There are any number of expressions which are apropos of what’s going on with the surging U of L Cardinals these days.
It can be said, that, after an up and down season on the court, and turmoil off the court, these tournament games are “icing on the cake.”
Or, perhaps, that, given the Cardinals unexpected arrival in the Elite Eight, Louisville is “playing with house money.”
But, given my affection for all things New Orleans, which I visit annually for JazzFest, I am inclined to call this marvelous, post-season surprise run, “lagniappe.”
Which generally translates as “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.” Or, “a little something extra,” like the thirteenth doughnut in a baker’s dozen.
Since a surge to the Elite Eight is, frankly, more than a “little” something, I’d better capitalize my designation.
Lagniappe, how sweet this is.
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ANTON GILL!!! Continue reading Louisville Card File: North Carolina State →
Fingernails, length intact, remain unbitten.
In an opening round squeaker, the Cards, flummoxed by the presence of a 7-6 Senegalese Anteater aberration, were pushed to the brink before prevailing. While last night in its Round of 32 encounter, U of L took a 14-13 lead it never relinquished over favored Northern Iowa after 8:21 of play, keeping the Panthers measured until midnight tolled for the erstwhile Final Four wannabe from the Mo Valley.
So, prone to frustrate even its most ardent fans, but fortitude rich and full of pleasant surprises, this feisty 2014-15 edition of the University of Louisville Cardinals forges ahead to a Sweet Sixteen date in Syracuse with conference chum North Carolina State.
As one loyalist hummed, as the clock ticked down, the victory secure, “You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.”
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That the Cardinals never lost the lead in the second half, doesn’t mean there weren’t moments that increased the heart rate. This was, after all, the NCAA tournament, with the last berth of the second weekend’s games the prize. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Northern Iowa →
There are important games.
Then there are big games.
This is not my delineation, though I wish I’d have postulated it first.
Charles Pierce is my favorite writer, a scribe of storytellng, wordweaving consequence to which I can only aspire. It is from his postulation that I extrapolate.
Big games transcend. Either from tradition through the decades. Or from the reality and ramifications of the now.
While important games have immediate effect in the short run of time, big games live on through the years.
This game, this improbable victory by a lesser Louisville team, this stalwart effort against an immaculate Cavalier squad that contests with a mature, steady unwavering sturdiness, this regular season ending, well- conceived, earnestly executed win, this, my favorite Cardinal game ever at the Yum!, this was a Big Game.
In a season I have previously described as wobbly, the University of Louisville Cardinals, locked in from the opening tip, focused like no time previously this campaign, never wavered, never withered. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Virginia →
Three things became immediately clear after U of L plundered the Seminoles Saturday noon.
1) Anton Gill’s application to Bellarmine is on hold. Sorry, Scotty.
2) Card fans could head out Saturday night and rock to Harry Connick Jr., the Kongos or Irma Thomas with smile on their faces. (Ms. Irma was sublime. Her encore of Dylan’s “Forever Young” transcendent.)
3) Joe Lunardi’s purchased at Discount World o’ Wigs toup can generate early onset projectile vomiting.
Bubble that, Joey Brackets. And, please, at least make sure that dead mop is sittin’ straight on your noggin.
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Yes, there was oh so much to like about the Cardinals performance in a 22 point smackdown, its biggest W ever in the ACC.
Perspective, however, is in order. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Florida State →
Loathe as I am to give my pal, my nemesis and long time Cardinal fan, The Professor, credit for any insight, I admittedly rue this moment for what I’m about to say. And shall be paying for it, for a good while, I suppose.
But when he’s right, he’s right.
For the second game in a row, the Cards pulled out a Jersey Victory. Which was the message Prof sent me after the game.
Not Jersey in the Paulie Walnuts sense, but jersey in that the continuum of the Louisville Cardinal tradition prevailed. While last night, Georgia Tech did what it usually does on the hardwood, i.e. remain the Ramblin’ Wreck, just as Miami’s Hurricanes couldn’t close the deal against U of L the other day at the Yum!.
No, here, it’s Jersey as in a program that’s had a winning tradition for decades. One where the force of long time accomplishment, where the spirit of Hickman and Crum and Unseld and Griffith and Ellison and Siva, where the come through in the clutch of Hancock and Tony Branch, are sewn in Cardinal unis with every stitch. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Georgia Tech →
Coincidence or catalyst?
With 12:05 left, Louisville’s unimpressive five point halftime advantage had dissipated.
And then some.
A Panther trey had just given the feisty visitors a six point advantage. L 39, P 45.
Never one to hold onto timeouts, The Rick called his fourth of the battle, second in the last 90 seconds. To the bench, he escorted Chris Jones, who was playing as if he was still 1 on 5 at Northwest Florida State College, along with Anton Gill, who has yet to rediscover the scoring panache he displayed in prep school.
In their stead, coach inserted Q and Qx2 into the lineup. That would be Quentin Snider and Shaqquan Aaron. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Pittsburgh →
In my excitement over Louisville’s W last night in the balmy clime of Coral Gables, its 4th W in 5 road encounters during its inaugural ACC season, I forgot to stay tuned to WAVE3 TV for Kent Taylor’s piece on ’86 Cardinal star Billy Thompson.
That the station should run a where-is-he-now? segment on the fellow, who led that team to the school’s second national crown, is timely and germane, given the disturbing dynamic playing out this year between a portion of the U of L fan base and senior forward Wayne Blackshear.
Thompson was generally considered the best player in the land, coming out of high school in Camden, N.J.. He announced his college choice on national TV with Al McGuire. The Red & Black faithful had extremely high expectations for Billy T. Which started to wane, during his rookie season, even before he missed a breakaway dunk in the national semis against Phi Slama Jama, a non-score which far too many fans ridiculously felt cost the Cards that game.
Thompson was inexplicably reviled for his “underperformance” the rest of his career. Until, that is, he kicked it in gear midway through his senior campaign, paving the way for that NC2A crown. I specifically remember one fellow who sat behind my father and me at Freedom Hall, who, full of vitriol, as if Thompson was playing bad on purpose just to piss him off, never let an opportunity pass to loudly spew his venom toward BT.
The same type of thing is happening in this, his senior season, to Wayne Blackshear. He obviously is not meeting the expectations of many Cardinal fans, who seem to relish every chance they get to express how little Blackshear does for this team, how “awful” or “horrible” he’s playing, what a “non-factor” he is.
It all seems misplaced to me. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Miami →
One of the major tenets of the Lore o’ The Rick is: If he’s got a week to prepare for an opponent, that opponent better watch out.
Thus, the Cardinal nation had eight days a week to see if, in this odd but so far successful Cardinal season, and after a seriously disappointing effort against Duke, that doctrine would hold true in Steel City?
So it came to pass. Against a lesser than usual Panther squad, in an arena where Pittsburgh stood 13-1 all-time against Top 10 foes, but an arena where the Cards somewhat inexplicably are now 4-1.
Make that 13-2 now, Panthers. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Pittsburgh →
The natives are restless. You know who you are, Red & Black Faithful.
Exasperation has replaced expectation.
After a national title, two journeys to the Final Four, the best W/L % in the land over a three season span, such success becomes a birthright. Or so many Cardinal loyalists have come to believe.
Every loss brings furrowed brow, hand wringing, acid reflux consternation. A fender bender turns into a 90 care pileup at Spaghetti Junction.
After Louisville’s loss to Duke Saturday, and its attendant continuation of woeful shooting, the naysaying has ratcheted up. The gym’s on fire. Every fan, the perceptive ones as well as those who haven’t a clue, but love the Cards, has a suggestion how to “turn things around.”
I, a long time acolyte, am not immune. But, before I get in touch with my own inner Coach Cal Tweak Mode, weighing in with my $3000 annual “voluntary donation” to the U of L Athletic fund’s worth, and come up with some suggestions for improvement and greater success, a look at where the Cards are now. Continue reading Tweaks ‘r’ Us: Louisville Cardinals Mid Season Report →
Fact: Louisville’s task yesterday against the Blue Devils was going to be difficult under any circumstances.
U of L’s offensive inefficiency this season is well chronicled and statistically proven. Until Rick Pitino is able to nurture more points from Wayne Blackshear, Chinanu Onuaku, Shaqquan Aaron, David Levitch, Anton Gill or some combination thereof, the Cards are going to struggle against other top shelf teams.
Effective defense alone can only carry a club so far.
For the doomsayers, remember this. U of L is a perennial Top 25 school. Some years, that translates to a #1 or #2 seed. Other campaigns, like this one more than likely, it means a #4, #5 or #6. Deal with it. It happens. The folks who are faithful to the Gators, Sparty and the ‘Cuse are also wearing furrowed brows today.
The good news is that it’s still mid-January. There’s a full week before Louisville’s next encounter, a visit to Pitt. And, for all the nit picking with The Rick’s ways, he’s a competitor, and gives 100+% effort during the season to improve his teams. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Duke →