Apologies to Donovan.
Every reasonable person I spoke with before this Crosstown Rivalry game was of the like mind.
It was one Kenny Payne had to win.
At 4-3, Louisville has matched its victory total of last year.
It remains a Season on the Cusp.
* * * * *
It was simply another odd game.
Before it started, many of the late arriving crowd were utterly confused by the young kid’s Hendrixian version of the National Anthem. He didn’t go full Jimi. It was PC of a sort, no bombs exploding. But it certainly wasn’t a barbershop quartet version.
The video board showed shots of people confused. Especially one of the zebras, who looked miffed.
I, for the record, as if you didn’t already know, love love loved it.
Then there’s the whole Ty-Laur Johnson tights story. How the youngster went sort of prima donna and only played two and a half minutes in the opening stanza because he didn’t have his favorite kind of compression shorts.
You can’t make this stuff up.
That is strange. So strange.
Kids these days.
* * * * *
This 73-68 U of L W shall not be available in the future on ESPN Classic.
Neither team has much to be proud of.
Bellarmine, without its leading scorer Ben Johnson played its usual tough game, but the Knights were far from the well oiled machine fans are used to seeing. Short-fused Scotty Davenport was his usual prickly sideline self, drawing a T late that didn’t help his team’s cause.
But . . . Louisville won.
You’ve got to pick up every must.
And did so because Kenny Payne made a halftime adjustment. Or, during intermission, finally convinced his charges to do what they do better than other things.
Drive the ball, Draw fouls. Embrace the Charity Stripe.
For some inexplicable reason, the Cards didn’t charge to the hoop in the opening half.
Which meant they never got to the FT line. Bellarmine didn’t commit a foul until 1:24 before the break.
After halftime, Louisville drove the ball. It wasn’t like they turned into a Top 25 team, but it did turn the game.
Ty-Laur Johnson played fifteen minutes plus in the 2d, had five assists and scored eight including a couple of key hoops at crunch time.
U of L led by a dozen halfway through. Then hit a lull of consequence, after leading 54-45 with 7:21 left on a Brandon Huntley-Hatfield follow.
The Cards next uptick on the scoreboard was a BH-H layup at 3:38 after the Knights had crawled back within a deuce.
Despite some wibble wobble, Louisville held Bellarmine at bay the rest of the way. 16/22 in the 2d at the line certainly helped.
So too this important well-executed U of L sequence with :43 to play. JJ Traynor’s reverse slam on a feed from Skyy Clark pushed the cushion to 65-59.
Kaleb Glenn continues to get more PT. His 7 boards off the bench were significant.
Fun is Winning.
Even when it’s U.G.L.Y.
* * * * *
U of L’s next four are all winnable.
Virginia Tech and DePaul on the road.
Then Pepperdine and Arkansas State at home.
You got to pick up every must, for it’s the Season on the Cusp.
— c d kaplan