This used to be the thing, right? The highlight of a winter’s week here in Hoopsylvania?
Saturday night B-ball.
Not so much what with The World Wide Leader taking over, and tilts on Friday afternoons and Sunday nights and noon and all points between.
So, what a treat. Pizza, tacos, burgers, a brewski or deux with the gang, then a date with the Cardinals at the Yum!.
Sure, the visitors were shorthanded. And, let’s be honest, not a very good basketball team. I mean Wake Forest has now lost 7 in a row now, nine of their last ten.
But still . . . when the Cards wreck a lot of havoc on some conference carpetbaggers, it’s always fun.
All of which is especially boffo when the good guys have a seven and a half minute stretch like last night over Danny Manning’s hapless Demon Deacons.
With 16:27 left the Cards were up 9 at 54-45. They had scored on 5 of their first six possessions after intermission, but had surrendered just as many as they had tallied. The Demon Deacs didn’t seem to be going away.
Or, Boom shaka laka laka boom shaka laka laka!!!, should you be a fan of Sly & his Family Stone.
There was Q’s Oh! My! Sportscenter Top Ten forty foot oop to Adel for the flush.
And DA’s nifty feed to VJ on a fast break for a deuce.
And a driving hook by Anas.
And four straight splashes at the line by Sutton.
And a trey by Darius.
Followed by another trey by Perry.
Then a turnaround J from VJ. Followed by a steal by VJ and a bullseye from Treytown. Followed by yet another VJ pilfer and a feed to McMahon to finish the break.
The house is rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.
(If I’m going to shout out Elton and Bernie and Sly, might as well come with the Stevie Ray.)
Most of that blizkrieg was executed by a lineup not seen much before: Mahmoud, Sutton, VJ, Perry and McMahon.
Yes, there was some bleeding at the end — a once 31 point advantage was whittled to 19 at the buzzer — but there was no buzz kill.
The Cardinal faithful headed into the depths of Saturday Night Date Night with smiles a time zone wide.
* * * * *
Good numbers and not so good numbers.
Good: Deng Adel had 4 assists. VJ King had 4 assists. (King was also 7/9 from the field, and played his best game of the season.) Jordan Nwora had 3 assists. The Cards had 20 on 36 made baskets.
Good: U of L scored 19 on fast breaks; the visitors only 5.
Good: Cardinal reserves tallied 42; while the visitors’ pine timers only scored 15.
Good: U of L was 14/17 from the charity stripe.
Good: The Cards were 36/71 from the field, including 10/25 from beyond the arc.
Good: Louisville, in a fast paced game, only coughed the rock up 7 times, while forcing 20 turnovers by the vanquished. 12 steals. Nice.
Good: Ten Cardinals played double digit minutes. None played more than 25.
Not so good: Wake had 21 second chance points; the Cardinals only three. Not so good at all.
So, yeah, there was way more to be happy about than not, despite the reality of Wake’s ineptitude. But rebounding remains an issue.
If the Cards pressure continues to be successful, that lack of presence on the boards is somewhat counterbalanced.
We’ll find out soon enough . . .
* * * * *
. . . because a visit to Charlottesville to play the first best or second best or third best team in the land is dead ahead.
The Cavaliers’ pack line defense is stifling, discombobulating and, if your team isn’t the one trying to score against it, a wonder to watch.
Plus it is set up to especially thwart teams like the Cardinals, which use a lot of high ball screens and aren’t especially deft at moving the rock to open shooters. Which, frankly, there are very few when the Wahoos are the ones doing the defending.
Louisville sits alone in 2d place one game short of halfway through the ACC league schedule. That’s obviously to be savored. Buuuuuuuuuuuut, the Cardinals league slate is back loaded. Besides Wednesday’s sojourn to the Land of Jefferson and a visit to Steeltown, trips await to Duke, feisty Virginia Tech and NC State, which has four quality Ws on its resumé (Arizona, Duke, Clemson & the Tar Heels).
Maintaining home court advantage against Carolina, the Seminoles, Orange, and Ramblin’ Wreck is imperative. A takedown of UVa, when they visit would be magnifico. (Remember the Cards are only an improbable Mango Mathiang J from going ofer Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers.)
Louisville has been steady. The Cards have beaten everybody they’re supposed to. It’s time to consistently start closing out the ones they’re not.
— Seedy K