At some point not long into the 2d half of another loss, when U of L was displaying some sense of soul, that it wouldn’t just literally lay down, I was grasping at a descriptor for what was happening.
I guess the push sort of started when resurgent Jae’Lyn Withers netted to cut the Irish lead to single digits. Then a stop. Then a triple by, oh my . . . it really was JJ Traynor. He, the long lost guy I didn’t immediately recognize who grabbed an offensive rebound a few possessions earlier when back for PT in the first time since the 12th of Never.
“Fight” seemed a little too generous at that juncture.
After all, Notre Dame, ACC leader such as the Irish may be, is not a juggernaut by any means. Especially without one of their main guys, sitting injured on the bench.
“Spirited” is the word I jotted down, while wondering as I had throughout why I was still taking relatively copious game notes? When the plotline for this season is more obvious than the end for Dr. No or Ernest Blofeld against Bond, James Bond.
But Louisville continued to come. In spite of itself, I feel compelled to add.
A few steals. A couple of offensive boards. Some follow scores. A sighting of grit. All of which resulted in a 12-2 run.
A friend texted, “WTF just happened?”
With 6:14 left, the University of Louisville Cardinals had 55 points, the Irish, a penny less.
* * * * *
Before a quick exposition of what did happen next, let me relate the gist of my halftime conversation with Smart Guy.
As I started the call, I had to ask, “You watching the game?”
Of course, he was. Like me, he’s a lifer. Like me, he can’t not watch.
He was my sports editor decades ago at the Cardinal.
“I need some help here, Mr. Former Editor. How do I write about this? Can you help me with a hook?”
After our back and forth lamentations about our beloved Cardinals, which took up the entirety of intermission, as we were hanging up, he suggested, “Here’s what you can write:
“Just say you realized when trying to write your game story that you had something in common with the Cards.
“That neither of you has a clue.”
* * * * *
Which is what I came back to after that wafer thin, almost to be illusory U of L advantage evaporated rapidly.
Louisville thwarted the Irish immediately after the timeout, on a Dre Davis block and tough D preventing a score after.
The Cards misfired twice on the ensuing possession, missing an opportunity for some distance.
After Withers fourth foul, the Irish knotted it at 55.
Then the cluelessness that seems to overwhelm any other character trait of this edition of the Cards prevailed.
On the next possession, with a couple of Cards on the court who are hitting just about 40% on threes, it was another who fired away from beyond the arc with enough time on the shot clock. to keep moving the ball.
No string music, just discord.
Then it all fell apart. As any reasonable observer of this disheveled, under-coached Louisville team would know would happen.
Bad sets. Bad decisions. Turnovers. Jacked up shots.
ND ran off eight straight.
Louisville is traveling in alien territory that no Cardinal contingent has hasn’t visited in decades.
The good news . . . I suppose . . . is the Cards don’t play again for a week.
Not that it matters.
— c d kaplan