Louisville Card File: Notre Dame

joaniecardIt was as lovely a stretch of basketball as this unsteady edition of the University of Louisville Cardinals have played all season.


As Dick Vitale, who was in the house and shall be again Saturday, would say, “Scintillating! Sensational!”

After a performance before intermission that must be described as desultory, U of L, down 31-42, came out of halftime with the eye of the tiger.

Montrezl Harrell snared a missed Irish trey. Chinanu Onuaku grabbed an offensive board after a Terry Rozier miss. Trez got the second chance deuce in close. 33-42. After another ND misfire, TR tallied two. 35-42.

Rozier followed that with a swipe at midcourt, firing it ahead for a Wayne Blackshear flush. 37-42. After another errant shot by the visitors, Nanu scored on a nifty assist from TR. 39-42.

Timeout Mike Brey.

Coming out of the break, Jerian Grant committed his second giveaway of the half. Quentin Snider swished a lovely trey from the corner.

42 all. Game on!

During the ensuing media timeout, with the score still knotted, and the Yum! buzzin’, I jotted down this query: “Most important segment of the season?”

The answer, alas, is “No.”

The Irish didn’t score their first field goal of the second stanza until the clock read 10:34. Yet, that putback by the burr in the Cards’ sneakers Bonzie Colson, gave ND the lead, 47-46. They never trailed again.

Notre Dame hit its final seven shots of the game, also draining its last four FTs.

If Louisville motored through the beginning of the second half like a high end Beemer, the Cardinals fell apart at the end like a Yugo, missing its last five shots and generally playing with all the acumen of 4th graders at St. Polycarp.

Every time Louisville surged, they ran out of gas. In the first half, after surrendering 10 in a row, L spurted for 1:39, a 7 nil run that cut the deficit to 25-26. Then needed a pit stop, after the Irish trumped it, scoring 8 in a row.

The Cardinals shot better than normal early, 48% before intermission. But gave it away 9 times in the opening half, and allowed 58% marksmanship by ND. Jerian Grant even scored on an implausible last second fadeaway in Notre Dame’s version of the Sosa play.

So, despite that nifty interlude describe above, the second half mirrored the first.

The final margin was a dozen. As we are wont to say of such affairs, it wasn’t that close.

* * * * *

Louisville’s defense yet again look ragged, out of sync and less than stellar.

It is dumbfounding to me that it’s still, last night’s meltdown included, ranked as the 6th most efficient in the land.

The visitors beat U of L down court several teams, when the press broke down at the back end. And, no, Trez, it wasn’t just your fellow bigs. Notre Dame drove the lane seemingly at will against minimal outside pressure the Cards’ backcourt. Weakside help was inefficient, late, woeful.

With the ball, seasoned Notre Dame consistently created mismatches, allowing them to run their sets as they desired. And, the Irish are the second best shooting squad in the country.

So, Louisville’s defensive woes were manifest. That felony was compounded by some truly dreadful shot-taking decisions.

* * * * *

Several weeks back, I wrote down an observation that I’d been meaning to share. As such things happen, it got lost in the clutter on my desk.

It came to me last night.

This Cardinal team, while far from god awful if not close to being a contenda, lacks a personality.

Neither Harrell nor Blackshear, for different reasons, are able to lead, though they are the candidates to do so.

Rozier, in his zeal, one would assume, to bolster his NBA prospects, hasn’t grabbed the mantle. Plus he never feeds the open man on a fast break. Midway through the second half last night, U of L had a classic 3 on 1 situation, TR with the ball in the middle, the side lanes filled. He, of course, kept it himself, and got fouled.

Terry, throw the damn ball.

The youngsters, while full of promise, haven’t transcended their inexperience.

The team is without a player or penchant to rally around.

It happens.

* * * * *

There’s nothing in the numbers of any real significance.

Okay, there is the disparity in bench points. A deuce by Anas Mahmoud were the only by a Cardinal. While the Irish got 21 off the pine, 17 of them by Bonzai Bonzie.

Notre Dame is just a better basketball team. Last night it beat an iffy Top 25 squad on the road in March. A testament to its tenacity, since it really didn’t play all that well.

* * * * *

#2 Virginia comes calling Saturday in the regular season finale.

This is one where the scoring numbers might not beat the Fahrenheit.

— Seedy K

13 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Notre Dame

  1. What ambivalence to actually appreciate and enjoy a team that played basketball as a team that actually not only could run, dribble, pass, shoot, screen and box out but actually did all those things, but was doing it against the team for which I root and drive on snowy, icy roads to see play in the manner in which you have aptly described.
    Ali, to paraphrase , had said that anyone should be embarrassed if they even dreamed they could defeat him. If anyone one on this current team thinks they have what it takes to perform like a 1st round draft pick this year…. Trez probably deserves a 1st team ACC recognition. If anyone else is either or 1st or second team all conference selection, they should send roses to Kenny Klein.
    After that purging of negativism I should feel better, but I don’t

  2. Trying to find some hope. The ’12 team, a 12 loss team, which inexplicably made it to the Final Four, lost its last two games at home. One, to South Florida, for heaven’s sake, by 7 points. Senior Day? Fuhgettaboutit? So, uh, while this team doesn’t have Peyton or Russ or a developing Gorgui, all is not totally lost . . . yet. Besides, it’s real pretty outside, and it’s going to be in the 60s by middle of next week. When we’ll be able to swim to the grocery due to the flooding.

  3. I love the Cards, but it’s evident after last night, one can stick a fork in them. They’re done. It’s very conceivable that they will play three (maybe four?) more games this season. UVA, an ACC Tourney tilt or two and a first round bounce in the NCAAs. The Cards have no identity or sustained urgency. Overall, a pretty sad season in- and outside the lines.

  4. This was one of those mornings that I couldn’t bear to read the sports page. I get the sense that Terry Rozier has moved on. Blackshear and Harrell and an occasional contribution from someone else just aren’t enough. Some fine parts, but not much of a team really.

    But, here’s a thought for you, Seedy: The Cards will probably lose to an exceptional UVA team on Saturday to finish the regular season five and five. Then, let’s say, they win one game [maybe two at most?] in the ACC tourney. And remember that the Cards are also currently down one dynamic, troubled starting point guard. Does the NCAA committee drop them all the way to a No. 8 seed? I’m beginning to hope so. The Cards would then be guaranteed a spot in a region other than Kentucky’s—and there’s hope in that.

  5. “sad season outside the lines” Hoya Destroya, since you live now where pot is legal — not that you’d imbibe in such a thing — you may not be aware that there’s been a turn in Chris Jones’ legal situation. An impartial young woman, who says she was present at the affair where Jones is accused of raping two women. claims he never raped anybody. We’ll see. If it is an ersatz accusation, that would be sad.

    1. sad that he would even put himself into a situation where he might have been present while a potential sexual assault took place or that he at this point of his “troubles” he was hanging out with a crowd that would even be indictable for alleged event.
      Decisions and behavior on and off the court clearly makes one question his judgement. For his sake I hope this young woman’s story is true.

  6. Blind Luck, it’s most possible the Cards could drop to an 8 or 9. If memory serves, and mine is increasingly inaccurate by the day, I thought I raised that possibility in one of my blogs, a month or so ago.

  7. Yes, Seedy, these are High Times in Our Nation’s Capitol, but it doesn’t cloud my judgement. I point to Ken’s comment above and concur. CJ was already in the dog house but broke curfew. That’s enough to cause his dismissal, no? And weeks ago, CRP alluded to discord—MY words, not his—among the team. I never got the sense, consistently, this year’s model was a Band of Brothers.

  8. True, Hoya Destroya, but I bet if it was just a curfew violation, it would have been a suspension, not a dismissal. Maybe not? But The Rick’s a self serving pragmatist.He played an injured Carlos Hurt in the NIT, then sent him packing.

    And, I agree, this team’s biggest flaw is probably its lack of leadership.

  9. Actually, I remember that fast break and I believe it was 4-1. And not only did Terry not convert, he missed two free throws. I really don’t think he’s going to impress the NBA scouts with awkward, off balance shots that go clang in the night. An assist, which would indeed require him to pass the ball, would have been nice. This is just not a top 10 team. This is not a contender. And I still submit that their most glaring weakness, effecting both offense and defense in a big, big way, is no reliable, consistent play at the 5.

  10. SmartGuy, the fast break I was referring to was, as best I recall, 3 on 1, and Onuaku was wide open on the right, while the defender was right in TR’s grill. It came with 9:43 to play, and he made one of two FTs to knot the game at 48. But, specifics aside, we are in total agreement. After that play, in my notes, I wrote, “Throw the fucking ball!!!” It’s disgusting selfishness.

  11. At one point during the game two words came to mind: Towson State. The team that beat us in one of Denny’s last years. That was probably the most embarrassing loss in U of L history. But last night as I sat there and wondered why I had braved the weather, I was truly embarrassed. And as for Terry Rozier, I was wrong several weeks ago when I said Seedy was right when he opined that TR would definitely go to NBA next year. If he does he will be about as effective as the last Rozier we sent to the pros. It is a distinct possibility that we won’t score 25 points Saturday night against Virginia.

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