Louisville CardFile: Florida State

joaniecardUpdated 1/21 at 1:15.

The dunk, ah yes, The Dunk.

Well, ever the contrarian, I shall not start with that moment. Though, rest easy and be patient, I shall get to it soon enough.

After all it has hoopaholics locally and across the B-ball universe ODing. And, should Dickie V have been telecasting U of L’s 84-65 W over Florida State, we may have had the unfortunate pleasure of watching him implode with hyperbole before our very eyes, his viscera blasting through 55 inch Samsungs across the country. (Thankfully he was elsewhere.)

So, yes, more in a bit about Donovan Mitchell’s splendorous slam, and its place in Cardinal lore. But first, I want to talk about my favorite play of his last night. 

At the 3:52 mark of the opening period, The Rick was forced to call a timeout. Back to back threes by Seminole Devon Bookert narrowed the Cardinals’ margin to six at 29-23.

Louisville steadied, fashioning a nifty half ending 12-4 run, which began with a converted 1+1 by steady David Levitch.

And finished with an Anas Mahmoud dunk. This was made possible by a radar precise 47 foot assist from the aforementioned Mr. Mitchell. He hurled the rock literally as he crossed mid court, aimed bullsye perfect into skying Mahmoud’s hands right at the rim.

That was my favorite Donovan Mitchell play of the night.

 * * * * *

But, before I dissect this Cardinal victory further, I am required by my membership in Hoopaholic’s Anonymous and the Basketball Bloggers of America, to report on . . . you know what.

First of all, let me boast. Who has, on several previous occasions, dared to compare Mitchell’s hops with He Known As The Living Legend himself, he who promised U of L faithful a first NCAA crown and delivered, Darrell Griffith?

You are correct, moi.

So, it hasn’t been difficult to see a highlight reel of a play like this coming. Which isn’t to say it still didn’t stupefy.

Beyond the sheer athleticism required to perform such a feat of legerdemain, and the heady basketball instinct inherent in the execution, there are two other factors which make it even more special.

It was an atonement. Mitchell had just missed the second of a two shot trip to the charity stripe. But that Levitch kid, getting more minutes than usual due to foul trouble in the Cards’ backcourt, snared the miss. Then the dunk du jour came off a carom of one of Damion Lee’s many errant and ill-advised bombs.

The exclamation point: Mitchell caught the ball after it sizzled through the nets and after he landed, turned upcourt and with a stoic look on his face, simply let it slip out of his hands.

No caterwauling necessary. Classy.

 * * * * *

Long before Montrezl Harrell and his penchant for dunks (and disturbing trait of excessively celebrating after each one), U of L was known in the late 70s as The Doctors of Dunk. Such was the novelty of the nomenclature, they even came out once for warmups in surgical scrubs. (Apparently the tops were too restrictive, so the affectation was one and done.)

So, as is our wont, we scribes (and fans alike) are inclined to need to place Mitchell’s masterpiece in the hierarchy of famous Cardinal flushes.

This morning, Eric Crawford provided his list of Best Dunks of the Pitino era. Which justifiably includes Silent L’s breathtaking breakaway slam in the ’13 title game off a Peyton Siva feed, to complete a Card 1st half comeback against Michigan, after four treys in a row by Luke Hancock.

Who am I to disagree? That’s probably the most famous U of L dunk of all.

The best of all time? Well, I’m going to go Earl Cox on you, and state it came from Everick Sullivan against the same foe as last night, Florida State, in the Metro Conference Tournament, in either ’89 or ’91. (I’m an old fart, I can’t remember every detail.)

Sullivan, a high flyer in the grande Cardinal tradition, had the ball in the deep corner, to the left of the hoop. Sensing a path, he faked right, and took off along the endline. At some point, he achieved lift off, twirled 360 degrees and tallied the deuce with extreme prejudice.

Okay, thanks to eagle-eyed reader Tony Wilson, I provide the footage of that dunk, which came in ’89. And, now observe it was a 180, not 360. But it was seriously contested. And, as boffo as I remember. (Interesting. As we tend to do, I recall the dunk, but not his great winning shot from the same spot in the corner.)

Feel free to disagree. This is not an objective consideration.

The first major flush of significance came on February 3 of the Cards’ first championship season. It was performed by the Doyen of the Doctors of Dunk, Mr. Griffith, in a national TV W at then relevant St. John’s.

Grif swept across the lane with his back to the basket, was fed a lob as he elevated, and slammed it over the back of his head without looking at the iron.

Feel free to disagree. This is not an objective consideration.

 * * * * *

Given how many of the good teams have been struggling, losing to unranked schools, to unranked schools at home, and lesser lights on the road, a victory as emphatic as last night’s over the young, shaken and playing without their steady starting point guard Seminoles is not to be discounted.

While U of L still hasn’t proven itself against a squad from the highest echelon of the game, the Cards continue to improve and impress.

Other than precocious rookie Malik Beasley, who tallied 23, the visitors looked like they’d never been checked before. Louisville’s D was significant, giving up a few fastbreak bunnies when the press was broken for the greater good, i.e. wearing down Leonard Hamilton’s troops. Even Beasley struggled. Six turnovers. 1/5 from TreyLand.

U of L was +12 on the boards.

U of L was +11 in points off turnovers, +12 in points in the paint, +7 off the bench, and +4 in 2d chance points. Though to be fair, the Seminoles improved on their offensive boards late, when U of L had the game in hand, and, as is nature’s way, let up on the throttle a smidge.

 * * * * *

Other positives and negatives.

Mahmoud continues to play more fiercely with each game, with more time on the court. ( A side benefit of Mangok Mathiang’s injury.)

Ray Spalding continues to be a freshman, making a boffo steal or deflection one trip down the court, committing a silly reach in the next.

Damion Lee is learning to play upper echelon D. He had three steals, 5 boards. Lee however proved an offensive recidivist last night, despite three assists, jacking up a lot of unwarranted threeballs, going 2/9 from beyond the arc.

Trey Lewis had his steadiest game since his injury. 3/3 from the field, 3 rebounds 5 assists, only a single turnover, and, most important, less dribbling. Though he still needs to improve in that area.

Jaylen Johnson continues to toughen up underneath.

Deng Adel, bless his heart, is just lost. He’s not going to get tossed away like Shaqquan Aaron, because he busts his butt and has talent, and was injured, which set back his steep learning curve. He’s got a long way to go. Should his game kick in, and he become a legit contributor, this team’s upside ratchets higher considerably. It would allow The Rick to bench Lee when he does something stupid.

I don’t especially like that U of L was only 15/23 at the line. Or that it pissed away more than a third of the thirty two point 73-41 advantage it held with 6:49 to play.

The stars of the game: Mitchell with his signature slam and 13 points. Chinanu Onuaku with his fifth double double in a row, 11 and 14.

And, come on down for the crown, Q, with 20 points on 8/12 shooting, including that sweet floater for a tally to save a possession as the shot clock expired, and increase Louisville’s margin to 49-31.

 * * * * *

After last night’s W, the Cards with one conference defeat sit alone in second place in the ACC behind North Carolina, which boasts an unblemished league record.

U of L is ranked first in the land in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings, and #3 in Ken Pomeroy’s. (For comparison purposes only, UK is #31 and #30 respectively, and IU, #18 and #24.)

But now the rubber hits the dangerous, icy, snow-covered, pot-holed, impediment-strewn  road. The difficulty of the upcoming tests increases dramatically.

The ask UVa how tough it is road swing to the Techs, Georgia and Virginia. Then a UVa/ North Carolina Saturday/ Monday at the Yum!. Followed by a Durham/ South Bend road trip, and a Pitt/ Miami away adventure, plus a later stop in Charlottesville. Oh yeah, the Blue Devils and Boeheim come a callin’, with a few other trap games mingled in.

But, for today, the Cards are 15-3 (4-1).


— Seedy K

12 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Florida State

  1. Best dunk….Kyle vs. ND…that one ND cheerleader went to O-land on that one…and the shame is he got teed up…but for what? Not fulfilling the young ladies lust?

    Too early to tell, but we can beat anybody this year; let’s just hope we don’t lose a freak game sometime early in the tourney…

  2. Kuric’s slam a great one, no doubt. U of L Top 10, for sure. But I stand my ground. Have now, thanks to a loyal reader, Tony Wilson, posted a video of Everick Sullivan’s in the blog. It tops the list.

    1. An Everick Sullivan 180? Really? And in a Metro Tourney game, no less? No way! I’d argue that the magnificent slam by Montrezl in the 2013 NCAA tourney championship game is, far and away, the best (and certainly the most meaningful) dunk in Cardinal history. The feed from Siva and the emphatic dunk were a work of art, a thing of beauty, an unforgettable denouement to that joyous first-half comeback! Further, this should be considered an objective fact in Cardinal b-ball lore. Don’t let your fuzzy memory fool you, Seedy: No other dunk is even close.

  3. too many of Wesley Cox’s rocket -launched dunks to single out one, but he seemed to levate and then proceed horizontally fro a great distance in a line parallel to the floor all the way to attacking the rim;
    I was impressed with the coordinated drive & dish that Trey delivered as approached from the left wing to Damion who was slashing into the lane from the right wing for an “and-one”

    Nanu 75% at the line ??? What a fun game !

  4. Good call, Ken, on that Trey dropping a dime to Damion for the slash and score.

    Hazy memory on Wes Cox’s dunks. Do remember that Saturday afternoon tilt against Wichita State (maybe), when he just went off, couldn’t miss.

    1. I remember this little anecdote about Wesley Cox. His freshman, year, he had to play center, because Bill Bunton (I think) was suspended for not making grades. The next year when Bunton returned, he moved to a forward position. Some reporter asked him about the change, and he replied, “Wait till you see me play guard”.

    1. Griff’s alley-oop reverse didn’t happen at The Garden — that game was played on the St. John’s campus, in old Alumni Gym. That and a monstrous “Windjammer” dunk near the end of an 86-66 trashing of LSWho in the Elite Eight that year top my list of all-time great Louisville dunks.

    2. This was at St. John’s old on-campus gym, not The Garden. I rank this and a monstrous two-handed windmill dunk against LSU in the Elite Eight as my top two dunks in Cardinal history. The one against LSU was perhaps the ultimate “stick the fork in and turn ’em over, they’re done.”

  5. BlindLuck, I stand by my position that Sullivan’s slam was the best ever by a Cardinal, a subjective opinion obviously. Degree of difficulty. Seriously contested. The maneuver along the baseline. Sublime, and he hit the game winner from the same spot where he took off for the slam. (An interesting afterthought upon watching the video. Remembered the dunk, not the winning J.) Did not say Sullivan’s jam was most important, most significant, etc, etc. You are absolutely correct that Silent L’s was all that and more. Just not as difficult to execute as Everick’s. You forgot to mention Wayne Blackshear who got the loose ball and shuffled it ahead to Siva. Siva, who — here’s comes another opinion — played the best game ever by a Cardinal in that title W over the Wolverines. Relentless.

  6. Alan, that is also my distinct memory. I didn’t “correct” cbcard, because the video, which shows that dunk, indicates it came at the Garden. Incorrectly, I agree.

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