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
It is a dark and stormy day.
A real Edward Bulwer-Lytton kind of day.
E B-L’s the British novelist, who opened a novel with the now hackneyed sentence paraphrased above.
Sometimes, even the most overused descriptor is the most appropriate. Which, I suppose, is reason why such are so overused.
Before tipoff of the Badgers vs. Blue Devils title match, I got a text from SmartGuy. “It feels like closing night.”
And the end of this college hoops campaign is especially depressing, given that the victor is the most despised of all the programs in the land. When what could have been a season of historic resonance was thwarted in the semi-finals. When a feel good story out of Cheese Country coulda, woulda, shoulda, but wasn’t.
No Cinderella. Nothing to make us feel all goosey inside.
Just Duke. Again. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: 2015’s Last Morning After
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
It is the time of the season.
When scenarios morph curioser and curioser in the Big Tent that is College Hoops.
Messrs. K and H assure the public/ Their production will be second to none/ And of course Henry The Horse dances the waltz!
Not the least stunning of which developments is viewing the sport’s preeminent color announcer, the usually straight forward Jay Bilas, showing up to do the Arizona/ Colorado game, wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Sitting alongside smirking Garciaphile Bill Walton, who, deadpan, pretending to be the voice of reason, intones, “Enough foolishness. There’s a game going on here. Let’s get to the action.”
This morning’s USA Today had a catch up article on this year’s doings. Two months into the season, the paper obviously felt compelled to catch us up on what’s been happening. The undercurrent, one supposes, being they thought we couldn’t possibly have been paying attention until the CFP was over and done.
Really? Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Conference Craziness, Cardinals, Curiosness
You know it’s really a scrimmage disguised as a conference game when the Sosa play works to perfection.
The reference is obviously to Edgar Sosa, the less than beloved former point guard, who had the annoying propensity to fritter away scoring opportunities, when handed the rock in end of half situations. Dribble in this direction, dribble the other way, to little effect most of the time. Often, the ball would be stolen for negative last first half points.
Though I have no firm stats, anecdotal remembrance tells me the affinity of The Rick to give the ball to his PG with the clock winding down at the end of first halves — be it Sosa, for whom the phenomenon is named, or Siva, or Smith, or McGee, or Jenkins or Northern — works neither as well as the coach would like. Nor as fans, who dissect every Cardinal twist and turn, wish.
It’s supposed to be, I surmise, dribble, drive, draw defenders and dish. Or deliver.
Way more often than not, it’s not delivery, its’ DiGiorno, a cardboard made at home imitation of a pizza. No score. As opposed to a sublime slice of Impellizzeri’s pie, the equivalent of a trey. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Virginia Tech
A bump in the suicide rate from Prestonsburg to the Purchase was avoided the other night, when the buzzer finally sounded and the Cats had finally finished off upstart Ole Miss, a 22 point dog. That the impending defeat was at Rupp in the SEC opener had the good ol’ boys hanging ropes from the rafters, figuring life might not be worth living if the Johnny Rebs hung on.
The circumstances of the game are a great excuse to share one of my favorite bits of shtick from comedian Robert Klein:
One of the most interesting of the ironclad safety measures was that my father insisted I wait one hour after eating before going in swimming; something about dangerous cramping. This was probably derived from some myth about a kid who drowned in the East River in 1924 after eating an entire pot roast. Waiting a bit after a meal before swimming is not a bad idea. But with true Ben Klein hyperbole, I was warned that if I didn’t wait one full hour and not a second less, I would instantly sink like a rock and die a choking, gurgling death. “You’ll go right to Davy Jones’s locker,” my father would say ominously.
I was therefore scrupulous about waiting the full amount of time, regardless of the hot sun and the sight of other kids swimming happily ten minutes after eating. Their parents were evidently irresponsible. The idea of waiting exactly one hour was etched into my brain like a mental tattoo, as if the food would know precisely what period of time had passed since I ate it. One hour – okay; fifty-nine minutes – dead. When I got a little older, my father explained that I really didn’t need to wait a full hour. The actual amount of time a child would have to wait before swimming depended on what the child ate, and my father was the arbiter at the pool or beach who would decide such things. “What did you have, a tuna-salad sandwich? With a pickle?” Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Cramping & Conference Conflicts
Wednesday morning, during my weekly piano lesson, my teacher Chris Bizianes, also a prof at Bellarmine, and I discussed some musical theory.
Specifically, the Circle of Fifths.
While not getting too deep or specific — as if I could if I tried — it is a construct that helps explain the mathematical and harmonic relationship between key signatures. The progression of sharps and flats. A path to chord progressions that will sound melodic. The relationship between the 1, 4 and 5, etc, etc.
At this juncture, I’ll stop, before I’m chewing on my size 12s, before a reader who really understands the concept jumps my game, and get to why I bring this up while reviewing last night’s slog of a W over the orange and purple clad visitors from Clemson.
Which is that U of L’s offense, as it has disturbingly been more oft than not, was off key, way out of pitch and — here comes another musical metaphor — devoid of any appreciable rhythm.
That Louisville remains a legit Top 10 team, at least so far, with only the 66th most efficient O in the land, according to guru Ken Pomeroy, is a testament to grit, talent, intense defense and wise scheduling.
Get used to it, kids. Watching U of L with the ball this season is root canal territory. The Cards’ D is our only anesthetic. Continue reading Louisville Card File: Clemson
There’s going to be plenty of golf news this week, what with the PGA at Valhalla and all, and we got football — American style, the way Pudge Heffelfinger meant for it to be — every weekend from now until February.
So, as we’re wont to do, let’s start with hoops.
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Just as his cataclysmic injury changed Kevin Ware’s career, there’s no doubt the same could happen with Paul George.
Obviously, one hopes the Indiana Pacer has a full recovery. (And that Ware finally gets it together at his current collegiate stop.)
Here’s what struck me about Friday night’s injury situation.
USA team players and coaches alike were shaken to the point that Mike Krzyzewski called off the remainder of the scrimmage. A legitimate move, one supposes. Continue reading Monday Morning QB: Teeing Up, Kicking Off, Hurling & Mo’
Lost in all the current sports hoopla, America’s new love affair with fútbol, the culmination of Wimbledon, Joey Chestnut’s less than stellar W, Tiger’s return to the links, Kentuckianians, including Nerlens Noel, competing in the NBA summer league and Fourth of July cornhole smackdowns is this red, white and blue reality.
In the national pastime, that would still be baseball, kids, LA Dodger Clayton Kershaw has pitched 38 consecutive scoreless innings.
Which is, like, four consecutive games worth of shutout hurling. Plus a couple frames.
Which is awfully impressive. Yet, still 21 innings short of the MLB record, held by another guy who took the mound at Chavez Ravine, Orel Hershiser.
By the by, Tiger Rick Porcello, who hurls tonight for Detroit against the A’s, has pitched two complete game shutouts in a row.
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As I write, Roger Federer has just won a back and forth first set tiebreak against Novak Djokovic.
This Gentleman’s Final looks like it could be, might be a classic. Continue reading Sunday’s Short Shots: Fútbol, Cycling, Tennis, Announcing, Baseball and, of course, Hoops