Louisville Card File: Memphis State

dunikcardDuring halftime, as I usually do, I wandered from the press area over to my peeps for a quick breakdown of the game.

My greeting: “Welcome to the 2014 Louisville Cardinals. This isn’t a very good basketball team.”

Doc is a double alum, a long time diehard, and a fellow more inclined to doom and gloom than myself. Which is saying something.

He simply shook his head in agreement.

Then said, “This is a lose to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT kind of team.”

Ouch. My knee jerk reaction: “Oh, these guys will make the NCAA.”

Which knee jerk reaction, I, frankly, reassessed on the ride home after the L. My certitude is wavering.

This morning after, I received an email from another inveterate long time fan, a member of the local media.

“Cards? Lucky to get an NCAA bid. Time to get honest. They’re a bad team.”

Reality about this edition of the Louisville Cardinals is starting to seep through.

* * * * *

When I got home, I turned on the Arizona/ UCLA game.

Insufferable Bill Walton was doing the color bloviation. In my mind’s ear, I heard how he’d pontificate, if covering last night’s U of L tilt with the Tigers.

“Come on Cardinals! Come on fans! This is Memphis State!!! This is your long time rival! First conference game at home!

“Where’s the excitement? Where’s the passion? There’s none on the court. There’s none in the stands. This is unacceptable for a high level team. You’re the defending national champs, for heavens’ sakes!!!!”

* * * * *

There’s not much to break down here.

The Cards were flat from the start. The Cards were flat in the second half.1

Perhaps the most disheartening revelation of the evening was that Memphis State’s guards are even quicker than U of L’s quick trio. And play with significantly more maturity and focus.

Jackson, Crawford and Johnson totally controlled the pace of the game, repeatedly beat U of L off the dribble, scored on lots of uncontested shots, and tallied 15, 12 and 13 respectively.

The visitors hit six threes, just two more than Louisville. But, several were totally open without a defender in the time zone to offer resistance.

Which is to say, Louisville’s defense, to use the technical term, sucked.

The battle on the boards was essentially even,2 and U of L had five more offensive caroms. Yet, several times couldn’t tip the ball in the hoop.

* * * * *

Everybody but Luke played at half speed. And, Hancock always is a step slower than the rest.

But he’s got a Tuesday Beer League at the Y Hall of Fame kind of game. If he hadn’t played far and away his best game of the season, the “White Out” would have been a Memphis Blue Blizzard.

Only Silent L somewhat matched the Final Four MOP’s intensity. 14 points. 11 boards. But Harrell is never going to be the focus on offense.

To repeat myself, Russ Smith misses Peyton Siva more than anybody.3He’s losing the ball way too much. He’s pressing. His overdribble and missed shot with a minute to play and the Cards down one, were — let’s be honest — absurd.

He may have scored 19 points, but he provided nary a scintilla of leadership. And, given his personality, it is probably unfair to ask him to do so.

* * * * *

With 5:23 to play, U of L led by 5.

They were outscored by 11 the rest of the way.

* * * * *

Okay, enough already. I’m even tired of hearing myself whine.

Just to say it was the least energetic game Louisville has played at home in two years or so. And, far and away, the least energetic game against rival Memphis State that I can remember. As in, ever.

The crowd was even worse. The game started about five minutes earlier than normal, at 7:02.4 Which is no excuse for the late arriving, less than intense crowd.

Perhaps if the fans worried less about what white garb they would wear, less about whether they wanted a beer or a cocktail, and more about the game, this Memphis State affair might have had the feel of the old days, might have the intensity that permeated Freedom Hall when Dana Kirk, Keith Lee, Andre Turnover and Elliot Perry came to town.

Whatever. It sure wasn’t in the house last night.5

* * * * *

So much for the focus on handchecking by the zebras. It was rampant last night, in a game reminiscent of the bloodbaths in the old, real Big East.

To use the vernacular, the guys in stripes were “letting them play.” Armor was once again required for those daring to cut through the lane.

* * * * *

Bobby Petrino was not introduced to the crowd.

Which I found an interesting, if appropriate choice.

— Seedy K

12 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Memphis State

  1. I concur, Seedy. These guys will not get an NCAA bid. And it’s too broke to fix. No defense, and learning the schemes at this juncture is simply too late

  2. With regard to the issue of the “new” fouling rules, doc and I had an interesting conversation during the game. I suggested that ESPN, which runs the world of sports, has decreed less foul calling so that the second game of double headers wouldn’t routinely start many minutes late which has been the case. ESPN might want less foul calls. Doc agreed that is a possibility and said it would be interesting to run an experiment on whether the second game of these double headers is refereed more closely than the first. Such an experiment would be interesting. With regard to the Cards, let’s face it. We’ve been to two final fours in the last two years and won a national championship. That ain’t bad. It simply isn’t going to happen every year, even at UK. We are just not very good this year.

    1. Interesting that you should say that because I said in the first half that they weren’t calling much of anything and asked if that could be a reaction to games like ours at Rutgers that went 2 1/2. But then to prove how awful the zebras were after calling 10 fouls the first half they called 22 the second. Wonder if anyone ever told them that even if they suck they should be consistent at it.

      I still think we make the big dance but as soon as we meet a team with a good frontcourt we’re adios.

    2. One thing I noticed about the difference in stopping penetration is that while neither team used hands (and for the most part if they did a foul was called) Memphis employed bumping with the legs almost every time and was called for it only twice. It would seem that below the groin contact is being ignored. We should try that because we sure aren’t stopping penetration now.

  3. As usual, you are wrong on so many levels…

    First and foremost–this is not an NIT team. The undersigned will match any and all American dollars that either you are Mr. Mark want to put up in than regard up to the money you won in the Vig Bowl pool. Sportsby can hoid the money …Either of you in?

    Second, this team is having to recreate itself after Chanes dismissal. It will not happen overnight and the creation will be Frankensteinish if SVT has to play 30+ minutes a game. SVT is really good for 5-7 minutes per half—any more than that, you are pushing the envelope. I highly suspect our head coach knows that fact and this will be remedied in short order in one of many ways.

    Next, HFCRP will figure out the best way for this team to play. Whether that be 1 big and 4 smalls; or Wayne at the 4 or Luke as the point-forward in an old man’s YMCA kinda way, he will figure it out. I trust that he knows more and can fix more ills than the Negative Naybobs of whom you oft speak

    Finally, the crowd was not bad at all last night compared to earlier games this season. Most fans that I know of were still embroiled in the New Head FB Coach drama that just unfurled. The crowd around me was speculating just as much about fb recruits and whether Bobby P would make an appearance as they were whether Russ would become Russdiculous again or if the American Conference refs would call a third goal-tending on balls that never made it up to or over the rim. As defending NatChamps, it will probably take more than a game against the neo- Mike Dean, Josh P, to fire up the fans against a team that just lost a game at home to Cincy by 16. Over confident fans and team? Probably. But neither of these groups need me waylaid by said confidence to ruin the season.

    Will this years team win another NC or even reach the Final Four? Probably not; but the 2009 team that should have won it all fizzled out in the E8 as well. But to give up now is unreasonable and not indicated by the results of this season that is just beginning in earnest. I prefer to believe the post-game words of Coach B Pearl who opined that you won’t want any of these Cards in March.

    Oh, and really last, I can’t believe you, of all people, don’t love to listen to the Dead Head Red Head. What has happened to you?

    1. We had gotten UofL emails saying Petrino was going to be introduced during the game and then when he wasn’t my wife asked one of the baseball coaches sitting next to me if he knew anything about why it wasn’t happening. He said (no way to know if he really knows) that Rick didn’t want that to be a distraction. If that’s true I think that means he knew it was going to be a lot tougher game than what the spread indicated.

  4. I have to agree wholeheartedly with the comments of Coach jg joyner, especially since he said I could hold the money! Chane’s absence last night cost us the game — we are now a work in progress without him. Give the defending champs time … and a break.

  5. How typical that Sportsby would stand by JGJ. I have no words to describe your lack of perception about this team.

  6. If you are looking for a team to root for this season, you wish to start following the amazing and undefeated Badgers who are everything Louisville is not…mainly a team that plays as a team, unselfishly and with joy and passion. They have the Hoosiers this Tuesday. Coverage by Louisville’s newest independent sportswriter would be welcomed and appreciated.

  7. Louisville doesn’t play selfishly or without passion. Right now, the Cards just aren’t very good.

  8. Great distance tends to give some perspective to the current condition of Louisville basketball. To all my friends up north, not to worry, the Ville will be in the big dance and you can take that to the bank. While not the caliber of recent teams they are certainly one of the top 35 in the country. Ricky P will go much more to a zone D, Mango will continue to develop,Luke will find his shot,Russ will stop being so ridiculous and once again all will be well in the land of hoops.

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