First and foremost, a big shoutout to the student section for their Chicken support last night. I was upset that he first checked into the game during a timeout meaning we couldn't fully embrace the moment, but I was delighted to hear the cheers the first time he touched the ball, as well as the "we want Chicken" cheers later in the half. It was so impressive that I'm going to let the whole "starting the wave" thing slide. But yeah, don't start the wave.
Another shoutout to the scattered folks around me who also voiced their appreciation for Chicken. You're all heroes.
The support and the national attention were great yesterday, but it also made me a little sad to think about how something like "Bring Chicken to the Bucket" couldn't happen now. The increased audience (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong) combined with everything being under more of a microscope now than it was even just a couple of years ago pretty much makes another "movement" an impossibility.
For people on the outside looking in, "Bring Chicken to the Bucket" was a creepy recruiting thing, and I guess if you didn't know any better it'd be pretty easy to come to that conclusion. What these people don't understand is that when the whole thing started, nobody knew anything about Chicken Knowles and the people who did didn't think he was any good. Knowles hadn't been assessed by any scouting services, and I don't think he even had a D-I scholarship offer. He was just a kid who was good enough to be invited to the NBA Top 100 Camp and whose nickname was extremely unique and fitting for our program for a number of reasons, and so we jokingly started talking about how he needed to become a Cardinal.
It wasn't until several weeks after the joke started that we leaned, "okay, this kid's actually pretty good" and "okay, this kid's one of the coolest people alive." And even then, it wasn't like anyone here thought we were actually impacting the way Rick Pitino was recruiting the class of 2012. It was just really fun, and the fact that the kid enjoyed it so much made it even more fun.
The entire thing was completely innocent, but it couldn't happen again two and-a-half years later because of the folks who might use a similar technique in a not so innocent manner. It's a shame, but it's also understandable.
All that said, I couldn't have had more fun with the "Bring Chicken to the Bucket" movement, and I couldn't be happier that it was finally realized.
We've talked about this before, but it's insane just how much shooting can affect the overall perception of a basketball game or an individual's performance. I loved hopping on Twitter (when my phone was attempting to work) at halftime and seeing all the "this is the type of performance we need to see from this team" tweets. Well...yeah, but it's not like they weren't trying to it 11 of their first 15 three-pointers before. And I get that U of L was doing a lot of other things right that they'd been inconsistent on before, but great shooting makes everything look better, and a lot of those deep attempts in the first half - especially Russ's - were decently defended.
In summary, I agree with the assertion of those people saying that if Louisville shoots like that every night they're going to be tough to beat, but I also recognize that every team in college basketball is going to be tough to beat if they shoot like that every night. The passing, the interior defense and the rebounding were equally as encouraging as the shooting last night, but it was the shooting that deserves the most credit for the surprisingly lopsided final score.
I watched Houston play basketball for two hours Thursday night, and I still have absolutely no idea what they were attempting to run on offense. These are the types of teams that we've seen Pitino feast on over the years; the ones with the talent to compete at the highest level, but maybe not the best coaching or highest basketball IQ. The Cougars are certainly better than they showed Thursday, but watching them up close gave some solid insight as to why their season has been so up-and-down.
It might be juuust a bit premature to read too much into the Wayne coming off the bench for the first time/Wayne scoring a career-high correlation. He certainly played with a confidence we haven't seen from him in recent weeks, but I'm not sure if that's because he felt more relaxed in this new role or if it was just because he made his first couple of shots. Regardless, that was a hell of a 2014 debut for Reserve Wayne, and I'm intrigued to see if he can carry some of that momentum over to tomorrow night's big game, because it's time for him to shake the "Wayne disappears in big games" stigma.
The time has finally come for all of our stored up "Kiss from a Rozier" jokes to start pouring out.
Also, some people have expressed concern about this picture being posted and mocked by fans of other programs. I don't have a problem with it, because the people who are still making gay jokes on the Internet in 2014 deserve to have it documented so their grandchildren can be thoroughly humiliated 45 years from now...which is going to happen.
Speaking of Terry, I'm pretty sure the fan base's collective crush reached new heights last night. Even though he only hit 3-of-10 shots and scored nine points, he triggered the return of the boom and finished with eight assists and just one turnover. He's still prone to a lapse or two like any freshman, but that kid's awfully good and he just keeps getting better.
Danuel House and L.J. Rose both played for Houston after missing the past few weeks with injuries, and combined to score two points on 0-for-11 shooting from the floor. They'll have their feet back under them soon, and UH will be a tougher game on Feb. 5.
Every weeknight when I glance at an AAC scoreboard littered with old Conference USA names, I think about the "remember who you are" speech Mufassa gives Simba before he's fully ready to embrace his role as ruler. It's like we've been assigned one year of embracing our roots before we get to try to claim our rightful spot at the top of Pride Rock.
Dave Air not scoring was about the only disappointment of Thursday night, but him squaring up one-on-one with Chicken was both awesome and awesomely surreal.
We remain undefeated in games in which David Levitch appears, and winless in games in which he is inactive. These are merely facts.
It's insane to me that a team can hit 41 of 46 free-throws one night and then two weeks later shoot under 50 percent.
The Cards snapped a six game streak of being outrebounded by beating the Cougar on the boards, 41-37. This despite no player on the team collecting more than seven boards (Wayne and SVT) individually.
I'll say it again: there's going to be a time before the end of the season where we're ice cold against an opponent who's zoning the hell out of us, and we're going to need Anton Gill to come in and bury a couple of shots. That young man's outside stroke is like the last scene of The Shawshank Redemption. Gorgeous.
Loved seeing Akoy score on a legit post move. It has to be humbling for these kids who have been stars since the time they started playing the game to adjust to a reserve role for the first time in their life, so it's great to see things like this happen to restore their confidence little by little.
This was probably the most enjoyable evening of basketball we've seen this season, and now we get a huge GameDay game just 48 hours later. You're stepping it up, 2014, and we're all appreciative of that.