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Seedy K’s GameCap: Western Kentucky

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With all the news coming from the Belknap Campus this week, who was paying attention to the bulletin from the InterFraternity Council?

Seems there’s the new frat house addition to the Greek culture at U of L.

Omicron Delta.

The ODs are a jock house apparently. Their first pledge: Malik Williams. Who went immediately through Hell Week.

Thereby missing the Cards Saturday afternoon tussle in Uncle Ed Diddle Arena.

In Bowling Green, U of L fell, if not meekly, inexorably to the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky.

82-72 was the final.

The Toppers drilled a couple of treys at the get go for a lightning quick 6-0 advantage. The home towners were up 13-5 at the first media stoppage.

And essentially kept the Cardinals measured the rest of the way. They led by as many as 14 in the 1st, before going into the half with an 11 point advantage.

The Cards fashioned a 10-0 run early in the 2d to pull within 3 at 47-50, and were a digit closer at 52-54. Immediately after which they frittered away a defensive stop, coughing it up which WKU turned into a +1 fastbreak layin.

At the next commercial timeout, U of L’s deficit was 7 at 54-61.

Louisville didn’t quit. Louisville never got over the hump.

* * * * *

Would U of L’s leading scorer and rebounder and mature leader have made a difference?

One has to believe so.

But, maybe not. Obviously more ready for the battle, Western rode the emotion of their region’s real Hell Week, which supercharged the crowd, looking to vent.

Louisville never seemed capable of dealing with very tall wunderkind Javion Sharp. The Hilltopper pivot blocked 4 shots, and altered at least 2-3 times that many. None of the Cardinals effectively challenged Sharp at either end of the court.

* * * * *

I’m not sure my previous admonishments are still valid, when I cautioned that we won’t really know about this edition of the Cardinal hoopsters until January.

Flaws are starting to manifest.

One is best detailed with this stat. Louisville was -20 at the charity stripe, double the final margin. 5/7 vs. 25/31.

Don’t blame the zebras. Louisville simply doesn’t have enough players with a good enough handle to drive the ball and draw attention and fouls. (But, let’s be fair to Western. With Sharp to protect the rim, stopping drives isn’t mandatory.)

* * * * *

Were there any positives for Louisville?

Not really at the defensive end. The victors shot 50% exactly from both inside and outside the arc, bolstered by 55% on 2s and 82% on 3s in the opening stanza. Plus they netted 25 points on those 21 U of L fouls.

Noah Locke did break out of his slump, more or less. He scored 20 with 4 triples.

Roosevelt Wheeler continued to display his upside. He scored 8 on 4/4 shooting, but in his 20 minutes of PT only got 3 of the Cards’ 28 boards. Western Kentucky won the glass with 37 snares.

* * * * *

There’s a Yiddish word with which you may be familiar.

Chutzpah. Meaning extreme self confidence and audacity.

I thought of that when El Ellis challenged Sharp a few times. When Sharp easily swatted his shots away.

* * * * *

For a sort of explicable reason, I was not as despondent as normal after the loss.

Their effort wasn’t close to that of the volleyballers, who played an incredible match in the national semis and just lost.

U of L didn’t play very well at all in Bowling Green.

No, I think it’s this.

The reality of the state of Cardinal hoops has finally cut through.

U of L is in Hank Raymond territory.

For those unfamiliar, he was the Marquette coach after Al McGuire retired. The Warriors, or whatever they are called now, have never really recovered.

That Chris Mack, or anybody for that matter, could continue the mostly year in, year out success of Denny Crum and Rick Pitino, Hall of Famers and national champions both, is a bit much to ask.

I fear U of L is going to be an also run for a bit. At the very least until the NCAA cloud and sanctions run their course.

Sigh.

Next: At Rupp, Kentucky. Who just battered North Carolina by 29 on a neutral court.

— c d kaplan