Of the nuances of another game we love, Larry Bird once observed — and I paraphrase — a free throw made or missed in the 1st quarter is just as important as one in the final seconds.
This thinking applies in college baseball, both micro in a specific game being contested, but also macro if somewhat differently over the course of the long season.
In ultra-steamy College Station, Texas, U of L’s Cardinals dropped two one-run Super Regional affairs, grinders in balance until the final AB. To a similarly talented ball club, blessed to be sleeping in their own beds.
Playing in familiar confines, before a rabid Aggie crowd with that institutional 12th Man attitude, as loud and quirky and inclined to try to get under foe’s skin as any in the land.
Given how the collegiate post-season is structured, what happens in March and April and May informs the scenario come tournament time.
I can’t help but wonder what if . . . Continue reading Card Nine’s Season Ends in a Grinder
Monday. Inclemency imminent.
Loser packs spikes for season. Winner to College Station for Super Texas Death Match.
High Noon. Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’.
PRP fave son Garrett Schmeltz surrenders two to Wolverines in top of 1st.
Looking to capture third straight in Astro stripes, U of L Cardinals blast back in their half.
Knapczyk single. Metzinger walk. Two go down. Usher doubles to right. Two score. Masterman drives him home. Humphrey HBP. Beard single scores another. Bianco HBP. Sacks full. Knapczyk bunt RBI. Metzinger walks again, run scores. Rushing reaches on error, Bianco tallies.
And, just like that, Cards up 7-2.
The fun had just begun. Continue reading Regional Roundup: Cards Balk Way to Supers
Idling at entrance of the Cul de Sac, the Cardinal Nine hit reverse in the ACC tourney, driving themselves out of a possible coveted Top #8 seed in the NCAA tourney.
So, a #12 it is.
It could be worse. There’s a regional on the home diamond at the Jim.
Last year the Cards were in line at the Dairy Kastle, when they ran out of soft serve at closing time. While 64 schools advanced to the playdown.
Despite the double meltdown last week at Truist Park, this campaign isn’t over, U of L lives for another day.
While the Cards might have hoped for more clutch knocks last week, it would appear they’re only going to advance as far as the guys taking the mound carry them.
Last week’s hurling performances fell short of engendering hope.
Their ace and closer gave up the tying and winning runs in the opener against Pitt. And umpteen hurlers failed to derail the Ramblin’ Wreck, who loaded the bases in four different innings, and scored a lot of runs.
But, as we wags are wont to offer, everybody’s equal at the moment.
A part of me wants to point out that U of L fans should also be pulling for TCU, Louisiana and Oral Roberts. Those are the three schools journeying to College Station to join #5 seed regional host Texas A&M. The winner of the foursome here plays the survivor of that one in a Super, at the home of the higher seeded school.
You do the math.
Then again, I must admonish myself as I so very often admonish others.
It’s the post season. You only play whom you play. Continue reading Monday Musing: The Tourney Draw & Griff’s Shot
Trying to deal with severe withdrawal symptoms, awaiting anxiously all the news that will be breaking about the Louisville Cardinals men’s program in weeks and months to come, a few last morsels of snark from last weekend’s Last Weekend.
Every time I look at Bill Self, I wonder: Is he wearing a toupee?
Always thought so.
A few years back, I presented the question in the media room before a game. It was universal that my supposition was absurd.
I remain skeptical those follicles atop his noggin’ are all ones grown naturally.
I am not alone. Write this in your search engine, “Does Bill Self wear a toupee?” and there are a plethora of articles considering the same curiosity. The consensus of conclusions: Yes he does.
I posed the query during a recent lengthy hoops colloquy with Doc. Who is an actual medical M.D., not somebody who just plays one on TV or stayed at a Holiday Inn last night.
He agrees with me.
It’s a rug.
* * * * *
For the opening portions of U of L’s semi against South Carolina, I watched the alternative telecast. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s FF E2: Off the Court Ponderings
As an admitted, not yet in recovery hoopaholic, I saw every dribble, Friday through Monday. Except, I’ll admit, for a moment or two at the fridge for just a smidge more guac. And the periodic nature’s calling moments. I took notes. This first edition includes a few random thoughts about what transpired on the hardwood. You’ve already read enough I am so very sure. Coming soon, some snark, the peripheral stuff.
The most impressive performance: Destanni Henderson.
Setting aside for a moment how she completely shut down U of L sparkplug Hailey Van Lith, Henderson totally dominated South Carolina’s title game spanking of UConn.
Yes, Aliyah Boston was all that. 11 and 16 against the Huskies. An obvious winner of the FF MOP award, combining that with her presence in the semi against the Cards. But Ms. Destanni was all that, plus much more in the final.
Career high and game leading 27 points. She controlled tempo. She set the Gamecock O in motion throughout.
Plus, as she did checking HVL, she throttled the nation’s most talented baller for the entirety. That would be Paige Bueckers.
One thing struck me as a Louisville fan. Henderson is 5-7. The same height as Van Lith. But with significantly more savvy and experience.
Which is to say, and it’s only partially wishful thinking with a lot of expectation, HVL will be kicking it up a notch or four next campaign. Given her legendary drive and work ethic, I wouldn’t be surprised if she passed on spring break at the beach to break down film, work on her game. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Final Fours E1: On the Court
Okay, pretend for a moment you know nothing about basketball, you know nothing about U of L hoops, or rivalries, or even are aware it is the season’s glorious capstone weekend.
You’re walking through a mall, say, Oxmoor, on your way to ask some Apple t-shirted acolyte how to delete a spam message on the new iPhone your daughter gave you for your birthday.
You’re walking by, oh, H & M, and see a couple college aged girls, laughing at something, punching each other in the upper arm as buddies do when they are giving each other congenial shit.
The shorter one, though still kind of tall, has a rounded face, blonde hair braided and a birth mark on her cheek.
The other, a few inches taller, has a face that looks to you, an elder, like she could be 14 or so, but you know that’s not true just by the way she’s acting.
Then you notice a basketball court tatted on the calf of the taller one.
Hmm, that’s odd, you think, wonder if she/they play basketball at some school around here? Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Final Four Final Four Weekend
Ebullient, with a palpable joyous relief, Louisville coach Jeff Walz answered the usual pro forma queries in the thrall of victory to the usual pro forma questions.
Happy for the team, went through hardship, never gave up, great group, etc, etc, etc.
Along the way he expressed his gratitude to Tom Jurich for the former AD’s faith when hiring the Maryland assistant coach, an intuitive and adroit move that now sees the former run of the mill program heading to it fourth Final Four, all during JW’s reign.
Wedged between the questioner and the coach was Hailey Van Lith. Displaying but a hint of exhaustion, she kept nodding as if it were still crunch time with minutes to play, the Cards down, and she being advised she needed to make a play.
HVL’s eyes burn fierce.
HVL is a perpetual motion machine. She was still redlining minutes after the buzzer, victory secured.
I’m not sure I can recall a U of L baller of either gender with more motor. Recency bias reminds me of Peyton Siva in the ’13 title game, but I’m sure there are others. Van Lith is certainly in the conversation, arguably at the top of the list. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Michigan
Here’s how I surmised it all came down. (At least through the smoke rings of my mind.)
Naismithius was trying to figure out how to finish this thing off.
Keep St. Peter’s ride going? Toss underrated Jim Larrañagga a bone, thereby depriving in-NCAA’s-crosshairs Bill Self a spot? Keep Houston in the hunt?
So, not quite sure how it should all move forward, he texted Dickie V. (Whom he would have called except that Mr. College Basketball can’t talk due to health issues.)
N: “Dick, what I should I do here? Strike it midnight for the Cinderfellas from Joisey? Go with chalk? Help me out.”
DV: “Are you kiddin’ me? Blue Devils. Tar Heels. Greatest rivalry in sports. Never played in the Dance. Coach K’s final ride. In the semis. C’mon, babyeee, Got To Be.”
N: “OK, the others?”
DV: “Yo, paisan, I’m not doin’ all the work. Goombah, figure the rest out yourself.”
* * * * *.
What we have upcoming, in a year of college hoops for which wackamundo is the only apt description, followed by a tournament as exciting as any in history (at least until an Elite Eight quartet of tilts that underwhelmed), we get the blue bloodiest of Final Fours. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s First Look: Blue Bloody Final Four
The first mention of it I heard came at the final buzzer from a cousin of the species, Ian Eagle (accipitridae announceris). His partner chimed in.
Then Mr. Bunny answered my call with “Happy National Peacocks Day!”
The muckety mucks at NBC, which once upon a time had the rights to the Dance, are wondering either how they can use this disambiguation to their advantage, or whether a law suit should be filed for trademark infringement?
Choose your favorite social media feed. It is festooned with images of afripavo congesnis. Which, to be somewhat more accurate, is but a subspecies of the genus pavo. And there shall be an explanation why it is particularly used here, when I finally wend my way to talking actual college hoops.
Which is coming right now. Almost.
Why this discussion of peacocks, a group of which is called an “ostentation” — which seems sort of appropriate in some way, but I’m not going to riff down that rabbit hole?
Have you been sleeping?
If you are reading here, I suppose not. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: A Friday Like No Other
If the answer is: “Of course, duh, I’m a hoopaholic,” the question must be . . .
. . . “Has Seedy K watched any of the NI1T quarterfinals?”
I shall own that I did see segments of the St. Bonaventure W over UVa. A slog if there ever was one. When I tuned in, during the 1st, neither team netted a hoop for almost ten minutes.
In my defense, I was cleaning out my closet, and had the game on in the background.
I also watched portions of the Tennessee/ Belmont game Monday evening, to get a sense of who and what the Cardinals will be facing in the Round of 16.
One more mea culpa. During a commercial break of “Around the Horn,” I flipped over to the UNC Wilmington/ Middle Tennessee title tilt of the Roman CBI thing. Fortunately it was halftime, and I quickly switched back. But not before noting that Joe “Mr. Irrelevant After Selection Sunday” Lunardi was doing color. Continue reading Hoopaholic Gazette: The Daze Between