Louisville CardFile: North Carolina State

Given the manner of U of L’s 77-57 W over NC State in Raleigh, I’m thinking of a conversation in a thread recently among the commentariat at cardchronicle.com, where I post these game recap communiqués in tandem with my own site, seedyksports.com.

It was during a period when Ryan McMahon hadn’t been a major contributor for several games in a row, spending more time on the pine while David Johnson was emerging.

I offered that, though he’ll always provide a mature, steadying presence on and off the court, as Chris Mack underscored during his postgame comments Saturday, the nature of McMahon’s game and his talents are such that he can’t be depended upon consistently game in and game out on the hardwood.

But . . . and it’s a significant and joyous but . . . there will be times, I offered, when he’ll come in and change a game midcourse with his shooting.

I was upset that I hadn’t used a term later thought of for such interludes, but wrote it down to interject when appropriate.

Ladies and gentlemen, what we witnessed against State was the McFlurry. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: North Carolina State

Louisville CardFile: Boston College

During the Chris Mack Era, U of L has had a periodic celebrity courtside guest.

Assistant coach Luke Murray’s dad.

I mean, you know, Bill Murray is Bill Murray, right? Buster of Ghosts. Scarlett Johansson whisperer. Looper for the Lama. A cool presence.

All that said, and it’s most cool having Carl Spackler in the house for a Cards game, but with all due respect, it’s time for a change.

We need Danny Ainge courtside every game.

Because . . . and do I really need to spell it out for you . . . because the Cardinals alpha dog Jordan Nwora looked over during warmups, saw Ainge, and surely said to himself something like, “Hmmm, the Celtics GM is in the house, must have come to watch me play. OK, Danny, you want to see what I got? Here it comes.”

Nwora was, as it is said, en fuego from the get go.

At both ends, lest we overlook his hustling effort on defense.

How to put in perspective the giddy overwhelmingness of his offensive show? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Boston College

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Some Sorting Out Begins

Schadenfreude is a fickle mistress.

What happens when you find yourself giving props to your archest of rivals, whose defeats are usually an excuse for snacking on a half gallon of Greaeter’s. Last Saturday found me in that exact situation.

As most around here know, I’m a lifelong Louisville Cardinal diehard. It’s well past a half century on now.

Which means, generally speaking, losses by the Memphis State Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats are cherished. They both balled the other day while I was still high from the Cards smackdown of Clemson in the Yum!.

Memphis State’s battle prior to SMU on Saturday was anything but. They were doubled up upon by the the Golden Hurricane(s) of Tulsa. Literally. As in the Tigers of Allied Van Lines Coach of the Year Penny Hardaway 40, Frank Haith’s contingent 80.

It made me so sad. Ha, as if.

In their follow up, State had the Southern Methodist Mustangs in check. Until the Dana Kirks spit out the bit, surrendering 15 points in a row to end the game, losing 70-74. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Some Sorting Out Begins

Louisville CardFile: Clemson

The above image of the Sports Illustrated ’74-’75 preseason basketball issue heralds that season’s projected #1 Louisville Cardinals, who were honored at halftime of Saturday afternoon’s victory over Clemson. (At least until we get a Cease and Desist order from SI’s attorneys, and have to remove it.)

During his Friday pregame press conference, Chris Mack spent a majority of the opening moments extolling the virtues of the Tigers’ playmaking pivot Aamir Simms, emphasizing what a rigorous matchup problem the undersized center would be.

At 14.4 ppg coming in to Saturday afternoon’s battle in the Yum!, Simms leads Clemson in scoring. Same for rebounding at 7.7 rpg. While dishing out two and half assists a game, many when stationed out high and hitting backdoor cutters and guys off slip screens.

Mack’s concern was palpable and legit. He indicated it was going to have to be heady, mature, knowing defense that might thwart Simms.

Then he was asked the status of Malik Williams, who tweaked a knee in the Georgia Tech win, and advised the Cards’ energizer big was “day to day.”

At which point, I asked, if it would be fair to assume Aidan Igehan might see more action than he has recently, if Williams wasn’t available? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson

Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

“You’ve got to have a healthy respect for your opponent.”

Denny Crum said that.

“It’s great to win when you play like you left your game on a bus in Durham.”

I said that.

“When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.”

Bob Dylan said that.

So, soon after they switched out of an ill defined zone into man to man, and grabbed the lead, 12-11 at 15:19 of the 1st, soon pushed it out to five, 8-10, KenPom #96 Georgia Tech realized it had nothing to lose, and played free and easy. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Another Week More Curioser than the Last

OK, so Silvio DeSousa, already viewed by the NC2A powers that be with jaundiced eye, gets in touch with his inner Ron Artest, and ignites a literally last second brawl in a 21 point beatdown of K State in the Phog, that spills over into the handicapped seating area.

Louisville, a team that couldn’t close the door behind them previously, was named NABC Team o’ the Week after closing three league games in a row in strong fashion on the road.

Gonzaga won a couple of conference games by 50 and 33, and lost the top spot in the AP poll to a school, where it was not so long ago when one player murdered a teammate.

Ohio State just a few weeks ago was poised to take over the top spot in the polls, and has proceeded to lose 5 of its last six.

Rutgers and Illinois are in the Top 25.

San Diego State is the last school in the land without a loss.

Leonard Hamilton is the coach of the current best team in the ACC.

Four Ivy League teams are still undefeated in conference play in what might be a multi-bid league.

John Calipari got kicked out of game from which he’d already thought he’d been ejected. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Another Week More Curioser than the Last

Louisville CardFile: Duke

Have you ever taken notice of the difference between Coach K in the post game handshake line after a Blue Devil victory, and Mike Krzyzewski in the post game handshake line after Duke is vanquished?

Well, being an obsessive observer of all matters hoops — I’m an unrecovering hoopaholic, you know — and enjoying every Duke L as much as the next fellow, I have observed the habits.

When Duke wins, he’s head up, and patronizingly pats the losing players on their chest as he offers his commiserations. When Duke falls, he’s head down, perfunctory handshakes followed by a strident scurry to the locker room.

Did we savor the latter Saturday evening after Louisville won at Cameron Indoor for the first time since the ’83 Final Four squad schooled Jay Bilas and his cohorts, 91-76, or what?

Or what!!!!

 * * * * *

There are any number of blissful storylines to this huge Cardinal victory, its third in a row during a telling week on the road in the ACC.

The Cardinals’ Killer D.

A Star is born on the most improbable stage.

Resilience.

All those mournful , quieted Crazies who had to trundle back to their dorms in the chill, and then spend Saturday night cleaning off the blue greasepaint.

But I want to start with U of L’s “other” PG Star of the win. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Duke

Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Though metaphorically bleeding for the last eight minutes and eleven seconds of a bruising battle, the U of L Cardinals persevered to prevail 73-68 at Pitt.

I don’t know if it’s all happening at the Oakland Zoo, whether the orangutans are indeed skeptical of changes in the their cages, but I do believe this is true. Cards hung tough and won again on the road in the ACC.

With 3:11 to play in regulation, Pitt’s Justin Champagnie retrieved a missed Xavier Johnson three, then the ball got to Trey McGowens who banked in a second chance long ball for a 61-54 lead.

“DAGGER,” I noted in all caps.

Thus the mention of blood flow in the lede. (It’s a push, but work with me here.) Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Who Wants It? Who’s Got It?

News Flash: It’s a wacky college basketball season!

Oh really, I hadn’t noticed.

Trying to sort through the craziness to present to ye my fellow hoopaholics, the most furschlunginer example of What’s-Goin’-On- Here? is a far from easy task. I mean hardwoods across this great and wonderful land of ours are starting to warp from the ups and downs of teams playing on them.

Here’s just a recent example from Saturday.

(A more recent strangeness actually came Sunday in East Lafayette where the 7 loss Purdue Boilermakers crushed Sparty, handing Tom Izzo’s squad the school’s worse loss ever as a Top 10 team. 71-42. State had won 8 in a row.)

But, let’s talk about what 7 loss Syracuse did in that arena named for Led Zeppelin’s bass player against the team which has annually had the best defense in the land, at least since James Naismith speeded up his new game by cutting out the bottoms of the his peach baskets.

Yes, Jim Boeheim’s Orange did upend the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers. It was obviously their day when Son o’ Jim Buddy Boeheim drained a shot clock Hail Mary as a dagger with a minute and a half to play in OT.

But, it’s not the 63-55 W that’s the most astonishing, nor really ‘Cuse’s point total, 15 more than UVa usually surrenders.

It’s that Syracuse scored 20 during the five minute extra period, after tallying only 19 in the 2d half. Whaaaaat???

I mean it’s like Naismithius sent his helpers to spike the vats at the Gatorade plant with LSD. The season unfolding is nigh hallucinatory.

You got a more reasoned explanation? Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Who Wants It? Who’s Got It?

Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame

In the confusing aftermath of Louisville’s 67-64 hang-on-by-the-hair-of-their-chinny-chin-chin escape at Notre Dame, I had two questions for myself.

I brought in whisper counsels Smart Guy and Doc, but, as it always is with such matters, one must finally decide for himself how he really feels about matters of import.

Question #1: Can I as a Cardinal fan really feel good, feel satisfied with this this W?

U of L was up by as many as 16 in the 1st, leading 30-16 with 5:29 to complete before halftime. Notre Dame started to pull back in it, one time scoring on an inbounds play while Coach Mack was calling out the play the Irish would run from the sidelines, and his players still allowed the easy tally.

Despite a two minute drought heading to the locker room, the lead was still a dozen at 36-24. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame