On the Gridiron: Louisville 16, Clemson 31.
It goes without saying, but it shall be said here anyway.
Saturday was not the best of days for the University of Louisville Cardinals.
What follows are a few thoughts without any in depth analysis of either loss.
For which in depth breakdowns, to be quite honest, your scribe has zero inclination.
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In advance of Kenny Payne’s impending arrival as U of L’s next hoops mentor, it was well supposed that Nolan Smith would be joining the staff. Which he did not long after Payne’s introduction.
Given that KP had never sat first chair, your BW/LTCD opined to any all who might listen that his fondest hope was that there would be an astute, knowledgeable, successful, long time coach, old head named to the staff. Like Penny Hardaway added Larry Brown. Or Phil Martelli at Michigan. Ralph Willard right here.
It did not happen. Your scribe’s advice was not sought out.
Such a lack of experience and acumen seemed apparent at the end of the Cardinal’s L to Wright State in the embarrassingly empty Yum! Center.
Still up a digit, the Cards had the ball out of bounds under their own basket with :12 to play, their five point advantage of a minute before having been cut to the thinnest of margins.
The inbounds play was shaky at best. El Ellis turned it over for the eighth time of the afternoon. Timeout Raiders with :08 to play.
Louisville had two fouls to give. Two must use imperatives to make the visitors reset and inbound.
The Cards used neither.
Trey Calvin dribbled freely, canned a J at the buzzer.
This was a coaching gaffe of significance. Or so this scribe who has never coached a game would offer.
When asked if he considered fouling with fouls to give, Payne responded:
“No, no. I want us to be a team that should be able to get a stop. Think about the play. What was it? Was it the tip in? Was it the backdoor cut? If we have to foul to prevent those two things, what are we saying? A tip in, that’s a rebound. We know we have to box out. A backdoor cut, we talked about it for three days. They’re going to backdoor cut us. Stay
below your man. No matter what the driver dribbles at you, backdoor cut, dunk. What was the rotation, why where we above our man? We’re learning as we go.”
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Generally, Louisville looked significantly better on offense than it has. More fluid. More confidant.
Louisville’s defense, the interior defense especially, looked, well, less than good. The Cards, two games in, have given up a season’s worth of baseline reverse layups.
Jae’Lyn Withers (15,11), Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (10,6) and Mike James (8,5) showed promise.
So too Hercy Miller, who provided some solid minutes off the bench.
Live by the El. Die by the El.
As he can do, Ellis took over offensively when it was needed.
The good: He scored the Cards final 13 points. Including back to back treys to push the Cards up 70-65 at 2:58.
The bad: Next possession there wasn’t any doubt he would not give up the rock. To another Cardinal, that is. But he did turn it over to Wright State, trying to do too much himself.
EE scored 29, without which the Cards might not have been in it at all. His assists totaled but two.
The game shouldn’t have been a down to the wire affair. But it was. Such is the nature of Cardinal hoops in these baby step days back to relevance.
I am saying this to myself: Patience, my man, please be patient. Practice what you’ve been preaching.
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Despite wishful thinking by many, yours truly included, it was obvious that Clemson would prevail as they literally always have against the Cards.
Plus there is the extent of M Cunningham’s left hand injury. Which was obviously significant.
Not that it would have changed the outcome of the game, but may very well the remainder of the campaign, one has to ask: Why on earth put an already fragile QB in harm’s way by going for it from midfield with :02 to play in the 1st half?
MC, as is his wont, tucked and ran, and tackled hard, was injured further. This time his right shoulder.
He watched in street clothes after intermission.
U of L never seriously again threatened to sneak away with a W.
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Oh there’s so much more to talk about in both of the games.
But, this guy at the keypad is simply not up for it.
There shall be better days. That he knows from experience to be true.
— c d kaplan