There’s not a Louisville Cardinal fan around who isn’t sad about the Malik Williams situation.
For the kid, a team leader who has been riddled with injuries, and college career may be fini.
For the current team, which isn’t as formidable without his presence in the middle and leadership in the huddle.
Hope springs eternal among the faithful that Williams might return for another season, taking advantage of the COVID-inspired one season eligibility exemption. But that’s another conversation for another day.
He doesn’t appear to have emptied his locker, and moved on. The kid’s a keeper.
Which leaves us obsessives with the contemplation: How do the Cards best move forward in his on court absence?
Which leads me to Jae’Lyn Withers, the redshirt rookie, who has spent most of the season uncomfortably out of position in the post. It’s been obvious for awhile that he’s better on O when facing the basket.
That hunch became all caps underlined when Malik returned, and Withers moved to the 4.
So, to use horse racing parlance, does Chris Mack change leads? Does he leave Withers outside, and play someone else in the pivot?
Like Dre Davis? Who would be undersized, but seems more acclimated to playing post up ball. Or JJ? Or Wiz?
Just wondering. The last week of the regular season is not an optimal time to be recalibrating the gear box — NASCAR reference, I suppose — especially with U of L still sliding on the bubble, and a couple of daunting tilts against the Virginia schools.
But we do have an answer to that question, which I posed to Chris Mack at his pre-Virginia Tech press conference.
Mack indicated that Withers, just because of personnel realities, will need to be in the pivot some. But that they would adjust the offense to get him the ball on the wing more.
* * * * *
Matthew Hurt’s performances against the Cardinals drew an odd ire from my pal Doc.
Hurt hails from Rochester, Minnesota. His dad Richard is a physician, I must assume at the Mayo Clinic. Dad’s medical education came at the University of Louisville Medical School. And the family have apparently been fans of the Cardinals for years.
Young Matthew, with that killer jump shot and seriously ugly tangle of chin hair, was a ***** whose final schools were Carolina, UK, Kansas, and the Evil Empire where he ended up.
What Doc wondered is, did U of L recruit him? Did they know of the university’s connections?
What Doc didn’t wonder is whether, if they had, would it have made a difference?
During that conversation, Doc’s musing traveled a bit down Tobacco Road to the subject of Tar Heel freshman, Walker Kessler. Whose father Chad is also a doctor. Whose medical degree, according to my pal, came from — and you know where this going — U of L Med School.
Did the Cardinals recruit Kessler? Did they know of the connections with the school?
It’s the kind of stuff we Cardinal obsessives obsess about, when the team gets scorched by a foe’s sharpshooter, or are meager in the middle, when there’s a possible legacy on another roster who might help.
* * * * *
Dana O’Neil has an exhaustive article at theathletic.com, which goes into the details of how the NCAA plans to pull off a 68 team tournament, that’s as safe and close to normal as possible.
The protocols are arduous. To say the least.
I can’t help but think, there shall be, for one thing, some forfeits.
And, given the isolation and strangeness of it all, there will be some squads that underperform, and some which are better able to deal with the strictures.
Which is to opine that March Madness is going to be as weird and wild as that tea party young Alice attended.
The Mad Hatter shall be chortling.
— c d kaplan