blue Devils Stole Their Fifth Title.” Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: 2015’s Last Morning After

b-ballIt is a dark and stormy day.

A real Edward Bulwer-Lytton kind of day.

E B-L’s the British novelist, who opened a novel with the now hackneyed sentence paraphrased above.

Sometimes, even the most overused descriptor is the most appropriate. Which, I suppose, is reason why such are so overused.

Before tipoff of the Badgers vs. Blue Devils title match, I got a text from SmartGuy. “It feels like closing night.”

True dat.

And the end of this college hoops campaign is especially depressing, given that the victor is the most despised of all the programs in the land. When what could have been a season of historic resonance was thwarted in the semi-finals. When a feel good story out of Cheese Country coulda, woulda, shoulda, but wasn’t.

No Cinderella. Nothing to make us feel all goosey inside.

Just Duke. Again. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: One Mo’ @ Final Fo’

b-ballLike, you know, there is still another game to be played.

And, well, if Wisconsin and Duke compete as they have shown is their and their coaches’ combative nature, it ought to be a doozy.

The Badgers and the Blue Devils, both #1 seeds, are the two best teams in the country this year. Should Wisconsin prevail, it will have truly earned its title, having already beaten the nation’s third best school Arizona, in the Regional Final, as well as the fourth best team Kentucky, in the national semis.

The last time two #1s met for the championship was 2008, when the Kansas Jayhawks beat the (Vacated) Tigers. In fact, that’s the only Final Four in the seeding era, contested by all four #1s. That quartet also included UCLA and North Carolina, the latter of which is sooner or later to be a/k/a (Vacated).

Monday evening’s title match will be the first time the two best teams in the country have battled it out for the crown since ’07, when Florida won its second straight championship over Ohio State.

More on the upcoming slugfest in a bit. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Kentucky is 38 +Done

b-ballI fight it every basketball season.

It is a character trait of which I’m not very proud.

Every tenet of the life philosophies I try to follow contradicts the behavior, tells me I’d be a better person if I acted otherwise.

But, as an ardent Louisville Cardinal supporter . . . I simply can’t help myself, when it comes to consideration of my team’s arch rival.

I rooted for Wisconsin.

I rooted against Kentucky.

I, to be honest, am glad UK lost.

I feel for the Wildcat players. At least the ones, who were man enough to shake the hands of the victors after the loss. At least the ones, who didn’t petulantly and immaturely utter racial epitaphs under their breath about Badger players. Continue reading

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.

* * * * *

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