Category Archives: Basketball

Cardinal Hoops Queries: The What Ifs?

Just musing about my beloved Louisville Cardinal hoopsters on a hot summer’s day.

What if Peck Hickman decided to stay at Valley High School?

What if UCLA had hired the coach who won that ’48 NAIB title, instead of the one who lost?

What if Hickman hadn’t been savvy enough to invite NIT decision maker Ned Irish to be the speaker at the annual banquet?

What if U of L didn’t conquer Evanston in ’59?

What if the Cards had beaten West Virginia and Cincy or Cal in the ’59 Final Four?

What if John Turner had netted that jumper against Ohio State in ’61?

What if Wes Unseld had gone to UK? Continue reading Cardinal Hoops Queries: The What Ifs?

A Modest Proposal: How to Play the Games

A tip of the cap to Jonathon Swift, whose modest proposal to feed fattened-up Irish street urchins to the rich was meant as satire.

Though, truth be told, the literati of 1729 might not have gotten the joke.

Well, the New Dark Age we live in 2020 is not a joke.

Indications are increasing that one of the pandemic’s casualties might be college sports. Just when our love for such would be a welcomed antidote to our malaise.

So, as admittedly farfetched as it might seem, my suggestion about the upcoming seasons of the two major sports of college athletics is meant to be serious.

Though the chances are improbable that the conference and NCAA muckety muck powers that be will listen to the musings of a scribe who would adopt the nom de plume Seedy K.

I’ll have at it anyhow.

Move collegiate football back.

Move collegiate basketball forward.

My reasons in no logical order: Continue reading A Modest Proposal: How to Play the Games

U of L Hoops ’09 Rewind: Season for a Shrink

Watching an ACC Network replay of  Louisville’s January ’09 come from behind W over then #1 Pitt in Freedom Hall, my mind meandered back to the day that roller coaster season drew its last breath at new Lucas Oil Stadium.

Indy’s been the situs of many Cardinal hoops moments, some to cherish, some not so much.

That day, despite it ending for me with a second delicioso meal at Shaprio’s, not so much.

But, looking back, it was fitting.

It had been the most cockamamie Cardinal campaign of the millennium. Ending with a whimper not a bang, given all we know now, was an appropriate denouement.

The end-of-regular-season AP #1 and top seeded U of L had battered Russ Pennell-coached Arizona two nights before like the Wildcats were Pikeville College in a November exhi. 103-64 was the final tally of the Cardinals’ 13th consecutive win.

As that emasculation unfolded, I recall thinking, “Save some for Sunday.” Continue reading U of L Hoops ’09 Rewind: Season for a Shrink

Cardinal Rewind: ’86 Memphis State

Spoiler Alert. Sorta. Oh, not really. 

Yes, duh, this is a consideration of the iconic U of L game when Milt Wagner netted two free throws with a tick left on the clock to steal the ’86 regular season finale from arch rival Memphis State. 

Any lifelong Cardinal fan born before the mid 1970s remembers the particular moment and most of the details of the joyous concluding seconds. 

But, until I watched a replay of the game yesterday for the first time, if someone were to have asked me what I remembered about the rest of the action, my answer would have been the same as Edwin Starr’s, when he was asked, “War, what is it good for?”

Absolutely nothing.

So, when I happened upon a full video yesterday, I settled in to watch. 

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First the details of the final sequence. Continue reading Cardinal Rewind: ’86 Memphis State

Remembering Jim Price

If my abacus is working properly, we’re talking about the fall of ’68.

Which would have been my second year of law school on the Belknap Campus.

One evening after dinner, I was shooting hoops with a classmate, on an outdoor court near the dorms. Milller Hall, maybe.

Walking toward us came heralded frosh, recruited from Male High, Henry Bacon, and another fellow, whom I assumed was a member of the Cards noteworthy freshman class, Jim Price.*

*The others in the class were Mike Lawhon, Larry Carter and Al Vilchek. Ron Thomas later transferred in, if memory serves, and became a key figure on the ’72 Final Four squad in Denny Crum’s first year. 

It was indeed Price from Indy, about whom I knew little.

They asked if they could shoot along? Duh. We didn’t play hard to get.

Then one of the Cards said, let’s play two on two. Continue reading Remembering Jim Price

That Darn Cardinal/ Cowboy Connection

As the kinda sorta somewhat hopeful somewhat sad connection between the Cards and the Cowboys dawned on me, my mind wandered back to the one game in the series with Oklahoma State I do recall.

And it’s not the one that showed recently on ESPN, of which I hadn’t the slightest memory.

It’s the ’93 tussle in the tourney in Indy.

And what poured forth immediately were gleeful memories of those great trips up the I65 to watch the Cards. Going husko gordo on pastrami and latkes at Shapiro’s, savoring the Cards in action, and returning to the deli for another cholesterol-loading repast post-game.

My immediate thought of that Okie State encounter was that it might have been the day the Professor and I dined at our favorite deli thrice. For breakfast. Then searching for tickets. Then, ducats secured, lunch. Then the games. Then dinner.

But realized that was another NCAA at the RCA Dome in ’89, when U of L beat a couple of Arkansas schools in the opening rounds to advance to the Regional.

Loved those games in Indy, the scene of several fond Cardinal moments. Those Big Four doubleheaders. ’80. The Regional in ’83. Feeding my need for real hard-crusted rye bread, Nova mit schmear, and a salami omelette.*

* If you’re wondering why I’m meandering through the past here, it’s a reasonable question. Who knows when those happy days will come again? Be grateful I didn’t muse on about why they tore down RCA Dome and built Lucas Oil, which might have led to a rant about the Pontiac Dome, perhaps the ugliest edifice ever constructed by man. 

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Which brings me to offer how ironic it is that Oklahoma State, just sent to time out by the NC2A, and the University of Louisville, also facing serious sanctions, are scheduled to meet in November in one of those made for TV early season matchups. Continue reading That Darn Cardinal/ Cowboy Connection

Just A Bit More About Westley

As I was out on my morning walk the day after learning of Wes Unseld’s passing — wearing my #31 throwback — I ran into my pal Bruce, a long time Cardinal fan.

We, of course, shared our sadness about Unseld. What I found interesting is that the specific game he remembered is the one I mentioned the other day, the Cincy game when Wes got in deep foul trouble in the 1st.* Bruce remembered four fouls in the first, and reminded me how Unseld, after intermission, would guard with hands by his sides and not move, with the Cards in a zone. Then when the shot would go up over him, he’d snare every rebound.

*I find it fascinating that, as much as we both love Unseld, and were locked in during his entire career at U of L, we both independently remembered the same game, and few moments from any other. 

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I read everything I could about Unseld on the interweb, and just wanted to pass on a few tidbits gleaned from other writers’ work and observations. Continue reading Just A Bit More About Westley

Remembering My Favorite Cardinal Ever

That young Westley Unseld would eventually become heralded Wes Unseld wasn’t so obvious at the beginning of his basketball career.

The tale is told of a conversation between Wes’s brother George, a baller of no small measure who played at Kansas, and Sol Mocerf, the father of Howard, another member of the ’60-’61 Seneca Redskin Freshman team.

While waiting to take their family members home after a practice one day, George is said to have offered, that he didn’t think “Wes was going to amount to much.”

Wes Unseld has acknowledged how his career was kickstarted under the guidance of Carl Wright, the former Eastern Kentucky Maroon, who coached Wes in those formative years.

As Howard Mocerf remembers, Wright worked with the young prodigy daily during practice at a side basket in Seneca’s gym. Shooting. Rebounding. Footwork.

“He’d wrap a football chinstrap around Wes’s hands, so he’d learn to hold the ball with his fingers, not in the palm.

“Wright worked his butt off.”

Still success didn’t come immediately. Continue reading Remembering My Favorite Cardinal Ever

Fan Moments VII: John Tong

Let’s place the blame for the current state of shrieking PA announcers at the source.

Famous Philly 76er mouth at the mic, Dave Zinkoff.

“Here’s Juuuuuulius Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrving!!!!”

As Louisville Cardinal fans who have been around for awhile know, It didn’t have to be like this in this age of “Who wants a Kroger t-shirt?”, and “ThreeeeeEEEEEEEEEE!!! by Whomever.”

Once upon a time, there was John Tong, inviting the assembled to the thrill and excitement of college basketball in Freedom Hall, adding allure to games at what still stands as one of the most iconic basketball venues in all the land. Continue reading Fan Moments VII: John Tong

The Bag Man, Concession Contention, Funereal Garb & Other Memphis State Memories

So, I’m standing in line at the concession stand at Mid South.

The Cards are about to take on their biggest rival Memphis State for the ’88 Metro Conference tourney crown.*

*Yeah, I know, Cats vs. Cards, Feather vs. Fur, yada yada, yada. In my lifetime, Memphis State, whom U of L has played 125 times, has been far and away the hugest rivalry. Period.

There’s a kid about ten or eleven next to me in line dressed in all Tiger, and we’re going back and forth, having fun with it. At some point, his mother walks up, notes the conversation, immediately grabs her son by the arm, pulls him away, and as they’re walking off, yells at him, “How many times have I told you, NEVER talk to a Louisville fan.”

It was not my only set-to of the day. Continue reading The Bag Man, Concession Contention, Funereal Garb & Other Memphis State Memories