The eagle eyed among you will have noticed immediately that, for the second straight time, my U of L hoops game report begins with a quote from “Alice in Wonderland.”
Plus, those of you with some history and perspective surely must recall a time when Louisville’s pre-conference schedules weren’t laden with walkover after walkover after walkover. As has been the case in the last decade or so.
There was a time when the schedule was, well, much more muchier. There was more there there.
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The Cards are playing this year’s quartet of schleppers — Jacksonville State, Marshall, Savannah State and the upcoming Thanksgiving Eve snoozer against Cleveland State — as part of a Jabberwockily titled fiction called the Global Sports Showcase.
Global Sports Management is just that, a for hire management company that specializes in arranging these affairs, and foreign tours, for institutions of higher learning across this big land of ours. This boring quartet of games is part of a relatively new phenomenon in college hoops known as an MTE, multi team event. Which have grown like kudzu across Dixie and everywhere else in the land, because it allows exempt games. Meaning teams can play several games, but they only count as one against a team’s NCAA mandated limit.
“Well, I never it before, it sounds such uncommon nonsense.”
True dat, Ms. Alice. But . . .
. . . it also means the athletic departments at the host schools add extra dates to the season ticket package, resulting in, of course, more revenue, if not more competition on the hardwood.
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Before I get to last night’s embarrassing affair, I want to chat about U of L’s soccer team for a moment.
Because its experience this season provides some perspective on these meaningless, not very helpful smackdowns the hoops team is playing.1
Ken Lolla’s team finished the regular and ACC tourney season with a record of 10-7-3. So, without looking further, one might conclude it was a nice, slightly better than mediocre campaign, but hardly worthy of an at large bid to the 48 team NCAA tourney.
Yet U of L was seeded #13 in the field.
Because that record includes contests against teams ranked #2 in the country, #5, #6, #2 again, #22, another #2 battle, #1, then #19. Eight games were against ranked foes.
So, yeah, the Denny Crum Philosophy still lives on the Belknap Campus. It’s just down Floyd Street a bit from the hoops facility at the Mark & Cindy Lynn Soccer Complex.2
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The basketball team doesn’t need to, and shouldn’t, play a Top 25 team every time out.
But all it’s opponents should be Top 100 at very least.
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Which brings me to a few — a very few — observations from last night.
U of L made only 17 of 30 at the free throw line.
Must have been the pressure after the visitors cut the Cardinals’ lead to 29-1 with 4:02 left in the opening half.
Louisville matched that FT total with 17 turnovers. And 17 assists, a dozen of which came after intermission.
The Rick has installed a high/low offensive set.
Wayne Blackshear continues to play with rediscovered assertiveness.
Jaylen Johnson is fast advancing to a place where he will be a contributor this season. During one sequence midway through the second half, he deflected a Tiger inbound pass for a runout slam at the other end, got the rebound on State’s next miss, then followed his own miss on the Cards’ next possession with an eight foot jumper.
Anton Gill played with a bit more control. Quentin Snyder continues to impress with his confidence. Shaqquan Aaron still looks forlorn in street clothes. Akoy Agau is looking more and more like a future Bellarmine Knight.
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The only appropriate timeout song choice last night would have been Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
It was not one of the choices presented. With less than emphatic enthusiasm, the dwindling crowd chose Eddie Money’s 1986 “hit,” “Take Me Home Tonight.” It features Ronnie Spector, which is cool.
This one would have been apropos and muchier. Sing it, Grace.
— Seedy K