Category Archives: Basketball

Louisville CardFile: Indiana

Wordy and opinionated as I am, I’m not sure I have a lot to say or observe anew about U of L’s hard fought one point L at raucous Assembly Hall.

While not as depressed as this fan sometimes gets after tough defeats, the rest of Saturday wasn’t quite as Joyeux Noel as it might have been.

Fox TV’s triple header opened with the noted but what’s the big deal return of John Tesh’s “anthem,” “Roundball Rock.” And the wassail that was arch rival’s OT L to Seton Hall in the Garden. The Cards had bested the Pirates a week ago on their home court.

The Cards’ disappointment was followed by Marquette’s assertion of legitimacy with its OT W over #13 Wisconsin. Meanwhile #8 Michigan State prevailed in Gainesville over Top 25 Florida.

So, despite the setback, Louisville further insinuated itself into the national discussion with its stalwart effort in Bloomington, moving up a couple of spots in Ken Pomeroy’s respected computer rankings.

Bottom line: It was a coulda woulda shoulda. While the Cardinals tenacity has endeared them to the Red & Black faithful, Coach Chris Mack and his charges are pissed they didn’t close the deal, and will endeavor to do so moving forward. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Indiana

Louisville CardFile: Central Arkansas

Playing schools pre-conference as truly awful as Central Arkansas is quite often counter productive.

Bad habits form against non-existent defenses. Laziness ensues when the games aren’t in doubt from opening tip. Some guys look to fatten up their stat lines. The fans that do show up are disengaged.

I suppose I understand — $$$ — theoretically —   $$$ –why these games are played. $$$. But I would prefer U of L adhering to the Denny Crum/ Tom Izzo Theory of December. Fewer cupcakes. More protein.

That said, it is the time of year when a team’s flaws and finer points start to manifest regardless of the quality of the opposition. Unlike most of these yawn-inducing walkovers, last evening’s 45 point evisceration of the Central Arkansas Bears did provide some salient moments.

 * * * * *

Consideration #1 is obviously whether the enigma that has been VJ King turns into a positive given?

After a where has this been aggressive performance that was frankly a bit jawdropping, one has to wonder whether the former Golden Arches AA is in a chrysalis state, morphing into butterfly status? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Central Arkansas

Red & Black Rants & Raves: Satterfield Hire, Bracketology

OK class, everybody who seven days ago could name Scott Satterfield as the coach of Appalachian State raise your hands?

Liars, liars, pants on fire. You all get 5 points deducted from your semester grade.

That aside, absent any last minute snafus, before sundown, he’ll be the 23d head coach to lead University of Louisville football.

For any number of reasons, it is a most fascinating changeover. Not the least of which is that the guy he replaces, Bobby Petrino, holds the best winning percentage of the bunch. At least since the Cardinals first leader, Amos Alonzo Stagg devotee Lester Larson (Ain’t Wikipedia grand?), went 8-2 in ’12 and ’13.

More salient is the Satterfield’s coaching resumé. A year as QB coach at Toledo. Two years as OC at Florida International. 51-24 as head guy at his alma mater, with only a single losing season, his first. Conference crowns. 3-0 in bowls. Yada, yada, yada. All info now indelibly memorized by Cardinal football aficionados.

So, the question obviously: Is he ready for prime time in the Power 5? Continue reading Red & Black Rants & Raves: Satterfield Hire, Bracketology

Louisville CardFile: Seton Hall

As this gritty, patchwork band of Cardinals fitfully evolves into something resembling a formidable contingent — let’s call ’em The Little Team That Could — there’s been a singular noticeable missing element.

The guy who many projected in advance of the campaign would be the leader. He was even chosen a captain by his peers.

VJ King, of course.

In the Cards last two victories, their best efforts of the campaign, including yesterday noon’s gutty 70-65 checkmate of the Kevin Willard’s Pirates, King’s PT has noticeably diminished.

And yet, lost in the rehashing of Saturday’s win in a hostile road environment, might very well be the moment that could turn King’s season around for the better.

King was on the court for but five de minimis minutes before the break. Then played 2:24 relief minutes early in the 2d, during which he grabbed a rebound, committed a foul and turned the ball over.

His moment came later. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Seton Hall

Louisville CardFile: Michigan State

After the huge W over Sparty, Chris Mack’s first as the Cardinal leader, Ryan McMahon, who had a career night — 24 points on 4 treys and 12/13 at the line — was asked how this game was different down the stretch from the battles lost in New York?

Several times during his response, he mentioned “the little things.”

Though he wasn’t specific, one must assume he was talking about the same items mentioned by his coach, which importances included tough, unrelenting defense, staying in front of their men in the pack line, making wise decisions, moving adroitly on offense, taking advantage of the Spartans’ gaffes, staying strong at crunch time, making free throws, and generally willing a victory against a legitimate Top 10 foe while playing a far from perfect game.

I have another theory why the Cards prevailed, even though as the Cards fell behind 61-62 with 3:50 on the clock, this one looked eerily like it would play out as the Ls did in Brooklyn.

Dick Vitale’s favorite Cardinal answered that lost advantage with a trey soon enough. The battle was punch, counterpunch, punch, counterpunch the rest of the way. Through regulation, and through U of L’ second OT slugfest in a row.

 * * * * *

I’ll get to my theory in a moment. (Is that a tease or what?) Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Michigan State

Hoopaholics Anonymous: Early Season Weirdness

Hi, my name is Seedy K, and I’m a hoopaholic.

Does it seem to anybody other than me that the beginning of this season is curioser than most?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Anyway, who needs to share?

“Hello, my name is Bronco, and I’m a, well, I don’t know. My wife made me come.

“Anyway, did you know that for all the grief about U of L football, the team has one thing to be really proud of. It’s one of only two schools that Alabama played this season, that didn’t allow the Tide a score of 40 yards plus?”

Uh, well, okay, Bronco, for what it’s worth. But I believe you want to be with our sister group down the hall, Chinstrap Obsessives Anonymous. This meeting is for people addicted to basketball.

Anybody else?

“My name is Nate, and I’m a hoopaholic.

“Have you seen the first reveal of the NCAA’s NET rating system, the one that replaces its RPI mess? Ohio State is #1. Did they think that game Saturday in the Horseshoe was basketball or something? Loyola Maramount is ranked tenth. I mean, really, give me a break. If they used my algorithms at 538, it would be way more accurate. This is criminal.”

Well, yeah, Nate it does seem to be a bit off, but it’s early. Not a lot of data. Shouldn’t we give it a chance? Continue reading Hoopaholics Anonymous: Early Season Weirdness

Louisville CardFile: Marquette

There are any number of reasons why this consistently improving U of L hoops contingent still fell short last night in NYC to the Golden Eagles by a three spot in extra time.

Not the least of which is that the Cardinals outscored Marquette by a point in regulation, but were still forced to play an extra five.

As best I recall, team with most points in allotted time frame wins.

That wasn’t the case last evening, when 2/3s of the same crew that called the Cards’ slogfest against Southern failed to notice that Jordan Nwora was a foot beyond the three point arc with 8:48 to play. So, the Cards had a seven point advantage, 53-46, instead of eight.

Which is a patently unfair situation, but, to be honest, not why U of L didn’t close.

More legitimate reasons include: Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Marquette

Louisville CardFile: Tennessee

With 10:10 to play, the gutsy U of L Cardinals were still neck and neck with the #5 Volunteers of Tennessee. A Christian Cunningham driving reverse layup had pulled them back within a digit at 65-66.

Dwayne Sutton snared the carom of a Jordan Bone missed trey, turned upcourt with his mates breaking out.

The developing 5 on 3 fastbreak was not to be.

Vols Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams had butted heads going for the rebound, and lay on the hardwood, clutching their noggins. A ref stopped the action.

TV’s Fran Fraschilla explained the new rule that allows officials to whistle play dead if it appears that players are in peril. It was not an unreasonable call, if that’s the new procedure.

What is unconscionable is that, after shaking off the cobwebs, both Alexander and Williams were allowed to stay in the game. No mandatory concussion protocol. No mandatory time on the bench because play was stopped for their “injuries.” Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Tennessee

Louisville CardFile: Vermont

Here’s how Coach Chris Mack generally assessed the Cardinals performance in last night’s 8 point W over Vermont: “I thought our team, for the first 32 minutes, played as well as we have all year against a really good team.”

That is understatement. Which is what good coaches do with teams still under development.

Truth is, for the first 32 minutes — 32:45 to be exact — the Cards were vastly better than in their first two tilts against significantly lesser foes than the Catamounts.

They moved the ball more crisply on offense. As often as not making the extra pass to a guy most open. They were aggressive to the hoop, even the usually hesitant VJ King more than he has shown so far this campaign.

The Cardinals were shooting it really well. At that juncture, over 60% in the 2d. They finished at 57% for the half, 53% for the game. They continued to drain their FTs at a 70+% rate.

Most important, they’d turned the ball over only FOUR times. Tell me the last time a U of L team had been that steady?

Then matters got tweedly. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Vermont

Louisville CardFile: Southern

Before we get to a discussion of the Cards improved performance in a 50 point rout of #343 Southern, I feel compelled to comment on the three fellows who turned this into the most boring couple of hours — or me anyway — since I attempted to watch on Netflix the new Orson Welles release, “The Other Side of the Wind.”

It is the zebras to whom I refer. A.J. Desai. Tony Chiazza. Jeffrey Anderson.

As they blew whistle after whistle after whistle after whistle, throwing in a replay review now and again and again to ensure there was no flow to the game, I wondered if they hadn’t been watching “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” before the game.

“Just whistle while you work/ And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place.”

I mean, come on, guys. 65 fouls. A third of them on the offensive end. (Which, in context, was arguably a blessing. Otherwise, we’re talking 80-90 FTs, instead of a mere 64.) I know, the opener against Nicholls State was bad, but this seemed even more laborious.

Fortunately, this is so far U of L’s best performing gang at the charity stripe in years. The Cardinals were 31/39 against the Jags, which is but a smidge under 80%.

Those three Least Valuable Players in the stripped shirts turned the game into a wearisome slog. Shame on ’em.

(For contrast, take the threesome who worked the harum scarum up and down back and forth frolic that was Georgetown’s entertaining 88-80 W at Illinois. Pat Driscoll, Paul Szelc and John Gaffney were judicious with their foul calls, never impeding the play unnecessarily. What a pleasure that was to watch after the Cards took care of their biz.)

 * * * * *

Let’s hear it for the Cardinals’ Animal Ball mentality. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Southern