Tag Archives: NCAA Tournament

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Will Cards change leads & How wacked the Dance?

There’s not a Louisville Cardinal fan around who isn’t sad about the Malik Williams situation.

For the kid, a team leader who has been riddled with injuries, and college career may be fini.

For the current team, which isn’t as formidable without his presence in the middle and leadership in the huddle.

Hope springs eternal among the faithful that Williams might return for another season, taking advantage of the COVID-inspired one season eligibility exemption. But that’s another conversation for another day.

He doesn’t appear to have emptied his locker, and moved on. The kid’s a keeper.

Which leaves us obsessives with the contemplation: How do the Cards best move forward in his on court absence?

Which leads me to Jae’Lyn Withers, the redshirt rookie, who has spent most of the season uncomfortably out of position in the post. It’s been obvious for awhile that he’s better on O when facing the basket.

That hunch became all caps underlined when Malik returned, and Withers moved to the 4.

So, to use horse racing parlance, does Chris Mack change leads? Does he leave Withers outside, and play someone else in the pivot? Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Will Cards change leads & How wacked the Dance?

Basketball Jonesin’: Diggin’ the Scene with a Viking Lean

Oh Naismithius, how you let me down.

The other day I beseeched you, the Greek God of Hoops, to ensure the Louisville Cardinals would return to the hardwood Wednesday evening.

You, and you alone — Or So I Thought — could and would make it happen, if only to assuage the angst of this long time acolyte.

But noooooooooo, you apparently used your powers to manifest the free throw shooting prowess of arch rival instead. My solar plexus throbs in pain from the blow.

You let me down. I have moved on.

In hopes that such faith shall be answered, I have now pledged my troth to Baller, Viking God of Striiingmusingnum, Brother of Balder, Viking God of Tonsorialism, Brother of Thor, Viking God of Hunkorama Popcorn Cinema, son of Odin and Frigg, the true and only (non-golfing) residents of Valhalla. Continue reading Basketball Jonesin’: Diggin’ the Scene with a Viking Lean

Hoopaholic Gazette: Cardinals’ Seed Line & Who Else Could Win?

Worry wort that I am, it seems to me that my beloved Louisville Cardinals still have work to do, to absolutely, positively secure a spot in the Dance.

The current consensus has them as an #8 seed, playing somebody like Oregon or Drake or Rutgers, or Xavier in the opening round.

With, you know, one of those top line teams in the 2d, should U of L prevail.

While I’m a You Only Play Whom You Play absolutist, I’d offer, for daydreaming sake, that falling to the #10 or #11 line might provide a more manageable road to the second weekend.

It’s the kind of place the minds of us hoopaholics go, when one’s faves are on a COVID hiatus.

The first round would be tougher. But the #6s and #7s, like Purdue or Florida or Southern Cal, aren’t but a wafer thin better than the projected #8s and #9s.

But a hoped for 2d round foe — say, Iowa which plays no D, or Tennessee which plays no O — would provide a better chance for advancement.

But, Seedy, get back to reality, get back into this day.

Louisville Cardinals, get and stay healthy.

Beat Pitt.

Make the Dance.

 * * * * *

You Know Who, that team out in apple country that’s been waltzing through its schedule, and Them, that gang from Deep in the Heart of, didn’t meet when they were scheduled to in December.

So, most hoopaholics across the land have been frothing at the mouth for a matchup of undefeateds for the national crown. Everybody, that is, except for Quinn Buckner and his pals, and the citizens of the state where that battle would take place.

It’s that ’76 thing.

And, I suppose I too would cherish such a grand moment, and pray that the game itself matched the anticipation.

But, if you haven’t noticed, it’s been a strange season.

Really, Seedy?

Yes, really!

What if something odd happened on Selection Sunday? Say the Selection Committee, suffering from, oh, Zoom Fatigue Syndrome, or Pizza Toxicity, misfired on the S Curve, and Baylor and Gonzaga ended up on the same side of the bracket.

I know, improbable, but work with me here, I’m trying to keep your interest while the Cards are missing two tilts out with the COVID.

I don’t think there’s any school out there that could beat both teams in the tournament. But if the Zags and Bears met in the semis, wore each other out, somebody could maybe catch a hum that last Monday and prevail.

Like, say, ’86, when Duke and Kansas had a knock down drag out on Saturday, and Danny Ferry’s attempt to Night Train Lane Jeff Hall came too late on Monday.

Strange things happen in March.

Jump in the Way Back Machine with me, Sherman and Mr. Peabody for a quick trip to a decade ago.

I understand Cardinal fans don’t wish to be reminded of the ’11 NCAA tourney, for reasons I shall not elucidate. Nor, really does anybody else who cares about the sanctity of Our Blessed Mad Dance.

That was the year UConn, a #9 seed in the Big East tourney, prevailed over somebody or another by 30 in the Garden for the title, then slithered its way to the national championship over Butler, in what is generally considered not only the ugliest title game ever contested, but arguably the least aesthetic game ever played anywhere.

Which leads me to ask, is there a Kemba Walker out there, who with a little help from his friends, could pull it off?

Yes, Ayo Dosunmu. He plays for Illinois.

The Illini were my Dark Horse before the season began.

They remain so today.

Plus they are one of only four squads, which currently meet steadfast criteria to capture the crown. Top Twenty in Ken Pomeroy’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, and Defensive Efficiency.

The other besides Baylor and Gonzaga is Michigan. But I don’t know if they have the one dude who can carry his mates on his back, like my man Ayo.

Plus Brad Underwood has Kofi Cockburn, who is starting to dominate in the paint.

And the most exciting player in college hoops, Andre Curbelo. A rookie, he still plays out of control, but at other times he reminds of, oh I dunno, Kemba Walker.

Curbelo’s a magician with the ball, a Master of Legerdemain.

Now, having found a way to use that great word, I’ll take my leave.

My name is Seedy K, and I’m a Hoopaholic.

 

 

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

Reflections on U of L’s Last Hurrah in CWS

There was, as any sad U of L Cardinal fan understands, a consensus. A healthy consensus, and almost universal belief.

That Luke Smith, who again hurled brilliantly in this 2019 post season — three hits, none after the 3d, ten strikeouts, but one walk, and a single score on 106 pitches — should have been pulled after those eight masterful innings.

Should have been pulled because his competitive bile at the end of that half inning — hurling antagonistic invective toward the Vandy dugout and Julian Infante whom he’d just struck out — could well awaken the beast that is Vanderbilt. Should have been pulled because the Cardinals have not one but two shutdown closers. Michael McAvene with his 5/1 K/BB ratio and 7 saves. Michael Kirian with his 1.68 ERA, 4/1 K/BB ratio and 5 saves.

Or, at the very least, pulled in the 9th after walking JJ Bleday, the nation’s best basher, on five pitches, after getting leadoff Austin Martin to ground out to start the Commodore half.

That consensus however does not include Dan McDonnell, the successful Louisville mentor, who has turned the Cardinals into a national baseball power.

McDonnell, with a look on his face that was kind of difficult to comprehend — it looked like indecision mostly — stayed with his starter. (One of the advantages of good TV coverage, are those close ups in those tense situations.)

I, like most, think it was, at the time, and in retrospect, an egregiously wrong choice. You gotta trust your closers.

But Smith stayed on the mound. Continue reading Reflections on U of L’s Last Hurrah in CWS

Reflections on a U of L Walk Off

Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.

Prior to Thursday night’s season-saving, Final Four-elevating 4-3 walk off by the Louisville Cardinals, 28 of the 52 victories in 2019 by the heading back to Dudy Noble Field Mississippi State Bulldogs have been of the come from behind variety.

In a little tit for tat, the Cards ended the season of their former assistant coach’s nine By. Coming. From. Behind.

As the number of the trailing, lifeless at the plate Cardinals’ outs was diminishing, the way too glib announcing team of Kyle Peterson, Eduardo Perez and Karl Ravech started hypothesizing about Bulldog/ Commodore pitching matchups for Friday night.

They weren’t the only ones who thought the game had a fait accompli feel to it.

In the top of the 7th, even before Tanner Allen’s “insurance” RBI single gave State a 3-0 lead, I — yeah me, ever the pessimist — texted my pal and declared, “This season is over.”

Silly me. Continue reading Reflections on a U of L Walk Off

Cards Survive Rain & Auburn, 5-3, Advance

A win is a win is a . . . you know . . . win.

Louisville, 41-1 when leading after six, 42-0 when leading after seven, hung on despite itself to eliminate Auburn’s Tigers from the CWS, and live for the proverbial another day.

The Cards will meet the vanquished of Mississippi State/ Vanderbilt Thursday evening.

U of L, with a 4-1 lead, endured a 20:07 rain delay before action resumed in the top of the 5th at 11:00 AM Omaha time Wednesday. In front of a “crowd” at first pitch you could count on fingers and toes, both the Cardinals and Tigers sleep walked through 2 1/2 innings before any energy sparked.

Given how well Adam Elliott was pitching, Dan McDonnell yet again made one of his patented curious post season pitching decisions, bringing in ace reliever Michael McAvene to hurl the top of the 7th. The Cards closer certainly needed to knock off some rust. Following his suspension during the regional, two laughers over East Carolina when he wasn’t needed and a DNP in the CWS opening L to Vandy, he hadn’t taken the mound since June 2.

But Elliott was on, and surely could have gone another inning at least. Continue reading Cards Survive Rain & Auburn, 5-3, Advance

Louisville Rampages Way to Omaha, 12-0

Louisville 12, East Carolina 0.

It is at somewhat incomprehensible moments like this, that the writer’s craft and focus run off and hide.

How to explain in an ebullient but professional way how your favorite school’s baseball team has just drawn and quartered the tenth best squad in the land by scores of 14-1 and 12 zed to be the first to punch a ticket to the College World Series.

What hook to use? Where to start? Does it really matter if you get the essentials and the peripherals onto the page.

So . . .

. . . this morning, while cruising the interweb, before heading out to The Jim, I came across a mention of Peyton Manning. Who, as you might recall, used a barked “Omaha” as a trigger to his teammates that he was changing the call at the line of scrimmage.

So, should the Cards prevail, I thought I might start with that angle, and work from there, maybe talk about how the Cards pulled a Peyton Manning. Which the observant among you will notice I have done.

Then there’s the more obvious storyline, which if I weren’t such a contrarian, I would have put at the beginning of the lede.

Bobby Miller. The righty is U of L’s third starter, but got the nod on Saturday noon. And all he of the 6-1, 4.37 ERA (4-0, 3.12 at home) did was totally throttle the hard hitting Pirates. Continue reading Louisville Rampages Way to Omaha, 12-0

After 11-2 Romp, Cards a W away from Supers

OK, I’m racking my brain decades later to see if I can remember any of the laws of energy, Mr. Brashear tried to impart to us in 1st period Physics in H.S.?

Law of Conservation of Energy maybe? Potential energy is a concept I recall. Zeroth Law, is that a thing? Ya know, it’s not like I’ve thought a lot about theories of thermodynamics through the years.

But, seeing as how the energy of the Louisville Cardinal nine accelerated through yesterday’s twin killing of Indiana and Illinois State to force a decider Monday for a spot in the Supers, I have conceived a new hypothetical.

Who needs Stephen Hawking anyway?

For your consideration, I offer Seedy K’s Law of the Propagation of Energy. Continue reading After 11-2 Romp, Cards a W away from Supers