Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

joaniecardEntering the fray that is Feathers vs. Fur in the Bluegrass with re-calibrated long range bombsights, and overcoming a significant pregame injury to a starter, Kentucky handed U of L a disappointing coulda woulda shoulda loss yesterday, 75-73.

The Cardinals, intimidated by the Rupp Arena environment, played tight early, disappeared entirely right before and right after halftime, then rallied with panache, but, failing to score on two consecutive possessions at the end, failed to close the deal.

As disappointing as the loss is how the U of L players (and fan base) were Rickrolled by their coach, not once, twice but three times.

First, an alleged engenderer of confidence notwithstanding, the powder puff early season schedule set up by Pitino did not serve the Cardinals well. When UK’s D took U of L out of its offensive sets early, in front of a loud, rabid BBN throng, Louisville, not having experienced anything close previously, even in East Lansing, melted down. Pitino provided no immediate adjustments.

Heartier opposition in hostile environments would have better prepared Louisville for Rupp, as well as the intense ACC venues just over the horizon.

Second, Pitino ever known as a great preparation coach, but not the savviest adapter when it comes to in game adjustments, had nothing workable to provide his team, who had the ball with plenty of time to run a set for the win on the final play. Instead, Damion Lee badly misfired on a falling away and to the side stepback three. On the previous possession, exposing his mid-major characteristics, Trey Lewis dribble, dribble, dribbled too much, and eventually turned the ball over. Apparently, Pitino didn’t call out a set there either.

Third, and most disheartening, Pitino, petulant as ever, responded like a fourth grader after the loss. He either did or did not give the finger to a UK fan(s), a gesture so inappropriate we shouldn’t even be discussing the possibility. He was yet again unwilling to take the loss like a man, teach his players graciousness in defeat. Other than his radio obligation, Pitino didn’t take questions from the media.

 * * * * *

Playing nervously, U of L quickly fell behind by 9. Then fought its way back to take a small lead, but couldn’t get distance.

With 2:52 left before intermission, Jamal Murray was whistled for a foul. John Calipari was whistled for a T. Damion Lee hit all four FTs, and the Cards led 34-30.

From then until the break, UK surrounded a Lee deuce with 14 points for a 44-36 lead, starting with an unimpeded Dominique Hawkins trey just thirteen seconds after that four point Cardinal advantage.

Then the Cats tallied the first eight points of the second half for a sixteen point lead, 52-36, with 17:54 to play.

After which moment, Louisville proved it had heart. While Kentucky proved it could pass muster to hold on for the W.

Louisville cut the lead to a digit, 65-64 at 5:34. Ulis canned a three :15 later.

The Cards pulled within a deuce at 68-66, then gave up a Marcus Lee slam on the ensuing UK possession.

U of L continued to pursue, again chopping the deficit to a deuce at 70-68. Again Kentucky remained resolute with another Hawkins trey for a five point margin.

Every time the Cardinals came close, the Wildcats shut the door.

A missed Jamal Murray trey, and a forced shot clock violation gave U of L, down 2, a couple opportunities at the end. They couldn’t overcome.

 * * * * *

Louisville’s chances to prevail were sabotaged by the same issues that have been nagging them the whole season.

Chinanu Onuaku picked up two stupid fouls early on illegal picks, and sat the final 14:24 of the opening half.

Louisville was only 15/22 at the line. And gave up a bonus point at the charity stripe, after a lane violation.

The killer was U of L’s often phantom three point defense. Yes, Ulis, Hawkins and Murray drained a number of howdtheymakethat long balls, launched from the stoop of Joe Bologna’s. Buuuuut, on a number of the eleven successful Wildcat threes, they were wide open on the wing. Such defensive lapses have been a Cardinal issue for weeks. Obviously, it remains unresolved.

 * * * * *

Louisville, though spooked at the start, did settle in, playing with extreme passion, if not precision, the rest of the way.

On a possession almost midway through the first half. Anas Mahmoud made a savvy aggressive save on a ball going out of bounds. Donovan Mitchell leaped high  in the circle, to secure AM’s swat. The possession ended with a Lee three to knot the game at 17.

But there were also too many not so sensational sections of the game, like the interlude when Alex Poythress had his way in the paint, seemingly without opposition.

 * * * * *

The game wasn’t artful.

But was hard fought, and statistically as close as the final score. (Except for UK’s 11/23 shooting behind the line.)

The Cards charged. They managed to come close, even though they were rarely able to run their sets on offense. The Cats held on. They answered every one of Louisville’s blows with a counterpunch.

John Calipari was gracious in victory. Rick Pitino was a putz in defeat.

— Seedy K

30 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

  1. Thanks, CD for being a Card fan willing to point out Pitino’s failings. I will forever appreciate his accomplishments at both my alma maters but I could not agree more that he has demonstrated a tendency towards petulance and being a poor loser as long as I have been following his career. The man is as jovial as anyone when things are going well but a decidely ungracious person in defeat.

  2. Well, Sack Suckler, have to beg to differ. I’ve been going to U of L games since 1952, am a double U of L grad, and the Cardinals are the great love of my life. Just trying to call it as I see it, while still loving my Cards.

  3. Sadly, Sack may be more spot on than even I could possibly imagine. Did we watch the same game?

    Valiant effort by the Cards in an extremely difficult setting. As usual, every time something good starts to happen for us, weirdness sets in—whether it be one sided calls or a career 9% 3 point shooter making everything he chucks up at the end of the shot clock from 25-30 feet.

    Just like Rick, I have grown tired of losing under ridiculous circumstances to a semi-pro team. I understand and appreciate his disdain. Maybe CDK should move his blog to the CJ?

    1. I am a UK fan who has read CD’s columns for several years. I assure you that his L1C4 credentials are unimpeachable. The man simply has the objectivity and maturity to write and speak truthfully that you poor sport fans lack. No wonder considering the behavior of your childish 63 year old coach.

      Any objective person, myself included, would agree that Saturday’s game was indeed a “aliant effort by the Cards in an extremely difficult setting.” As far as “one sided calls’ that is as lame an excuse as is the complaint about “career 9% 3 point shooter making everything he chucks up at the end of the shot clock from 25-30 feet.” Dominique Hawkins is a great kid who came through for his team in a pressure packed situation. He deserves congratulations rather than dismissiveness.

      I think you have shown how much you are “just like Rick” by expressing how you’ve “grown tired of losing under ridiculous circumstances to a semi-pro team.” UofL and every other college in the country would take the extremely talented and great kids that Calipari has been able to sign if they could sign them. Therefore, I simply lol while shaking my head at both you and Pitino for feeling “disdain.” Pitino and his former assistant McGee are the only ones who have earned disdain with their personal behavior.

  4. If the CJ would pay $$$US for my self righteous musings, I’d be more than happy to oblige.

    Tell me, Counselor JGJ, are you pleased with the way RP is representing the school you love?

    Tired of Losing? Fashion a plan to Win The Game.

  5. It is difficult for a true fan to be objective.If as a fan one holds their beloved team to the highest of standards and is as much a fan of the game and the team and not just someone who blindly “roots for the team” honest criticism demonstrates high expectations. CD is only revealing his true desire for our Cards to actually play the game at the highest level and to the best of the team’s abilities. Recognizing faults while acknowledging strengths is the only way to “be the best that you can be” (footnote US Army). Social promotions don’t make Merit Scholars.
    The assessment of the Lexington game was honest. Stepping up to play against competitors with equal athletic skills for only the 2nd time this season had our players ill-prepared to compete. CD in fact did not dwell on his persistent criticism of the crullers, bear claws and cannoli’s that were sweet to devour but left us sluggish to chomp into crustier fare.

  6. Seedy, I always enjoy your stylish and clear-eyed analysis. Your love of Cardinal b-ball is obvious in your writing. My only “problem” with this piece is that you’re too easy on Pitino. Dear lord, when will this soap opera finally end? In spite of the 2013 championship, the damage to the Louisville program under Pitino’s watch continues to mount: the Sypher disgrace; the Chris Jones mess; the current Andre McGee saga; the atrocious and widely ridiculed early season schedules that have become an annual thing at Louisville and an insult to U of L ticket holders and a detriment to the program’s national brand… I’ll continue to say it: Pitino’s a brilliant coach, but a tiresome, thin-skinned drama queen. And the dickish, post-game disappearances after this season’s two difficult losses?!? He was once worth the trouble. But, no longer. Enough! Pitino needs to go.

    1. Now there is a valid, objective assessment by Blind Luck. Pitino has become an indefensible embarrassment to the University… and needs to go at the end of this season. As a UK fan and alum, as much as I enjoy beating the immature cry-baby every time we play UofL, as a UofL alum I want to see his embarrassing off court behavior removed.

  7. Schoolercat, I hope you’ll try to take it easy on other posters here during the coming year. We all enjoy college basketball, and we’re just expressing our opinions about a game. If you think someone’s wrong, tell us why, but I hope you’ll say it with love. Seedy’s blog has been a joy to read during 2015. The fans here know their basketball (certainly more than I do, anyway), and the back and forth is always a damn pleasure and often very funny. I stay away from the U of L and UK message boards because the discussions devolve so quickly into ugliness. I don’t mean to sound holier-than-thou. I look forward to hearing what you have to say during 2016. Peace and Happy New Year!!

    1. Hey Mr. Fusion, the entire UK fan base does not deserve to be flipped the bird any more than some jerks in the UofL fan base do.You are the type of online tiger that if we met face to face, I guarantee would not have the balls to say what you wrote to my face… for fear of a can of whoop ass.

  8. Gentlemen, gentlemen, let’s not turn this into a haterade commercial. I know all of you, with the exception of Mr. Fusion and Sack Suckler, and I know you to be reasonable folks, regardless of your allegiance.

    As for JGJoyner, well, there’s no helping that fellow. An old professional associate of mine, we tried to get him some expert psychological help, but, sigh, it simply didn’t take. He’s well aware of my allegiance, and he’d still give me grief, even if I posted a photo of me giving The Rick a toe manicure.

  9. I really care more about the football rivalry then the basketball rivalry. Why? Maybe because I’ve come to the realization that we won’t be winning in BB as long as it’s Rick vs. Cal..

    1. Seedy….i appreciate your attempts to be “fair and accurate”, but for any real Cardinal fan to have written your post game article indicates abject hatred for the Rick or that you may, in fact, be a Wildcat in red feathers.

      We all loved Denny, but i guaranty he played more fast and loose with the recruiting rules than Coach P ever thought about. Regardless of your feelings about his arrogance and hyperbole, I am proud of the young men he signs to represent MY team. I don’t want one and dones (but like this year’s done and ones).

      As for you UK fans who choose to believe Cal gets all these kids on the up and up…well, love is blind, I guess. Plus I got a bridge in Brooklyn you can buy on the cheap….

    2. Prescient observation, Birdie King. Believe me, we UK fans are tired of losing to the Cards in football. Fortunately, you haven’t seen our coach behave like a teenage sorw loser by flipping the bird at the opponent’s fans and skipping the post game press conference as a result of such frustration.

  10. don’t know brother…the idea about not setting up things and having a set play to end the game is kind of hard to actually state decisively..these aren’t pro teams…there is only a limited amount of time to practice set things and hey this was a good test AND he had a player who wanted the ball!!….lets see what happens later on….they are playing a zone also-the outside shots will be there if you show enough patience..Onuaku played the whole second half without a foul…he is getting better and learning…the finger salute was really a nothing but people choose to show it for what??..it sells media I guess…yeah Rick is far from perfect…but you know what-that game was fantastic except for the result and both teams are working towards March…so judging a coach and what he does is pretty early and highly subjective……lets see how these kids respond….the Kats were coming off a pretty bad loss,.so you can see they learned something…its a process…..

  11. JGJ, while I won’t own to “abject hatred” of The Rick, after all, he did coach my team to a national crown, I am long tired of his Drama Queen ways, his hot and cold personality, and his criticizing of his players in the media — though this year he hasn’t done it a lot. And while I’ll be the first to admit that Denny Crum lost his way the last few seasons he coached, he’d have drawn up a 12 second play that would have gotten a better shot at the end.

  12. We will agree to disagree about Rick, but Denny would have had a dunk in 12 seconds.

    All coaches have their strengths….Denny, best bench coach of all time; Rick, gets every drop out of each player—or they move on….your boy Cal—mastered the art of cheating in recruiting without being “caught”….tho he couldn’t coach a nun to say the rosary.

    I can’t believe you really believe that the recruiting process is on even ground…not even you could believe that…

  13. Crum Bum was one of the masters at getting good end of half, end of game shots. Rick is, in my humble opinion, one of the worst. Watching all his years at UK and here it’s always one guy dribbling the ball as the seconds tick away and then that guy shoots. It’s befuddling.

  14. Schoolercat, you have proven my point and also inserted a bit of irony in your point about posting jabs at one another. I’ll let you figure it out. Oh and Seedy, I’m being reasonable. I like a hard nose coach who doesn’t doesn’t just sulk into the locker room. He was upset with the outcome of the game and the fans that were most likely hurling insult after insult in his direction and he let them know, I say good for him.

    1. Sir, with all due respect, The Rick gets paid the big bucks to keep his stuff wired right, even in times of duress. And I cannot remember reading this wonderful post, and seeing so many comments fueled by hater-aid. But it’s Cards vs. Cayuts, so guess I’m not surprised.

      Funny thing is, neither team is among the elite this year.

    2. Mr. Fusion, some people will always say that the other has proven their point, no matter what has been written or said. That is what’s known as a confirmation bias.
      If you think you’re being reasonable, you probably think the same about the Donald’s hate-filled campaign comments and ‘d hate to see what it takes to risesto the level of unreasonable in your mind. There is nothing “hard nose(d)’ about Pitino’s post-game behavior. It was simply inappropriate and actually he did “sulk into the locker room” if you watch the video. The fact that he was “upset with the outcome of the game” and even IF “fans… were most likely hurling insult after insult in his direction” are not excuses for a 63 year old man who has been coaching at this level for 25+ years to behave like a petulant teenager. I say shame on him.

  15. Well, Hoya Destroya, thanks for having my back on one issue. But, I must disagree with your last statement. Both teams remain in the Top 20 in human and computer polls. Both teams have significant room to improve, and seem to be doing so, if in fits and starts. While I’m not predicting it, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or both made it to the Elite Eight or beyond. Which would make them, well, literally and figuratively, elite.

    1. Seedy, you know I respect your observations as much as anyone’s. And, yes, you make a good point. By Elite, I should have stated one of the five best; like Maryland, MSU or UVA. But I do concur with you on the fact that The Rick is obligated to attend post game pressers. And his sore loser mentality is setting a bad example to a lot of kids. And his team. Feeling that way doesn’t make me anti-Louisville.

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