Louisville Card File: Michigan State

joaniecardRemember I must, during this sad but inevitable aftermath that befalls 67 of the 68 invitees to the Dance, that reaching potential is the goal, that striving for the greater is admirable, that acceptance of what is, more so.

Remember I must what I’ve thought and written during these Days of Dance, that advancement to the Round of 16 meant this U of L team, given the reality of it limitations, had maxed out; that when it surged a step beyond, it had succeeded past legitimate expectations.

Of course, I am disappointed. But not despondent.

There are those instances from Sunday that I ponder, but, truly, only for a moment.

What if Mango’s second FT near regulation’s end had gone down?

What if Wayne hadn’t dipped his toe in the lane on a missed State FT, allowing the Spartans anther opportunity and another point?

But, those laments dissipate in a blink.

Mathiang fought hard for that rebound of Rozier’s miss with the clock winding down, and, despite being hacked and bumped, his follow shot almost dropped. And his ensuing one all net plus iron FT sent the tilt to OT.

Most of all, I am thinking fondly of Wayne Blackshear.

I’ve been defending him here from the naysayers who have dogged him throughout his career.

In his last game, the Academic All-American played his best game. But for his efforts, Louisville wouldn’t have had the chances to prevail it did.

When the Cards were down 4 with less than two minutes of action left, Blackshear drained a three, the kind of shot that’s almost too wide open. Moments later he nailed two FTs to give U of L a one point advantage.1

* * * * *

It is a testament to the Cardinals’ resolve that they were even in the game at the end.

They shot only 36% from the field, and squandered 9 chances at the FT line.

Thanks to Jaylen Johnson’s follow tip when Gavin Schilling blocked Terry Rozier’s attempt on the end of half Sosa play, U of L was up 8 at intermission.

Then came one of those vexing fallow interludes that have plagued the Cardinals all season, that became, truth be told, the defining character trait of this edition of U of L hoops.

During the opening two segments of the second half, until the second media timeout at 11:59, U of L’s only score from the field in 7 attempts was a Terry Rozier steal and slam. Plus Wayne Blackshear’s 7 FTs in 7 attempts.

Nine points in 8 minutes, yet the Cards were still playing such dogged defense, they still led 49-47.

Louisville missed 6 of its next 7 FG attempts, yet kept Michigan State at bay. Until the Spartans finally pulled even with 8:57 to play.

That U of L only made 2 shots in 14 attempts to start the second half, but were still tied, is this team in a nutshell. Offensively challenged. Resolute and resilient on defense.

Sparty then spurted ahead because that’s what Tom Izzo’s teams do. This wasn’t wannabe Northern Iowa, or big talk no walk NC State. This was Michigan State, the school that annually overcomes its flaws better than any other.

Yet, the Cardinals never gave in, never gave up.

* * * * *

That’s how I shall remember the 27 win, 2014-15 University of Louisville Cardinals.

When the nation’s contenders were dwindled down to the Elite, U of L was one of the Eight still standing.

— Seedy K

8 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Michigan State

  1. In reality, Wayne stepping in early may have been the reason the FT was missed, so no responsibility for that point falls on his shoulders; he who carried the weight of his team the second half and also got “jobbed” on a second amazing catch-up from behind blocked shot of the tourney.
    In the aftermath when the dust settles, will Rick allow Rozier to “re-think” his certain departure? Will Trez react the way some of last year’s Katz did and decide he wants to go out a victor ?

  2. Blackshear was magnificent. Izzo’s halftime adjustments were superb. The KY-Wisconsin game will be a classic. A Wisconsin-Duke final? I think so.

  3. Blind….Izzo’s halftime adjustments were sublime and effective to the nth degree. As much as I admire our coach, he was slow to adjust to the MSU changes that directly lead to the rapid loss of our 8 point half time lead. I would have loved to have seen us go straight man or do something at least a little different coming out of the locker room, figuring that Izzo would surely alter his plan of attack at the half.

    Yet despite all that, the inability to shoot on a Final 4 level (FGs and FTs) proved to be our undoing, despite all the “what-ifs” and “coulda beens”. Our half court offense failed to score a basket until what? 8 minutes to go in the game? Hard to win that way.

    Trez and Terry showed that a season long grind of carrying the team was too much even for their heroic efforts. Love Terry and hope he comes back. If he does, next year will be great, if not, not so much…….

    …..and, unless Wisky used it all up Saturday, I fully expect they will beat UbaK. That was the best I saw any college team play all year. Absolutely great game by both the Badgers and Arizona.

  4. What Greg said about Izzo is why I was rooting like mad for Oklahoma. Izzo is quite simply the best March coach in the land. Better than Ricky P., The K at Duke, Cal and all the rest. Chuck tells me Rozier is gone and it seems Ricky P is doing a softer version of Rodney Rhodes on him. I can’t figure out why, but he usually says we are going to talk to NBA people, etc. etc. and there is none of that. The roster next year will be largely unrecognizable. Gill is already gone and I wouldn’t be surprised if Onuaku and Aaron are close behind. But that may not be all bad. Incoming frosh supposed to be great but so were Aaron and Gill.

  5. As usual, I must disagree with The Professor’s assessment of Pitino’s relationship with Rozier, which is not in any way similar to his relationship with Rodrick Rhodes. RP and Rhodes had real conflicts, and RP wanted him gone. Rozier’s decision is based on his desire to make money to help his mother, who apparently works two jobs to support her family, as well as his desire to play pro ball. I don’t for a second think Pitino is kicking him out the door.

  6. Blackshear’s graduating and Montrez is turning pro. There go two classes of upperclassmen. Next year just Levitch and Mangot return to fill the upperclassmen slots. It’s sad. Wasn’t the best thing about not being one-and-done that we would watch players develop for four years and miss them when they’re gone. Just two years ago, four beloved seniors left. Is all that over? What’s up with this?

  7. I think The Rick thinks there are no one and dones in the upcoming freshman class. Except, uh, maybe, Mitchell, if he’s as good as heralded. So, a solid base is being built. Or, so I would assume is Pitino’s theory. While The Professor is incorrect about Rozier leaving, The Rick did go Rod Rhodes on Gill and, it is believed, Shaqquan Aaron.

  8. I didn’t say that he did a Rodrick Rhodes just a soft facsimile. The fact remains that he seemingly made no effort like he did with Russ and Georgi to have NBA people talk to him about his talent. I hope he is a first round draft choice and is able to help his mom. I will be amazed if he is, and all you have to do is look at Russ to see what the fate of second rounders often is.

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