The most remarkable thing about last night's game is that Louisville wasn't just going through the motions in the first half. It wasn't lack of effort that caused the Cards to be down eight heading into the locker room, it was poor shot selection, turnovers and the fact that 'Nova was drilling its free-throws and playing dogged defense.
Given this, the fact that U of L won the second 20 minutes by 22 points is nothing short of astonishing. I suppose this Pitino guy can coach.
So now it's on to even brighter lights and Saturday's (and perhaps the weekend's) feature game. Though this team has accomplished a significant deal in recent weeks, the stakes tonight are still pretty high. A win not only gives the Cards their second Big East championship in eight days, it not only all but locks up a one seed, it probably makes them one of the top two overall seeds, a distinction that will earn them preferential treatment when it comes to where they'll play their first four NCAA Tournament games.
Let's win this thing.
Earl's monster rebound and three-pointer to start the second half were enormous, so enormous that I truly believe we might not win if they don't occur.
The first half was one of the more frustrating 20 minutes of basketball we've had to endure this season. Every time U of L had the chance to make it a one-possession game someone would make a stupid decision with the ball, or 'Nova would catch a break, or a questionable foul would be called; it was all extremely hard to take.
Because of this, the reaction at the Card Chronicle Compound when Clark and McGee stroked back-to-back treys to open the last half was about three times more over-the-top than it would have been otherwise.
Amazingly, the chaos was topped a couple of minutes later in the seconds following Jerry's made three to put us up four...and then the mood was completely killed when the CCC dog got a little too caught up in the bedlam and bit me in the leg. That's not how we celebrate, SADIE.
As fantastic as Earl Clark was, the night belonged to Andre McGee.
The defense was every bit as steadfast as it's ever been, but Louisville had to have some offensive production from one of its point guards in the second half, and the smallest guy on the roster came up big. Villanova had the momentum and the Cards looked a bit worn down when the score was tied at 50 with eight minutes to play, and then McGee knocked down the biggest shot of the game from the right corner. U of L outscored 'Nova 19-5 from that point and the game was really never in jeopardy again.
McGee played 27 minutes, dished out four assists, committed zero turnovers, knocked down three monster treys and made Scottie Reynolds want to cry more than The Bachelor guy.
I probably said, "See I waited until college to start winning all these championship trophies" in my best McGee voice (if you haven't yet, please watch this video) 15 times last night. The man's amazing.
Postseason Earl Clark is better at basketball than you are. That's all that needs to be said about that.
The most underrated play of the game was George Goode's block at the end of the first half. It'd be unfair to say that it was a momentum shifter, but it certainly limited the momentum the Wildcats brought into the final 20 minutes.
Good(e) for George.
If I had my way (and I should), there'd be a camera constantly on Jerry Smith during games, and Louisville fans would have the option of having the Jerry cam footage show up on the bottom left hand of their screen.
I don't think there was a big play last night where one of us didn't say, "look at Jerry" at some point in the aftermath. His celebratory antics nearly trumped his four treys and 16 points...not really, but they were awesome.
If I had the skills to photoshop myself somewhere in the middle or on the side of that last picture, please believe I would.
Bozich mentioned in his column yesterday that T-Will was fighting a cold. He must be, because the man just doesn't look like himself. He doesn't have his usual bounce and his facial expression gives the appearance of a man trying not to show that he feels like death.
He stepped up on the boards and made great decisions with the ball down the stretch, but again, this was not the Terrence Williams that's been dominating the Big East since mid-January. It's amazing that we've won games by 14 and 18 points without him having more of a positive impact.
I'm obligated to attend a St. Patrick's Day party for the bulk of today. I will be wearing green...underneath my Card wear.
Eight huge points, three monster blocks and 16 big minutes from Terrence Jennings, who deserves as much praise as anyone for U of L's run to open the second half.
the center situation has almost become akin to the point guard situation in that there are games that fit one of the freshman's style more than the other. Last night was Terrence Jennings's game, and he stepped up huge when his team had to have him.
The whole "Syracuse is tired" thing is going to be beaten to death over the next 11 hours, but seriously, if our pressure has had nearly every team we've faced gasping in the last five minutes of games, how bad is it going to be for a squad that played seven extra five-minute sessions in 24 hours?
How the Orange got to this point shouldn't diminish a Louisville victory (should it occur), but you can't deny that a Syracuse championship would be just a tad more impressive than your average, run-of-the-mill four wins in four days title run.
I generally wait until ridiculously close to the final horn to declare a game over, but you don't need to hear a fat lady sing when you witness Jared Swopshire going up and snatching a monster rebound like he's Jeff Adrien.
We were not going to lose, and at that point I had no problem letting the world know.
Edgar Sosa didn't do anything particularly well, but he refrained from pushing the issue late in the game in situations where he might not have been so heady in the past. He also appeared genuinely enthused throughout the game, which was awesome to see.
I do not care for Eric Devendorf.
Louisville fans are really getting worked up about the disrespect the national voices have been hurling in the direction of the Cards this week, and I wish they wouldn't.
This time of year, the talking heads are always looking for a highly-ranked team to deem doomed for an early exit to go against common thought and generate conversation. Declaring that every top five team is destined for success is boring and bad for business, and you can't blame the Seth Davis's and Jason Whitlock's of the world for not doing it.
Everyone's gotta get paid, even if you have to be disingenuously critical.
I'm more excited about tonight than any human being should probably be about anything.