Early Saturday evening, Doc and I were doing our usual post mortem autopsy. This time with a shroud of melancholy, because the victor was arch rival Kentucky.
I shared an analogy I was conjuring in order that this rehash might be elevated a bit literarily. Such as it can be.
Something like how when you’re making potage, you need more than a soup bone for maximum flavor. How you need vegetables, spices, robust meat or fish, all the necessary ingredients in a confluent meld, etc, etc, to create excellence, a taste above.
And how this gritty band of Cardinals, as game as they are proving to be, are but soup bone. There is only so much flavor to be extracted.
While the Wildcats do have that blend, along with any number of condimental players who can break out and cause observers to say, “Wow, savor that.”
Yesterday it was Tyler Herro, who tallied 24 on 10/13 marksmanship, 4/6 from long range, 5 rebounds and adhesive, clamp down defense. (Example: Ryan McMahon was only able to launch two attempts.)
So . . . sigh . . . yet again as it has come about for the last decade or so, I feel compelled to acknowledge that UK is taller, longer, quicker, faster, more assertive, and, yes, simply better.
There was nary a bit of fluke in Kentucky’s 71-58 win.
* * * * *
I must remember, while this gang of Cards has room and the capability to improve in certain areas, a macro view of this season and any battle in particular is suggested. Putting this team’s efforts under a microscope isn’t fair.
There is an overriding intangibility to U of L’s success so far, and it appears it shall remain so for the remainder of Chris Mack’s inaugural campaign.
As for yesterday’s game specifically, there wasn’t a singular possession really, which if it had played out differently, the game would have turned.
Even when the Cardinals grabbed it third and final lead, 13-11 at 14:02 of the 1st, it was apparent, to me anyway, that the Wildcats had Louisville’s measure. Twenty four seconds later, that Herro kid netted a trey, and UK never looked back.
The visitor’s 20-4 flurry between then and the 6:02 mark for a 31-17 advantage, provided all the distance necessary. During that defining interlude, U of L forced quick shots, coughed it up three times, didn’t snare the 50-50 balls, and gave up a fourth chance Jemari Baker triple.
For the other 32:06 of the contest, U of L was +1.
Given the vast difference in talent, that’s a testament to Louisville’s fortitude.
* * * * *
The Cards were outscored by 20 in the paint.
The Cards were -8 in points off turnovers.
Christen Cunningham played like a kid reared in the heart of the Bluegrass, who always dreamed of competing in this rivalry. 20 points (8/14, 3/5), 4 assists and a steal.
Other than CC and Stephen Enoch’s game high 9 rebounds, the Cardinals were simply outplayed.
* * * * *
On a personal note, I was back in the gym for the first time since blowing out my knee, for the first time in Chris Mack’s inaugural campaign.
So very anxious and ready, I arrived more than two hours in advance, walking immediately through the media corridor into the mostly empty arena, just to feel the presence.
I was seriously in touch with that inner seven year old, who fell in love with the Cardinals and the game at first sight at the Jefferson County Armory in December ‘52.
After schmoozing with old pals in the media workroom, I ventured up to the plaza at the top of escalators, allowing the torrential wave of arriving fans to wash over me.
It felt so healing to be back.
So it will for the Cardinals, who will be back, whose future, despite yesterday’s setback, is bright indeed.
-- Seedy K