Though it might sound too dramatic, it is frankly not too hyperbolic to say that Jordan Nwora’s focused, intuitive, game-rescuing block of Marcquise Reed’s floater just before the buzzer Saturday afternoon at the Yum! saved the season for the University of Louisville Cardinals.
There is the macro view. One doesn’t need to impose a Jungian Archetype Test to realize how fragile the psyche of some of this band of Cardinals might be. Most of these guys signed on to play for a two-time national champion HoF coach, at a three time national championship program riding high, to play in front of a packed house every game in the World’s Most Whatever Arena.
Now these not yet adults are two coaches, a scandal, a title, and a fractured fanbase removed from what they expected.
Resilient as these young athletes may be, it has to wear.
The micro view. This inarguably overachieving bunch of U of L Cards has failed to hold on to leads late on several occasions. It happened early in the season. It happened most famously the last time out with the whole hoops world watching.
After thirty nine minutes of slogfest — both teams played stultifying defense — the Cardinals appeared clear of Clemson with :17 to play, after a Steven Enoch FT pushed the margin to a three score advantage at 56-49. But a trey by the aforementioned Reed, a mental turnover by Dwayne Sutton and another three by Reed and the Cardinals were treading precariously on quicksand.
The specter of Duke and UVa filled the arena. Would this be disappointing deja vu all over again? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson
There are Cardinal losses through the decades that have caused me to be as despondent as I was last night when scurrying, head down, out of the Yum!. None more so.
U.S. Reed. SMU in the ’67 Regional Semis. UVa last season.
And the MF of them all, as I, dazed and confused, trundled through the diesel fumes and idling buses outside the arena in San Diego, after a date with the Cats for the national crown was lost to UCLA.
So, I had no words. And so reported.
A fitful night of tossing and turning. Morning sunshine and a blessedly cloudless sky. A long workout to sweat out the toxins. My regular Wednesday lunch with a couple pals. Some laughs. And my tongue has unlocked. I need now to reflect on the wreckage.
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What I must remember most is the reality of how flawed this team is. Continue reading Sifting through the Detritus after Duke
Late on weekday afternoons during hoops season on ESPNU, they show replays. Sometimes from games the night before, or from the previous weekend. Sometimes classics from the past.
On Monday, in advance of UVa’s bounceback W in Chapel Hill, the station showed a couple of Cavalier/ Tar Heels battles from yesteryear. Which I found both fascinating and telling, fostering memories.
The first was an ACC tourney semi from ’91.
Kentuckian Jeff Jones, then the youngest coach in the land, was leading the Wahoos. Rick Fox and King Rice were ballin’ for Dean Smith. The three point line was that short one they used in its early days.
They cut to the studio for an update from the SEC tourney. John Saunders sidekick was a fella named Rick Pitino with a full head of hair between coaching stops. They chatted briefly about whether Allen Houston, then playing for his dad at Tennessee, would leave early for the NBA.
The play by play and color guys were Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale. Continue reading Tuesday’s Hoop Dee Doo
The very beginning of the tilt was, one realizes in retrospect, a harbinger of what was to come Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee.
State got the tip. U of L stalwart Dwayne Sutton stole the ball from MJ Walker.
Sutton then traveled, turning the ball back over to the home team.
It was U of L’s first turnover of the game. The Cardinals would commit 22 more.
It was Florida State’s first turnover of the game. The Seminoles would commit but 7 more.
Off of those 23 Cardinal here-you-take-its, State tallied 32 points.
Off of those 8 Seminole giveaways, U of L scored 5 points.
So painful is to consider, I’ll allow my readers to do the math themselves. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Florida State
Louisville had been leading from the get go in Blacksburg against the favorite Virginia Tech team, which like several recent Cardinal opponents was minus its point guard, but the higher ranked Hokies were closing in midway through the 2d.
Enigmatic Jordan Nwora missed a point blank shot on an inbounds play — He’d missed from in close twice earlier on fast breaks — then he threw away a bad pass on a set play to an open Ryan McMahon cutting underneath. Which gaffe led to a Hokie trey. VT’s 7-0 run cut the Cardinals double digit lead to just 3 at 41-38.
On the ensuing trip up court, McMahon was fouled attempting a bomb, setting up three charity tosses he’d take after the 11:35 media timeout. So disturbed was Chris Mack with his leading scorer’s lackadaisical focus, he actually subbed VJ King, an unusual 2d half insertion.
McMahon drained the trio of FTs, setting up an interlude Cardinal fans have been waiting for since Dickie V convinced The Rick that this unrecruited, short, relatively lead-footed, tow-headed Floridian hoopster could play at a big time school. An interlude the Red & Black Faithful knew/ prayed would come after experiencing the kid’s long range marksmanship, that Ryan McMahon would morph into Ryan McMoney, that he would rain treys on some not ready for the thunderstorm foe and turn a game from grim to win. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech
This disappointing Cardinal loss in microcosm:
Down 19 late in the 1st, Christen Cunningham drove for a layup with a minute or so to play, and was fouled. He missed the +1, which would have whittled the Tar Heels enormous margin even further.
After empty possessions by each side, CC again got the ball into the paint for layin, again was fouled, and this time converted the charity toss.
Then still down by a significant but more overcomeable 14, all the Cardinals needed was a stop to go into halftime with a little mo.
Instead Nassir Little followed Luke Maye’s miss for a deuce at the buzzer.
It was Carolina’s 7th offensive board of the half, their 7th and 8th second chance points of the half, and their 23d and 24th points in the paint of the half.
Underscoring how underwhelming Louisville’s effort was in the opening stanza, are these comparative stats. U of L had 0 (as in ZERO) offensive rebounds before the break. Thus no second chance points. The Cards total of 12 rebounds was 16 less than the Tar Heels 28. U of L was -8 in the paint. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: North Carolina
Unlike their encounter last season in Storrs, when the Louisville Cardinals fell behind the Huskies 19 zed, Jeff Walz’s team was up to the task last night in front of a huge, raucous crowd at the Yum!. The battle was knotted 21 all after the 1st, during which U of L ace Asia Durr had clanked her four FG attempts, netting none.
Crystal Dangerfield’s trey hoisted the rarely denied Huskies into a single digit advantage early in the 2d.
At which juncture, it must be assumed Ms. Durr decided “enough is enough.”
Fourteen seconds later, smothered by two taller defenders beyond the arc at the left FT line extended, Durr somehow launched a bomb that bullseyed. 26-24.
A half minute later to the nanosecond, she drained another three. 29-24.
A minute later, it was again string music Louisville, Kentucky. 32-24.
The interlude was redolent of Tonight’s the Night for the Cardinals.
And so it came to pass. Increasing its margin in the 2d, then the 3d and in the 4th, the University of Louisville and Jeff Walz are no longer ofer UConn.
78-69. Continue reading Reflections of a Gem: Cards conquer UConn
The Louisville Cardinals did what previous experience this season projected they should do last night.
Against a woeful Wake Forest Demon Deacon contingent, in front of a sadly empty arena in chilly Winston Salem, the red-clad Cards never trailed, led by 23 at the half, had the Deacs measured by as many as 35 midway through the second, overcame some late game slippage that had Chris Mack none too pleased during his brief Raycom postgame Q&A, and headed back to the Ville an 82-54 victor.
Goodbye Avalanche Gulch. Hello Khumbu Icefall.
Yes, I’m coming with the mountain climbing analogies.
According to Ken Pomeroy, who I along with every other erstwhile hoops pundit quotes too much, Louisville has faced the easiest ACC schedule thus far. The Cards have negotiated it in grand fashion, sitting this frigid last day of January atop the conference with Duke and UVa. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Wake Forest
With the arrival Saturday afternoon in the Yum! of Pittsburgh Part Deux, it was time for the Louisville Cardinals to get proverbial.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Or, as inarticulated by a former president, and this version may apply only in Texas or Tennessee: Fool me once . . . shame on, shame on you . . . fool me . . . you can’t get fooled again.
The Cards indeed remembered what went down a couple of weeks back in the Oakland Zoo, and were not about to abide a rerun.
That night in Steel City, precocious Panther guards Trey McGowens (33) and Xavier Johnson (21) drove to the hoop time after time after time with impunity, and many times unmolested, combining for 54 points. Pitt blindsided the Cards that evening, for its first league win since the Steel Curtain was a thing.
Cue The Who, Panthers, the Cards won’t get fooled again.
66-51, in favor of the good guys, was the final. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh