Let me get this out of the way at the start.
Because my heart aches, and my fingers hurt just typing these thoughts on the keypad.
As my much as I pray I am wrong, I don’t believe my dear Louisville Cardinals will be chosen to play in the NCAA tournament.
And, as much as I hate to admit it, frankly, the Cards didn’t earn their way in.
Nothing would make me happier than being proven wrong.
* * * * *
These gnawing, queasy feelings in my gut as I await Selection Sunday are oh so familiar though the moment I get in touch with because I then felt the same is more than a half century gone.
I remember clearly the high school assembly, the one where the new inductees to the National Honor Society from my class were to be announced.
I was a pretty good student, top 25 in my class, but outside the upper upper echelon, the legit contenders. I knew in my heart I wouldn’t get tapped, but the hope, the nervousness, the gnawing queasiness in my gut was relentless anyway.
Until the final inductee was named. And it wasn’t me.
CBS/Turner are tweaking the Selection Show. They’ve declared that for the first time the field in its entirety will be revealed within the initial segment of the show.
Given the Cards precarious possibilities, I like that. I like that a lot. Actually I’d like it even if the slipping and sliding Cards weren’t trying to find some traction on the fizzing burble of potentiality.
Hope remains. Though I’m certainly peeved that, between now and then, I’ve gotta try to figure out who the Cards’ rivals for inclusion are, so I can root against them.
* * * * *
I’ll admit to something else, before considering a few things about the elimination at the hands of UVa.
Unlike Rece Davis and Seth Greenburg, I never thought the Cardinals would beat UVa this afternoon.
Which means, I don’t feel there were any turning point interludes. Though a few stand out as perfect reflections of this strange, strained season.
Obviously there are the moments just before and just after the 8:55 mark when a Ray Spalding steal led to a Jordan Nwora slam. Which cut the Cavaliers once 17 point advantage to 4, 52-56.
Hope had reared its head when David Padgett finally inserted Dwayne Sutton into the game after intermission at the 11:10 stoppage, when U of L was down 41-54. In the 1st, the DuPont Manual grad had scored 5, grabbed 3 boards, played relentless D and provided his usual hell bent for leather energy. Yet he sat until then after the break, even though the Professor, with whom I was watching, kept screaming every thirty seconds, “How come Sutton’s not in the game?”
David Padgett also chose that juncture to give Jordan Nwora some PT when the game mattered.
The Good: After a couple Deng Adel FTs out of the timeout, Sutton stole the rock on his first 2d half defensive possession. Nwora swished a trey. 46-54. Which Jordan followed with another pilfer, leading to a Ray Spalding follow deuce. 48-54.
UVa put home a two after a timeout they’d called to stem the tide. Spalding immediately countered with two charity makes. Then he stole the rock from the temporarily shaky Cavaliers, getting the ball to Nwora for a breakaway slam. The Cards were within four.
That’s why fans have been clamoring for more Sutton and Nwora PT, wondering why Padgett hasn’t been playing them more.
The Bad: Then we saw what could be why they’ve sat more than balled, or at least the coach’s reasoning.
Nwora couldn’t corral a rebound on the UVa possession after that fastbreak dunk, The Cavaliers tallied a second chance deuce. Sutton compounded the misdemeanor, firing an ill advised trey which missed.
UVa scored again when Nwora was beaten while failing to provide weakside help.
Then Spalding misfired on long jumper he never should have attempted, Q missed a lay up, and Nwora was beaten badly again for another two by the victors.
Hope had left the building. Having weathered the Cardinals’ spirited foray, the game was Virginia’s. Spent and dejected, U of L gave up some cheapies late, losing by 17.
* * * * *
Then there was the segment, certainly not determinative today, but it was the game in microcosm, if not the entire disappointing season.
The Cards were down 12 coming out of a timeout with 3:17 left. Nwora stole the ball, but didn’t finish a breakaway flush when he tried to be a too spectacular. But Ray Spalding was hustling back and snared the miss . . . only to miss the point blank follow.
The game’s leading scorer Kyle Guy, whom last year I dubbed “the guy we’re going to hate for four years,” converted a +1 on the ensuing Cavalier possession.
So it went today.
So it has gone all season.
* * * * *
Now we wait until sundown Sunday, hoping the Cardinals’ National Honor Society moment turns out better than mine.
-- Seedy K