The amount of text messages I receive on game day is generally a pretty accurate gauge of how important or exciting that contest is, and yesterday my phone was as busy as it's been since the Connecticut loss.
A shot at a Big East title, the abhorrence for Bobby Gonzalez, the love for the quartet of Cardinals playing in Freedom Hall for the last time; it didn't matter that Seton Hall wasn't particularly interested in playing basketball, last night was big.
The game itself wasn't particularly beneficial.
Seton Hall did what Seton Hall does against good teams. They came out hitting anything and everything and put the fear of god into the home crowd. They failed to build a substantial lead by showing no interest in playing defense. They got tired and the miracle shots that were dropping earlier started coming up short. They made a mini-run but wilted the instant their opponent decided to respond.
Controlling emotions is always an issue on Senior night, but I was a little disappointed to see our guys let the way Seton Hall was playing affect them so much. There was far too much joking early in the second half, too many bad shots early in possessions, not enough attention paid to transition defense and T-Will really let Jeremy Hazell get into his head.
U of L buckled down when it had to, but the lead never should have dipped so close to single-digits. I get that this group loves to have fun, but too many times that lack of a killer instinct (Kentucky, Ole Miss, West Virginia, Villanova) has nearly cost them dearly. Teams that aren't able to let foot meet throat generally get a rude awakening at some point in March, and I'd hate to think that we could be one of those squads.
Last night was about honoring the seniors and it was OK to have fun once the game was in hand, I get it, but from now on everything should be about taking care of business. There's going to be a championship on the line every time this team takes the floor from here on out.
Bobby Gonzalez is a massive tool.
There isn't a member of Card nation who hasn't held the hope that Earl Clark would once again take his game up a notch once March rolled around, and last night was a pretty solid indication that it's a wish that may be granted.
I understand that big nights against teams like Seton Hall should be taken with a grain of salt, but Earl looked more focused and confident than he has since the Tennessee game last year. He made smart decisions with the ball, worked hard to get the best shot possible for himself (with rare exception) and never let his effort level be called into question.
Louisville doesn't have any shot at going to the Final Four without Earl Clark being better than he was in February (and he was good in February), so last night was very, very encouraging.
The media made an enormous fuss last year over Kevin Love's ability to flick his wrists and put a 75-foot chest pass on the money, but Terrence Williams can do the exact same thing.
Of course, what can't he do?
It was pretty obvious that he knew exactly what he needed to get a triple double, and it was hilarious to see his teammates get him the ball to give to Will Scott so both senior stat objectives could be met.
I'm really, really, really going to miss this kid.
The senior video was fantastic. Thanks to both TwistedEdge and Jerb for providing those of us who couldn't be there last night the opportunity to see it.
Everyone was hilarious, but the Earl cameo was the highlight for me.
It's ridiculous how happy Edgar Sosa is during these up-and-down no defense games. He carries the same look little kids have on their face during the height of present-opening on Christmas morning.
To his credit, Sosa seemed upbeat even before the game and was the first person on the floor to congratulate his teammates despite not playing for the game's first seven minutes. He also played very well with the exception of a forced jumper in transition and missing a wide-open Preston Knowles on another break (he offered up a "I know, my bad" following the latter transgression).
The national media is going to beat the fact that we don't have a big-name point guard into the ground for the next couple of weeks, but those of us who know better should sleep comfortably with the knowledge that Sosa and McGee - the second one especially - are both playing about as well as they have all season.
I wasn't able to hear it, but I'm told McGee's postgame speech was pretty awesome. If anyone wants to throw up a brief synopsis in the comments section, I'd appreciate it.
Jeremy Hazell has become even more unlikeable. Beating your chest when your team sucks and is down by 17 is no way to go to through life, son.
Also, you don't breathe T-Will's air let alone talk to him like that. That's awesome that you average so many more points. Enjoy the postseason.
Had Will Scott knocked down the three in the corner that he pushed long by about five feet, I think it would have been the loudest Freedom Hall had been since the Pitt game.
Adrenaline can do crazy things to shooters.
The color guy last night said Louisville was a three seed. Of course he also said that Williams and Clark were in the game with a minute and-a-half to go and a 19-point lead because of Seton Hall's explosive offense, so take that first item for what it's worth.
I love Billy Gillispie.
It was really nice to see George Goode get some quality PT.
Here's a guy who was a really pleasant surprise at the beginning of the season, got hurt, saw the man he beat out for playing time really emerge in his absence, and he's still been one of the most upbeat players on the bench all year.
No one should forget that we probably don't beat Kentucky without Goode. If he continues to improve then he'll be a huge asset to this program if Samuels or Jennings bail early.
Honest question: Is Terrence Jennings our best free-throw shooter right now? Seriously, who has been better from the stripe over the last three weeks?
If Jennings, who was as bad from the line at the Red-White scrimmage as anyone I've ever seen not named Joseph N'Sima, can improve that considerably in such a short amount of time, then there's no reason for guys like Clark, Samuels and Smith to have seemingly gotten worse.
We have zero shot at winning a national title if Clark, Samuels and Williams shoot free-throws the way they have been since mid-February. Zero shot.
Speaking of Jennings, another very solid performance. The progress he's made offensively is almost unbelievable, and it's not ridiculous to say that he might be the second best defensive center in the Big East.
It's scary how good this kid could end up being.
It would have been nice to have seen Samardo make more of an effort to score once he caught the ball down low, seeing as how Seton Hall has no real post presence.
There's going to be at least one game between now and the end of the season where this team really needs him to step up and have a big game offensively. Whether or not he's capable of answering that bell, I'm not sure.
Got this text before the game: "Swop just missed a dunk and then tripped and fell."
It just hasn't been the man's month.
I want Reggie Delk to get an open look from three at a key moment in the Big East Tournament. For some reason, I'm insanely confident that he would drill any open look with the game on the line.
Don't ask me where that faith comes from.
Ladies and gentlemen: your final on-court, in-game Lee Steiden sighting until next year's Red-White scrimmage. Give 'em hell in warm-ups, Lee.
I legitimately could not be more excited about Saturday.
I'll post a reminder tomorrow night, but I think we're going to have to do an open thread here for the Pitt/UConn game at noon, and then we'll all have time to regroup and re-focus for the 9 p.m. tip in Morgantown.
A Big East title and No. 1 seed at stake in the GameDay game of the week would be indescribably cool.
I can't stop smiling, and it's not the drugs.