Literally, it translates as “son of commandment.” In the tradition, it is the ritual when a boy. upon turning 13 years old, is deemed a man. Thereby, presumed capable of, and required to assume responsibilities of adulthood, both within the faith and daily life.
Obviously, it is an artificial demarcation. Given the exigencies of real experience, that moment of transition is not foretold, not pro forma ritual. It happens when a situation is presented, and he who was youth acts with a previously inarticulated maturity.
Boy to man.
Yesterday, in Seattle, during the University of Louisville Cardinals’ opening round tussle of the 2015 NCAA tournament, Cardinal fans were able to observe not one, but two such moments of passage.
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In a herky jerky, far from elegant, but closely fought game, U of L was facing challenge.
With 1:01 on the clock, slender margins of 7 (in the first half), and 5 (earlier after the break) long gone, the Cardinals fell behind, 53-55 on a jump shot by Irvine Anteater Luke Nelson.
Wayne Blackshear was the man.
Though he had missed a jumper just the possession previous, he did not hesitate, he displayed not a bit of the tentativeness that has defined his career. Getting the ball on the wing, without flinch or stutter, he drove to the hoop for the tying tally.
He was, to roll out the echoes, not to be denied.
Forty three seconds left to play, the game was knotted 55 all.
With the clock winding down several ticks later, Nelson missed a three. As often happens with long range misfires, the ball caromed far from the hoop, this time into the corner along the baseline in front of the Irvine bench.
Quentin Snider, reacting adroitly to the path of the ball after the errant attempt, flew to it just ahead of two foes, grabbed it, and was forced out of bounds by the momentum of Will Davis II’s charge.
But for the swings that life brings unexpectedly, Snider would not have been presented with this moment.
He might have been in his dorm at the University of Illinois, watching his home town school play on TV.
He might have been on the bench, cheering on his senior predecessor Chris Jones.
Instead it was Quentin Snider, rookie, at the free throw line, with a 1+1, and advancement to the Round of 32, hanging in the balance.
Quentin Snider was the man.
When U of L fell behind early, those two, Snider and Blackshear, provided ballast. Q, with a floater after Pitino called a timeout, down 4-8, 3:40 after the tip, cut the lead to two. On the next trip, WB did the same to knot it.
* * * * *
This victory, this escape, many will say, was a Jersey Victory.
When it mattered, the Louisville Cardinals, its tradition forged through the decades, prevailed. The Anteaters did not even get off a final shot.1
The Cards had committed so few fouls, Irvine wasn’t close to the bonus. After retaking that lead with clock expiring, U of L had two to give. They needed but one. Then Terry Rozier, free to take a chance, knocked the ball loose from Alex Young. It pinballed off one of the defeated’s foot into Wayne Blacksher’s hands.
The paradigm of survive and advance.
* * * * *
Wayne Blackshear, he of many fans’ wrath for most of his career, played his best in the most consequential battle of his senior season.
Not only did he score the hoop described above that tied the game, but he tipped in a miss minutes earlier, that allowed U of L to retake the lead previously surrendered, at 52-51. Then converted the +1 after a timeout for 2 point advantage. Earlier, he made the score to push the Cards ahead, 37-35, after Irvine had overcome Louisville’s slender advantage at the break.
The senior from Chicago, who never left the court, led the Cardinals with 19 points, led the Cardinals with 7 rebounds, led the Cardinals with 3 offensive rebounds.
Quentin Snider also played the best game of his burgeoning career.
Sixteen points on 6/11 shooting, and 5 rebounds, second on the team in both categories for the afternoon.
Louisville’s oft maligned pivotmen, especially Mangok Mathiang,2 all contributed in ways that don’t show on the stat sheet, battling the humongous presence that is Mamadou Ndiaye.
Mango’s two second half steals of attempted lobs to the übersized Senegalese center altered Irvine’s attack somewhat. That was one of the keys to the Cardinal W.
I thought Terry Rozier played a really mature game. Irvine played a box and one, so TR was chased closely the entire night. He didn’t try to force matters. But still ended up with 12 points on 5/10 shooting. More salient, he dished out 5 assists. And, uh, that game-sealing steal.
* * * * *
Due to the nature of the game, and Irvine’s strategy, and Ndjiaye’s presence, Montrezl Harrell wasn’t a significant factor in the win.
He will be Sunday against Northern Iowa. His match up with the Panther’ similarly sized, similarly important to his team’s success, Seth Tuttle, is a battle I daresay we can’t wait to watch.
Which we get to do, now that this underwhelming, but resilient U of L Cardinal contingent has survived and advanced to the Round of 32.
— Seedy K