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Whither Card Hoops?: Some Random Musings

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It’s been awhile since we’ve chatted about Louisville Cardinal basketball.

Long past due, don’t you think?

So we will, but I feel compelled to commence, I have to own, with some schadenfreude. Blame it on Lucifer, he makes me do it.

But when I watched the video click this a.m. with my morning java, my smile was as wide as the home stretch of the Derby. Delight ensued.

There was significant Cards’ objet de la haine from not so long ago, Grayson Allen, former Dukie now a Memphis Griz, at the charity stripe with a chance to ice a W, his team up a deuce with two seconds to play.

A 91% FT shooter, he double whiffed. Missed ‘em both.

Allowing the amazing Luka Doncic, for whom U of L fans haven’t a bit of negative animus, to drain a game-winning triple at the buzzer, while stumbling forward and awkwardly off an opponent’s foot.

Should I feel guilty that Allen’s choke job brought me joy? Naaaaah!

* * * * *

Lots of player movement recently as Chris Mack rejiggers his squad, in hopes of more success next season and beyond.

The one real surprise regarding those who have been here, a pleasant one at that, is Malik Williams opting to stick around for another campaign.

As for the moves of David Johnson, Aidan Igiehon, Charles Minlend, and Josh Nickelberry, I believe all were expected.

Don’t know much, anything really, about the newcomers, either the rookies or transfers. Except Matt Cross, formerly at Miami (Fla). In that Hurricane upset last January in Coral Gables, the L that probably undermined the Cards’ Dance Card chances more than any other, Cross tickled the proverbial twine in four of six attempts from beyond the arc.

Welcome to the Belknap Campus, dude. Such marksmanship is one of Louisville’s biggest desires.

We’ve all got our own thoughts about what U of L needs more of to be mo’ betta’ next season. Except for our unanimous belief that Significanly Improved Offensive Movement is mandatory.

My belief, as sit here on the Ides of April, is that two players are key.

Sam Williamson. His full emergence tops the list.

‘Uell was turning into a beast last February. It’s time for some Golden Arches All-American transcendence.

The other is neophyte Roosevelt Wheeler, the big from Richmond, Va.

I watched some clips of him this morning. He’s solid. Has good footwork. Is a real pivot guy, comfortable in the paint. Takes it strong to the hoop. Translation: He likes to dunk.

He had some leg injuries, season before last. And, didn’t play this past year because of COVID shutdown.

But his acclimation seems important to me, a strong inside presence was a major Cardinal deficiency last season.

* * * * *

Let’s admit it, the firing of Luke Murray and Dino Gaudio was not handled in a very professional manner. It was awkward. Ham-handed. And, for me, more than somewhat disconcerting in how it was done.

Which is not to say that a staff shake up wasn’t necessary. Or a wise maneuver.

There are times when Chris Mack’s demeanor can be brusque and prickly, less than diplomatic. This was certainly one of those times.

Given the recent transfer portal gets, the head man and Mike Pegues have obviously been workin’ to make it work.

Director of Hoops Ops Kahil Fennell is generally regarded as a “lock” for one of the spots. Question: Has he been able to recruit without officially being named an assistant?

As for the other vacancy???????

* * * * *

The fan base seems excited that the Cardinals might face current heavyweight Gonzaga next season.

Oh, how things have changed since the halcyon days of ‘72-’86, when it would have been the hoopaholics in eastern Washington who would have been going, “Wow, we might get to play the Doctors of Dunk.”

It’s time to get back on the top shelf.

— c d kaplan