Yo, U of L hoops fans, you remember way back when there were actually games, right? Like early in the season, followed by a couple team DNPs, then some more games, then the recent two week layoff with the head coach having to take up residence in his basement?
In advance of a return to the hardwood, a noticeably gaunt Chris Mack (and Sam Williamson) zoomed with the media Tuesday afternoon.
Meaning, Naismithius willing, the University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Team will take to the Dunking Cardinal-adorned Yum! court Wednesday at 6:30 against Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange.
And, thus shall continue — hopefully — this strangest of seasons, both globally, as in for the whole danged sport, and locally, meaning for the still-hard-to-figure-out-and-without-their-pivot, mysterious U of L Cards.
And, it shall remain so. Apparently.
I asked Coach Mack if the league was going to try and wedge in any of the lost games before the regular season ends?
He didn’t know, but seemed to doubt it.
I asked him which Cardinals will not be able to play against ‘Cuse?
He advised that won’t be revealed until game day.
So those responses are about as firm as navigating in your rear wheel drive sedan, down that snow-laden, unsalted, unplowed big hill at the entrance of your Rippling Meadows subdivision.
What we do know, from Sam, is that the Cards were able to get in some conditioning and individual practice at the gym during this hiatus.
Assistant coaches in the balcony. Two players at a time, one at each end of the court, grabbing their own rebounds during shooting drills.
Remember how Williamson was just finding his mojo, when the season hit pause? SW was asked if the forced break would cause him to lose his edge?
But, questions remain. And, while the Cardinals are 11-4 (6-3), the team’s identity remains a question mark.
The W over Virginia Tech is the only really noteworthy conquest.
It’s more than counterbalanced by the Carlik-less meltdown at Wisconsin.
Even more so by that disappointing visit to Florida, which was nothing like Barb and Star’s frolic in Vista Del Mar.
Team leader Malik Williams, one of only five 2017 recruiting *****s still hooping collegiately, is still out. Interesting, his name didn’t even come up in Tuesday’s presser.
Which means that the Jae’Lyn Withers’s experiment at the 5 will continue, with hopes that the Wiz and AI provide some quality minutes.
And, if mystery is the theme here — it is — the faithful still haven’t seen what they hope Charles Minlend will add to the mix.
Will Josh Nickelberry find his eye from long range?
Will Dre Davis become a bigger part of the offense?
So many questions.
With only six scheduled regular season games left to answer them.
So, having invoked Elvis Costello in the lede, is the Cards’ spot in the Dance a mystery?
Not so much now, assuming the committee follows the metrics.
U of L sits at #31 in the NET, at #30 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, and a consensus second 8th seed at Bracket Matrix. Which is pretty danged solid 8 line status.
Moving up a line or two in the next half dozen and league tourney would be swell.
— c d kaplan