Do I skip right to the Cruelest Blow?
Or, wend my way there, so you’ll read more of this latest vent about the freefall of the University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Program?
Prepare thyselves, ‘tis the latter, because . . .
. . . I had a great opening for this piece on Monday, but was saving for this story after the UVa game, which I now shall use.
(Perhaps I’ve mentioned before, my writing, such as it is, flows better if the opening line comes. Which, in this case, it did.)
So, here goes.
* * * * *
Oh that I had written this phrase.
Oh that I had written this phrase about U of L hoops.
It reads, “reality of being an unsettled program at a momentous inflection point.”
Good phraseology, that.
Written by national hoops scribe Brendan Quinn.
In an extended piece about the turmoil surrounding Maryland Terrapin basketball.
You remember the Terps, right? In the more hopeful daze of November, the then surging Cards beat Maryland, still coached by Mark Turgeon, who has since moved on.
Quinn’s article describing the situation in College Park, presents eery parallels to what’s going on in River City.
Former national champs.
Disgruntled fanbase with the highest of expectations.
Moved on from beloved former home, which once hosted a Final Four. (Where Texas Western slayed Kentucky.)
Really successful women’s program. (Where a fellow named Walz used to be an assistant.)
Current roster filled with transfers.
In need of a new coach, who can: 1) Rebuild the roster, and 2) Employ “the tact required to bring back the fan base.”
As I read, it all sounded so so familiar.
And ended with this, “College basketball is better when Maryland is good.”
* * * * *
Later in the day, a fellow Cardinal fan, with whom I’m doing a lot commiserating these days, sent me an article about Syracuse basketball.
Where the same dialog/ disconnect is also attendant.
* * * * *
So, is there comfort Cardinal fans, knowing we’re not the only fan base and program steeped in ennui?
Uh, not really.
We’d rather have already moved on from the current malaise, and be like, say, Cincinnati. In the Queen City, the university hierarchy ridded itself of pugnacious John Brannen (pal of a fellow, last name Mack), hired up and comer Wes Miller to “clear the air and erect the foundations.”
So, yeah, well, there you have it, I suppose. Just a slightly new way to vent in order to let off steam about U of L hoops.
* * * * *
Now the coup de grace.
It’s this time of year when hoops fans start perusing Bubble Watch breakdowns. Which schools are locks to hear their name called on Selection Sunday, which should hear their name called, which still have some work to do.
One such weekly endeavor is penned by my favorite national hoops scribe, Eamonn Brennan.
Medical Alert: If you are a U of L fan who is faint of heart, currently being treated by your cardiologist, prone to fainting spells, already suffering from acid reflux, nightly leg cramps, neuritis, neuralgia or lower back pain, please sit down and have both EMS and your doc’s numbers handy before reading.
This, the Cruelest Blow, Brennan’s lead to the ACC section of Bubble Watch reads in part,
That, in a nutshell, is how bad things have gotten at Louisville. Beating Chris Mack’s Cardinals at the moment is not only simply expected, but isn’t taken as any sign of tangible progress. You can handle Louisville by double digits, never trail in 40 minutes of basketball, and still be the subject of “how can they turn their year around” discussions when the pundits are asked for their thoughts. Notre Dame won at Louisville Saturday, after which Malik Williams was asked whether Louisville’s players were still responding to the coaching staff or whether they had tuned it out, to which Williams replied “I don’t have a comment for that.” Surprise: Notre Dame still isn’t on the page today. You don’t get credit for beating Louisville. Louisville is a non-entity. Louisville might as well be Boston College. What a mess.
— c d kaplan