Tag Archives: Donovan Mitchell

Louisville CardFile: Boston College

Panache (puh-nash): a grand or flamboyant manner; verve; style; flair.

It is a noun rarely used in the sports vernacular, more usually found when some fashion guru with a purple pen is describing the John Varvatos spring men’s clothing collection.

But, ever the rebel, with a mind still a bit hazy from overdoing it in the 70s, I won’t back down. Since it’s the word that came to mind as Mangok Mathiang displayed any number of moves around the hoop in a cruise control 90-67 U of L W on Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill.

Jump hook. Up and under. Fake right, go left. Vice versa.

Mangok Mathiang, Silent K, a guy a pundit recently called “a solid third string pivot” — OK, it was me. A center of which it was stated, “he’ll never be a force of consequence on offense.” Yeah, that was also c’est moi.

So, excuse me a second while I take another drink of water to wash down my words and some gristle of crow.

Like a butterfly from a coccoon, Silent K is morphing into Special K.

Which is probably a bit too much hyperbole. But, really now, who saw this offensive, uh, panache coming? Certainly not me.

In 24 minutes of action off the pine, MM canned 7 of 11 shots from the field and both of his FTs for 16 points. Yes it came against Boston College, an eminently mediocre squad with little inside presence . . . but still.

Those shots that he’s short-armed throughout his career are now caressing the board and netting.

And he’s still windexing that glass and playing steady D.

It’s February kids, in the wackiest college hoops season in memory, and another piece of the Cardinal puzzle has apparently found its spot. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Boston College

Louisville CardFile: NC State

There are ever so many things that Rick Pitino does as a mentor that are as good or better than any other member of the coaching fraternity. There are valid reasons other than his sartorial splendor that he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Arguably his best attribute is what he’s been able to do through the years when he’s got enough time to prepare, and the foe has one player who is clearly the team’s star and go to guy and needs to be disenfranchised.

The Rick can fashion a game plan that takes that baller out of his game, out of the ballgame and turns him into a non-factor.

The latest example is State’s Dennis Smith Jr., the best frosh point guard in the land not named Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, or De’Aaron Fox. “A sure first rounder” is what the NBA Draft wags say.

Well, thanks to another boffo game plan and execution, Jr. never got untracked against the Cardinals Sunday afternoon. Hell, he hardly had room to breathe. At the half, his team already down a dozen on its way to a 25 point shellacking, he had but four points on 2/8 shooting.

He had only 6 when the Cards were up 30 at 76-46.

He finished with 8, 11 under his average, on 3/12 shooting. His 6 assists were wiped out by 5 turnovers.

The Cards’ game plan was perfecto. Jr. needed an extra long shower after the loss just to wash off all the Cardinals’ defense.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: NC State

Louisville CardFile: Clemson

Ever the contrarian, I must disagree with Rick Pitino, who was with one exception generous in his praise for the Cardinals after they broke Clemson just before halftime and continued the slaughter the final twenty, prevailing 92-60.

“The guys did a great job tonight in every phase of the game.”

“They were great on offense tonight. This is a very good defensive team. We shot 63 percent in the first half, 51 percent in the second. It was a great performance by our guys.”

When talking of Jaylen Johnson (12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, one of which was U of L’s best skip pass of the year to Deng Adel in the weakside corner for a three), RP called the Cards huskiest big “relentless in his work ethic.”

But, then, referring to the double technical that sent JJ to the showers along with his Tiger adversary Elijah Thomas, Pitino offered that the Kid from Ypsilanti “sort of spoiled a really good night by stooping to a different level.”

And that’s where I must disagree with the Cardinal coach, while acknowledging as I must that he has two national crowns and hundreds and hundreds more Ws than I. I shall not allow that resumé disparity get in the way of offering a contrary take.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson

Louisville CardFile: Indiana

ccjoaniecardWith 15:28 to play in the Countdown Classic in America’s best basketball arena, Indy’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Louisville’s once fifteen point advantage over Indiana had been whittled to 46-36.

During that media timeout, I turned to my pal Doc and offered that the critical juncture in this harum scarum tilt was at hand. Who was he to disagree?

Sure enough, the Hoosiers cut the U of L lead to six at the 11:57 media stoppage, 50-44. Plus IU would have possession when play resumed. The candy-striped crowd — the place, dominated by loyalty-clothed Hoosier fans, looked like Willie Wonka’s factory — was momentarily pumped.

It is at this point in my narrative that I need to and shall recant my opinion rendered in the Comments section of my UVa game report. Donovan Mitchell, it now appears, is no longer, if he ever was, mired in a “sophomore slump.” My apologies for that ersatz judgement.

When play resumed, Ray Spalding pilfered the rock from the Hoosiers. Mitchell then, as I am wont to say, grabbed the battle, such as a smackdown of this order might be called, by the short and curlies.

He drained a trifecta. 53-44. The Cards forced a turnover on their foe’s next possession. Mitchell put his ath-e-let-i-cism on display with a wondrous drive to the hoop. 55-44. After a quick IU counter, Mitchell pulled out the Bill Raftery dagger, plunging it into the Hoosiers’ heart with another three. 58-44.

All together now: Ball Game!!! Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Indiana

Louisville CardFile: William & Mary

dunikcardBecause his game was so smooth and effortless, Jamal Wilkes’ nickname was “Silk.”

He went by his real middle name Keith when he was a two-time All American at UCLA, during the Bill Walton years.

He’s the Hall of Famer who came to mind last evening as I watched V.J. King fashion his 17 point, 5 rebound performance in U of L’s 91-58 beatdown of The Tribe.

King was smooth. King’s game appeared effortless, though we know how that works. And it was nothing if not efficient. Seven of those points and a couple rebounds came in the first half, when King was only on the hardwood for four minutes.

His moves to the bucket can’t really be described as slashes. He finds a crack in the D, and wends — slithers — his way through the opening, for a deft but more difficult than it looks floater or short J. Or he drives all the way for the lay in, if the space is there.

He just never seems to be rushing or trying to fashion something when nothing is there.

In thirteen second half minutes, he tallied ten more points, and nabbed three more boards.

In just his second game as a Cardinal, King looked to justify the double arches hype surrounding his arrival on the Belknap campus. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: William & Mary

Louisville CardFile: Evansville

ccjoaniecardCorrected 11/12 10:00 am

After eleven minutes of play, Coach Rick Pitino was, to say the least, not a happy camper.

(I’m being gentle. This is a family friendly blog.)

He was furious.

At that juncture, the Purple Aces, shorter by 3′-5″ per man, were matching the taller Cards carom for carom off the glass at both ends.

As quick or quicker than the speedy Cards, Evansville had beaten U of L down court twice in a row for fast break gimmes.

When Mangok Mathiang was Teed after a slam up for hanging on the rim/ slapping the glass/ or some infraction spotted only by the zebra with a whistle, The Rick ran onto the court apoplectic.

But when Jaylon Brown drained treys on consecutive possessions to push the visitors ahead 26-20, Pitino had had enough. I could feel the heat coming from his ears in the corner auxiliary press box.

Whatever the admonitions to his charges were, and what emphatic words the coach may have used to deliver them during that thirty seconds, the message was obviously heard. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Evansville

Louisville CardFile: Bellarmine

joaniecardA few observations about the Cards after the final tune up against crosstown foe Bellarmine.

Rick Pitino was not mincing words when he said postgame: “We have a lot of weaknesses we need to work on.”

They were masked in the opening half against the Knights. The visitors from Norris Place seemed blinded by the lights and the big stage.

Early on, Louisville used its superior speed, height and talent to overwhelm Scotty Davenport’s team. The Knights were spooked into 3/16 shooting (18.8%), and 16 turnovers before halftime.

The Cards ran and shot before halftime. Especially hitting half their treys. 7/14.

After the break, U of L showed how young they are, how much this edition of the Cards is a work in progress with a new O and new D to learn and execute, and what happens when they lose focus. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Bellarmine

Louisville CardFile: Kentucky Wesleyan

joaniecardWhat a turn this is.

I have spared no barbs toward Dick Vitale through the decades, bemoaning his hyperbole, his lack of focus, and his self indulgent rants having nothing to do with the particular game he might be calling.

But now I have come to thank him for the good deed he’s done for U of L hoops.

For the presence in red & black of Ryan McMahon, who but for the tip to The Rick from The Mouth That Roared would never have become a Cardinal.

Do not misunderstand. I have perspective on the Floridian redshirt freshman. His eye opening debut stint came in the second half of an exhi against an overmatched, seriously weary bunch of Panthers.

I do not think he’ll become part of the Cards guard rotation this year. (Though it’s not such a far fetched consideration.) But what I do observe is this. The kid — and I can’t believe I’m actually going to type these words — “can flat out shoot the rock.”

What I do know. There are going to be games of importance during the four year stay of young Mr. McMahon, when the Cards will need points. When they’ll need that Hancockian four long ball fusillade to regain some ballast. When they’ll need some Hendersonian whodabelieve’dit string music off the bench.

Ryan McMahon shall be here to provide it. Write it down.

And that’s my bit of fawning Cardinal fandom coming out, after observing McMahon play nine garbage time minutes in a game that doesn’t even count.

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Some other random observations from U of L’s 109-71 plunder of the Panthers from Kentucky Wesleyan: Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Kentucky Wesleyan

Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

joaniecardSo unnerving and, frankly, odd, was Louisville’s 56-53 escape over Georgia Tech on Senior Night, I kept expecting to see beleaguered school prexy James Ramsey walking into the arena with Donald Trump and the GOP candidate’s new bestest chum Chris Christie in tow.

So mediocre was the Cardinals play, the Greek God of College Hoops Naismithius surely must have turned to his Acolytes, and declared, “I realize Louisville deserves a setback here, but those seniors Lee and Lewis are such stand up guys, I’m going to allow the Cardinals to prevail. But, not without a scare. Tech is also worthy.”

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How odd was it?

Very. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

Louisville CardFille: Miami

joaniecardGood teams should not lose at home come February.

Really good teams, i.e. legit contendas, do not lose at home in late February. Especially experienced ones on Senior Day.

Miami is a really good team. Miami is among those 20 or so schools that the pundits are saying could slip into the Final Four, and beyond. Miami, which starts three seniors and two juniors is experienced.

Miami is really well coached. Jim Larranaga is arguably the least heralded, excellent mentor in college hoops.

So, truth be told, the inevitable occurred yesterday in Coral Gables. On Senior Day, the Hurricanes did what really good teams do. They outplayed another good team, Louisville, down the stretch, and prevailed, 73-65.

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What a difference 72 hours and a change of venue makes. Continue reading Louisville CardFille: Miami