Tag Archives: College Hoops

Friday Squawks: Dabo, Roy, K, & the ’86 Title

Because I’m an inveterate Louisville Cardinal fan, because I still shake my head in awe that the Cards now compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and because I’m justifiably accused of being OCD, I tuned into the premier evening of the ACC Network.

(Besides I’m not a huge fan of the LLWS, and the episode of “Texas Metal” on MotorTrend Channel didn’t intrigue me.)

It was mostly just Show & Tell, since there was no actual live sports action.

Here are a few of the things I learned: Continue reading Friday Squawks: Dabo, Roy, K, & the ’86 Title

Cards on the 9s: Strange ’09 Campaign ends in Elite Eight

This is last of a series of remembrances of U of L basketball seasons for years ending in 9.

Reality first struck as I sat in the ginormous media room of Lucas Oil Stadium before the Cardinals ’09 matchup with Sparty for a trip to the Final Four in Motown.

Expectations soaring after #1 seed U of L drew and quartered Arizona by 39 in the Sweet Sixteen, and with my belly full of Shapiro’s pastrami, potato latkes and carrot cake, I poured over Michigan State data for the first time.

My confidence quickly abated. I recall reading the numbers, looking up, staring into the middle distance, and thinking, “Louisville could lose this. Izzo’s team is good.”

And damned if I wasn’t prescient. The truth struck with terrible swift sword.

Michigan State 64, Louisville 52.

Louisville’s season and 13 game winning skein and strangest of seasons had fizzed out. Continue reading Cards on the 9s: Strange ’09 Campaign ends in Elite Eight

Cards on the 9s: W over Cats highlights ’99 Campaign

This is another in a series of remembrances of Louisville Cardinal basketball teams in years ending in 9.

It’s difficult, and not wise really, to talk about this specific ’98-’99 campaign, without providing context.

Finishing with a record of 12-20, the season before was not only the first losing one of beloved Hall of Famer Denny Crum’s career, it was the first for U of L since the Cards went 7-10 in ’41-’42.

How much did we love the graphic the networks would put on the screen during every national telecast, “Louisville has had 56 consecutive winning seasons.” A matter of pride had been shattered.

After two more seasons, including another 12-19 clunker in ’00-’01, the two-time national champion mentor, who at the top of his game was as good as any who ever coached, would be gone, becoming an ambassador for the university, and giving his time and lending his stature to many charities in the community.

But before that, something not so good was happening to U of L hoops, and nobody really knew exactly what it was.

There are lots of theories. Continue reading Cards on the 9s: W over Cats highlights ’99 Campaign

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