Tag Archives: College Hoops

Cards on the 9s: Unexceptional Campaign is Pervis’ Farewell

This is the fourth in a series of remembrances of past Cardinal hoops seasons in years ending in 9.

So when I pitched Glorious Editor on the idea of this series, three campaigns of significance came to mind.

’59, when the Cards gained a toehold in the nation’s consciousness. ’79, the season before The Season. And ’09, when there was all sorts of stuff undermining the team we only learned about after the fact.

Some of the other campaigns, upon further examination, turned out to be, well, meh. Nothing, as we say, to write home about.

Like ’88-’89, which opened with an unexpected L to Xavier, denying the Cards and fans a Thanksgiving trip to the Big Apple, and ended abruptly with a 14 point loss to #3 Illinois in the Regional Semi.

In between there were some highlights. At one juncture, after 14 straight victories in December and January, including a 22 point beatdown of UK, and triumphs over Top 20 Georgia Tech and UNLV, Louisville was ranked in the Top 5. Yet the Cards faltered in February, going 5-4. (More on that free fall in a bit.)

Most of all, the campaign shall be remembered by most simply as the last go round for Pervis Ellison, a national champion, Final Four MOP as a rookie,  an unequivocal Cardinal great, and first pick in the ’89 NBA draft. But a fellow who never really became an endearing fan favorite. Continue reading Cards on the 9s: Unexceptional Campaign is Pervis’ Farewell

Cards on the 9s: ’79 ends with Too Little Too Late

(Third in a series of remembrances of U of L basketball seasons, from years ending in 9. Next: ’89.)

The 1978-79 season, despite the 24 wins against only 8 losses, never found a groove.

It was, to coin a phrase, a winter of discontent.

For the team, especially leader Darrell Griffith.

For Coach Denny Crum.

For the fan base, growing restless.

For the third season in a row, Darrell & Bobby (Turner), local legends since their early teen days at DuValle Jr. High and exploits for Chocolate City in the Dirt Bowl as prepsters, failed to meet heightened expectations. Wunderkind mentor Crum had led the Cards to the Final Four in his rookie season, again in ’75, and the arrival of that duo had the fan base frothing at the mouth in anticipation of more better success.

U of L lost 4 of its final 6 in ’76. Anticipation notwithstanding, the arrival of the wunderkinds didn’t immediately help. The ’77 campaign ended with 5 Ls in the last 8 games; ’78 with an OT defeat to Dave Corzine and DePaul in the MW Regional.

But a hopefully more mature Griffith and Turner, crafty senior Larry Williams, along with a heralded group of newcomers — Scooter McCray, Jerry Eaves, Derek Smith, Wiley Brown — had all pumped for a return to the final weekend of the season. Continue reading Cards on the 9s: ’79 ends with Too Little Too Late

On the 9s: ’59 U of L Cards crash Last Weekend Party

This is the first of a series of remembrances of Louisville Cardinal hoops teams from seasons of years ending in 9. Today: 1959. Coming soon: 1969.

I guess Poachy Marks is as good a place to start as any.

Thanks to him, my dad and I were up close for the upshot of Louisville Cardinal basketball’s most improbable post season run ever.

Poachy owned an eponymously named haberdashery between 4th and 5th on what was then known as Walnut Street. One time when I was in there, so was the brash fellow who was soon to become our burg’s most famous son, then still known as Cassius Clay.

Looking at himself in a new outfit, and without turning away from his image, with that combination of braggadocio and wink, he called out to Marks, “Tell me Poachy, ain’t I the prettiest?”

Anyway, Poachy Marks was connected in the local sports scene. He was known to make a wager or two, and whether he was on the other side of that equation remains a mystery. To me anyway. Because of those connections, Marks scored my dad and me fifth row midcourt seats for the upcoming national semis and final returning for the second year in a row to Freedom Hall, which venue was accelerating toward its status as the epicenter of college hoops.

(Note: The final four didn’t become The Final Four™ until sometime in the mid 70s.)

Little did we realize, ducats in hand, just a couple of weeks beforehand that our beloved U of L Cardinals would implausibly crash that party, joining The Big O, He Who Would Become The Logo, and heralded Pete Newell’s Golden Bears to fight it out for the national crown. Continue reading On the 9s: ’59 U of L Cards crash Last Weekend Party

Wednesday Seedy KO’s: Nwora, Network, Coach Nowhere to be Found ++

So, I’m at the cable store the other day, getting a box that fritzed changed out.

As the no fuss transaction is almost done, I ask my friendly, very helpful clerk Taylor, “Do you know if Spectrum is going to be carrying the ACC Network or not?”

At which point she looks up, smiles, then starts laughing, as does the clerk taking care of the customer next to me.

“I guess I’m not the first to ask, huh?”

Taylor: “Every day.”

The clerk next to her: “Every single day. Every single customer.”

Of course, neither had the answer, but it’s impossible to conceive that it won’t be carried since Louisville is the biggest college basketball market in the country, and has been for a number of years now.

But, an announcement would be nice.

 * * * * *

I used the occasion of spending last weekend at The Jim, covering U of L baseball in the NCAA Regional, to chat up other media heads to see if anybody had tried to track Bobby Petrino down for any comments the former U of L football coach might wish to share about last season and his departure? Continue reading Wednesday Seedy KO’s: Nwora, Network, Coach Nowhere to be Found ++

Get Well, Denny

Of course, anybody who loves the Cardinals is glad to hear that iconic former Cardinal hoops coach Denny Crum is recovering from his latest stroke.

Incredible coach. Easily among the best ever that roamed the college sidelines. Good guy. He was always accessible when running the program.

And, to be frank, recency bias and revisionist history notwithstanding, Crum is responsible for elevating University of Louisville sports to the highest levels nationally. Without Denny and his two titles, there would have been no Howard Schnellenberger, nor any of the incredible successes that followed.

One guy’s opinion. Feel free to disagree if you must.

Those whose allegiance to U of L sports germinated after the arrival of the millennium or the decade proceeding it, might only know Denny from his name on the court, or the standing O he gets when introduced during a tilt at the Yum!.

Denny Crum was once the Gold Standard of college basketball. Ask Coach K who schooled him several times early on in his career? Continue reading Get Well, Denny

That Dunking Cardinal Court & Other U of L Quick Shots

My memory is hazy, but if I recall correctly, and I’m probably not, during the early Doctors of Dunk days of the 70s, it was Grif’s idea for the team to wear those old timey M.D. shirt/ jackets during warmups.

I believe it was a cool idea, but one and done nonetheless. Since the garment was too restrictive, and the players didn’t like the feel.

Fortunately the most cool U of L hoops logo ever has never gone completely away. And, thanks to Chris Mack’s respect for the tradition of Cardinal basketball, is back with a vengeance.

The court at the practice facility now sports a 94×50 Dunking Cardinal logo.

Too damn sweet.

So, when I first saw it, my immediate reaction was to write Kenny Klein, and ask if there were any plans to do the same to the game court at the Yum!?

Unfortunately, not at this time. Sigh. Continue reading That Dunking Cardinal Court & Other U of L Quick Shots

The Coach, His AD, A Provocateur & His Provocation

There are some arguments, to which there is essentially no resolution, back and forths that simply get carried on until lungs are depleted of breath.

Until then, the protagonists bray on.

These are common when the issues involved are local in nature and many people have a significant vested emotional interest.

I’ve just returned from my 31st New Orleans JazzFest, the original and sole focus of which from the get go was as a showcase for the indigenous music, food and culture of the Crescent City and Louisiana. But the economic realities of modern times have forced the festival, in order to survive, to feature big name acts with zero connection to the area, but are a draw for enough patrons to keep the Fest financially alive.

In the festival’s chatrooms, purists have railed year around about the situation for more than a decade. The Fest and the arguments proceed.

It was no surprise really that during Derby season, when the focus is usually on whether to buy the blue or pink patched Madras sportcoat, or which hat the size of a beach umbrella to wear on the 1st Saturday in May, that a new brouhaha broke out, when the winning thoroughbred was set down.

But this is Louisville, where basketball is the overriding passion of the populace but for two weeks a year, and the University of Louisville Cardinals are the beloved favorite of the city. Which brings me to the argument that will never end.

Even during Derby time, the fire was stoked yet again. Continue reading The Coach, His AD, A Provocateur & His Provocation

UVa’s Not So Cavalier Road to Redemption

The conversation with the former U of L Cardinal hoopster took place on a school charter flight to New Orleans for the ’82 Final Four.

He shall remain anonymous. He’d spent the wait before departure at one of SDF’s mini-bars, and didn’t have the clearest of heads.

To be fair, I was more than a bit jacked up myself. One, because that trip to the season’s last weekend was far from a given for my favorite team, all things considered. And, two, because, well, it was back in the day, and you know, well, you know. Let’s just say, my pal who drove me to the airport suggested I might consider a Thorazine drip as an antidote.

Anyway, when the two of us were chatting in our excitement, I kept mentioning how the Cards were going to the Final Four and vaunted, Ralph Samspon-led UVa was not.

“Yeah,” he responded, quizzically since I wasn’t really making my point clearly, “they lost to UAB.” Which U of L had then dispatched on their home court in Birmingham to advance, after the Blazers had upset Virginia, who easily had U of L’s number.

OK, not a great story, but my point — then and now — is that Virginia has been viewed as one of college basketball’s chronic underachievers. Going back to the that era, when Sampson & Mates, often ranked #1, only made it to one Final Four, and an Elite Eight.

Plus, the Wahoos have been at the wrong end of inarguably the two biggest upsets in the sport’s history. To Chaminade in December of ’82. And, yes I know you know, by twenty points last season in the first round as the highest seed to UMBC, the lowest seed.

Coach Tony Bennett has for a number of years carried around the same baggage as such as Dean Smith and Jay Wright before him, “best coach never to win the crown.” Bennett, for his regular season successes had never even made it past the regionals.

Which is to say this monkey on Virginia’s back goes back further than just last year’s wipeout during the first No Break on the Dance floor.

Which is not to say Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy and  De’Andre Hunter, who didn’t even play in that infamous L because he was injured, and their teammates haven’t had to deal daily with that devastating setback 24/7 for 52 weeks, plus 3 more.

Until last night. Continue reading UVa’s Not So Cavalier Road to Redemption

UVa vs. Texas Tech: There Will Be D

There was the moment when it fell apart for Virginia.

More than any other team in the land, Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers stick to the plan, never wavering from their disciplined, measured style.

Then they didn’t. To ill effect.

Up 57-48 with just under five minutes to play, Ty Jerome had the rock, in the post with a smaller Auburn defender checking him. The Cavaliers usually beauteous offense flow stopped. As his teammates ceased their normal cutting and weaving and picking to watch, Jerome tom-tomed the ball, backing the War Eagle down for a close in turnaround.

He missed. He thought he was fouled. And compounded the disruption and failure to tally by committing his fourth personal immediately thereafter in the backcourt with 4:32 left. Virginia’s catalyst took a seat on the pine.

Bryce Brown netted a trey. Then another after a Samir Doughty offensive board. Then Danjel Purifoy drained yet another second chance three.

Then, after Mamadi Diakite missed two freebies, Brown bullseyed another triple at 1:56. 59-57 in favor of the Bark-leys.

One guy’s opinion, that one little departure totally took the Cavaliers out of their flow. Emboldened, devoid of quit, Auburn took advantage.

Two Auburn FTs, and UVa was down four and :17 seconds from a second seriously disturbing  NCAA tournament meltdown in a row. Continue reading UVa vs. Texas Tech: There Will Be D

Who Cares What CBS Thinks of the Final Four?

Perspective. My observation point.

I am a college basketball junkie. A hoopaholic.

Even though my team was the very first one eliminated in this year’s tourney, I still spent hour after hour after hour in front of my flat screen, berating myself for microwaving then consuming the entirety of yet another bag of Skinny Pop, enduring Chris Webber, watching googly-eyed as Carsen Edwards went en fuego, failed to notice that a spring cold was filling my chest cavity until it was too late, while watching just about every dribble, missed call and Coach K sneer.

I could not care less — actually I’m pleased as punch — that Rock Chalk Jayhawk, the Baby Blues, Big Blues, Go Blues, and Dukie Blues won’t be in the house come Saturday evening.

For the casual fans, those folks caught in the star maker machinery that’s propelled Zion Whatsisname into mainstream consciousness, sayonara. Enjoy your visit to the cineplex to see “Us.”

I’ll be in front of the telly, embracing this cockamamie quartet of Sparty, UVa, Texas Tech and Auburn. Continue reading Who Cares What CBS Thinks of the Final Four?