Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

joaniecardSo unnerving and, frankly, odd, was Louisville’s 56-53 escape over Georgia Tech on Senior Night, I kept expecting to see beleaguered school prexy James Ramsey walking into the arena with Donald Trump and the GOP candidate’s new bestest chum Chris Christie in tow.

So mediocre was the Cardinals play, the Greek God of College Hoops Naismithius surely must have turned to his Acolytes, and declared, “I realize Louisville deserves a setback here, but those seniors Lee and Lewis are such stand up guys, I’m going to allow the Cardinals to prevail. But, not without a scare. Tech is also worthy.”

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How odd was it?


With a half minute to play, and U of L clinging to a fast dissipating advantage then down to three, Chinanu Onuaku, a 59% FT shooter for the year, stepped to the line for a 1+1.

Channeling his inner Charlie Tyra, Louisville’s first superstar center, Nanu underhanded the first cleanly through the nets. Then the second, for a 54-49 advantage.

Which five point lead should have secured the game, given the Cards D, which had been dogged all evening.

But, as matters played out, it did not.

On the ensuing Tech possession, Ray Spalding, playing more meekly than usual due to a groin injury, perpetrated what was ruled a Flagrant 1 on the visitors’ leading scorer Marcus Georges-Hunt.1

Two FTs — both converted, the lead then 3 — and possession, which Tech converted into a deuce by Adam Smith after he retrieved an Onuaku block of a Georges-Hunt miss. 54-53.

:12 still to play, the Cards lead was then only a digit. During the GT timeout, knowing Card fans intoned to themselves and each other, “Make the FTs, you win the game.”

Which L1C4-beloved Damion Lee did. The Cards withstood one last long attempt and offensive board as the final buzzer finally sounded.

The red-clad crowd exhaled and exulted.

 * * * * *

How odd was it?

Minutes before that pants-soiling interlude described above, Louisville was forced to endure the most egregious buzz kill of the season, perpetrated by Joey, or Sean, or the Kroger Krewe, or Nellegan Sports, or whoever is responsible for orchestrating the precision by the nanosecond timeout events.

Tech was forced to call a stoppage in play at the 12:11 mark. Louisville had just zipped ahead, 41-34, on a 7 zed run.

That sequence began when GT’s Ben Lammers missed two FTs. On the following Cardinal possession, Damion Lee netted his only three ball of the game, after a Nanu offensive board, and the failure of the zebras to call an obvious travel on Trey Lewis.

That was followed by a Lewis pilfer, leading to an Onuaku slam from Snider.

Tech missed a bunny on a runout. Nanu drilled a jumper for the 7 point advantage.

The crowd went louder than Sally Simpson when “Tommy hit the stage.”

DJ K-Dogg cued up Darude’s “Sandstorm,” and, as I’m wont to say of such moments, “Don’t bother knockin’, the Yum! was rockin'”

Until, of course, a split-second later, it was time for the prescripted routine by the 873 time National Champion Ladybirds, even if it meant short-circuiting the ecstasy which had filled every nook and cranny of the gym. I know nothing extols the glamour and excitement of college hoops more than 40 or so long-haired, skin-tighted coeds booty twerking to Kanye, but . . . this was the wrong time and the wrong place, a BUZZ KILL most egregious.

The Cards survived the energy suck, and managed to complete a 13-2 run for a 47-36 lead.

But, then, uh, sort of fell apart, allowing the feisty visitors back in the game.

On one possession, Tech grabbed three offensive boards, leading to a score. On another during that Cardinal meltdown, Louisville threw it away, after securing the ball on a Georges-Hunt turnover, giving up another deuce.2

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How odd was it?

On a night when Trey Lewis was obviously nervous, and couldn’t get anything going, future superstar Donovan Mitchell only saw 14 minutes of action.

How odd was it?

On a night when Quentin Snider played full court defense with such relentless fury that I tired just watching, Georgia Tech’s backcourt rarely if ever faltered. Q also tallied 11 big points and dished four assists.

How odd was it?

U of L was outrebounded by 7, gave up 17 offensive boards, yet still hung on for the W.

How odd was it?

Jaylen Johnson slammed the ball to the floor Isaac Humphries-style, actually in disgust, after being whistled for a foul. But, wasn’t teed up, after maturely grabbing the ball, turning to the ref and handing him the rock quickly.

How odd was it?

Rick Pitino declared, in his Senior Day comments, that Louisville “has the most compliant basketball staff in the country.”

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But, prevarications aside, as it has been writ, and reiterated for ages, all’s well that ends well.

The Cardinals prevailed by the hair on their chinny chin chins. Thus, the throng which generally stayed instead of running to beat the traffic, could listen with the joy of victory in their hearts, as the seniors gave their thanks, and a One Shining Moment video played on the scoreboard.

The Cardinals’ national championship finale comes Saturday Night in Charlottesville.

Should U of L beat the odds and somehow prevail over UVa on its Senior Night, it would be a truly satisfying and gratifying finish to arguably the oddest campaign in Louisville hoops history.

— Seedy K

11 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech

  1. from my vantage point Ray gave a hard foul across the forearms, preventing any chance of a shot going up and a potential “and-1” and was not anywhere near the shoulders or above. It was making a play on the ball. Might look very different to unbiased eyes on video.
    JJ did luck out on not being a kiwi; I wish is energy was more directed to rebounding than emotional expression.

    1. Replay (I watched it several times) looked like a flagrant 1 to me. No effort to go at the ball, he did a clothesline wrap up but across the middle of the chest instead of the neck.

  2. The most troubling habit of this team is its pattern of piling up consecutive bad/missed shots in the final 5 minutes or so of a game (the Pitt game being the exception) If we don’t fix THAT problem, we weren’t going to make a deep run.
    On the 5 second call, it’s my understanding that you can’t get the 5 second “closely guarded” call when the person in posession of the ball is dribbling. If he has picked up his dribble, you can get the call, and that’s what happened. Although the TV crew failed to explain this

  3. How odd was it?

    With a victor in hand; Spalding takes a 20 foot shot that traveled 19 feet.
    Johnson takes a 20 foot shot that was 1 foot too wide.

    How odd was it?

    It took Rick all but 10.7 seconds left in the game to figure out that to prevent GT from fouling one of our worst FT shooters; have him throw the ball in.

  4. Phil, I believe you nailed the reason for the 5 second call. Forgot about the dribbling/ not dribbling differentiation.

  5. Spalding’s missed three came with more than five minutes to play, and U of L up 11. It came with less than ten seconds left on the shot clock. While not the optimal shot to take, U of L has taken many a lot worse this season, and several last night.

    While Onuaku is shooting less than 60% for the season, he’s just under 65% during conference play, but, Bob, you’re correct. Get it to Lee or Lewis. Which they tried to do.

    1. Check the stats for Nanu’s assist total. That’s another indication of how odd it was. Of course, one must give GT’s defense a lot of credit for that.

  6. He should have started Dillon and let him be apart of, just once, the starting five intro at the YUM. Damien Lee has class. Rick did not get Dillon into the game as he said he would. He had an easy way to do that and he ignored it. Exactly why I have no idea. And I did not like his post game throw away line about Kenny Klein “look like you’re doing something usefull.” I doubt anyone who knows anything about Kenny thought that was funny. But…the rings were an incredible gesture of affection.

  7. I had a good look at Ray’s foul. Just as Ken described it. To a larger point, I have no idea what a foul is anymore. Sadly, I don’t think 75% of the officials do either. Often, there’s three of them calling the game three different ways.

    1. I watched the replay several times. It looked flagrant to me and if one of our opponents had done it I would have been screaming for the call. No play on the ball at all, just a hard full arm across the middle of the chest and sort of a wrap up.

  8. I don’t know the reason but this team often seems to have great difficulty running its offense at the end of games. The only difference between this game and the Miami game is Miami is better than Georgia Tech so they won and Tech lost.

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