U of L CardFile: Pittsburgh

It has surely been more than a half century since Joel Needle, a fellow a year ahead of me at JM Atherton HS, crossed my mind.

But such was one of the curiosities of Louisville’s 59-86 loss to Pitt Saturday night at the Oakland Zoo, I couldn’t help myself.

Needle was a funny guy. Aptly named, given his propensity to provoke and annoy with glee.

The moment that actually does have some relevance to the Panthers victory came in Freddie Allen’s history class. Allen was the Rebels basketball coach.

The night before JMA had fallen to Male High. The Bulldogs were led by their star that year, one Monroe Phelps, who, if memory serves, tallied 46 in the W. The Rebs netted 45 in toto.

Before Mr. Allen entered the classroom, Needle had written “Beat Phelps” on the blackboard.

Suffice it to say, the teacher/ coach was, uh, not pleased. Needle spent the rest of the hour in principal Russel Garth’s office. And perhaps was sentenced to suffer the most heinous of penalties back then, Staying After School.

All of which came to mind during the Cardinal game, because it was not until there was 10:08 left in the beatdown that U of L was able to net more points than Pitt’s Blake Hinson. And stay clear.

The score at that juncture was Louisville 39, Pittsburgh 62 after a Brandon Huntley-Hatfield jump hook. Hinson was stuck at 38, ending with 41.

 * * * * *

The tilt’s first turnover wasn’t committed until the 8:06 mark of the opening half. At which juncture, the point guard-less Cards were surprisingly up 18-17.

Louisville immediately showed anything Pitt can do they could do more, giving it away on the ensuing possession.

Then proceeded to do so on five of the next six offensive trips, making it 6 of 7 possessions.

The victors scored ten in a row for a game defining 27-18 advantage.

U of L never got closer than six the rest of the half, were down 27-37 at intermission.

Pitt’s margin grew steadily and inexorably until the clock hit zeros.

 * * * * *

Diversion, because as I’ve opined the actual games the rest of this campaign seem peripheral to the big picture.

Lefty Dreisell passed away today.

The former Maryland mentor was one of a kind, a pretty good coach, and snake oil salesman par excellence.

He invented Midnight Madness.

Three Cardinal games against him come most to mind. (And they have been the only ones.)

Obviously, the ’75 MW regional final. Denny 96, Lefty 82.

The Cards also bested Lefty in College Park in ’79, 99-84.

Then there was Louisville’s 78-67 win at Freedom Hall in December of ’80, the Cards’ lone victory in their first seven the year after taking the title.

My pals and I had seats in the rows right behind the visitors’ bench.

We were younger — but frankly old enough to know better — and relentless.

“How many Final Fours, Lefty, how many Final Fours?,” we screamed during every stoppage.

A father/son duo — Buddy and Tommy — tagteamed Lefty during timeouts. It was before the Hall was renovated and there was a wide aisle between their front row seats and the bench. No barriers. They strolled behind the bench and taunted the Terps coach at every opportunity.

Lefty didn’t deserve it. But the Cards were atop the world of college hoops and my gang was cocky and stoned insufferable.

That feckless youth, those glorious days of Cardinal supremacy are long ago, far away.

 * * * * *

Next: Notre Dame. Wednesday.

— c d kaplan

4 thoughts on “U of L CardFile: Pittsburgh

  1. If I were McCool, I would quit the team. Instead of playing him some, KP chose to have the team play with no guards. Anyway, being short-handed is no excuse for more awful defense. We may stink but at least Kenny really taught them how to defend the 3. Not. Are we even capable of further embarrassment?

  2. I agree with Mr. Klein’s observation. Play Aidan McCool. He’s a guard, who previously matriculated in College Park, MD, for the University of Maryland. Where he played under Mark Turgeon.

    The irony. Free McCool. RIP Lefty.

  3. Your comments consistently hit the mark.
    Wasn’t Joel’s last name Needleman?? Not that it really matters. Thanks for all the ways you express what so many others are thinking. Go Cards! -Les

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