Louisville CardFile: Miami

Those tuning in who are longer in the tooth should remember Charles Schulz’s iconic contribution to the comic pages, Peanuts. The world observed through the eyes of Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and, of course, the ever beleaguered Charlie Brown.

The latter of whom along with his creator was apparently a big baseball fan, who, given the large number of strips devoted to it, had trouble coming to grips with the memorable ending of the ’62 World Series.

That was what was rolling around in my mind as I fitfully attempted to fall asleep after the Cards dropped a most winnable road game last night to Miami.

Here’s why. 

That ’62 Series between the NY Yankees and SF Giants came down to the last batter in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7. The Yanks were up 1-0 in Candlestick. Giant runners on 2d and 3d with two out. Ralph Terry on the mound. Future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey at the plate.

McCovey smashed a liner toward 2d, which was snared by Bobby Richardson.

Game over. Series over. Yanks repeat.

For days afterward, Schulz’s comic strip would have three segments of Charlie Brown and Linus sitting on the curb, looking to the middle distance, not talking, heads in hands, contemplating. In the last box, Charlie Brown was standing, arms outstretched to the skies, screaming “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?”

Last night in Coral Gables with ten ticks left on the clock in OT, the Cardinals, down 75-77, somehow, somewhat miraculously to be frank, still had a chance to steal another ACC road victory. After Hurricane Bruce Brown missed the second of two FTs, U of L pushed the ball upcourt and got it to an open Ryan McMahon in the corner beyond the arc in front of the Cards bench.

As he rose to launch the game winner, Miami ace Lonnie Walker (who, by the by, willed Miami to victory) leapt from aways away and swatted the shot just as it was beginning its arch.

After calming down enough to attempt to go to sleep, with my head  twisting back and forth on my pillow, my inner Charlie Brown kept screaming, “Why couldn’t McMahon have ball faked, to get fouled or have a cleaner look?”


 * * * * *

Understand, it’s certainly not McMahon’s fault. That’s not why Louisville faltered.

First and foremost, as happened at Clemson, the Cards simply couldn’t close, despite any number of chances to do so.

That the situation came down to that — the game should have been in hand in the Cards’ favor, not precarious — can be attributed to two fundamental causes.

Free throw shooting.

Giving up offensive rebounds.

The Cards left their previously stellar charity stripe shooting touch at baggage claim. They were a miserable 16/25 at the line. 64% doesn’t cut it in close conference tests on the road.

As the Cardinals clanked one or two here and there early on, I was reminded of Larry Bird’s admonition that FTs early are just as important as those late. In the 1st, Ray Spalding, otherwise a beast with 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 steals and 9 points, missed a +1, and the second of two and the first of two. Deng Adel missed the second of a 1+1.

All came when the game was close and U of L could have had a slightly bigger advantage at halftime.

After intermission, with Louisville up 55-54, Ray missed both at the line. Adel made but one of two at 61-63 after the final media timeout of regulation. Anas Mahmoud, who produced his best performance as a Cardinal (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks), only missed one of four at the line. But it came with :13.6 in regular time and could have put the Cards up 3.

Etc, etc, etc.

There were several misses in OT. (Though one of the clearest visions of the night was how calm Jordan Nwora looked when he without a hint of nervousness swished a couple in extra time.)

During the timeout with 7:27 to play, I jotted down, “Make FTS and we win the game.”

U of L was -6 at the charity stripe.


The Hurricanes had 18 offensive rebounds, and scored 18 second (or third) chance points. That’s six more swipes and five more points than Louisville could muster.

The fatal Miami effort came with :41 to play in OT, with the game knotted at 71, when Dewan Huell dunked a follow of a Anthony Lawrence miss for a two point lead the victors would not relinquish.

 * * * * *

Certainly no one player or no one play lost the game. It was there to be won and U of L, still tweedly at times, simply couldn’t close.

But I gotta say, Deng Adel’s Hero Ball shot with :25 to play in OT was horrid.

David Padgett obviously called a set to get the ball to Adel and to let him make a play. But he drove to the lane, and, if memory serves — I’m trying to block out the image — he was double or triple teamed. Instead of recognizing the situation, getting the ball to an open man, he threw up some sort of convoluted awkward attempt that didn’t have a chance and didn’t come close.

I meant “threw up” as it is used in the vernacular, as in “vomited.”

But, allow me to repeat, there were still opportunities to grab the W after that.


— Seedy K

6 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Miami

  1. McMahon hoisted that shot in OT with 3 seconds left. Clock “awareness” seemingly caused him to NOT ball fake, and jump into Walker for the foul. He rushed, pulled the trigger. (Of course, the way we shot at the line, no guarantees.) This group in not mentally tough. Not focused. Not NCAA tourney material.

    CDP has taken them as far as he can. The team is not strong with the ball on offense. Exhibit A: Adel. The Hero Ball proclivity he’s possessed with was on full display last night. VJ in another world.

    Anas, Ray and Q were relatively poised. The FT situation all night was bizarre. I, too, noticed Nwora’s poise on court, but his skill set is limited. Still…

    To stay with your theme, that game? Good grief…

  2. Couldn’t defend the perimeter; couldn’t get even half of the 50:50’s, couldn’t hold on to the initially captured rebound and then reverted to relying on 1-on 1 hero ball some sooner (VJ), some later (Deng). Also it appeared that as the game went on Anas’ effort increased. When he first entered the game his hustle and interest weren’t there it seemed. Pouting over not starting and diminished 1st half minutes with Malik being more productive and aggressive and meriting increase 1st half minutes ?

  3. I get no sense that Anas is pouting over not starting. He was strong near end of 1st, scoring 6 in a row. VJ is rapidly morphing from a neutral non-entity to a negative. He falls away sideways on most shots instead of taking to hoop. One possession he dribbled about for at least 15 seconds, going nowhere and eventually passed it off. I’m advised by somebody close to the situation that he’s got a really bad attitude. Sitting him at the start could make that worse. Or better. Hopefully the light will switch on. Malik is improving.

    1. Anas… I felt that when he first entered the game he was moving half-heartedly, and on one Miami fast break he did run down to court but continued out of bounds and turned to look instead of getting in position for a missed lay-up, and was more nonchalant at the offensive end than he eventually became.

  4. what would be best for VJ would be to transfer somewhere, sit out while practicing and refining both his skills and his appreciation of how the game is played and his actual worth and then resume competition as a more complete player not not a “star” who is expected to shine. I wish that realization of self-worth, strengths and weaknesses would have already happened or could happen here, but so far it clearly hasn’t. Yes, whether not being able to finish around the basket, him wasting the shot clock pounding the rock 20 feet from the basket trying to juke his man, or early shots that touched only the air and the floor aren’t balanced by a tip in and a jumper, one good cut, and a bobbled bounce pass on a fast break to accompany his defense with his hands at his sides. Too Kool for Skool needs reality check that a year out of the spotlight might allow.

  5. Boys, last night was a heartbreaker, pure and simple.

    I will not question anyone’s effort, though I agree, that the Cards started slowly, as usual. But so did Miami.

    We lost to inexorable fate last night.

    How many 3x/2xshots/ FT’s did we have that went down and around the basket, only to rim out? On the other hand, Miami’s last made FT hit the back of the rim and clanged 15 feet over the rim, only to swish through on the way down. Luck, but it counts. Or the clearly missed Off. Goaltending late that was a HUGE hoop for the Canes? (Not blaming the refs, but obviously missed in the heat of play.) Or the coming out party for Lonnie IV, whose lay-up with 4 seconds left in regulation over both Ray and Anas was a thing of beauty?

    Just not in the Cards last night. But I want to say that I think the 2nd half by Q was his best 1/2 as a Card. Well played, Q. Well played. And I think Deng was just trying too hard.

    Won’t comment on VJ…hope he gets it turned around.

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