Thumbs UP: Providence fans. For a team that had lost 17 straight Big East contests including an 0-6 start to this season, I fully expected a half empty arena where we could inevitably improve our seats and move closer when the Cards extended a lead. Instead we found a sellout crowd that was imposing at the right times and surged their team to victory in the final four minutes. Kudos Friars fan.
Thumbs DOWN: Providence fans. My only complaint is that they take the whole using the Jumbotron to communicate to the crowd thing to absurd degrees. Most teams do it, the Cards do a get-to-know the player segment when one talks about his favorite foods and such, but Providence even uses its players to do a pre-game announcement of where the fire exits are located in case of emergencies, awkwardly reading legalese to the crowd.
And at every break in the action they would play a pre-recorded message from a player imploring them, "C'mon Friars, we need you! Get LOUD!". That's OK in small doses, but after the 12th time it came off as kind of amateurish.
Thumbs UP: Louisville fans. I was more than a little surprised by the number of Louisville fans there. There was red sprinkled in every section, and many were wearing "Marra 33" shirts; he still has a lot of fans in Rhode Island. But speaking of...
Thumbs DOWN: Mike Marra. I'm not sure if the awfulness of his performance was adequately captured by the cameras. Three airballs. From our sharpshooter. And the worst part is, that's starting to become a regular occurrence. You can't explain it away by saying he was playing on a gimpy ankle; he's been throwing up SCUD missiles since his first game in a Cardinal uniform. His form looks good, the arc looks good, but the ball often comes down hard and several feet from the intended target.
Marra is lost. He looks nothing like the player that had stellar showings to begin the season, ya know, the ones against the cupcakes, and it's raising serious questions about whether he belongs in big-time college basketball. A sharpshooter that can't shoot is bad enough, but he was finding new ways to hurt his team on Saturday. He passed up an open lane to the basket on a fastbreak to try and alleyoop Peyton Siva who was draped by two defenders, and he threw an absurd laser pass at Gorgui Dieng's feet that directly led to Friar points at a crucial moment. His defense is soft at best.
Like his jumper, Mike Marra's spot on the team is up in the air, and I have no idea where it's going to come down.
Thumbs NEUTRAL: Rick Pitino's reception in his former town. We were very curious to see how Rick Pitino would be received in Providence where he once coached them to some of their finest hours. We killed time at Murphy's Pub before the game; packed with Friars fans, we asked a guy about their feelings towards him. He was a little befuddled by the question but did say, "Yea, he's got suh-pohrt, but it was just so laah-ng ago".
When Pitino was introduced in the pre-game, there were audible cheers from those around us, but they were largely drowned out by resounding boos from the student section. There was also a student with a "Pitino has NO class" sign that got a lot of run on the Jumbotron, and there was one man in our section that forlornly tried to get a "Fif-teen Sec-onds" chant going but failed. So there you go.
Thumbs DOWN: Pitino paranoia. The game was billed as "Mr. Potato Head Night" and since we didn't see a single damn spud we argued for several minutes whether this could in any way be construed as a crack at our head coach.
Thumbs UP: Gorgui. The Gorgui monster had a decent game, including a couple nice blocks (and he affected many, many more shots) and an ultra-slick fake handoff before nailing a turnaround jumper.
And while you have to admire his desire, the most entertaining plays are his goal tends. The best was when he tried to block a 12-foot jumper at the rim. It kind of looked like how Kevin Garnett snaps the ball from the air when an opposing player tries to shoot a practice shot long after a whistle was blown.
And Pitino was beside himself, clearly yelling to Gorgui, "You can't DO that!" before yanking him from the game and reading him the Riot Act on the sidelines. It was high comedy.
Thumbs DOWN: Illegal screens. It was fitting that the Cards scored a garbage bucket at the buzzer to make the margain 5 points, because the two most important calls of the game came on the two illegal screens that negated Preston Knowles' three-pointers.
Both seemed to be whistled a split second late, just as the ball was swishing the net, and both were at key moments of the contest; one would have put the Cards up two possessions, the other would have tied the score.
It's not why we lost, but they were bullshit nonetheless. There was also a horrendous call against Stephan Van Treese when he skied for a beautiful, textbook offensive rebound on a key final possession. But since there was a Friar near that also wanted the ball, he was called for an over the back. The refs had waaaay too large a thumbprint on the outcome.
Thumbs UP: The Dunkin Donuts Center. It's a really nice facility, with comfy seats and a darkened, shadowy environment that both illuminates the court and makes for an intimidating atmosphere of their black and grey colors. And the real question, whether they served beer or not, was quickly answered in the affirmative with the typical Miller Lite/Bud Lite staples and specialty stands that served Sam Adams and Guinness.
ALL THUMBS: The Providence dance team. I've never appreciated the Ladybirds so much, and that's coming from someone that dreams of them recurringly. They introduce the Providence team during timeouts with much the same excitement, but when the music starts they move at about 1/8th the speed of our lovely ladies in red, it looks more like a waltz awkwardly set to hip-hop. And one chick totally ate floor during one "move", and two others knocked foreheads like Moe and Curly after a moment of miscommunication. I'm not kidding.
Thank you, Ladybirds, thank you.
Thumbs DOWN: Peyton Siva's play. I saved the most distressing and important question for last. Siva played a terrible game, with bad turnovers on many possessions, and displayed a strange tendency for dribbling the basketball with his palm while pushing tempo, barely controlling the ball let alone the offense.
Siva was annointed the next "great one" last season with some flashy displays of athleticism and his seemingly infectious personality. He was a true point guard, a leader, the kind that had been absent around Louisville for years.
All that is very much in jeopardy right now. He does not seem to be improving, he does not bring consistency and poise to the position. And the electric smile he displays when things are clicking has been counterbalanced by a sullen sulk when things are not.
The loss to Providence was disastrous, it cannot be erased from our tourney resume and puts the entire season in jeopardy. Watching Siva stagnate is worse.
- ► 2012 (383)
Jan 23 - Jan 30
- Pitino on Siva: "He was exhausted, and I was just ...
- Cardiac Cards Strike Again!
- Highlights from Louisville-West Virginia
- Two football Cardinals charged with assault
- Deceivingly good
- Goode job Siva
- Siva's play
- Quote of the morning
- Video of Siva's last shot
- Bob Huggins postgame: charming as always
- Pitino post-game
- Siva saves the day, likely the season
- Big game tonight
- Providence up and down
- Veni? Check. Vidi? Check. Vici? Not so much.
- That wicked stunk
- ▼ Jan 23 - Jan 30 (17)
- ► 2010 (751)
- ► 2009 (614)
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.
CliffySmalls is also known as Cliff Elliott. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.