So wonderstruck was I with the defense perpetrated by the U of L women's team in their smashing beatdown of Michigan, I have been extolling the team's virtues to any and all I've encountered who might care a whit about college basketball.
A couple of fans who have been following the distaff Cardinals through the years more intensely than I have admonished me to curb my enthusiasm somewhat. "It's still early," they caution, "let's see what happens against Oregon and later in the year when Duke and Notre Dame come to town."
Suggestion taken to heart.
With that in mind, I have taken to warn myself not to run and pull every alarm I see, not to call the Haz Mat squad, after watching the most disappointing performance by the U of L men in memory.
The descriptor starting with a "d" that's probably more apt is "disgusting."
From the Summit League, far from one that immediately comes to mind when considering college hoops, the conference bottom-dwelling Mavericks were 0-3 coming into the Yum!. They'd lost by 9, by 19 and by 32. For an average margin of defeat of 20 ppg. They had given up 89,108 and 103. That's 100 ppg.
They were averaging 19.3 turnovers, ranking them 330th in the country.
Which, though they played last night like Peyton Manning was audibling their name toward victory, is to provide empirical statistical data that Omaha is, let us be kind how we say it, not a very good basketball team.
Neither are the University of Louisville Cardinals.
It is at this juncture I feel compelled to monitor myself. My gut reaction is to unload about how U of L's play last night was the worst this or the worst that and woe unto us and the season is lost and U of L's is a program on the brink and it's time for Vince Tyra or whomever to start a real coaching search and the Yum!'s on fire and Cardinal fans should brace themselves for they're about to suffer through what I've dubbed the Hank Raymonds Effect. He's the assistant who replaced Al McGuire at Marquette to minimal success.
Having passively aggressively ranted in the previous paragraph, I'll now attempt to hold my tongue. Other than to admit I did spend a few minutes while writing this to leaf through the media guide to check on the exact date of what I believe is the most embarrassing loss ever by a Cardinal team.
January 30, 1995. Louisville 69, Towson State 81.
A few more disgruntled mumblings, then I'll ravage through the detritus for some positives. For the fourth straight tilt, two exhis, two that count, U of L gave up way way way way too many layups. Teams are blowing by the Cards as if their new Adidas sneakers are soled with stickum.
OK, enough. Louisville did hang on by the hairs on their chinny chin chins. A win, even if it's a numbing, scary, wobbly 87-78 over one of America's least good teams, is a W.
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It was heartening to hear David Padgett tell it like it was in his post game press conference.
"Lack of urgency."
Plus he verbalized he realizes every team the Cards play is going to beat them off the dribble, so that it's time to work on playing zone.
My hope is that such a change in defensive scheme comes sooner -- like Tuesday when the Salukis arrive in town -- rather than later.
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The Positives. Yes, there were a few.
Though he missed 9 shots, all from within a couple of feet of the hoop, Ray Spalding never stopped hustling on offense. He scored 19 and grabbed 11 rebounds, 6 offensive.
Dwayne Sutton grabbed 10 boards, most of them at crunch time, when Louisville wouldn't or couldn't shut the door on Omaha.
The Cards hit 86.4% of their FTs. 19/22. And needed every one of those charity tosses to survive.
Deng Adel scored 21 points on 7/8 from the field and 7/8 at the line, with 8 rebounds and four assists.
And, yes, the Cards didn't totally crash. The victory was gained.
I'll stop there. The more I review the box score the more sirens I hear, the more flashing red and yellow lights I see, the more angst wells up in the pit of my stomach.
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As embarrassing as U of L's performance on the court was the size of the crowd.
Announced as 18.112, there were actually thousands less than that in the seats. The fans that were present interestingly seemed more engaged at times than the team on the court. They were encouraging for the most part, despite U of L's disgraceful performance.
(U of L is not an outlier in this regard. Attendance is down everywhere in sports, but there are extenuating circumstances here, and besides that's a topic for another day.)
* * * * *
OK, Seedy, take a deep breath. Remember it's not even Thanksgiving yet, that was just the second real game of the year. We've been through this before, or kinda have.
Don't panic, don't reach for the hollow points.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
-- Seedy K