Saturday, February 20, 2010
Cuz I get a thousand hugs, from ten thousand Charlie Strongs, as they try and teach me how to dance...
Friday, February 19, 2010
And it was different than football, I remember that too. I had gone to football tailgates before; other kids were at those and years of deprecation made for an easy atmosphere. This was nighttime, this was urgent, this was adult.
The crowd walked fast through the parking lot. Each seemed to follow a planned route, and an equilibrium was achieved so that the hoard plowed through the turnstiles quickly.
Then we were inside, and the senses were overloaded. The temperature rose, brass instruments blared, there was tobacco smoke and the smell of candied nuts. It was loud, organized, and chaotic.
I'd be lying if I said it was love at first sight, because I was scared. I wasn't used to crowds, and my dad seemed uncertain about me being there. I had to pee but didn't dare ask. He shuffled me through groups of guffawing, red-faced fans.
All was different when we got to our seats, our sanctuary, in the upper level, diagonal to the basket. We relaxed, and names I vaguely knew were pointed out in the layup line. It was a big deal.
The fans around us were comfortable and talkative, and they knew a history foreign to me then. My dad was a shrewd fan too, convinced we were playing poorly. But in my mind, at that time, there was no way. It was like clockwork; at the right moment, the certain second, one of the Cards would send it through the net and the crowd would rise again. I remember that optimism.
Today I can't recall if we won, or even the opponent. But the Cardinal Bird came close to our section, and my dad played it up huge, it was like seeing Santa Claus. And my favorite player, Kip Stone, scored a key basket. We both said how drained we were on the way home. I felt older.
It may not have happened exactly like that, but that's what I remember, and that's what's true.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Random aside. I was once at the same house party as Otis George, and I kind of stalked him awkwardly from room to room until I worked up the courage to ask him if he wanted to be on our Flip-Cup team. He said no.
Anyways, last night, Samardo was the offense. ND coach Mike Brey took a gamble that nearly paid off when he decided to guard him one-on-one. Samardo brutalized them in the post, but the Irish were still in a position to win at the end regardless.
As fantastic as he is playing, the Cards can't count on getting that kind of performance from night to night. For one, he's going to be double-teamed more often than not. Two, he was in the zone last night, few players in college could have stopped him, but there's going to be a dropoff at some point.
Every possession when Samardo touches the ball is a good one. But the other Cards need to step up on offense as well to make opponents pay when they overguard the big man.
After the Syracuse win, Dana O'Neil for ESPN compared the Cards fate at that point in the season to that of Sisyphus, the cursed figure from mythology fated to continuously roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to have it roll back down once he reached the top. It certainly has felt like that at times. But if the Syracuse win represented the Cards reaching the summit, this win represented the Cards finally pushing the boulder in the other direction. Watch out if the Cards can generate some true momentum.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Cards encountered a wounded dog, an injured wolf, a hormonal badger, whatever metaphorical mammal that is that plays fierce with its back against the wall. The game has been over for 10 minutes, and still I feel like it's a Jason movie and that Abercrombie, or whatever his name is, is going to come out in a bloodied jersey and nail another trey.
Much more tomorrow. But a great, great, clutch win from the Cards tonight in a half court, free-throw line format. Samardo the Beast is emerging. As Murrow should say, "Good night, and good Cards."
You will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution. But from annihilation...Seriously, watch the clip. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. C! A R! D! S! CARDS!CARDS! CARDS!!!
Also, Reginald Delk returns to court tonight at 100%. After Mike Marra's best game of the season, it'll be interesting to see how time is split at the wing.
Three left at the Hallowed Hall in a season where every game is tourney-atmosphere. Pinch me.
In point of fact, Louisville's most impressive statistic is located on Syracuse's side of the box score: the Cards held the sharp-shooting Orange to 41.4 percent field goal percentage overall. It should surprise exactly no one that a Pitino-coached team eeked out a close victory against a top-notch opponent by playing solid D and limiting the opponent to near 40 percent shooting. I didn't recognize any major changes in our defensive schemes, but I'd be interested to know if the Cards somehow approached things differently. Or maybe it's the case that the Cards flat-out executed this time around? (farewell St. John's) Whatever the cause, a low-percentage shooting, defense-oriented game might be the type that Pitino is most comfortable coaching (as long as it applies to both teams). Let's hope he can do it again.
The one question that is all-important, of course, is IN or OUT? And that question can be examined with a little more clarity. For the moment, it's generally regarded that the Cards are on the good side of The Bubble. The win over Syracuse rocketed the Cards RPI to #31, and with a SOS of #4, we're on near-solid ground. The only truly terrible loss on our resume is Western Carolina, the other 8 have RPIs in the top-72. (Charlotte a strong #41).
A key stat for the selection committee is the record against the RPI top 50. The Cards are currently a meager 2-6, but the interesting thing is, one of those wins is different than it was last week; Cinci has risen to #49, South Florida slipped to #52. The Big East has four teams (South Florida, Seton Hall, Marquette, UConn) ranked between 50-61. There's too much at play to predict, but the point is, the Cards record against the top-50 may play out much better than it is currently.
6 games remain, and the Cards will only be sizeable underdogs in 2. Take care of business against the 4, lose the 2, and the Cards are in. Win 3, and snag an upset against Georgetown or Syracuse and we're in. Win less than 4 of the last 6 and we'll have reason to feel uneasy on Selection Sunday.
I propose just winning the damn tournament again and ending all this talk.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
That sure hasn't stopped everyone from sharing or shouting their opinions. He's been referred to as beleagued, embattled, overrated, underrated, elite, legendary, shameful, shameless, and "it'd be a shame if he left" all in the same day depending on the outlets you read. The rumors that swirled around Pitino during the New York trip, regardless of their truth, did reinforce one thing.
Next season a new chapter starts for UofL basketball. Before that time a candid discussion needs to take place that puts the athletic department, coaches, fans, players, and recruits all on the same page. How long will Pitino remain coach for the Cardinals? What are recruits being told to ensure a smooth transition? Has Ralph Willard been told something that we aren't privy to?
But that's next season, and the win over the Orange has postponed that conversation. Right now there's more meaningful basketball to be played, seniors to celebrate, and a legendary arena to give a raucous farewell to. Say what you want about Rick, but I don't think he'll have much trouble taking our team back down a peg, and reminding them how much work is left to do. The future can wait, for now, there's basketball to play.
Monday, February 15, 2010
First, UofL was winning by two when the foul happened. Syracuse was in a must-foul situation, hence Joseph's over-handsiness. Smith knocked down the two freebies, and then was fouled again when the Cards received the ball back. He missed both of those. So essentially Syracuse got the ball back down 4, exactly where they expected to be when they committed the foul to begin with.
Second, while it certainly wasn't malicious or violent, I don't think it was that bad a call. As we said before, Smith snagged the key rebound, and down two, they had to foul. Joseph yanked Smith by the shoulder, and with a little bit of acting on Jerry's part, he went down hard. Joseph certainly wasn't going for the ball, ergo, an intentional foul could be warranted. I'm not saying it wasn't questionable, I'm just saying it's not the worst call I've ever seen, like, I dunno, a ball going out of bounds off a player's head yet that team being rewarded the ball back.
It was a hard-fought victory, so forgive me for being a little sensitive to those trying to diminish it.
* Rakeem Buckles
Love the hustle, love he way you can pass in the interior. But can you work on that 8-foot jumper in the off-season? The Orange were just daring you to take it, and again and again, you passed it away. Shoot the rock, Rock!
* All Our Guards
Love the intense defense, the desire to defend all 90-feet of the floor. But those silly slap fouls you pick up after we score a basket, trying to make another play, it's like you can't help yourselves. Syracuse kept themselves in the game the last two-minutes at the free throw line. Handing them the double-bonus could make a huge difference down the stretch.
Love the way you played with poise in the first half, you almost single-handedly kept UofL in the game after a piss poor start. But could you start grabbing the basketball with authority? You almost gave me a heart attack when you lost that missed free throw rebound out of bounds.
* Samardo Samuels
Love the way you've learned to flash your athleticism. Skying for the alleyoop and rising to block a Cuse layup at an important moment. But you've got to realize when you're not in good position, too far from the basket. Trying to dribble your way to the hole can be hard to watch.
* Peyton Siva
Love just about everything you are capable of doing with a basketball in your hands. But you've got to realize that when passing to big men, they're hands are bigger and less nimble. Spinning a bounce pass to Rakeem Buckles on the baseline with english is as good as a turnover.
* Jerry Smith
Love you Jerry. Make these last few games memorable. That is all.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
There could not be a more symbolic hero for today's win than freshman Mike Marra. Much like the Cards, Marra entered the season with considerable expectations, was humbled early on, showed moments of promise, but never could play a complete game. Even so, after experiencing deflating losses, frustrating finishes, and an inexplicable blowout on Thursday, Mike Marra, and his teammates, kept punching.
Today's game was far from perfect for this team, and for Marra himself. He struggled to knock down his shot consistently despite good looks, and was often blown by on defense. But when the time came he swooped in for an impossible rebound after a missed UofL free throw, extending the possession, and the lead.
And then, at the crucial moment, Marra shrugged off the yoke of the infamous label Pitino placed on him, forgot the groans he must have heard at Freedom Hall after another clang, forgot everything except, perhaps, what he knows best; rise with confidence, release into that beautiful arc, splash.
The freshman led the Cards to the most important victory of the season. In doing so, he also provided the lesson to take from the trials this team has experienced. Keep punching.
Playing against the third-ranked team in the nation and in front of the largest home crowd seen in college basketball this season, the Cards somehow, some way, finally figured out how to secure a hard-earned and season-defining victory that was rightfully theirs. Mike Marra was the unlikely hero, knocking down 4 out of 12 3-pointers for all of his points and also grabbing 6 rebounds. Cards fans desperate to see their team make it to the Big Dance will not soon forget that incredible possession late in the game, when Marra came away with the offensive rebound from a Swopshire missed free throw, giving the Cards a fresh shot clock to protect their narrow lead, then hitting a three from the corner at the end of the ensuing play... and all this unfolding while the color commentator noted Syracuse had "disrespected" Marra throughout the game (see 1:52:00 in the video to relive it all). Clutch. Credit also Samardo Samuels' late-game surge, scoring all of his eight points in the final ten minutes when they mattered most. Preston Knowles and Edgar Sosa kept the Cards within striking distance early in the second half. Swop scored ten points and grabbed 4 offensive rebounds, each one of them critical.
The Cards' play was far from perfect. We saw again the missed free throws down the stretch, the inability to get the ball up the court, the ill-timed turnovers. Yet this time, playing solid late-game defense and with the help of a questionable call finally working to our benefit, the Cards emerged victorious. This feels good. No, this feels awesome. On Valentine's Day, our aching hearts could not have survived another close-game loss. Instead, the Cards rose to the occasion, and delivered victory. Congrats Coach Pitino and the Cards!
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Feb 14 - Feb 21
- Some goosebumps to do with your coffee...
- Cuz I get a thousand hugs, from ten thousand Charl...
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- Picture me rollin'
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- Double OT
- Some goosebumps to go with your coffee...
- I'm intrigued...
- Stats breakdown
- Taking a crack at bracketology
- Pitino check up and eval, pt II
- I'm the shizz, and nooooobody beats me!
- Cause when you're fifteen, and Charlie tells you h...
- On Fudging Flagrants
- Love ya, but...
- Samardo's alley oop
- Caligula Redda retracta?
- Cards beat #3 Syracuse in their house, 66-60
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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.