Tag Archives: Denny Crum

The Denny Celebration

Disinclined to attend such affairs — they often become tedious — I went anyway.

So glad I did.

Out of respect for my favorite coach ever.

Out of thanks to the human being who was the catalyst for more joy in my life than any other than my bride.

Denny Crum.

The evening was sweet.

The evening was touching.

Beyond reiteration that he stands among the best college basketball coaches ever, it cannot be shared enough what a decent, giving, important man he was. To the players he coached. To the fans he touched. To the community of Louisville. To the world of college basketball. Continue reading The Denny Celebration



Every Cardinal diehard who was there in the moments of those halcyon days has stories.

From 1971 to 1986, it was a magic carpet ride.

Mine begin in my funky $60/ month attic apartment in the Triangle with my pal, fellow fanatic Ben. Listening on the radio to Denny Crum’s first game as Cardinal coach from Gainesville.

Cards 69, Florida 70.

Stoned  I am sure and stunned, we looked at each, deflated.

It had been a strange few years for Cardinal hoops, leading up the new era.

Legendary Peck Hickman unexpectedly resigned after the ’66-’67 campaign with his Wes Unseld-led best ever squad returning. Long time assistant John Dromo took the reins.

A couple solid but unspectacular seasons followed. Then Dromo had health issues, and had to step down. Assistant Howard Stacy moved over a chair. U of L lost 6 of its last 8.

Enough for the powers that be to understand it was time to look elsewhere.  A faculty committee led by Econ prof Carl Abner did the heavy lifting. John Wooden’s right hand man was the choice.

Hope ensued. Continue reading Denny!

U of L Cards have Owned Coach K

The abrupt missive got right to the point.

No words were minced.

It came from the umbrella hoops writer’s association, to which I hope to keep my membership. BABBLE (Basketball America Back Benchers for Literary Excellence).

It was personally signed by organization prexy, Naismith Chamberlain, the only man known to be descended from both the inventor of the game and Wilt the Stilt.

Serious credentials, those. Not to mention, his mentor was Dick “Hoops” Weiss.

Dear Mr. Kaplan:

It comes to our attention that it has been 127 hours since the first reports that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will retire after the 21-22 season.

You have yet to write an article about the situation. This is a serious breach of organizational protocol.

Should you fail to do so before the end of the next business day, your membership in BABBLE shall be suspended, pending permanent dismissal.

(S) Naismith Chamberlain

Well then, I’d best get to it. Continue reading U of L Cards have Owned Coach K

Get Well, Denny

Of course, anybody who loves the Cardinals is glad to hear that iconic former Cardinal hoops coach Denny Crum is recovering from his latest stroke.

Incredible coach. Easily among the best ever that roamed the college sidelines. Good guy. He was always accessible when running the program.

And, to be frank, recency bias and revisionist history notwithstanding, Crum is responsible for elevating University of Louisville sports to the highest levels nationally. Without Denny and his two titles, there would have been no Howard Schnellenberger, nor any of the incredible successes that followed.

One guy’s opinion. Feel free to disagree if you must.

Those whose allegiance to U of L sports germinated after the arrival of the millennium or the decade proceeding it, might only know Denny from his name on the court, or the standing O he gets when introduced during a tilt at the Yum!.

Denny Crum was once the Gold Standard of college basketball. Ask Coach K who schooled him several times early on in his career? Continue reading Get Well, Denny

Billy T’s Boffo, Milt is Money: The Cacophony of A Champion

joaniecardThe University of Louisville will honor its 1986 NCAA champions this Saturday at the Yum!. Allow me to pay my respects.

There was the loud, a loud like no other.

Loud beyond Nigel Tufnel’s 11, louder than a 767 or the starting line at the Brickyard.

It was a hoops hullabaloo, a b-ball ballyhoo, a Doctors of Dunk-sized din of epic proportions. It was bedlam.

Pandemonium didn’t only reign, it poured.

Freedom Hall was full with the ear splitting racket of victory, a loud more intense than it had ever felt before, twenty thousand sets of vocal chords in full throttled exuberance.

It was the cacophony of champions past and soon to come.

Maestro Milt Wagner, arms raised in an inevitable and momentarily to be secured victory over fierce rival Memphis State, led the symphony.

This was March 2, 1986. This was the moment with :02 on the clock, and the loathed Tigers up by a point in the regular season finale, that provided catalyst, precipitated that month’s run to Louisville’s second, dynasty establishing national title.

It was the moment when the basketball gods gave the surest sign that Denny Crum’s Louisville Cardinals were the Team of the 80s.

That sonorous resonance fueled a magical March.

 * * * * *

Some factoids, bits of trivia and perspective on the ’86 season, and championship run: Continue reading Billy T’s Boffo, Milt is Money: The Cacophony of A Champion

Louisville: Hartford

joaniecardIn the wake of Louisville’s second overwhelming W in a row to start the campaign, 87-52 over Hartford, it seems to me I should be more excited. That I should be feeling something about these Cardinals more than this overbearing pall of ennui. That I should be more exhilarated by the arrival of many talented new Cards.

I love college hoops.

The Louisville Cardinals have been the great love of my life.

The beginning of another season has traditionally been one of high points of the year, an event which generated much excitement.

But . . . Samford was horrible. Hartford, even worse. The Hawks were beaten before the tip, at which their coach put a munchkin in the center circle, the other four back on D. The Hawks didn’t make any attempt at offensive rebounding. Five and a half minutes in, Chinanu Onuaku already had ten points, several rebounds and a block, and was probably feeling ready to challenge Tim Duncan.

Despite U of L’s youth, many new personalities and the reality that it’s a team just finding its rhythm, these games were like the varsity matched up against the middle school Chess Club and the Geeks Who Game, the kids that pass on lunch to play World of Warcraft.

B*O*R*I*N*G. Continue reading Louisville: Hartford

Louisville Card File: Florida International

dunikcardIs there any perspective to be garnered when the most salient aspect of a basketball game is the imagery on the hardwood itself?

Really, in a couple of weeks, what will you remember most about last night’s 29 point Cardinal W in Miami over FIU?

The palm trees? The bucolic shoreline? The gently rippling surf onto the pristine sand? All of which were painted onto the court.

The cabanas along the endline? The sunset super graphic on the far wall?

All of the above?

Yes, those visions, frankly, shall be the most memorable take away. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Florida International