Checking In On Cardinal Hoops

It has been an oddly busy first month after the season for U of L basketball — both for the males and females, for good and not so good.

And I’m not talking about Coach Chris Mack’s replacement body part.

So it’s time to inventory the whole situation.

Let’s start with the asset side of the ledger.

Former Cardinal, former Final Four MOP as a freshman in ’86, Pervis Ellison, who coached him in AAU ball, has dubbed St. Joe grad transfer Lamarr Kimble, not only “Philly tough,” but an incarnation of Cassius Winston.

How positively “Fresh.”

Of course, the worry wort Red & Black Faithful are wondering how Darius Perry and David Johnson, the other PGs on next year’s team are taking the news of another grad transfer? It’s not even Derby yet and there is worry over team turmoil. Hopefully it will make the others work on their skills, and compete harder for PT.

Having a trio is better than having nobody competent to distribute the rock.

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It appears ace recruiter Luke Murray will be back for Chris Mack Season II.

He’d been rumored for the head job at Fairfield and Northern Kentucky, both of which positions he has spurned.

It’s a good thing.

Here’s hoping the Cards can get off the schneid next season when Papa Bill’s in the house. I believe U of L went ofer Carl Spackler in the stands last season.

 * * * * *

Jeff Walz eschewed filling his wardrobe with Volunteer orange, and will continue to roam the sidelines of the Yum!, guiding the women’s team.

Apparently the whole Walz to Knoxville scare was more Cardinal paranoia than a real possibility. Didn’t make the need for Tums in the tummy any less though.

The cherry on top: He’s been named coach of the USA U19 team, always a good thing. Well deserved.

And he’s lured three former Golden Arches All-Americans as transfers, two from the beleaguered, in flux Georgia Tech program.

Guard Elizabeth Balogun was ACC Freshman of the Year. Elizabeth Dixon is a 6-5 F/C, who was on the All ACC Frosh squad.

Will they come to be known as The Elizabeths? The Lizs? Or, am I just searching for something cute to write?

The other newcomer is Cal’s Kianna Smith, a three point ace.

Given the Ramblin’ Wreck turmoil, there’s hope around Louisville that Balogun and Dixon might become eligible for the upcoming campaign. If so, the Cards could be a contender again.

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Three Cardinals from the men’s side are testing their NBA desirability.

That Jordan Nwora’s dipping his toes in the water was a given. Steven Enoch, more of a head scratcher.

VJ King remains the most enigmatic Cardinal in memory, a mystery wrapped in the body of a 2/3. He’s getting assessed for the next level also.

I haven’t any inside info. My guesses, and they are just that, abject conjecture:

Nwora stays in the draft pool. From afar, it’s seemed, his incredible improvement notwithstanding, that he has a greater belief in his all around game than is deserved. I certainly hope he returns. With the benefits of being challenged every day in practice, he could be special.

Enoch returns. Unless some G League coach convinces the pivotman that he can provide the path to the bigs.

King joins the traveling company of “Hamilton.” Sure, that’s a joke, but I haven’t the slightest. If his work ethic and personality are as solid as reputed, I’d love to have him back, if only as a senior presence in a very young locker room.

Whatever happens, the agita of the faithful shall be manifest until we know the answers.

Speaking of indigestion . . .

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. . . that brings us to the elephant in the room, Dumbo’s n’er do well uncle.

To grab another metaphor, the dark, foreboding cloud that has been hovering over U of L basketball for some time now has finally broken open a bit. Showers now, but a 90% chance of thunderstorms and high winds ahead.

The NCAA has advised the program it hasn’t forgotten about those alleged recruiting transgressions. An investigation shall ensue.

While pointing to how North Carolina dodged sanctions in its academic scandal, many, perhaps most Cardinal fans want the school to throw down the gauntlet, and slug it out with a phalanx of lawyers. Big Fan Bill Stone, come on down and play.

What I’ll offer regarding that strategy is that the Tar Heels had a legalistic loophole to hang their hat on, that individual schools can set their own internal academic standards to some degree. They worked that angle to perfection.

U of L’s situation is considerably more dire. More sexy. More fraught with peril. Tapes of coaches in hotel rooms talking payouts to parents, seriously frowned upon.

As I’ve opined before, I believe U of L’s best argument is that all those involved in those untoward situations are sayonara. Jim Ramsey. Tom Jurich. Rick Pitino. The latter two deepsixed with dispatch. The assistant coaches. The school’s ruling board.

That notoriety is breaking out all across the land can’t hurt either.

What I know is I’ll be glad when it’s all over, and we’ll only be worrying about whether Double LL had such a great frosh season, he’ll be one and done.

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If the question is regarding College Hoops Comeuppance, forget St. John’s and UCLA, whose coaching searches were delusional. It’s Rick Pitino, still the pariah, still hanging with Zorba the Greek.

— Seedy K

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