With 8:42 left to play, and the Cards down 44-72, I closed my laptop and the app with running stats along with it. Put away the legal pad on which I was taking notes, clicked the writing tip of my Tūl pen back inside the shaft, walked in the kitchen and filled a bowl with frozen blueberries and peanut butter.
Which I ate quickly out of frustration, along with a second helping attempting for extra measure of some comfort. While watching U of L, totally shaken and discombobulated, get manhandled 10-27 the rest of the way.
Already out of sorts because my aging rescue beagle Abbey is suffering from disc issues, and feeling squirrelly already because I was blessed to get my second COVID vaccination in the morning, and the antibodies were battling throughout my musculature to let me know they had arrived, my mind drifted off to a place and time long ago, far away.
Years ago, I was visiting with friends at country house in the beauteous region known as Le Perigord by some, the Dordogne by others. The cave paintings at Lascaux you read about in History of Art 101 are there, along with a bunch of too quaint villages, and the best bread I’ve ever eaten.
In one of which towns, Brantome, one day we went to the monthly market. Where the streets were filled with vendors, selling everything from mattresses to hats to flowers to fabric to fresh shellfish, getting less fresh by the minute in the sun.
When I came upon a fellow, who would have been right at home in the exhibition wing of the state fair, down the aisle from where you could buy defogger for your glasses.
Except, of course, he was doing his shtick about Borner V, the Euro version of the Veg-O-Matic, in French.
I could only pick up a few of the words, but watched him julienne the carrots and loved the harmonic rhythm of his sales spiel as it unfolded.
Near his finish, he looked my way, so I called out in English, “It slices and dices.”
* * * * *
And, that’s what North Carolina did Saturday, slicing and dicing the Cardinals in the more predictable and sad than ignominious 45 point shellacking in Chapel Hill.
To be honest, the defeat wasn’t all that surprising. A handy victory by the Tar Heels wouldn’t have been unexpected.
Still this one was bracing.
It’s just been a difficult year for U of L from the get go. Youth. Major injuries. Stops and starts. The cloud of COVID, an environment that has even reasonably mature and experienced adults at wit’s end, let alone college kids without a college life as ballast.
Add to that a three week day hiatus, the lingering effects of the disease for some of the players and coach and staff, conditioning issues for all, the questions until the last minute of who would get to play and who wouldn’t, and the result is a recipe for a disaster of epic proportions.
And they were told to wear those uniforms with gold piping, which is not now and has never been a school color.
* * * * *
The defeat was complete.
U of L gave up 26 points off turnovers.
The Cardinals were outscored 26 points in the paint, by 37 off the bench, by 15 on fastbreaks, and 8 on second chance opportunities.
The Tar Heels were allowed to hit 61% of their shots, 44% from distance.
It was hard to watch.
Yet, I am distressed more than distraught.
I feel sorry for the kids.
There was, in retrospect, an inevitability about the whole situation. Of all the league teams the Cards could have faced, coming off such a layoff, Carolina was probably the worst. They push the pace. While U of L would obviously fatigue. They are tough in the middle, where Louisville isn’t especially strong.
U of L’s mettle shall be tested.
My hope is that this edition of the Louisville Cardinals isn’t permanently broken.
— c d kaplan