Of the many new protocols, a word I’ll be more than glad to put to rest the sooner the better, in this most unsettling of seasons in this very disconcerting year, there’s one game day report that too often delivers a haymaker before the game starts.
Today’s U of L Cardinal Unavailability Report arrived at 11:29, thirty one minutes before tip. Upon arrival, it became manifest what a long shot a Cardinal victory was.
Topping the list: Carlik Jones.
Who, as I have written in every gamecap so far this season is indispensable.
The Cardinals chances were slim, even if the grad transfer PG could play.
Coming off 18 day layoff since their last game.
Three players of consequence, who haven’t had a minute on the hardwood all campaign.
First road game.
Against a legit Top 10 team, on its home court, starting three grads, and two seniors. With a surfeit of more experience and youthful talent coming off the bench.
Which is why in the notes I jotted before tip, there was this: “No expectations.”
After tipoff there’s this reality: The Badgers netted 16 of 25 from beyond the arc. 64%.
Many were wide open. Some due to the victor’s ball movement. Some due to U of L’s defensive lapses.
Wisconsin was 4/6 on threes at the first media timeout, when they led 14-4. Taking advantage of a Cardinal drought that went on for about eight and a half minutes, the home team pushed its advantage to 25-4.
Meanwhile, the more physical and experienced Badgers were manhandling the Cardinals underneath.
The immature Cardinals didn’t give up. But, overmatched from the start, they played dazed and confused the rest of the way.
* * * * *
U of L was schooled.
The mature and savvy Badgers are as fundamentally sound as any outfit you’ll watch this season.
Footwork. Passing. Spacing. Movement. Decision making at both ends of the court. Teamwork.
They physically and mentally wore down Louisville, which played nobody who had been with the program longer than a season and five games.
You could sense Louisville’s despondency setting in.
I am, of course, disappointed.
But, honestly, not surprised at the outcome. Even if the final margin was more than a smidge bracing.
* * * * *
Coming out of commercials during a timeout, ESPN showed shots of Lake Monona.
I immediately thought of my favorite soul singer of all time, the headliner of the best concert I’ve ever attended: Otis Redding.
He died when his plane went down into the drink in December ’67.
I hope and trust that U of L’s season will not suffer the same fate, after this 37 point setback.
— c d kaplan