Tag Archives: NCAA Tournament

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

Cards Outlast Hoosiers & Umpire, 9-7

Survive and advance.

One down, two to go, starting with a 6:00 PM Ernie Banks” Let’s Play Two first pitch against Illinois State.

It was a day when the Cards’ post season bats finally woke up in the bottom of the 2d. A Danny Oriente double in the gap tallied two. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, a Justin Lavey single plated two more.

The Hoosier loaded the sacks in the top of the 3d. But, coming up huge, starter Bobby Miller struck out the next two IU batters, then induced an inning ending fly out to center to end the threat.

The Cardinals added two more in their half on an Alex Binelas homer.

Miller quelled another potential rally in the top of the 5th, striking out two to end the inning.

Really aggressive  base running by Tyler Fitzgerald — He scored from 2d on a routine infield out — gave U of L a 7-0 lead after five.

IU came back with 4 in the 6th, but Adam Elliott calmed things down somewhat. Continue reading Cards Outlast Hoosiers & Umpire, 9-7

Cards face Elimination after L to Illinois State

The Louisville Cardinal nine has gone somnambulant in the post season.

After yet another uninspired loss, this an old fashioned, no homer, move the runners over via sacrifice, two and a half hour quickie to Illinois State from the MVC by 2-4 margin in front of a relatively sparse gathering, the Cards face . . . elimination.

It will take three wins in a row, including a couple on Sunday, commencing at noon against the IU Hoosiers, who stayed alive by beating Illinois Chicago.

The Cards find themselves in this predicament because, well, after coming from behind and taking a 2-1 lead in the top of the 6th, and needing a shut down inning, U of L gave up 3.

The key play there came when Reid Detmers induced the Redbirds best hitter, Joe Aeilts, to bounce a routine DP ball to 2B Justin Lavely. But after catching Lavely’s routine toss to get the runner at 2d, SS Tyler Fitzgerald inexplicably pirouetted, turning a 360, which resulted in a late throw to 1st.

With men on 1st and 2d, and the inning which should have been over still alive, PH Jeremy Gaines stroked a double down the line in left, plating the go ahead, winning runs.

The Cardinals didn’t threaten the rest of the way. Continue reading Cards face Elimination after L to Illinois State

Card Win NCAA Opener

Let’s be clear from the start.

Dan McDonnell has won more games as a head college baseball coach than I have.

My victory total in that position stands at 0.

McDonnell has 598. which is not only 598 more than me, but more than any other coach or school in the entire sport since he took charge at U of L in 2007.

Which is to say, he knows what he’s doing. Duh. Obviously. While all I’ve got is a keyboard to type out second guesses.

When, as he is wont to do, he didn’t start ace Reid Detmers in the regional opener at The Jim against the Illinois Chicago Flames, I was curious. Sure, the Cards figured to take care of the Horizon League visitors from the Windy City. But nothing’s a given. And winning the opener in the tourney is a big plus.

So, I and other Cardinal fans were not amused when Nick Bennett gave up a lead off tater to start his stint, then another to the first batter in the 2d,  both over the exact spot in rightish center over Mark Jurich’s photo. And the Flames tallied another run and Bennett and the Cards were shakily behind 0-3 before the Louisville’s second chance at the plate.

I was of course questioning McDonnell’s strategy. Lack of expertise be damned, it’s what I do. Continue reading Card Win NCAA Opener

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

And Then There Were But Four

In a seriously compelling four days of battles, when the Big Dance field was whittled from 16 to 8, then halved again to Four for the Final weekend of the college hoops campaign, one sequence, for me anyway, stands out above all the other moments, both boffo and otherwise, depending on one’s particular and peculiar rooting interest.

With about five seconds to play, the Virginia Cavaliers were down three to Purdue, and perilously close to another Tony Bennett failure to make to the season’s last roundup. PG Ty Jerome was at the charity line with the possibility of cutting the lead to a single digit.

Jerome made the first. Jerome missed the second. He says his intent was to make the free throw. I’ve watched the video any number of times and it seems so. Though there is a contrarian view that he really intended to miss the shot, that UVa practices for such scenarios every day in practice.

Whatever. Here’s the deal. Here’s what Bennett’s charges do that most teams of caliber do not. And did do in that moment. Continue reading And Then There Were But Four