If we learned nothing new from Louisville’s defeat in an eminently winnable game at Clemson, there was some confirmation of what we should have realized and accepted all along.
Given the eruption of circumstances immediately before the season commenced, there was simply too much to ask of the survivors who would carry the Cardinal banner into the ‘17-’18 campaign.
We should have known it wouldn’t be close to business as usual.
It was too much to expect neophyte David Padgett and his put together on the fly patch work staff to provide any sense of mature continuity.
It was too much to expect players used to dictatorial Parris Island-style regimentation to self propel into the Final Four-quality unit they were incorrectly thought to be.
I will admit, as someone who loves this program and this beleaguered squad and prays for a turnaround starting in Tallahassee, I’m fighting falling prey to a sky is falling take of the season.
These Cardinals have four times faced Top 25 teams and four times fallen.
In three victory was in reach.
Especially yesterday in Littlejohn, where the Cards, despite their flawed ball handling performance, kept coming back in the 2d and had the ball all to themselves with :50 to play in regulation . . . but couldn’t close the deal.
The first foray out of a Louisville timeout, ended with Deng Adel committing his fourth turnover. But the Tigers panicked with the ball, and VJ King snared an errant pass from Clemson star Elijah Thomas with plenty of clock left, 19 seconds.
Quentin Snider, with David Padgett just a few feet away providing instruction, tom tommed the rock outside, made a move toward the hoop too late, and was forced to throw up an out of balance trey.
It was deer in the headlights basketball.
You know the old shibboleth about giving a home team a second chance on their own court?
Well, it proved to be true Saturday.
VJ King coughed up his fourth giveaway on U of L’s first possession of OT. Then fouled to avoid a gimme Clemson two, but Marcquise Reed hit both FTs anyway. 55-57.
Ray Spalding had a close in shot blocked on U of L’s next attack. But fought for consecutive rebounds. Neither of which putback would fall.
After another stop, and almost another giveaway by Deng Adel, Quentin Snider did commit U of L’s 21st turnover of the tilt, leading to a Clemson bunny. 55-59.
Spalding cut the disadvantage in half on the next possession.
Then Louisville allowed consecutive uncontested threes.
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What’s so frustrating is that for all the mistakes Louisville made, all the lack of steadiness on display, the game from the start and until the end was there to be won.
Louisville turned it over 21 times. Yet, thanks in part to its defense, only surrendered 12 points off of them. While scoring 13 on Clemson’s 11 giveaways.
It was still, as Padgett pointed out again and again in is post game comments, 21 lost opportunities to tally.
In conference games on the road, that modus operandi ain’t gonna work.
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As I alluded to above, taking in account the entire pall that enshrouds Louisville hoops these days, it’s after games like these that one wonders if this is a season on the brink?
Can the Cardinals do the tighten up?
Next chance is Wednesday against Top 25 Florida State.
-- Seedy K