Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

My head is spinning.

Spinnin’ spinnin’ spinnin’, spinnin’ like a spinnin’ top.

Could things get any curiouser for University of Louisville Men’s Basketball?

First, there’s the issue of U of L’s non-person. That fellow who was captain, whose non-comment comment was the last straw for U of L’s last coach. He was suspended. Then he was erased from the video board, and didn’t seem to even be in the gym. (Neither I nor my sleuths spied him.)

Then the game against the Tar Heels commenced.

Could it really have been even more curiouser?

Well, if Charles Ludwidge Dodsgon hired on as a beat writer, using that, his given name.

Because the game was brillig.

The outcome slithy.

And as mimsy as the borogoves might have been, U of L’s interim coach Mike Pegues was raging not rathing.

While fans in the Yum! were outraged, not outgrabed. There must have been some torn rotator cuffs. Throwing empty plastic bottles that distance can cause damage.

 * * * * *

U of L’s truly feisty, but equally frustrating Cardinals fell to the Tar Heels. In overtime. 83-90.

Within minutes after the buzzer, I got a couple messages which indicated outrage at the officials.

One fellow’s opinion — Mine — the zebras did not cause the Cards the game. I am oh so sure there are many Card fans who disagree.

Ayers, Clougherty and Covington Jr. are a Final Four worthy crew. But, it’s February. They’re doing 4, 5, 6 games a week. Honest, it seems like I see them calling a game every night. They are tired.

They let guy’s play. It was No Country for Old Men under the boards, Bill Laimbeer territory. They called a loose game. Not an unfair one. One fellow’s opinion — Mine.

Yes, they should have gone to the monitor to review the Curry/ Bacot rebounding skirmish after Matt Cross’s missed trey at 83-86 in OT.

Yes, it sure looked like a hook and hold by the Tar Heel.

I have no idea if it was reviewable or not?

It was a mistake.

That’s not why Louisville lost.

 * * * * *

The word coming to mind to describe why Louisville did succumb: Immaturity.

Topping the list is Mike Pegues T after the missed call mentioned above.

Then again, he gets full credit for the more than good, along with his staff, for having the Cards ready, and playing arguably their best, most focused game of the campaign.

Also on the list, Jae’Lyn Withers. His T was legit. He should have been more aware of time and score and circumstance.

But, it was that energy he displayed that unfortunate moment which propelled him to easily his best game of the campaign. Both ends of the floor. I mean, that block at the end of regulation was the reason the tilt was even in extra time.

Back to Pegues now.

While the Cards aren’t even in it, if El Ellis doesn’t go en fuego, scoring 25 after intermission, one guy’s opinion — Mine — the coach should have shortened the leash just a little bit.

Only twice during the tense last parts of the battle did Pegues have Ellis give up the ball by design. Once to Noah Locke. Once to Cross.

For the most part it was Carlick Jones redux. Without it, the Cards aren’t in the game. Because of it, the Cards didn’t win the game. It’s the yin and yang of hoops.

Know when to stand pat. Know when to take a card, or two.

 * * * * *

The immaturity of which I speak was most evident during Louisville’s 12 nil run from 45-55 down to 57-55 ahead.

It was the best of the Cardinals, it was the worst of the Cardinals.

Ellis drained a trey. Ellis drove and went inside out to Cross for a triple. Then he jacked up a bomb way too early in the shot clock. Withers, as into the game as he was, also threw one up from beyond the arc way too early. As did enigmatic Sam Williamson, from closer in, but still too soon with nobody underneath to rebound.

With a little more patience, the margin could have been significantly larger.

U of L kept a comin’ though.

Until too much hero ball meant surrendering 7 in a row to fall behind, 68-71, after which they still didn’t relent.

Carolina’s two leaders, RJ Davis and Armando Bacot both had four fouls. Not on a single possession that I recall did the Cards try to take advantage. It’s the kind of mistakes neophyte coaches tend to make.

 * * * * *

All that mention of coulda woulda shoulda notwithstanding, Louisville looked like a different, better club that it has been. Even better than Saturday.

They fought. They moved on offense. At least until the end, when Pegues greenlighted the El Ellis Show, and his mates were standing and watching for the most part.

After the game, the coach praised the crowd, praised his kids, said how proud he was. Underscored the team’s spirit, heart, character and fight.

All true.

He also apologized for his technical.

“My technical was inexcusable. I need to learn to temper myself.”

Good on him.

 * * * * *

In addition to Withers and Ellis and Curry, who also battled relentlessly, I have to give a shout out to Matt Cross. 13 points. 15 rebounds. Eye of the Tiger every second he was on the hardwood.

 * * * * *

Ya know, there were so many twists and turns, so many reasons to be proud of the Cardinals, so many reasons to pull hair out.

I could go on and on and on. This “recap” needs no more meanders.

Enough is enough. The Jabberwock escaped.

I’m going to bed now, knowing U of L gave its all.

Which is all I ask.

— c d kaplan


7 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

  1. Just as you anticipated Cards fans would disagree with your assessment, I anticipated you would say “That’s not why Louisville lost.” Lots of times I will agree that a call here and there didn’t affect the outcome all that much.. Well, I’m here to tell you, no, that is EXACTLY why Louisville lost to UNC. Bacot body slammed Cross, no call. Bacot tripped West by grabbing his knee right in front of the ref. Watch the video.. Sydney Curry was clotheslined. Withers pushed a 6-10, 270 lbs goliath by extending his arm and Bacon flies backward? He flopped. A dead ball tech cost UL two free throws and the ball in a tight OT game. These weren’t the only bad calls, only the worst. Refs were tired? No they were just bad. I know lots of people who work 6 days a week eight hours a day, not two. Roger Ayres is one of the best but the two guys he brought with him were just awful.

    1. Agree with Smart Guy! Plus, wasn’t one of the refs in last night’s game the same ref that blew the six techs in the UL/Pitt game?

  2. I cannot remember when I disagreed with you more. Once the game went to OT there was a conscious decision made by someone(s) that NC was going to win. Maybe the league thinks that this piss poor Tar-headed team can get in the tourney on name alone. But they are not good. Bacot must have had 20 fouls minimum. With their lack of depth even our lowly Cards would have rolled them if the game would have been called on the up and up.

    The flop and open field tackle of West by Bacot right in front of the ref (Covington Jr.) was bad enough, but when Jr. called Curry for the rebounding foul when Bacot slashed him in the neck (and arguably should have had a “T” for a flying elbow), well, that was all the proof any objective viewer would need to determine that something fishy was going on.

    Even the national wags and a few honest N C fans acknowledge the screw job. But not you?

    Tsk, tsk….go Duke on Saturday..

  3. Those calls were as bad as they could be. The refs took any opportunity that we had to win away from us. We may not be good, but at least let it be a fair fight. And Seedy, there is no shame in accurately blaming the refs for one that was taken from the home folks. Don’t worry, no one will fine you for telling it like it really is.

  4. Totally agree on Ellis and lean in your refferly direction. There were four other student-athletes out there. Ellis has done this total takeover before with varying degrees of success – and failure. In the long run it doesn’t work – and didn’t fully work.
    You totally nailed it..energy up… good basketball down…coaching inexperienced..
    The refs….missed a bunch…at wrong time…

  5. So much to agree and disagree with, just like watching the Cards. What to do with El Ellis? You can’t get there without him, but he sure makes you cringe at times. With NC having no bench and Badot with 4 fouls, it was inexcusable not to have Curry try and go at him. Yes with better shot selection and decision making it doesn’t come down to the calls at the end. The calls at the end may not have cost us the game but they definitely cost us an opportunity to win the game. I say after that long review they should not have called the T on Withers. What were they looking at so long? Trying to talk themselves into it? Clearly he was trying to get to his teammate – he didn’t even look at Bacot he just moved him out of the way. Yes, he should know time and score but so should the refs, most would have picked up the flag. I am good with the T on Coach P, stand up for your guys. After that call we could not have come back anyway.

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