For all the empty seats in the World’s Most Spectacular arena, the same character trait exists for the loyal fans who continue to show up, despite the Cards’ woeful season.
This team does not give up.
The fans who come to the games do not give up.
In this, a proverbial winter of our discontent, it is both heartwarming and heartening.
With 14:50 left in the tilt, at which point the Cardinals had coughed up most of their game total 14 turnovers, the visiting Demon Deacons led by 22 at 53-31.
There were no boos. Though the gym had not started to empty, and the crowd was mute.
A furious if curious 12:10 of game clock later, after Mike James fifth triple of the afternoon (in nine attempts), the Cardinals with 2:40 left to play had improbably pulled within three at 67-70.
The assembled went arm-waving, hip-shaking nuclear.
It was easily the loudest in the Yum! since . . . who knows when, it was so long ago.
But, as it is, the visiting victors settled. El Ellis tried to do too much on his own.
Wake Forest 80, Louisville 72.
* * * * *
At halftime, a bunch of media types chatted up some members of the ’82 and ’83 Final Four squads, who were feted during intermission.
Scooter McCray, who has observed practices, observed how lacking in basic fundamentals this group is. How there were things Denny Crum taught that meant success, simple but effective techniques to those willing and talented squads in the glory days.
He confirmed that Kenny Payne continues to attempt the same, to no effect. The lessons are not being been assimilated.
My man Gym Eyes observed the same vexing phenomenon. How any number of things practiced over and over again on Friday, and earlier, never translate to the court on game day.
An example of each.
Midway through the 2d, Kamari Lands made a sweet maneuver and had an eight foot J at a 45 degree angle from the hoop. Instead of banking the shot, as would have been the case back when, he went for the swish and it rolled off the rim.
KP has admonished Fabio Basili when he cuts to the basket on the left side, shoot with his left hand so it won’t get blocked. When on his first drive, he went left, shot with the right and got it blocked, the youngster found himself back on the pine.
(In the interest of fairness to the rookie, he advanced a year, and arrived to school late, and therefore didn’t work out individually over the summer.)
Those are just examples, the intention is not to pick on those first year players in particular.
* * * * *
There were co-Stars of the Game.
Mike James continued his uptick with 24 points and 8 boards.
Fans in the Gym who encouraged throughout, and turned raucous at the slightest moment of positivity.
JJ Traynor also deserves mention. Especially for his energizing effort after the break. During which he tallied all 7 of his points and grabbed all but one of his 7 rebounds.
He led the Cards in +/- with a +7 for the entire affair.
* * * * *
Seeing Scooter, Rodney, Caster and others from those incredible early 80s teams brought a tear to my eye.
It was such a fun time.
They were so dang good. And good guys.
I was reminded again of my oft told storyof a moment in a New Orleans coffee house, being confronted about the depth of my fandom and knowledge by a fellow who noticed my Dunking Cardinal shirt.
After being convinced I was legit, and getting his coffee, the guy left.
A beat or two later he walked back in the door and yelled across the room at me, “I loved the McCray brothers.
So do I.
While realizing how long ago those days really are.
* * * * *
Next: At Clemson. Wednesday.
— c d kaplan