It didn’t take long after the final buzzer for the calls and texts to come rolling in.
“Did you hear that thud? The sky just fell.”
“Boeheim totally shut us down in the second half. Why didn’t The Rick adjust?”
Something about the ineffectiveness of Anton Gill’s game, in a conversation with Doc, the details of which I can’t recall. Because, by that time, my brain was shortcircuiting due to the whirligig of despondency over the Cards’ second half meltdown, second loss in a row, and its third in the last four outings.
And, oh yeah, some more sighs and the invocation of this too often heard refrain, among friends and in the media, “Where are Luke, Peyton, Russ and Gorgui when we really need them?”
Which posit makes me think of Buckminister Fuller, an erudite, big thinking neo-futuristic systems theorist, who was all the rage during the counterculture. He was the type of big word guru, who made a scintilla of sense . . . if the ganja was good and that bespectacled gal you saw every day in the stacks at the library was finally willing to go out with you to hear Fuller lecture. (As long as she met you there, of course, instead of allowing you to pick her up at the dorm.)
One of Fuller’s most outrageous claims was that he could recite the entirety of his knowledge in XX number of hours and minutes, the exactitude of which audacious approximation I’ve long forgotten.
More germane to this flurry of U of L consternation is Bucky Fuller’s polemic about what constitutes a knot? Is it the rope or string? Or, is it the pattern? Or, some sort of continuum, which dictates the construction, whatever it’s made of?1
Anyway, Fuller was, frankly, no Marshall McLuhan, another public intellectual of that era, a thinker of extraordinary consequence, who actually made sense and saw the future of culture.
Just as these current Cardinals who constitute the continuum of U of L basketball aren’t the same as those from yesteryear.
Not only are those former stars mentioned early, often and above, given the team’s current travails, not walking onto the hardwood, neither are Wes Unseld, Billy Thompson or the McCray brothers.2
What we are seeing during this 2014-15 hoops season is what we get.
This year’s edition of the Cardinals is a Gordian knot.
* * * * *
Though I don’t yet believe matters are quite this dire . . . yet . . . the Cards could keep slip, slip, slipping into darkness, you know, #8 or #9 seed territory.3
We are going to find out soon enough what the intestinal fortitude quotient of this contingent is. Miami, Georgia Tech and Florida State are all games this team, despite its woes, should win.
During these days of intense, microscopic examination, we will attempt to learn what’s really going on with Chris Jones?
And why Shaqquan Aaron didn’t step on the Carrier Dome court?
And why my man Wayne Blackshear . . . ?
* * * * *
Yes, kids, there were some positives.
It surprises me not in the least that Pitino was somewhat upbeat after the loss. If only to keep the spirits of his squad on the plus side.
Despite his defensive lapses checking (trying to check?) Rakeem Christmas, Chinanu Onuaku played arguably his best game as a Cardinal. 8 points. 11 rebounds. 3 assists. 2 blocks. He played alertly and was engaged, at least on offense, as well as sometimes on the defensive end.
The offense flowed significantly better with Quinton Snider running it, than you know who. The ball didn’t stop after those first three or four passes. (It did stagnate more than somewhat in the second half when the Orange moved its fable zone several feet out, making it almost impossible to get the ball underneath to Harrell.)
Q finished with 13 points and 4 assists, a more than acceptable first game as a starter in such an environment on the road.
The Cardinals got off to righteous start. If only they could have kept it up.
At the 12:30 mark of the opening half, U of L led 19-12, having scored on 9 of its first 12 possessions. The ball was getting to that open spot in the key to a big, and it was moving. The segment included a Rozier (Terry not Clifford) trey and a floating deuce, a couple MH jumpers, a Silent L slam, a Mahmoud jumper and a sweet Nanu follow on a Q missed J.
The Cardinals were scoring at 2.5/ minute pace.
The downside: That average was halved the rest of the way. During the final 32 1/2 minutes, Louisville tallied 40 points, a pace of 1.23 ppm.
The Cards hit 54% in the opening half, holding the Orange to 39%, and were a +4 on the boards.
After intermission, the numbers were essentially reversed. U of L hit 32%. While the Orange drained 58%, and were +3 cleaning the glass.
* * * * *
Louisville has slipped to #18 in Ken Pomeroy’s computerized rankings. Gary Parrish at cbssports.com has dropped the Cardinals to 20th in his daily rankings.
So, the questions to ponder:
1) Will Jones return? If he does, will he be chastened, play within the framework of the offense and keep the ball moving?
2) Do we want Jones to return?
3) Whither Wayne Blackshear?
4) Whither Shaqquan Aaron? (Last night’s minutes. David Levitch, 16. Qx2, zero.)
5) Is Anton Gill’s career as a Cardinal almost over?
6) Will Terry Rozier start finishing on his drives to the hoop?
7) Will Nanu continue to improve, and improve his conditioning?
8) Can The Rick fashion a plan and exhort this not quite ready for prime time team to meet its limited potential?
— Seedy K