Category Archives: Basketball

Louisville CardFile: Northern Kentucky

At intermission, after two quarters when the Louisville Cardinals did little to hide their disdain for playing this NIT game, I ran into a couple I know, outliers amidst the spate of fresh-faced faithful who had filled the lower bowl of the Yum! to cheer on their beleaguered team.

The twosome were big Card fans, and among the few big donor season ticket holders, who chose to continue their support for their squad playing in “the other tournament.”

Yet, when I chatted them up, they were heading toward the exit. They had seen enough.

“We just can’t take it. If the team doesn’t want to be here, we can’t watch.”

Normally I would have morphed into inner scolding parent mode. But didn’t. I understood.

The Cards had sleepwalked through the opening two periods like they really would have rather been under the watchful eyes of a tutor at the Center for Studies and Excellence or whatever that new place is called, boning up for an exam in Advanced Molecular Computer Biometrology.

Playing as if they could give a shit, they trailed the truly mediocre Norse by seven, 23-30. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Northern Kentucky

Louisville CardFile: Virginia

Let me get this out of the way at the start.

Because my heart aches, and my fingers hurt just typing these thoughts on the keypad.

As my much as I pray I am wrong, I don’t believe my dear Louisville Cardinals will be chosen to play in the NCAA tournament.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, frankly, the Cards didn’t earn their way in.

Nothing would make me happier than being proven wrong. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia

Louisville CardFile: Florida State

Cardinal hoops fans, for obvious reasons are pumped.

Against the Seminoles, U of L came out focused, intense, and smokin’ at both ends of the court “in a game they had to win.” Later on, they did bend but didn’t break when the Seminoles started raining treys down the stretch, and the Cardinals got a might wobbly.

If the faithful believe the Big Dance projections of the World Wide Leader placing the Cards chances at 100% — I guess they didn’t see the Virginia game — they’re probably breathing easier. I don’t, and remain on Tums alert, but that’s of no consequence.

Louisville is in better shape now than when we awoke this morning.

So, there’s lots to talk about, stick with me here, the whys and wherefores shall become apparent.

But I’m going to start with seriously tanned Tom Crean, who appears to be in training for the George Hamilton Cocoa Butter Open. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Florida State

Louisville CardFile: NC State

Slip slidin’ away/ Slip slidin’ away/ You know the nearer your destination/ The more you’re slip slidin’ away

There’s more to my invocation of Paul Simon’s lyrics than the obvious, the stark reality that notwithstanding Joe Lunardi’s projected hard to believe inclusion, U of L’s participation in the NCAA tournament is now a long shot.

There’s also the imperative that diehard Cardinal fans, like myself and most who shall read this, are wise to grab ahold of whatever else they can to move beyond the unfathomable disappointments of the last months.

Part of what I do is rock & roll. So, in the aftermath of Thursday’s numbing meltdown, I completed plans for my annual trek next month to New Orleans Jazz Fest, and scored tickets to Simon’s last American concert ever this coming June in Nashville.

I need the anticipation, the escape from depression that the UVa giveaway brought, as well as confirmation that there’s more to life than U of L hoops.

I have often joked that I’m too long in years to allow my personal well being to be dictated by the hardwood fortunes (or misfortunes) of teenaged hoopsters. Yet, I’ve never fully been able to move on.

I keep trying. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: NC State

Louisville CardFile: Virginia

If you are looking for a breakdown, an analysis of how the outcome might have been different, what the University of Louisville Cardinals could have done or didn’t do to allow this one to slip away, you will have to keep searching.

I haven’t looked at my game notes.

I haven’t visited the box score or play by play.

I didn’t listen to or read the transcription of any of the post game interviews.

I surely haven’t watched the replay.

This one simply hurts too much.

For me this loss is purgatorial.

This morning after it screeches inside, gnawing at my soul. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia

Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech

So, before the game, Doc, SmartGuy and I are sitting around, fidgeting nervously, lamenting the state of the Cardinals, arguing about this and that before tip.

Among the topics bantered around was the assistant coaches.

Without access to practices, and little empirical observation, we wondered how much input they have, who might be responsible for what, etc, etc?

During the conversation, I brought up Trent Johnson, a fellow whose career resumé is lengthy but not especially noteworthy, noting how he doesn’t seem to coach much during the games, sitting as he seems to do at David Padgett’s side with a dour expression, like he’s constipated or something.

But now that we have learned he’s become a Ralph Willard-style whisperer, I feel compelled to apologize for my negativitude.

For we know it was Johnson who sagely urged Padgett to start Dwayne Sutton in Blacksburg. (As Ralph Willard urged Rick Pitino to sign, then not run off Russ Smith, changing the course of the Cards; Trent Johnson may have done the same somewhat similarly getting Padgett to insert Sutton as a starter.)

The DuPont Manual grad’s thirty six minutes on the hardwood, 17 points, 11 rebounds, relentless, dare I say tenacious D, and an explosion of a season’s worth of pent up pine time hustle were undeniably the catalyst for the Cardinals’ most intense performance of the campaign.

His high motor revved redline all game. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech

Louisville CardFile: Duke

There is of course a scintilla of hope, the aspiration that this put upon band of Cardinals can muster a rally in the next two weeks and salvage a season rapidly unraveling.

Yet, for some eery reason, it seems that midway through the opening half last night at Cameron Indoor, the winters of discontent facing U of L basketball descended earlier than expected.

U of L was hanging with an obviously superior Blue Devil squad. The Cards were patient on offense, getting the ball into the middle of the zone, sticking to a game plan that was based on going high/low.

They had overcome early jitters — turnovers on two of their first three possessions — and were hanging tough at both ends, behind only 15-16.

Grayson Allen — a consummate college basketball player whatever you might think of him — netted one of his six treys.

Then Deng Adel, as he’s wont to do, drove into No Man’s Land in the paint, where he remained in stasis after attempting to get the ball to a teammate. Three second call.

David Padgett rotated in Jordan Nwora and Malik Williams during a timeout. The rookies, lynchpins of the Cardinals’ increasingly bleak near future, appeared bewildered by the environment. In a blink, U of L lost contact, was down eleven before the interim coach could reinsert some experience.

From then on, Duke scored essentially at will. From beyond the arc, from which distance they drained nine. From point blank range, where they flushed, what, 13, 14, 15 dunks. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Duke

Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

Prepare yourselves, Cardinal fans.

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team is on a collision course with the most dreaded initials in college hoops.


Time isn’t really a variable. The date of Selection Doomsday is a known.

I watched a lot of ball on Saturday. Though I am weary of viewing games, while trying to figure out which teams to root for and against so as to increase the Cards chances of sneaking into the Dance, I took the measure of all I saw.

Syracuse. Miami. Texas. Oklahoma. Alabama. Kentucky. Auburn. South Carolina. Villanova. Xavier. West Virginia. Kansas. Indiana. Michigan State. Northwestern.

Using the well worn measuring stick we are wont to trot out — How many would your team win if the schools played ten times? — the only one of those outfits I believe the Cards would beat more often than not would be Chris Collins’ Wildcats. And they’ll be spending the post season catching up on school work in Evanston.

Attribute Louisville’s diminished station in the hierarchy of the winter pastime we love so very very much upon the scapegoat of your choice. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

The time is now for the Louisville Cardinals.

Not that a 34 point victory in the conference on the road, even against one of the worst teams in the history of a Power 5 league, isn’t worthy of some consideration. After all. . .

. . . it came with Deng Adel watching again in sweats. With Ray Spalding committing his first foul 14 seconds in. With the Cards up 35 with 7:28 to play, and only giving away a digit off that margin at the final buzzer, while playing everyone at the end of the bench except Vinny Tatum.

In the heart of the game, Pitt — oh my, what a woeful contingent Kevin Stallings has fashioned — went 11:59 without a field goal.

So, as ready and energized as U of L was, I’m disinclined to hold this game in much store.

But I’ll get to all that in a bit. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

We all have favorites; we the faithful who pray at the Basilica of the Cardinals.

Favorite games. Favorite players. Favorite seasons.

Even favorite plays. I know I do.

One of mine came in the game that was a harbinger of U of L’s first title and the program’s success that was to come in the seasons that followed.

12/19/80. Cardinals 75, #2 Ohio State 65.

The good guys rattled the stunned Buckeyes early on with that intense, disruptive full court press Denny Crum brought with him from UCLA. Discombobulated, the visitors had trouble getting into their offense, getting the ball past midcourt.

At one point a Buckeye tried to pass the ball from backcourt past the center stripe to a teammate in the corner forty plus feet away. Derek Smith, with his long arms and huge hands, was checking that guy with the ball from about five feet away.

As the befuddled visitor attempted to hurl the rock over Smith’s head, the Cardinal guard, like a Venus Fly Trap snaring an unsuspecting visitor buzzing close by, reached up and snared the rock, firing it to a teammate streaking toward the hoop for an easy deuce.

Which memorable moment of Cardinal hoops history flashbacked last evening at the 11:03 mark of the opening stanza of U of L’s workmanlike dismantlement of the hapless Ramblin’ Wreck. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech