Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
So, for starters, did you know there is a Cardinal Comet? Discovered in 2008 (featured left), it reached its peak brightness on June 13, 2009, when it was visible with only binoculars. Considering that UofL football was at its peak dimness at that time, I'd like to think that when it comes to auspicious omens, our comet was just a year early (or we fired Kragthorpe a year late, take your pick).
Nevertheless, there is a pervasive feeling of order being restored to the Cardinal Football Universe. The stars are aligning on a number of levels. Literally, this weekend will be a star-studded affair of future Cardinals as Coach Strong plays host to 14 recruits, most of them highly-touted players with whom he had preexisting relationships. We'll have to wait till next week for tangible results of the experiment, but Senorise Perry, one of the fastest players in the South, has indicated the only question remaining is whether Strong will offer him a scholarship.
The positive energy felt among the fan base stems not from fantastic, science-fictional expectations of immediate BCS success. It stems from the invaluable feeling that we are once again in good hands. After an era of Kragthorpe Khaos, the most important stabilization of our telemetry, obviously, comes from the heavenly body of Charlie Strong, who's gravitational pull is more powerful than armchair Louisville scientists first realized. He's attracting the attention of a caliber of athlete unthinkable at this point on our last trip around the Sun. He's assembled a staff with Gene Kranz efficiency.
But college football is not a deterministic Universe. If we want to once again ripple the fabric of football space-time, if we want our coach to become tenured, then there are parts to be played in this cosmic dance, and there is much for specks of dust like us to do. Fill our pizza-inspired observatory as it takes a step skyward. Apply for season tickets. Tailgait to infinity and bong beers so fast you go backwards in time. Send all your passion for Louisville football out into the Great Unknown until it richochets back and the Cards retake our place as the brightest star in the Commonwealth.
In the words of the late Carl Sagan: "We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands."
Unsatisfying from a football standpoint too; how many passes did Alabama's QB throw again? It was only five well into the second half. To me, that reinforces why the NFL remains a better sport. The NFL is about schemes and Xs and Os, the college game is just about getting superior personnel on the field. It's one thing for a team to have an identity, but quite another for a team to physically dominate the line of scrimmage and never have to look downfield. But that's the way it is, and when it comes to getting thoroughbred athletes on the field, things are starting to look up for the Cardinals. Defensive stud B.J. Butler made his commitment to Louisville official yesterday; he had offers on the table from Nick Saban's Alabama and several other elite schools. There are no guarantees that Butler will be a gamechanger, Coach Strong either for that matter, but the Cards are right where they need to be in the Recruiting Realm to get us back on the Collision Course.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that it did (come late), but don’t get me wrong. I’m not using any excuse of a delay to say that’s why Louisville won. I keep going back to the youth of our team. I think it was clearly a violation, and we stand around, stand around. Then we don’t get going again. That can be a factor.”I'm no expert, but I remember the play (of course, they spent 15 minutes reviewing it). It seemed to me that the refs and the commentators were focusing on the wrong thing. The clock was winding down to :3, Swop shot and airballed, TJ corralled the rebound and put up a shot that rattled the rim and was tipped in by Knowles. The issue (to me) wasn't whether Knowles beat the clock, but whether it was out of Jennings' hands by the time the clock expired. If so, once it hit the rim, a new clock should have started, and Knowles tip-in was a non-issue. Am I missing something here?
P.S. Reread that Keno Davis quote. What is it about post-game interviews that turns all coaches into Sarah Palin?
* This team can rebound. It takes a collective effort, and great focus on positioning, but my concerns about getting boarded out of the Big East are ebbing just a tad.
* Sosa was at his most scintillating last night. He can truly do it all, including rebound and defend, when he's dialed in. That alleyoop to himself was loin-stirring.
* Knowles, and especially Siva, are still hurt. Neither is playing at the level he was a month ago.
* Pitino shrewdly played Mike Marra some minutes in front of his home fans, and the kid responded by displaying that dormant range of his. How pretty do those long shots look going down? Just a beautiful arc, and a solid da-thunk sound as it goes through the net. Too bad there's more variables at play than Chinese algebra for him to feel comfortable on the court. And how annoying was the ESPNU commenter who clearly hasn't watched a UofL game this year, who kept raving about how Marra was the deadliest weapon on the team?
* Kyle? Kyle?!? Anyone seen Kyle Kuric?
* Keep plugging, Samardo. Go Cards.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Kudos to the young UK student/Louisville fan who wrote to the CJ about her disapproval of fan behavior at Rupp Arena. It's difficult to contemplate why some Kentucky fans, I suppose with their passions spilling over, choose to denigrate the city of Louisville, described by one Wildcat as "that dirty river town." Although the greater number of Louisvillians see the light and choose the University of Louisville over UK (snap!), our city nonetheless contributes students to UK at greater rates than most any other part of Kentucky (I don't have the numbers, but I would expect that Louisville actually leads in that statistic). Charlie Springer at Card Game made some intriguing points last week as to why some Kentucky fans turn against the Derby City with such fervor and animosity.
As for the profane language that the writer experienced in Rupp, I would submit that the differences between the Louisville and Kentucky fan bases are not so different. From where Mr. Red and I watched the game, surrounded by an all-Card crowd, there was lots of yelling, shouting, and oh yeah, obscenities and profanity -- peaking at about, oh... I'd say the 45 second mark in the first half. However, I am proud to report that we quit the cursing almost cold turkey when a friend showed up with his baby girl (A lot of last-second catching ourselves and "fu...dging" ensued, but I like to think we're just clutch performers). Others weren't so lucky... A relative reported to me that she had to ask a Cards fan at Hoops to tone down the language during the game due to the number of children around them. And, of course, faithful readers of this web site will be familiar with Mr. Red's profanity-laced tirades following Louisville losses (he tries not to do it, folks, but his court-appointed shrink assures him it's therapeutic).
Besides raising the obvious question of who would bring their kids to Hoops, the anecdotes above suggest that both fan bases get worked up, and in their excitement partake in varying levels of what we would call "questionable behavior." My point is not to defend it or to condemn it (save for the outrageous levels that can lead to someone getting hurt... that should not be tolerated), but to be realistic that it happens, on both sides. I have no doubt that when it comes to energetic fan bases, there are both positives and negatives. The only general guidance I can offer on this subject, while still being honest with myself and how "into it" I get when rooting for the Cards, is that fans should take into account their surroundings. What goes for passable behavior in the student section at Freedom Hall probably doesn't cut it in the family section at Papa John's. Based on that tenet, it sounds like the letter-writer to the CJ found herself seated among the less respectful of Rupp's runts. My sincere expectation is that next season, when the Cats come a callin' in our new downtown arena, we won't repay the favor.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Their coach is a punk. Cousins is a punk. Bledsoe is a punk. This much is clear to any objective viewer, so forgive me for not extending an olive branch. After months of purposefully baiting Louisville by attempting to schedule practices in our arena, stomping on logos "in good fun", promising a hellish arena of Rupp-hatred, and having Calipari get in on the action by threatening Reginald Delk, something may indeed have to give. But not from our side. Not from this blogger (I don't want to speak for the site, Mr. Black's his own fan).
But that's UK for you, kinda-sorta gracious in victory as always. Do what you want with your own fan-hate. But I'm stockpiling mine.
Monday, January 4, 2010
OK. Deep breath. It's time to move on. From a basketball standpoint, here's what we learned about our team on Saturday...
* Samardo isn't an elite player. He can be an effective player, and a key component of whatever success this team hopes to achieve, but we need to stop pretending he's a big mismatch in our favor. Samardo seems to wear the pressure of being our primary weapon, and regularly puts himself in bad spots and tries to do too much. There are other weapons on this team. It's time for someone to step up from role player to key player, because continuing to just force it to Samuels in the post and seeing what happens is a recipe for disaster.
* Kuric is a calming presence on the court. He seemed the only player that had his mind on basketball and only basketball during the game. He shouldn't start, but needs more PT.
* Our guards can play with anybody. And they didn't even play that well against UK, but their quickness and aggression are top of the line. There's no team on the rest on our schedule that we should fear being outclassed at the guard position.
* Our freshman aren't ready. Siva, battling an illness or nervousness, probably both, was a nonfactor. Buckles looked woefully overmatched during his brief time on the floor. Marra, still jittery playing at Freedom Hall, was wisely kept on the bench.
* Swopshire is not a power forward. He's going to get beat up if we continue to send him out there as such. But he's an athletic perimeter player, a capable rebounder, and he can do a lot of good things for this team provided he's put in situations to succeed.
* Our offense needs a ton of work, but our defense can keep us in every game.
Mr. Black has already covered these sentiments ably, but I'm verbose, so I'll go ahead and repeat a tad. The Cards can take a measure of pride from entering hostile environs, starting atrociously, and clawing their way back into contention almost by sheer will.
But let's not be too proud. We lost. And this team displays a worrying trend towards awful starts, (UNLV, Charlotte, UK) where a comeback is possible, yet the effort expended saps our energy to complete the W. The Cards showed toughness on Saturday, but not poise. A poised performance would have included maintaining a shooting touch during the adrenaline-filled first 10 minutes, finishing 3-footers, wanting the basketball at the start instead of playing hot potato with it. This team will not back down, but whether it will step up is another question.
"I don't know. The game was so emotional."Plausible deniablitity has gone a long way for Cal. You can't expect anything but more of the same at this point.
I think Louisville did everything that they could to get his goat...We told him they were going to do that.… The kid never budged. He said, ‘It is not going to bother me. I am just going to play.' He is growing up and really maturing."Growing up and really maturing"? Your player that should have been thrown out of the game for an intentional forearem? WHAT. THE. HELL. IS. GOING. ON?
I'm sorry, I have no delusions that UofL's squad is comprised of a bunch of Boy Scouts. But I don't care if they were jawing at the Cats in the tunnel, I don't care if they were rude to them during warmups. There's an enormous gulf of difference between common trash talk that accompanies a rivalry and a team resorting to physical violence. AND A HEAD COACH ENCOURAGING IT! Sometimes, it is that simple. A villain is a villain is a villain. Eric Crawford expressed dismay towards guys like me in his late night thoughts on the subject, expounding his theory of relativity that "one man's thug is another man's enforcer".
I'm sorry, but no. This is not a gray area. An enforcer is a physical player that keeps the other team in check during the game. A thug takes a cheap shot after the whistle is blown towards an opposing player lying prone and on the ground. It ain't rocket science, and though it may be appealing for a reporter searching for a situation of moral ambiguity, it's not one. Here's what we know...
Eric Bledsoe to Reginald Delk: "You're fucking dead!" Said over and over, as he was being talked down (unsuccessfully) by his Captain.
Coach Cal to Reginald Delk: "He'll kick your ass after the game! You picked the wrong guy!"
And, of course, Cousins' forearm (and no, Swop did not intentionally knee him). Say what you want about Coach Pitino, but he was the only class in this act on Saturday. Without crying about it or making excuses, he casually expressed dismay during his post-game press conference that Delk and Swop were the ones receiving techinicals, because they are two of the most mild-mannered players on the squad.
A heated rivalry. But one team stepped over the line, and no amount of media-posturing can alter what every freethinking person saw with his or her own eyes.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
It's no wonder things got out of hand when their head coach can't even refrain from threatening players. This'll be overshadowed, but to me it's the most unbelievable part of the entire melee.
The common meme is that anything that stirs animosity is "good for the rivalry". But is it? If a good rivalry includes mutual respect and sportsmanship, this one has waved "buh bye" to all that. I haven't had the slightest urge to extend a hand and say, "good game" or "good win". Does that make me a sore loser? Maybe, but it also stems from having never received a reciprocal hint of grace from the other side after defeat. The polarization of the fans, and the state, is running hot, and will only get hotter.
We took a loss yesterday. And perhaps the only good thing to come from it is the reinforced conviction amongst fans in our resistance to the Evil Empire. We lost a big battle, but it's a war, and we're in it for the long haul. I'll be wearing my UofL hat today with pride. Go Cards.
You'll be hearing a lot of talk today about the jawing back and forth between the UofL and UK players during warmups to explain away Cousins cheap shot with a "both sides were doing it!" defense. I don't buy it. Talk happens all the time, and isn't a justification for swinging a forearm at a prone player. I wasn't there so I can only go by what I saw, and believe it or not I'm trying to be as objective as possible here. Swop fell, Cousins forearmed him while he was on the ground (word is Swop's sporting a black eye) and Delk came in and shoved Cousins in his defense. Take from it what you wish, but any conclusion other than Cousins is a thuggish player will take some verbal gymnastics.
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Jan 3 - Jan 10
- These spurts are giving me fits!
- Stars Aligning
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- Papa John's halfcourt shot
- Louisville Bound
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- The missing piece?
- Last night's dunks at Dunkin' Donut Arena
- Deep Fryin' the Friars
- Dirty river towns and dag-gone fans
- The Samardo situation
- Random fact? Huge Pat Benatar fan...
- White Out January 8th
- Hey, here's how to waste the rest of your work day...
- Detente? Dey Crazy
- We are a football school, after all...
- One Last Look
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About the Bloggers
Mr. Red is also known as Timothy Johnstone. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
Mr. Black is also known as Christopher Cunningham. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.