Less fueled than normal for an early noon tip against ACC cellar dweller Boston College, the Yum! crowd was nonetheless more raucous than usual. Displaying to the Cards’ done&one leading scorer that they indeed have his back, a standing O ensued.
6:32 after the real tip, Donovan Mitchell drained a trey. The Cards led 19-2. Walk on Jay Henderson, who had garnered but 18 minutes of mop up duty on the season, joined the fray moments later.
By then, Boston College had already committed six turnovers. Sitting next to me, Ed Peak wondered aloud, “Could Bellarmine beat these guys?”
Meanwhile, I’m thinking the Eagles might actually be the worst team U of L has played.
At which point, I got a phone message from The Professor, sitting across the arena, “This is the worst team Louisville has played all year.”
I was checking the record to see if the Cards might approach their largest halftime advantage of the season, 61-30 over Grand Canyon?
Of course, as was inevitable, matters settled a bit. U of L’s advantage at the break was 18, 32-14.
U of L lost some focus after the break. BC once cut its deficit to nine. But withered in the face of the inevitable. Louisville, vastly superior, provoked by adversity, nourished by controversy, dominated.
Louisville 79, Boston College 47.
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The possibility of such stature having been confirmed by the league office, a regular season ACC title would be a significant accomplishment for this inexperienced, still improving band of Cardinals.
Given that excursions to Durham, South Bend, Iron City, Coral Gables and the Land of Jefferson lay ahead, not to mention exams at home against the Orange, Krzyzewskis and Ramblin’ Wreck, such a championship is a daunting goal.
But, if attained, would be a fulfillment of major significance.1
When asked by the C-J if he thought U of L was the best team in the league, sophomore forward Jaylen Johnson answered, “I feel we are worthy of calling ourselves the best team in the nation.”
I like that attitude.
The worthy goal of a regular season conference crown may be beside the point. In many regards, U of L is now playing for next year.
* * * * *
So, my major focus here shall be on the development of the young Cards who will be back next season, for hopefully a legit run at the national crown.
Of the rookies, Donovan Mitchell and Ray Spalding have already had games earlier in the campaign that confirmed their potential.
Yesterday, Mitchell scored ten and dished out three assists in 20 minutes of error free action.
Spalding had 7 points and 7 boards.
Finally breaking the barriers that impede early play of most neophytes, Deng Adel flashed the panache Cardinal fans have been waiting for. Getting the most PT of any Cardinal, Adel tallied 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds. Playing with confidence, he also had four assists and two steals.
He led the Cards with a +/- of +36.
* * * * *
Two questions nag, both regarding Cardinal bigs.
Will Chinanu Onuaku, who had another sparkling stat line against BC, stick around for another season — or more — in red and black?
Now that we know there will be no Dance for the Cards, will Mangok Mathiang take extra time to make sure his broken foot is fully healed, not rush back into action, and perhaps consider asking the NCAA for an additional injury hardship season?
* * * * *
No, before you ask, I know nothing more than has been reported elsewhere about the back room decision making that led to U of L’s controversial self imposed post season ban.
While most of the Cardinal fan anger had been directed toward university president James Ramsey, thought to be the decision maker, it turns out, according to Rick Pitino, it was AD Tom Jurich who made the tough call.
It has been obvious that The Rick was not on board with that decision, yet he certainly proved his PR acumen yesterday. He backed Jurich and Ramsey without equivocation, even though it was obvious from body language at Friday’s press conference that the coach and prexy are at odds.
He suggested sanctions the NCAA could level in the future that wouldn’t adversely affect student athletes uninvolved in an proven violations, or the fans.
Fine the school. Fine the coach. He even suggested taking half a mentor’s salary.
Of course, in Pitino’s case, that would leave him with about $2.5 million take home, minus withholding and contribution to the Social Security fund. Leaving him just enough to meet the mortgages on his home(s), his haberdashery budget with enough change left over to afford some baloney and mayo on white bread for dinner.
* * * * *
U of L’s mettle and road worthiness shall be tested this week.
Duke on Monday at Cameron Indoor.
Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday in front of Digger, and the ever watchful gaze of TD Jesus.
— Seedy K