Even though Eric McGill, frustrated and argumentative as his team was being run out of the gym was assessed a T, I'm sure he and his Southern Illinois teammates are nice kids, whose parents and coaches love them.
In view of the reality that the coalescing Cardinals doubled them up 84-42, and in memory of an old compadré Brad Evans, I can't help myself and feel compelled to utter:
"The Salukis are dogs."
At least U of L sure made 'em play like that in easily the Cards signature performance of the young campaign. (More later about Evans and why I think of him and his iconic bellowing and U of L's foe in tandem.)
* * * * *
But first let's chat about the second half, and more specifically the contributions of those Cardinal newcomers, shall we?
Up 11 at the break, the Cards outscored the visitors from Carbondale 55-24 in the 2d. Thanks to 59% shooting, aided by 13 assists on 20 made buckets against only 4 turnovers. While holding the Salukis to 30% accuracy after intermission, and 27% for the whole affair.
But how about what those new kids, the ones whose names we're still learning, did in the second stanza?
I'm talking Darius Perry. And Jordan Nwora. And Dwayne Sutton, the only sophomore in the crowd. And Lance Thomas. And Malik Williams. And Jacob Redding, a walk on for heavens' sake.
Well, they drained 13 of the 15 FGs they attempted. Shame on you, Jordan Nwora, you missed one from beyond the arc. And Lance Thomas, what's the deal? You came off the bench, swished a 12 footer, then a trey, snared three boards . . . then missed another try from the corner. I mean, come on, get with the plan, son.
Your pal Jacob Redding, the Card without a scholly, he didn't miss any shots. Two for two from Treytown.
OK, we'll have to settle for 87% shooting in the stanza from the neophytes. Who also grabbed 13 of the Cardinals' rebounds after halftime. And dished out 9 of the 13 assists. Darius Perry served out six his own self.
So, yeah, the second half was the first real fun all season. The kiddos led the way.
* * * * *
To the surprise of absolutely nobody with any hoops sense, U of L trotted out some zone for the first time.
It's that hybrid 2-3, I suppose. I'm not astute enough an observer to realize exactly what Louisville does with this thing. Some man to man principles. At times the defender follows the guy he's checking, at other times the assignment is passed along.
Occasionally a Cardinal got lost, misplaced his man, but there was enough communication and movement to recover without any significant ill effect.
We need a name for this thing. Which I'll attempt at some point, when I get a better grasp of what U of L is actually doing.
While it is not fully actualized yet, it did hold the visitors to 42 points on 17/64 shooting. Which is damn fine for a scheme still in its formative stages.
* * * * *
A tip of my fedora to Ray Spalding, who didn't have the most auspicious start.
To say the least.
He committed a foul :37 into the game, had a shot blocked on the Cards' first possession, traveled on the Cards next trip with the rock, fouled again with 17:45 left before halftime. He then sat until the 2d.
But he kept grinding. Ending up with 8 points, 6 caroms, never ending hustle . . . and a beauteous assist.
On a breakout, he threw a half court lowline, incomprehensible to vector trajectory bounce pass to VJ King for a bunny.
* * * * *
Unlike most of these November affairs, the game was officiated by a Final Four quality crew.
Roger Ayres. Mike Eades. And Mr. Take Charge, Ted Valentine.
* * * * *
OK, the Brad Evans tale. Maybe I've shared it before, I can't recall.
It's 1967. The Peck Hickman-coached, Westley Unseld-led Cards are #2 in the country behind then Lew Alcindor and UCLA. U of L opened the season 13-0, including a double OT W in Freedom Hall over the then Division II Salukis.
But the truth, that Jack Hartman-coached team, led by one Walt Clyde Frazier, was among the best in the land, any division. They passed on the post season DII NCAA tourney to conquer the NIT, then much more competitive than today.
In mid January, Louisville traveled to Carbondale for a rematch. Many Cardinal faithful traveled along. We were seated en masse in end zone bleachers.
Evans was a big un, played on the line for the pigskin Cardinals. He was also very bright, very Republican (though with a wink), very opinionated, and very loud. He had his wing man Mickey Settle with him. Settle was just B A D, cross the street when he was coming your way B A D.
The sequel was back and forth. The gym was a din. But, every once in awhile, there would be a lull, a stop in play perhaps and some quiet would intrude. During these moments, every single one of them throughout the whole game, Brad Evans would bellow.
"THE SALUKIS ARE DOGS!!!!!"
It would echo through every nook and cranny of the facility.
The Salukis prevailed, 53-50.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Southern Illinois crowd ran on the floor and surrounded our section, yelling and screaming in joy at the big victory, and pointing and screaming with venom dripping from their lips toward Brad Evans.
We needed a police escort to get out of the joint limbs intact.
* * * * *
Next up: St. Francis. Friday at 7:00.
-- Seedy K