Was it the worst week in the history of U of L sports?
Or just the strangest, most weird, most discombobulating?
And, you know, no.
It was a week that could only be savored by someone who introduces himself as a man of wealth and taste.
But there were three incredible moments of joy, satisfaction and a task well done about which the whole Cardinal community can be proud.
Plus, I’ve got a few thoughts about men’s hoops.
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Of all the images of the week, the one that most resonated locally, that actually brought tears to my eyes so proud I was of our community, came Sunday afternoon before the Kentucky game.
The pallets and pallets and pallets of water stacked outside the Yum! to be sent to the devastated portions of our commonwealth. People in Red, and People in Blue, carrying cases to the drop off. People with U of L stickers on their cars, and people with UK stickers on their bumpers, pulling up and dropping off water.
Young people helping older folks, struggling with carrying cases of H2O.
And bags of clothes and blankets and toilet paper.
It was, during this holiday season in the most contentious cultural era of my lifetime, truly a may there be peace on earth, good will toward all scene.
There are plenty of ways to keep giving. Please find your comfort zone and do so. Tell Aunt Martha that you made a donation in her name to a relief fund, instead of buying her yet another ugly scarf she’ll never wear.
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On the court, there was the Cardinal volleyball team’s Regional championship.
Undefeated, they are.
One more to go. Then, one more.
Right? It’s one game at a time. Post season, remember Rule #1: You only play whom you play.
I got really nervous during the Georgia Tech match. Especially after the Yellow Jackets came from behind to take the 2d set.
It’s hard to beat schools so many times in a row. Especially good programs like Tech.
But U of L was steely, steadied, prevailed and moves on.
Adding to the allure of a possible Cardinal natty, is that it would be a redux of men’s hoops, circa ‘12 and ‘13. That’s when Louisville captured the crown, the year after arch rival.
UK won the volleyball title last year.
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Speaking of Arch Rival, the Cards eclipsed the Cats in a slugfest Sunday on the hardwood, just as they had in Volley during the regular season.*
*Is there a nickname for volleyball, like hoops is for basketball? Asking for an erstwhile writer friend, who is inclined to use such.
I had to leave at the end of the 3d.
Why, you wonder? So very glad you asked.
Because my granddaughter. Claire was making her debut as an angel in “The Nutcracker” down the street.
Claire was, to again use the Variety term, while being totally objective, boffo. Arguably the greatest angel in the 2d act in the history of the tens of thousands of performances worldwide of the Christmas staple.
Not just my opinion. The specter of George Balanchine even tweeted his admiration from the great proscenium in the sky. True.
Anyway the Cardinals, like their volleyballing sisters were strong, and out-toughed the Wildcats down the stretch, after falling behind by a digit with a little over three minutes to play.
What I will also observe is this. It. Was. Easily. Among. The Worst. Officiated. Basketball. Games. I’ve. Ever. Seen.
Eric Brewton, Karen Preato, and Bruce Morris were horrible, making bad calls that hurt both sides. Their ineptitude was, frankly, stunning.
Buuuut, it’s always fun to beat the Cats, whatever the sport.
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A few thoughts about men’s hoops.
Unlike their sisters, the male cagers were out-toughed and out-hustled by DePaul’s feisty Blue Demons.
An overview. Whatever you think about Chris Mack, he ain’t goin’ nowhere. Like, there’s nobody to fire him, even if such was the thinking.
So, like the job he’s doing or not, he’s the Cardinal coach for the foreseeable future.
I’ll repeat. It won’t be fair to judge this team until the calendar turns.
But Mack needs to earn his keep, to light a fire under Jae’Lyn Withers who is playing way too passively. He and his new OC need to draw up some actions that get the ball Sam Williamson and Noah Locke where they are comfortable, and not forced to dribble more than they are capable of.
They need to teach Roosevelt Wheeler to keep the ball high after a board.
Etc, etc, etc. Just to name a few apparent necessary adjustments. There are plenty more.
I believe this squad has considerable upside. I’m willing to be patient.
Really there’s not much else to do.
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Before the UK game Sunday, I did gain some insider insight on the whole sordid Tyra/ Bendapudi weltschmertz.
Which I mention as a tease. Because even I as prone as I am to perpetuate rumor & innuendo — I wrote the column after all in LEO — need to get some confirmation before sharing.
Hopefully I’ll get back to you on that.
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Beat SE Louisiana.
Beat Eastern Kentucky.
— c d kaplan