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Some Random Thoughts on the Beginning of Hoops

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The Card faithful gathered for a warm and light Tipoff Luncheon

Boil boil toil and trouble notwithstanding, this moment of this year, as it has done for decades of years, has turned me into a seven year old.

Morphed back into the kid who went to his first U of L game at the Armory with his parents, and had to ask his dad why every once in awhile the action stopped and one of the players got to shoot at the basket while the others just watched. The kid whose mom would get so stressed when the games were tight, she'd get up and walk the halls of Freedom Hall until the Cards pulled it out. Or not.

This is the time of year, the beginning of Cardinal basketball, the season's opening tipoff, that is sacrament.

Now more than ever, it's time for the faithful to gather, to worry about Anas's jump hook not how he and his teammates are dealing with peripheral turmoil and seismic change.

It's a new dawn. Turn the page.

The first exhi is Monday against Kentucky Wesleyan.

Not a moment too soon for all who care.

* * * * *

In the days of yesteryore, we'd still be weeks away.

Practice started on October 15. Until '72-'73 -- when the NCAA finally realized that freshman were mature enough to compete on the varsity and get their school work done -- there'd be a Frosh vs. Varsity game the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. The opener would follow a week later as the calendar turned to December.

The Cards would whip up on Georgetown, and it would count toward the season won/loss tally. Wes Unseld still holds the U of L single game scoring record for the 45 he laid on the Tigers to start his senior campaign of '67-'68.

Journeying to Freedom Hall for the opener was a trek to Mecca, a pledge of allegiance, an affirmation that the most sacred time of the year had come again. (The venue was old school for the '72-'73 season opener featuring a couple of heralded rookies named Bridgeman and Murphy against Vandy. Due to a conflict it was contested at the Convention Center, which was formerly called the Armory and later Louisville Gardens.)

But the seasons have expanded through the years, their commencement creeping forward.

Can I get a Hallelujah?

* * * * *

This Thursday noon was the Tip Off luncheon. It was the first I've attended in years, and I did so just to feel the presence of the Red & Black Nation. Which showed up in droves, giving the team, then interim coach David Padgett, warm and heartfelt standing Os.

The talk was of hoops, the season ahead and the ballers who will carry the grand Cardinal hoops tradition forward through the 2017-18. No scandal. No administrative maneuvering. No law suits. No NCAA. Just what part of the game, Deng, did you work on this summer?

Can I get a Hallelujah?

* * * * *

The affair was lighter and warmer than a Cardinal acolyte could have hoped for.

During his short remarks, interim AD Vince Tyra started by shedding his sportcoat and pulling on a Cardinal jersey with his dad's #8 on the back.

When Padgett introduced assistant Trent Johnson, he mentioned a recent conversation of their's when Johnson advised he was wearing the same jacket he had on when U of L shredded his Stanford Cardinal by 20 in the Dance in '07. The assistant stood and good-naturedly showed the assembled he had donned it again for this affair.

Padgett's sorta sarcastic but never sadistic or mean sense of humor was on display as he commented on each member of the squad.

He described how he's been asked a lot what his coaching style is going to be, to which he has a pat answer: "I have no idea. I haven't coached a game yet."

He talked about how much better a shooting team this one should be than in recent seasons. "We can really shoot . . . except Anas." He feels Ray Spalding is in for a big year, and how much he's improved in various aspects of his game, and that Ray has "added significant tattoos."

Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss.

Padgett concluded his remarks, by sharing his baseline message to the team, which is "how special a season this one has a chance to be."

* * * * *

I left the luncheon, energized, hopeful, with a couple of strong feelings.

One, I hope David Padgett has a successful enough year to have the interim knocked off his job title.

Two, my love for Louisville Cardinal basketball is stronger than ever. My prayer is that the many who love it as much as I do will remain true to the cause and double down on their support.

-- Seedy K