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Tuesday Twaddle: Mack’s Back, Card 9 needs Realign

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New Zealand.

The Epicenter of Basketball Offense Innovation.

Who knew?

Well, let’s hope it’s Jeff Van Gundy. Whose passing comment in a Saturday pandemic Zoom call with such as the deposed Brothers Miller, Sean & Archie, Brad Brownell, and others including Chris Mack, led to U of L’s latest hoops staff hire.

One Ross McMains.

Who has coached in the G League, Down Under, Down Under and over a bit in New Zealand, the Land of COVID Containment, the NBA, but never at the college level.

McMains has yet to take a required NCAA test regarding the compliance rules.

Will the Cards need to wear All Black all the time now? (Rugby joke, look it up.)

According to Mack, who met virtually with the media for the longest time ever on Monday, it was a mention by Van Gundy, that led U of L’s mentor down the rabbit hole to this hire.

It is obvious from his post season moves in this, the most twirlybird time ever in college basketball, that Mack was looking for new, fresh perspective.

And, more motion on offense.

Enter McMains. Who may be, Cardinal fans hope, some sort of futurist offensive guru.

Mack: “He’s been heralded as a tactician.”

Two observations about McMains from Monday. One, he never actually used the word “analytics,” but it was sure the elephant in the room. Two, after his Q & A portion, he spent the rest of the time looking at his phone.

Literally.

One more take. McMains projects confidence in his abilities.

As does U of L’s other new guy on the bench, former Director of B-Ball Ops, Kahil Fennell. Though the engaging, likable, articulate Fennell’s manner seems a smidge more understated than his cohort’s.

It would appear Fennell will handle more of the recruiting, while McMains’ focus will be helping Mack kickstart the moribund O. Though, that’s just a surmise on my part.

* * * * *

Other takeaways, as we now call ‘em, from the presser.

While lamenting that change was necessary because “the program wasn’t where it’s meant to be,” and thus the contracts of Dino Gaudio and Luke Murray weren’t renewed, Mack owned, “I can do better.”

The Cards head coach has never personally met either El Ellis or Mike James.

In describing the Transfer Portal situation, Mack used the descriptors “Ugly,” and “Huge.”

* * * * *

U of L’s baseball is supposed to be the broom.

Instead, it’s the dustpan.

For the second time this month, the Cardinals were swept on the road. First at Clemson. This weekend past, in Chapel Hill.

Not a good thing.

Pitching has been an issue all season. But it wasn’t really the culprit against the Tar Heels. Hitting was an issue on Tobacco Road. Except in the finale. Louisville got 16 base knocks, but only 5 runs. While four Card hurlers, including a not so good stint by Adam Elliott, gave up 10 runs on 11 hits.

U of L fell 1-5 in the opener, generating only 6 hits. Slugger Alex Binelas struck out swinging with the bases loaded nobody out in the 5th. Which he did again in Sunday’s loss. (Not to rag on the Cards’ first sacker, just to show the futility of the weekend.)

On Saturday, the Cardinals only got three hits, and were shut out for the first time all campaign, 0-5.

The Cards are now a not so glossy 26-18 for the season, but hanging in the Top 25, though slipping significantly.

Tonight, U of L has an add on game against USC Upstate at The Jim. The Big South Conference school is 34-13 on the year. But has suffered its own tsouris of late, dropping three at home this recent weekend to Campbell.

U of L, which needs to get right right now, ends the regular season with three against visiting Miami, starting Thursday.

— c d kaplan