Your everlasting summer and you can see it fading fast/ So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last/ Well, you wouldn’t even know a diamond if you held it in your hand/ The things you think are precious I can’t understand/ Are you reelin’ in the years?/ Stowin’ away the time
So we have arrived at Championship Week 2023, Championship Day, Part Uno.
New batteries in the remote.
Plenty of Vernor’s on ice.
21 games of interest, more or less, for those of us hoopaholics.
Before getting started, I thought it would be interesting to check how my Louisville Cardinals have fared on this date, starting with the beginning of the Denny Crum Era.
5-2, thank you very much. Including two memorable tilts, one a Top 5 of All Time, the other, one of the, uh, most disheartening.
Oh what a night it was such a night at Vandy’s Memorial Gymnasium on 3/11/72.
The Cardinals and hated rival Memphis State had tied for the MVC crown, so a playoff was needed on a neutral court. Arena filled to the brim an hour before tip. Half the gym in blue. Half the gym in red.
The game was a harbinger of things to come. Denny Crum was a keeper.
The pre-game energy was unlike any to that time. (Ya know, there was a buzz years later before that little battle in Knoxville.) Crum had his Cards out mingling with the crowd. Staying loose. I recall Henry Bacon tossing the ball with a young kid. While Gene Bartow had his guys huddled all that while in the dressing room, feeling the energy crash the walls. Getting nervous, the Tiger ballers admitted later.
U of L was ready. The Tigers, not so.
Denny’s first team, featuring Bacon, Jim Price, Ron Thomas, Mike Lawhon, Al Vilchek, Bill Bunton and Larry Carter, made it all the way to the Final Four.
3/11/99 in the opening round of the NCAA in Orlando, less fun.
Crum was starting to lose his touch. The previous season ended 12-20, with only a W over UK in Lexington to highlight.
The 98-99 squad made it back to the Dance, even though it lost to Charlotte in the C-USA tourney. But fell to Creighton, 58-62. Louisville’s deservedly beloved HoF coach never won an NCAA game afterward. (His last over Texas in ’97.)
I recall two things about that game. Cameron Murray having a fit and melting down by the bench when pulled. And that I was on the team plane, and missed a trip to Disney World the next day because we flew home.
On 3/11/05, U of L bested UAB 74-67 in the semis of the C-USA tourney in Memphis at Mid South.
The next night, the Cards beat down Memphis State on their home court for the tourney crown. At the beginning of the 2d, when the Tigers cut into Louisville’s halftime advantage, the din was the loudest in a gym I’ve ever experienced. My ears literally hurt. All to no avail, U of L steadied.
Also, my peeps and I ate those tantalizing dry rubbed ribs at the Rendezvous three straight days.
Other 3/11 results: In ’89, U of L felled Memphis State 71-70 in the Metro Tourney semi. In ’95, Tulane was the victim 81-80 in the Metro Tourney semi. In ’11, Notre Dame fell to the Red & Black in the Big East semi, 83-77.
The other 3/11 L was in ’04 when Huggy Bear’s Bearcats nudged Louisville 64-62 in the C-USA tourney.
— c d kaplan