Tag Archives: Rick Pitino

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: Purdue

ccjoaniecardPurdue’s Game Notes in advance of last night’s encounter heralded Caleb Swanigan, Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas as “The Nation’s Best Frontline.”

Thus, the trio’s first half stat line provides empirical evidence of how good the Cardinals’ defensive game plan and execution of it was.

In the first 20 minutes, Swanigan was 0/2 from the field, didn’t get to the line and corralled 4 rebounds. Edwards was 0/4 from the field, didn’t get to the line with 3 rebounds. Haas — truly a mountain of a man, he dwarfs Matz Stockman — was 0/6 from the field, hit one of his two FT attempts and had only three boards.

While Edwards is somewhat lithe, like his Cardinal foes, Swanigan is an NBA-ready beast. (Which he put on display after halftime.)

My point is this. U of L’s thin but long bigs proved they can perform at championship level when they have time to prepare and follow Rick Pitino’s game plan.

Because, it was proven yet again that the Louisville coach is as good as there is or has ever been when preparing a team for a game if he has time. His plan was to give up threes but minimize the impact underneath. Good strategy. Good execution.

It worked perfectly for a half. And was a winning formula for the tilt, as U of L prevailed, 71-64. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Purdue

Louisville CardFile: Baylor

ccjoaniecardNote: This piece was written before I became aware that Rick Pitino, in his post game comments, blamed himself for the loss.

In this age of hyperbole people, especially sports fans, are inclined to speak with exaggeration.

That’s the best ever. He’s the worst.

So and so played his best game of the season in the second half against Whatchmacallit A&M. Youknowwho couldn’t hit a jumper if his life depended on it, he’s the worst.

I’m as guilty as anybody.

But I’m going there this time around in the wake of U of L’s second half meltdown against Baylor, during which the Cards blew a 15 point halftime lead, losing by three, 66-63.

There’s one more caveat before I make my point.

As much as I think I know about basketball, as closely as I observe every dribble, back cut and sneeze of every U of L Cardinal down to whether Ray Ganong has a firm hold on the timeout stools, I realize that Rick Pitino knows more. Much more.

He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s coached two national champs. He’s generally recognized as one of the best now and best ever. He sees these guys every day in practice.

So, as much as I sometimes question his moves or motives, as much as I occasionally disagree with how he prepares this squad or coaches in game, I keep it to myself. He knows more. Much more.

That said, there’s always a first time.

While he himself obviously didn’t turn the ball over, didn’t fail to get back on defense, didn’t block out, didn’t take a bad shot or short arm one, this loss is squarely on Rick Pitino. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Baylor

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

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Tipoff Has Arrived

b-ballArriving just in time as soothing balm in this time of anxious trepidation: College Hoops.

Can I get a witness?

Can I get a Hallelujah?

Because . . . well, just because it’s our beloved college basketball, and . . .

Because even though consensus #1 Duke has a bench that would probably be a #6 seed, Coach K’s “best” teams recently have faltered come March.

Because thanks to a rule tweak, The Rick will again be able to call a TO from the bench when Ray Spalding can’t get the ball inbounds.

Because when it’s late, and our eyes are shutting, and we figure it’s time for bed, there will be Bill Walton’s delightfully bloviating non sequiturs to energize us for another little bit.

Because of Monmouth’s bench. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Tipoff Has Arrived

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 CardFile: Pittsburgh

joaniecardAll things considered, U of L’s most impressive road W yet this season, 67-60 over the Pitt Panthers, should have been contested today, on Throwback Thursday.

For the manner of victory hearkened back to the First Golden Age of Louisville hoops, say, ’72-’86. Back then, on any number of occasions, the Cards would be contesting a good but beatable conference foe on the road. They’d fall behind, but, ever resolute, would pull back, and take a lead around midway through the final stanza.

The home team, eager for a victory over the Cards, would stay the course.

So, to close, Louisville would need to score every possession down the stretch. Which, on way more occasions than not, the Cardinals did.

Were my memory more intact, I’d recite chapter and verse. But, it isn’t.

But even with all those “program wins” the Cards have celebrated through the decades, I’m not sure I can recall one quite as prodigious as last night’s.

Of course, it was set up by one of Louisville’s worst interludes of the year, coughing it up on three consecutive possessions, when a 40-37 advantage morphed quickly into a 40-41 deficit. To which Pitt scored 7 more in a row.

Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh