Tag Archives: NCAA Tournament

Louisville CardFile: Michigan

And, that’s that.

Louisville’s season ends a way more than respectable 25 up, 9 down, a victory short of the NCAA Round of 16, .

Losing to the hottest team in the land, a well coached, mature Michigan Wolverine outfit is disappointing — obviously — but not a surprise, truth be told.

73-69. But, the Cards never stopped pushing.

My personal take on my beloved favorite team has been that the Sweet 16 was the best it would be able to achieve. U of L didn’t make it quite that far. That said, I, for one, have no complaints.

At moments like this, when the sweaty unis are in a pile on the locker room floor to be cleaned and stored until the next campaign, there is but one consideration: Did the Cardinals give their all, even if it ended in defeat.

They did.

Frankly you can’t ask for more. Okay, maybe you can. I can’t.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Michigan

Louisville CardFile: Jacksonville State

Deng Adel played just about a perfect game on offense.

Mangok Mathiang continued his late season/ end of career spurt.

And Donovan Mitchell went ofer most of the game until a minute and a half personal coup d’etat gave the Cardinals game securing measure late . . .

. . . but first let’s begin with U of L’s wobbly start in its NCAA tourney opener.

As weirdly chalk as this tourney has been for the first day and a half — at least the games I watched before crashing mid Thursday night — there had been one thing missing. Which is a team or two that seems too nervous, too not ready for the moment. (Except, of course, that kid from Vandy who had a brain fart that cost the Commodores, and the New Orleans coach who let Mount St. Mary’s run out the clock as it wound down.)

OK, but other than those instances until, that is, the Cards took the floor in Indy against the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State, a middle of the pack Ohio Valley Conference #15 seed, which surprisingly snuck into the Dance with a league tourney title.

The school that shouldn’tabeen nervous was. The 20 point underdog was beyond the top of its game at tipoff. The highly regarded favorite Cardinals’ knees were knockin’. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Jacksonville State

Bracing Start to Best Week of the Year

What a bracing hoopaholic morning I had here at the beginning of the most wonderful week of the year.

The best four days in sports are just days away. Hours away actually, if you include the hors d’oeuvres that are those first four play in games in Dayton. And I do include them, because the appetizers simply whet the appetite for the grande 84 hour, 48 tilt buffet to come, commencing Thursday noon.

(Let’s hope they’ve filmed enough commercials with Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee and Charles Barkley so we don’t get tired of them.)

So, with my coffee this A.M., as is my wont, I opened the laptop and went to the b-ball sites to dive into the ocean of info available, ostensibly to help one fill out his bracket. (Which I haven’t done actually in several years, but might this time around for some odd reason not having anything to do with any sense I might win one.) Or, make a wager or deux.

The first thing I came upon was a reality check reminder, yet another memorandum of the absolute certainty of my most fervent adage of the season . . .

. . . You only play whom you play.

One of the sites counted down the top 10 moments in NCAA tourney history. With video.

Right off the bat, #10 on the list was one of the most excruciating. I’ll just leave it at this: U.S. Reed. Continue reading Bracing Start to Best Week of the Year

Forget Omaha, Cardinal Nine Down & Out

baseballHad baseball’s philosopher laureate Lawrence Peter Berra been sitting with the other dignitaries in U of L AD Tom Jurich’s box, he would have simply nodded knowingly at the decimating conclusion to the Cardinals’ baseball season.

“It ain’t over til it’s over.”

The visiting UCSB Gaucho’s, with a game in hand in the 2 of 3 series, could get nothing going against Card starter Drew Harrington. Scattered hits here and there, but no real threats until the bottom of the 8th, at which juncture they’d been shut out with the Cards’ line showing 3 runs. But they showed life and had men on 1st and 2d with no outs, after a lead off single and HBP.

Exit gritty Harrington, after striking out 12 and surrendering only one BB, but his shutout in jeopardy. Walking in from the bullpen came Louisville’s ace fireballing closer, Zack Burdi with his  triple digit heat, 11 saves, 2.20 ERA, and 7 to 1 strikeout ratio. Foes had hit but .155 against him this season.

Standing tall, Burdi quickly got the Cardinals out of the bottom of the 8th jam, inducing a double play and pop up on just a few pitches.

Then, after the Cards meekly failed to add insurance in the top of the last, he got the lead off hitter out in the bottom of the 9th. Continue reading Forget Omaha, Cardinal Nine Down & Out

Cardinal Nine Advances to Sweet Sixteen

baseballAn afterthought on the local sports scene a decade ago, the Louisville Cardinal baseball squad is now the most consistently successful contingent around.

In the NCAA tourney once again, hosting a Regional once again, heading for a Super Regional again, where it will be hosting again, looking to advance to the College World Series for the third year in the last four, and fourth time in the decade.

More important, with Coach Dan McDonnell here for awhile under a new contract, the whole scene remains fresh and exciting.

The future’s so bright, etc, etc.

And it’s all far from ho hum, as yesterday’s 3-1 W over Wright State proved, completing completing an undefeated Regional weekend. Continue reading Cardinal Nine Advances to Sweet Sixteen

Hoopaholic Heaven: Tit for Tat & the Title

b-ballSoon enough I shall get to the several Shining Moments at the end of this truly championship-quality championship game, one which should have been played somewhere deserving, at Freedom Hall or the Palestra or Cole Fieldhouse or Hinkle or anywhere hoops worthy other than a cavernous pigskin palace in football country.

In a moment, maybe, maybe not, I shall join the crowd and extol the virtues of Kris Jenkins rising to the considerable occasion, Ryan Arcidiacano living out his dream, Jay Wright’s exemplary game plan and its execution, the Tar Heels’ resolve, Phil Booth’s amazing performance off the pine, Joel Berry’s opening half play, the contrasting reactions of MJ and Rollie in the stands, the Jenkins/ Britt brother against brother angle, and all the other storylines inclined to stick with us about the most exciting NCAA title tilt ever.

But first, I must admit, my thoughts the morning after are not of my resounding “Holy Shit!!” at the buzzer, or, frankly, the game itself. What I couldn’t get out of my mind were the words of a Carolina coach.

And it’s not Roy Williams, who was after the L in his cloying good ol’ Southern gentleman wish I coulda done more for kids mode. Continue reading Hoopaholic Heaven: Tit for Tat & the Title

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The Best Two are Left

bballHopefully we are in for a treat tonight, what with the indisputably best two teams in the land vying for its One Shining Moment, whoever might be warbling that iconic tuneage when the confetti’s flying.

We should finally be able to make some sense of this cockamamie season — Remember when we were worried about the legacy of SMU, should the Mustangs have finished undefeated? And this weird tourney. You know Northern Iowa’s choke job against the Texas Aggies was as bad as it could get . . . we were so very sure . . . until Oklahoma laid down in the semis.

Through all the ups and downs since November, while filtering through wannabe flavors of the week, Villanova and North Carolina have been the most consistent. It’s far from every year that the top two are left standing to compete on the final Monday.

Didn’t happen last season, even though a couple of #1 seeds tangled for the title. Nor, certainly the year before, when a #7 beat an #8 for the crown. Perhaps the last such tussle, the two best tilting toward title town, was UK over Kansas.

No matter. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The Best Two are Left

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Final Four Musings

b-ball67.

Of all that numbers that are of some significance during this cockamamie college hoops season in which stats have seemed less relevant than usual, that’s the one that stands out to me.

67.

In early December, in a made for TV, made for the Pearl Harbor commemoration tilt, the Oklahoma Sooners reenacted the kamikazee bombing from WWII, the victims of which aerial attack were that day. a seemingly hapless Villanova Wildcat squad.

The Cheesesteaks fired up thirty something treys, hit but a handful, and came out on the short end of the final score by . . . 23 points.

The teams met again on the final Saturday of the season in a cavernous football stadium for a right to contest the national championship. The 44 point turnaround smackdown suffered by the Sooners made that December beatdown look like a slap on the wrist.

In a way, that December slaughter in Honolulu made a Nova W inevitable last night. Not that anybody could have possibly seen Oklahoma’s crack up coming. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Final Four Musings

Texas Western/ Kentucky: What About the Game Itself?

b-ballWhat’s gotten lost in the imperative that is the historical in hindsight relevance of that culture shifting NCAA title tilt in College Park in ’66 is . . . the game itself.

For years, when the topic of Texas Western’s “upset” of Kentucky comes up, to impose some sort of hoops veneration it would seem apparent, I have lorded over those listening, my attendance in Cole Fieldhouse that night.

Then, as I did just the other day in this space, I’ll offer that I do not recall any buzz at the time about the all black starting lineup for the Miners vs. the all white squad of the Wildcats. I certainly don’t remember seeing any Confederate flags in the gym, as fictionalized in a recent movie about Don Haskins and that championship team of his.

I do remember whom I went to the game with, some frat brothers. I do remember that three of us went to a museum that afternoon in D.C. — the Phillips Collection, where I stood mesmerized by Renoir’s “Luncheon at the Boating Party” — while the our pal went to play the ponies at Pimlico.

I recall seeing Louie Dampier and a couple of teammates walking around the team hotel that afternoon in shirts and ties.

But, but, but . . . I recall very little about the actual games that weekend — it wasn’t yet called the Final Four — and how they were contested. Continue reading Texas Western/ Kentucky: What About the Game Itself?

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: From 16 > 8 > 4 & the Coaching Carousel

b-ballIf I didn’t know better, I’d have to believe some of these tourney games were contested in MacArthur Park.

Northern Iowa. Stephen F. Austin. Ever to the threshold but never beyond Gonzaga. The usually preternaturally resolute Wisconsin Badgers, outscored 8 zip in the last :19 seconds, not even making it to OT.

They all melted in the dark.

The biggest surprise of all choke jobs: the Charlottesville Wahoos whose game like the cake of Richard Harris was left out in the rain?

Tony Bennett’s team has Ludvig Von play mastered, they’re classicists. When they hit all the scripted notes on the staff, it’s a thing of beauty, a veritable sonata. There is a beauteous resonance when they are in control.

Such as they were Sunday evening, fiddlin’ their way to the Final Four, up 14 with ten to play, doin’ their Beethoven thing, when, well, when Jim Boeheim got in touch with his inner rock & roller — Who knew? — and the Orange went all REO Speedwagon on UVa.

The Cavaliers did not ride the storm out. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: From 16 > 8 > 4 & the Coaching Carousel