So distraught was I after Louisville’s disturbing loss to Florida State on Saturday that I simply couldn’t bring myself to write about that game.
(To those who noticed, and asked after me, asked if I was OK, thank you. The reason for my absence was I simply couldn’t find words.)
And, this early morning after U of L’s fourth loss in its last five, to Syracuse which had fallen in six of its last nine, I have been sitting for minutes, fingers poised at the keyboard, awaiting the formulation of some inroad to discuss the critical situation at hand.
It would be of little consequence to reconsider this moment or that from last night’s most distressing setback, the Cardinals’ first this season to a squad not its equal or better. To look at this stat or that, a play here or there, really doesn’t address what really matters.
There are bigger issues. This is now, hate to say it, a season on the brink.
I have no intention of throwing any of these players or patchwork coaching staff under a bus. There has simply been, and might for some still be, unrealistic expectations for this particular group of Cardinals.
This team is flawed. Conference games expose defects. The fissures have become crevices. More seismic shifts lay ahead.
There is athletic talent here but little basketball savvy. There is some speed, but lack of lateral quickness. There is leaping ability but little toughness on the boards. There is no alpha baller to take charge.
U of L is getting manhandled off the bounce. These Cardinals don’t block out, or, for the most part, tough their way for a rebound.
It is to these guys’ credit and that of neophyte coach David Padgett and his staff that they have overcome the imperfections as well as they have for as long as they have.
With the most daunting gauntlet of U of L’s league slate just ahead, we will know soon enough how much the Cards can overcome?
Can they start making better decisions when to shoot, when to pass?
Would U of L be better served by playing a straight ahead zone, similar to that employed by the Orange?
Will the newcomers, who seem to play with more energy and enthusiasm than some of the vets see more PT? Is it worth a try?
So many questions. Too many questions to be answering in February.
* * * * *
Of the vets, Ray Spalding is the singular one who has indeed amped up his game from previous seasons. He is more assertive underneath and on D. His ways of scoring are better.
He went for 18 and 9 against ‘Cuse, with 3 assists, a steal and only one turnover.
The other Cardinal I feel compelled to mention in a positive light for his performance last evening is Darius Perry.
He dished out four assists with zero turnovers.
His shot at the halftime buzzer, a forty foot crap shoot, could have been a catalyst but obviously wasn’t. What impressed me most about that trey was not that he made it, but how he conceptualized what to do with less than three ticks on the clock and how aggressively he went for it.
As usual his defense was clearly superior to that of his fellow backcourt mates.
* * * * *
I pray my negativitude is misplaced, that this team can put this bad stretch behind them, mask its flaws and conquer.
If not, given the pall enshrouding the program, this shall be the first of a spate of winters of our discontent to come.
-- Seedy K