In the wake of Louisville’s second overwhelming W in a row to start the campaign, 87-52 over Hartford, it seems to me I should be more excited. That I should be feeling something about these Cardinals more than this overbearing pall of ennui. That I should be more exhilarated by the arrival of many talented new Cards.
I love college hoops.
The Louisville Cardinals have been the great love of my life.
The beginning of another season has traditionally been one of high points of the year, an event which generated much excitement.
But . . . Samford was horrible. Hartford, even worse. The Hawks were beaten before the tip, at which their coach put a munchkin in the center circle, the other four back on D. The Hawks didn’t make any attempt at offensive rebounding. Five and a half minutes in, Chinanu Onuaku already had ten points, several rebounds and a block, and was probably feeling ready to challenge Tim Duncan.
Despite U of L’s youth, many new personalities and the reality that it’s a team just finding its rhythm, these games were like the varsity matched up against the middle school Chess Club and the Geeks Who Game, the kids that pass on lunch to play World of Warcraft.
So, I am beating this dead horse yet again. The home schedule is dispiriting, a slap in the face to fans, from whom a large tariff has been exacted to attend. The faithful have proven so far to be not so, displaying dissatisfaction as the arena has been pockmarked with lots and lots of empty seats.
In the ’72-’73 season, featuring rookies Junior Bridgeman and Allen Murphy, U of L played Vandy, Dayton, Butler, Florida, Utah at home early on. To open the ’76-’77 season, the first for Darrell Griffith and his runnin’ podner Bobby Turner, the Cards were tested early, playing 3 of 5 on the road against Vandy, Purdue and Marquette, along with Syracuse at home. In ’78-’79, the first season for Jerry Eaves, Derek Smith and Wiley Brown, Louisville battled NC State, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Providence and Wisconsin before league play began.
Okay, I think you hear what I’m saying. Don’t Deng Adel, Donovan Mitchell, Ray Spalding, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis deserve similar challenges? Don’t the fans, who are paying way more for their seats today than in the 70s, deserve more spirited competition?
Rick Pitino has a different philosophy from his predecessor Denny Crum. He likes to build his teams, eating cupcakes before the main course. It also differs from Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, etc, etc, who aren’t afraid to test their squads early on against stellar foes.
It seems unfair. To the players who aren’t being tested under fire. To the fans, who aren’t getting their money’s worth.
I will tell on myself. Last evening, so bored did I feel, I did something rare. I left at the second to last media timeout. I felt guilt. I felt disgust at myself, at this sham of a home non-conference schedule.
I know all this sounds like a broken record. Sorry. I just can’t help myself.
It’s the biggest takeaway from the win over Hartford, an opponent so bad, it’s hard to tell if there was anything to be gleaned about the Cardinals from the victory?
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The Rick has started to shorten his rotation. Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud didn’t play during any significant moments of the game. Such as they might have been.
Damion Lee likes to score. Which was most obvious on a 2 on 1 fastbreak during the first half, when he stopped and fired a trey, instead of hitting an open teammate under the hoop. He was immediately snared by the Pitino Hook.
Trey Lewis is better at the two. Which shouldn’t be any surprise, because that’s where he worked at Cleveland State.
Jaylen Johnson is going to be a force. In 17 minutes, he had 9 points,1 8 boards and no turnovers. He’s adhering to his coach’s advice, by staying low and being tough underneath.
Team FT shooting might not be as improved as the exhibition games indicated. 58% (14/24).
Quentin Snider confirmed again he’s this year’s ringmaster. Six assists, no turnovers and 9 points in 26 minutes of action. Loved his dipsy doo layin on a fastbreak to make it 62-32.
Twelve Cardinals scored. Though it took ten minutes of action before somebody tallied other than Onuaku and Lee.
Mangok Mathiang’s motor is always revved to red line. Plus he drained a sweet jump hook.
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Not only does Hawk Pancake Thomas have a great name, he’s got game. The transfer from New Mexico, with that funky hair thing goin’ on, schooled Cardinal defenders all night, scoring 20.
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Zebras Les Jones, Wally Rutecki and Gary Prager adhered to the new officiating emphasis.
They called it tight, whistling 45 evenly divided fouls. It’s a little tedious now, but in the long run, when teams adjust, the game will be much freer and more fun to watch.
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Next up: North Florida.
The Ospreys from the Atlantic Sun lead the land from long range, averaging 17 made treys/ game after two tilts.
Though the Cardinals haven’t made it into the most publicized Top 25s yet, highly respected computerized/stats guru Ken Pomeroy has them slotted at #22. Jeff Sagarin has U of L in the lofty #9 slot.
— Seedy K