Louisville CardFile: Syracuse

So distraught was I after Louisville’s disturbing loss to Florida State on Saturday that I simply couldn’t bring myself to write about that game.

(To those who noticed, and asked after me, asked if I was OK, thank you. The reason for my absence was I simply couldn’t find words.)

And, this early morning after U of L’s fourth loss in its last five, to Syracuse which had fallen in six of its last nine, I have been sitting for minutes, fingers poised at the keyboard, awaiting the formulation of some inroad to discuss the critical situation at hand.

It would be of little consequence to reconsider this moment or that from last night’s most distressing setback, the Cardinals’ first this season to a squad not its equal or better. To look at this stat or that, a play here or there, really doesn’t address what really matters.

There are bigger issues. This is now, hate to say it, a season on the brink. 

I have no intention of throwing any of these players or patchwork coaching staff under a bus. There has simply been, and might for some still be, unrealistic expectations for this particular group of Cardinals.

This team is flawed. Conference games expose defects. The fissures have become crevices. More seismic shifts lay ahead.

There is athletic talent here but little basketball savvy. There is some speed, but lack of lateral quickness. There is leaping ability but little toughness on the boards. There is no alpha baller to take charge.

U of L is getting manhandled off the bounce. These Cardinals don’t block out, or, for the most part, tough their way for a rebound.

It is to these guys’ credit and that of neophyte coach David Padgett and his staff that they have overcome the imperfections as well as they have for as long as they have.

With the most daunting gauntlet of U of L’s league slate just ahead, we will know soon enough how much the Cards can overcome?

Can they start making better decisions when to shoot, when to pass?

Would U of L be better served by playing a straight ahead zone, similar to that employed by the Orange?

Will the newcomers, who seem to play with more energy and enthusiasm than some of the vets see more PT? Is it worth a try?

So many questions. Too many questions to be answering in February.

 * * * * *

Of the vets, Ray Spalding is the singular one who has indeed amped up his game from previous seasons. He is more assertive underneath and on D. His ways of scoring are better.

He went for 18 and 9 against ‘Cuse, with 3 assists, a steal and only one turnover.

The other Cardinal I feel compelled to mention in a positive light for his performance last evening is Darius Perry.

He dished out four assists with zero turnovers.

His shot at the halftime buzzer, a forty foot crap shoot, could have been a catalyst but obviously wasn’t. What impressed me most about that trey was not that he made it, but how he conceptualized what to do with less than three ticks on the clock and how aggressively he went for it.

As usual his defense was clearly superior to that of his fellow backcourt mates.

 * * * * *

I pray my negativitude is misplaced, that this team can put this bad stretch behind them, mask its flaws and conquer.

If not, given the pall enshrouding the program, this shall be the first of a spate of winters of our discontent to come.

— Seedy K

10 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Syracuse

  1. copy/paste from other site The $$ rich program with the $$$ rewarded ex-head coach is the person who assembled the cast with which Coach Padgett has to work. After 3 years and a summer of Pitino exposure and coaching we have Anas and Q who still struggle to keep in front of the person they are trying to guard, make accurate passes and poor Anas still as successful as his shot blocking has been, only tries to block shots with his right hand the causes many of his fouls reaching across his opponent. Then we can assess the growth in Adel’s understanding of how to play the game and his fundamental catch, dribble, pass skills after 2 years and a summer of Pitino tutelage. Must I say more about VJ’s progress from McDonald land to soup kitchen ? Did a year of participating in Pitino’s practice grow Sutton’s game beyond what brought about the accolades of his freshman year elsewhere ? The readiness for NCAA basketball of our freshman class that our previous head coach brought in with such acclaim has yet to show reliable skills whether in athleticism for some, strength for some and an understanding of the game for some, although there is potential.
    The future of this program might depend on finding quality 5th year players from less heralded programs or Juco ranks that want a chance to play on an ACC stage and be playing with hunger knowing it is their chance to be part od something, even if short term.
    I do not think there is a fan base in the country including those with hall of fame coaches that doesn’t get “fanangry” and second guess their experienced and heralded coaches after unexpected and frustrating losses (see UNC, SU, UK, KU after losses). We have been beaten by teams that move their feet better, know how to pass better, penetrate better and make their shots better than we can. A coach can only try to teach and reinforce basic mechanics that should have been learned way before college, and try to display a player’s strengths while hiding their weaknesses, but not change the actual athletic ability of a young man. A coach can attempt to direct and mold the mindset of a young man who is being influenced by “others” who are sure they know what is best for the young man. The “up and coming” younger coaches that have moved into plum jobs either in college or onto the NCAA displayed their talent at places where financial reward did not contribute to their coaching ability. This situation is NOT Padgett’s or Postel’s doing. They inherited an overblown, underscrutinized, overglamorized mess. Ramsey, Jurich , pitino and their syncophants take a bow But how do I really feel ??

  2. I’ve come to bury… Repeat after me: “Deng Adel is NOT our best player.” Matter of fact, he hurts us in a plethora of ways. Bench him. His play is MISERABLE.

    King and Adel are NOT our best wing players. Malik Williams and Jordan Nwora are better and deserve the start on the wings. Their energy, enthusiasm and focus are a positive. Speaking of energy, enthusiasm and focus, Darius Perry brings all. He could develop in a creator, given the chance. Not sure what happened to McMahon, but Perry deserves the game insertion before Ryan. It’s time to give the Frosh PT. If not… more of the same ineptitude. I think Lance Thomas should even get more time between the lines. Why not? What’s working better??

    David Padgett? Thrust into an impossible situation, but, it’s his task to right the ship. Not rearrange the deck chairs. Definitely should not be the next Head Coach. (Chris Beard… jes’ sayin. Or Mick Cronin?)

    I hate saying this. The Counselor asked me weeks ago if I had given up on this team. Yes Sir. Indeed I have.

  3. Ken, that’s not shown up yet as comment to my game report at cardchronicle, if that’s where you posted?

  4. Hoya, while I agree with much that you say, I don’t think it’s quite that easy or apparent. Williams is as agile as a tree stump on D. He’s probably servicing a cold this morning from the number of times he was blown by last night. Same for McMahon. Those Orange guards’ eyes lit up when they saw he was checking them. Problem is Adel, flawed and unaware as he is, is our second best player besides Spalding. VJ simply is another RP recruiting mistake like Wayne Blackshear and Shaqquan Aaron (though Southern Cal has turned their season around after he was inserted in starting lineup).

    1. “He’s probably servicing a cold this morning from the number of times he was blown by last night…” Brilliant line, friend. Kudos. True dat, too.

  5. Hoya…..Board of Trustees who appear to be thursting for a de-emphasis of our athletic programs.

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