Louisville Card File: Georgia Tech

joaniecardLoathe as I am to give my pal, my nemesis and long time Cardinal fan, The Professor, credit for any insight, I admittedly rue this moment for what I’m about to say. And shall be paying for it, for a good while, I suppose.

But when he’s right, he’s right.

For the second game in a row, the Cards pulled out a Jersey Victory. Which was the message Prof sent me after the game.

Not Jersey in the Paulie Walnuts sense, but jersey in that the continuum of the Louisville Cardinal tradition prevailed. While last night, Georgia Tech did what it usually does on the hardwood, i.e. remain the Ramblin’ Wreck, just as Miami’s Hurricanes couldn’t close the deal against U of L the other day at the Yum!.

No, here, it’s Jersey as in a program that’s had a winning tradition for decades. One where the force of long time accomplishment, where the spirit of Hickman and Crum and Unseld and Griffith and Ellison and Siva, where the come through in the clutch of Hancock and Tony Branch, are sewn in Cardinal unis with every stitch.

The Rick, as his bromantic campadre Coach K speaks of Duke, tends to refer to Louisville’s brand. As in, “we’re rebuilding the brand,” which he reiterated often in the resurgence to the ’13 national crown.

To me, it’s a loathsome term. Too Don Draper. Too “Mad Men.” Too Mad Ave.

To me, it’s about The Program. The Tradition.

How many times has Louisville prevailed in this situation through the years, simply because the Cards’ essence of victory, greater than its foe’s, prevails? Of course, it doesn’t happen all the time. But. there are games like last night’s and last Saturday’s, when one school knows how to win, has the will to do so, while the other falters.

Given all the above jabberwock, the kind of exultant hyperbole that comes from such victory snatch, a W was far from a given.

During a 0-7 Tech run midway through the 2d half, The Rick, his hair greying before our eyes,1 usually pacing, animated, with arms waving and foot stomping, sat forlornly in his chair, head in hands. The Cards were down 13, 28-41, and I jotted this in my notes: “Will L win another game?”

Improbably. Inelegantly. Perhaps, for the romantics among us, inevitably. And, certainly, for those watching on TW cable, where ESPN’s feed was jittery, not in HD. The Cards answered my query.

Louisville 52, Georgia Tech 51.

* * * * *

Perspective is important here for Louisville fans, cloaked as they be in the thrill of victory.

An L would have been devastating.

Tech, notwithstanding all the folderol about how Brian Gregory’s squad is better than its 11-16 record, is not a very good basketball team. Yet they outscored the Cards in the paint by a dozen, tallied 19 breakaway points to just 7 for U of L, while garnering 4 more 2d chance points.

Yes, the W was imperative, well deserved, gained through grit. A reason to be proud. And, that Jersey psychobabble notwithstanding, inexplicable.

But it’s hardly a harbinger of future success with March just past a trip Saturday to Tallahassee.

Jay Williams: “This is painful to watch.”

Seth Greenburg: “Louisville is not a good basketball team right now.”

Yeah, well, take this, Studio Dudes, a W on the road in the conference, especially in late February, regardless of the foe, is — all together now — a Martha Stewart “good thing.”

* * * * *

How did it happen?

Well, when it came about was surely not in the first half.

Yet again, the Cards opened like their engines needed a trip to my man Johnny Cecil for a tune up. U of L’s total output in its first 7 possessions of the game, a Terry Rozier deuce.

Plus, it’s not like they finished the opening stanza with any sort of rush either. In the final 9:27 before the break, U of L got a deuce from surprise starter Shaqquan Aaron, a Montrezl Harrell layup, another by Quentin Snider, and a FT by Q.

And, well, and nothing else, that’s it.

Seventeen first half points, marking the sixth time this season the Cards haven’t reached a score of points before intermission.2

After the break, Louisville pulled close quickly, then faded.

The Cardinals never looked confident or settled or, frankly, very good on defense. Not when they were zoning. Not when they were man to man.

But . . .

. . . and then . . . and then . . . and then . . . along came Terry.

* * * * *

Frankly I’ve not been especially pleased with Rozier’s offensive game of late. (Not that he, or you, could give a shit.)

He’s been more than a bit selfish with the ball, forcing matters. He hasn’t been finishing strong. Etc, etc.

But . . . against Tech, when it mattered, he displayed eye of the tiger determination.

8:36: TR 3. 31-41.

7:57: TR 3. 34-41.

Followed by a Harrell deuce, and, at 6:45, a Blackshear trey. (More about my man Wayne in a moment.) 39-41.

After that, even looking at my cheat sheet, the official play by play, it all becomes a blur. Rozier hit another three, and canned two important FTs. Then another layup.

And, finally, emphatically, four seconds after a Tech end to end tying tally, ignoring his coach who wanted him to slow it down and run a Sosa play, he executed that furious endline to endline gettaoutamyfuckin’way dash (and Tech) for another layup to retake the lead for good at 50-48.

When it mattered, the gum chewer chewed up the opponent, finishing with 22 points on 8/19 shooting.

* * * * *

Wayne Blackshear.

Huge rebounds. Eight for the night.

HUGE treys. Especially that no hesitation third chance long shot bullseye to knot the tilt at 46 with 1:50 on the clock.

And, oh yeah, after missing his first four charity tosses early in the game, he drilled those two absolutely necessary FTs at the :05 mark, to make it a two possession game.

Important FTs those, since a couple of seconds later, Tech cans its only three of the game, cutting the lead to that single wafer thin digit.

Which meant the Cards, for the win, had to survive feckless Anton Gill’s inbound pass to a spot right under the home team’s goal.

All’s well than ends . . .

* * * * *

Nanu had five boards, two steals, two blocks, including that game saving one at :07. He also tallied two points.

Q played steadily and with confidence. Six points. 4 assists. 4 rebounds.2 steals.

Anas Mahmoud also scored two, making it 7 Cardinals in the scorebook.

* * * * *

It was far from artful. Despite the win, U of L’s performance was always fraught with peril.

But it does give Louisville something to build upon, some hope.

The caveat: Savor this one, Cardinal fans, Ws are going to be hard the rest of the way.

— Seedy K

7 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Georgia Tech

  1. Seedy, I guess your buddies are napping—they’re probably exhausted from the all of the drama and another ugly Cardinal win. So, I’ll just jump in:
    1.] I basically don’t know jack about college basketball, other than it’s often a beautiful game and can be a joy to watch. I see it as a kind of contact ballet. The Cards are playing ugly basketball—not enough ballet this season, entirely too much opera.
    2.] Joe Lunardi is just another blowhard [with a very bad toupee].
    3.] Duke is good.
    4.] The Big 12 could have three or four teams in the Elite Eight—and West Virginia’s probably not one of them.
    5.] The ACC television network and its announcing crew have been pretty underwhelming throughout the year. But, it’s good to know, I guess, that Hardee’s is still in business and that they sell Made from Scratch Biscuits.

  2. Agree: U of L has been hard to watch all season, even when they’re playing well; Lunardi does have a bad toup, but the hair surprise of the week is that, for the first time ever, Pitino may be letting the greay show; Big 12 is good, but Bobby Huggs teams are tough outs when they play mean like this team; scratch biscuits always best (as long as the chef knows how to make them); and, yes, Duke is good, but young.

  3. I’m right about most things when it come to disagreements with Chuck. For example we should be glad that that asshole McConnell failed to get us in the Big 12 because they are by far the best basketball conference this year and will always be a better football conference than the ACC and they are probably a better baseball conference. Next, I watched Wisconsin for the first time tonight and it is great. They don’t foul and the game was played in less than two hours. Also they are coached to try to steal the ball with two hands and I’ve never heard any other coach from Adolph and Peck to Denny and Rick to all the other great ones ever say that that is how they coach. Maybe they do but if they don’t they should. Having said that, Kentucky would beat Wisconsin by 10-20 points. I could list thirty or forty other issues that we disagree on, but I don’t want to embarrass him! Having said all that, I still love him!! After all I’ve been with him (56 years) longer than I’ve been with Phyllis (47 years). One other thing we disagree on. I think the girls are much more fun to watch and better coached. At least this year for sure. But I sure miss Russ.

    1. David, I just returned from College Park, MD, and the Wisc. v. Maryland tilt. Wisconsin, “great”? Is the fact that the Terps beat the Buckys lost on you? MD led throughout. They held the Badgers to 20 first half points. They kept Kaminski in check throughout, unless he whined and kvetched ad naseum to the refs (his greatest talent.) Dez Wells was, on the other hand, a force of nature. Props to Melo, too.

  4. only trying to “steal” with two hands negates the ability to narrow passing lanes, and since both arms would need to be extended towards the ball would also mean the defender would be narrower as well and easier to drive around. Always having one hand shadowing the movement of the ball is more practical and a much greater impediment to offensive efficiency than what the TV commentator said about the Ryan way of teaching. That may be why Ryan is so unique regards to that technique and also not so unique with regards to not Ryan not bringing the Badgers to the Final Four as Bennett had done the year before Ryan took over.

    1. But trying to steal one handed almost always leads to a foul. Luckily for most teams the fouled team rarely makes free throws anymore (a lost art). Yes, I agree that I may have jumped the gun on Wisconsin because they did ultimately lose. But they are still pretty good. But perhaps Kentucky would beat them by 30 instead of 10-20. Dark horse alert–N.C. State

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