So eery was U of L ‘s performance in Saturday’s 62-77 meltdown to Clemson, so fragile does this Cardinal contingent’s psyche seem to be given the context of the last several seasons underlying the reality of this past week’s road trip from hell, it was good to hear these words from second season headman Chris Mack.
On the immediate past: “It’s my fault. I have to figure it out. We as a coaching staff have to figure it out. Generally, it looks like we’re not playing for anything. Really frustrating. But it’s my job to figure it out, and I’ve failed so far.”
On the immediate future: “I don’t have all the answers right now. I just don’t. It’s my job. We’ll watch film. I’m going to have a lot of one-on-one conversations, and we’ll figure out a way to be better against Syracuse on Wednesday.”
Though not the centerpiece of the David Padgett-coached team that choked up a “sure win” over UVa season before last, the core of this squad was there then and wilted last season against Duke, then staggered to the finish line, beating only hapless Notre Dame twice while losing the other six of its last eight.
The watchword of the offseason was “Finish.” Finish workouts. Finish practice. Finish games. Finish the season. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson
As a lifelong U of L diehard, who at times has sadly allowed the fortunes and misfortunes of the Cardinals to dictate the nature of his well being, there’s little in life as depressing as watching your team simply not show up.
With that as context, this reporter of sorts understands there’s nothing quite as loathsome as getting up before dawn the morning after and crafting a game recap, especially when it’s Louisville’s first really bad loss of the campaign, to an under .500 squad. To a team Louisville had conquered nine times in a row. (Hmm, that sounds familiar.)
So, instead of waiting until morning, I’m writing this before slumber. To get it out of the way. To purge the pain. So I can awake on the morrow looking ahead instead of behind.
Behind being what the Cardinals were against Georgia Tech for the full 40.
Jose Alvarado canned a trey on the first possession of the game.
The Yellow Jackets never relinquished the lead. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech
Caveat: This is written bleary-eyed, at a very early hour, after short, fitful sleep. I’ve double checked myself, but if I’ve missed a number here and there, or there’s a typo, be gentle.
At his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon, Chris Mack was asked about the importance of getting a strong start, especially against a team like UVa, which slows the game down with its style of play?
While acknowledging that starts are always important, the U of L mentor explained how he views the game in ten four-minute segments, the delineations dictated by media timeouts. The team that wins the most segments, he offered, usually wins the game.
Which response I adored, since I’ve always organized my game notes, such as that organization is, by breaks in the action, both media and team-called stoppages.
Well, then. let’s see.
Saturday’s segments, Seedy-style. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Virginia
It was the worst of halves. It was the best of halves.
It is not the first time I’ve appropriated Dickens. It is not the last time I’ll appropriate Dickens.
It was in the first half: Louisville 34, Wake Forest 46. It was in the second half: Louisville 52, Wake Forest 30.
Somewhere in Demon Deacon Country during the first half, there was a fanatic named DeFarge, knitting the names of Cardinal defenders getting beat. Somewhere in Demon Deacon Country during the second half, there was a partially knit shawl beside Madame with no more names to be knitted.
Cardinals 86, Wake Forest 76.
All’s well that ends well. I guess. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Wake Forest
Given the manner of U of L’s 77-57 W over NC State in Raleigh, I’m thinking of a conversation in a thread recently among the commentariat at cardchronicle.com, where I post these game recap communiqués in tandem with my own site, seedyksports.com.
It was during a period when Ryan McMahon hadn’t been a major contributor for several games in a row, spending more time on the pine while David Johnson was emerging.
I offered that, though he’ll always provide a mature, steadying presence on and off the court, as Chris Mack underscored during his postgame comments Saturday, the nature of McMahon’s game and his talents are such that he can’t be depended upon consistently game in and game out on the hardwood.
But . . . and it’s a significant and joyous but . . . there will be times, I offered, when he’ll come in and change a game midcourse with his shooting.
I was upset that I hadn’t used a term later thought of for such interludes, but wrote it down to interject when appropriate.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we witnessed against State was the McFlurry. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: North Carolina State
During the Chris Mack Era, U of L has had a periodic celebrity courtside guest.
Assistant coach Luke Murray’s dad.
I mean, you know, Bill Murray is Bill Murray, right? Buster of Ghosts. Scarlett Johansson whisperer. Looper for the Lama. A cool presence.
All that said, and it’s most cool having Carl Spackler in the house for a Cards game, but with all due respect, it’s time for a change.
We need Danny Ainge courtside every game.
Because . . . and do I really need to spell it out for you . . . because the Cardinals alpha dog Jordan Nwora looked over during warmups, saw Ainge, and surely said to himself something like, “Hmmm, the Celtics GM is in the house, must have come to watch me play. OK, Danny, you want to see what I got? Here it comes.”
Nwora was, as it is said, en fuego from the get go.
At both ends, lest we overlook his hustling effort on defense.
How to put in perspective the giddy overwhelmingness of his offensive show? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Boston College
The above image of the Sports Illustrated ’74-’75 preseason basketball issue heralds that season’s projected #1 Louisville Cardinals, who were honored at halftime of Saturday afternoon’s victory over Clemson. (At least until we get a Cease and Desist order from SI’s attorneys, and have to remove it.)
During his Friday pregame press conference, Chris Mack spent a majority of the opening moments extolling the virtues of the Tigers’ playmaking pivot Aamir Simms, emphasizing what a rigorous matchup problem the undersized center would be.
At 14.4 ppg coming in to Saturday afternoon’s battle in the Yum!, Simms leads Clemson in scoring. Same for rebounding at 7.7 rpg. While dishing out two and half assists a game, many when stationed out high and hitting backdoor cutters and guys off slip screens.
Mack’s concern was palpable and legit. He indicated it was going to have to be heady, mature, knowing defense that might thwart Simms.
Then he was asked the status of Malik Williams, who tweaked a knee in the Georgia Tech win, and advised the Cards’ energizer big was “day to day.”
At which point, I asked, if it would be fair to assume Aidan Igehan might see more action than he has recently, if Williams wasn’t available? Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Clemson
“You’ve got to have a healthy respect for your opponent.”
Denny Crum said that.
“It’s great to win when you play like you left your game on a bus in Durham.”
I said that.
“When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.”
Bob Dylan said that.
So, soon after they switched out of an ill defined zone into man to man, and grabbed the lead, 12-11 at 15:19 of the 1st, soon pushed it out to five, 8-10, KenPom #96 Georgia Tech realized it had nothing to lose, and played free and easy. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Georgia Tech
Have you ever taken notice of the difference between Coach K in the post game handshake line after a Blue Devil victory, and Mike Krzyzewski in the post game handshake line after Duke is vanquished?
Well, being an obsessive observer of all matters hoops — I’m an unrecovering hoopaholic, you know — and enjoying every Duke L as much as the next fellow, I have observed the habits.
When Duke wins, he’s head up, and patronizingly pats the losing players on their chest as he offers his commiserations. When Duke falls, he’s head down, perfunctory handshakes followed by a strident scurry to the locker room.
Did we savor the latter Saturday evening after Louisville won at Cameron Indoor for the first time since the ’83 Final Four squad schooled Jay Bilas and his cohorts, 91-76, or what?
* * * * *
There are any number of blissful storylines to this huge Cardinal victory, its third in a row during a telling week on the road in the ACC.
The Cardinals’ Killer D.
A Star is born on the most improbable stage.
All those mournful , quieted Crazies who had to trundle back to their dorms in the chill, and then spend Saturday night cleaning off the blue greasepaint.
But I want to start with U of L’s “other” PG Star of the win. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Duke
Though metaphorically bleeding for the last eight minutes and eleven seconds of a bruising battle, the U of L Cardinals persevered to prevail 73-68 at Pitt.
I don’t know if it’s all happening at the Oakland Zoo, whether the orangutans are indeed skeptical of changes in the their cages, but I do believe this is true. Cards hung tough and won again on the road in the ACC.
With 3:11 to play in regulation, Pitt’s Justin Champagnie retrieved a missed Xavier Johnson three, then the ball got to Trey McGowens who banked in a second chance long ball for a 61-54 lead.
“DAGGER,” I noted in all caps.
Thus the mention of blood flow in the lede. (It’s a push, but work with me here.) Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh