I am normally a man of strong opinion, certain of my strongly held beliefs, inclined to share them, whether solicited to do so or not.
Plus my default tendency is to scribe too many words, signifying little of significant value.
So, here I sit, needing to describe a University of Louisville victory, its first in seemingly forever.
Cardinals 84. Aptly monikered Ramblin’ Wreck 74.
But, honest to Dave Gavitt, I’m not sure how I feel about the opening round victory in the ACC tourney.
Outside of the innate pleasure that always comes from a Cardinal W.
But, c’mon, how is one to make any sense of that?
* * * * *
Georgia Tech’s two stars — Michael DeVoe and Jordan Usher — decided, one supposes, that the bright night lights of the big city were too hard to ignore. They didn’t start. The rest of the Yellow Jackets played like, well, frankly, played like U of L’s been playing of late.
Without focus. Without verve.
While the Cards looked like some of us thought they might months ago. Even the figuratively schizophrenic Malik Williams. Like a damn college basketball team.
Against a passive zone, Louisville was shooting the lights out. The white shirts fell behind 0-7, then went on a 17-4 run, leading at halftime by a truly hard to believe 17 points. 45-28.
Three things stood out through these eyes.
U of L committed only one turnover.
For the first time in memory, the Cardinals actually skip-passed the ball. Not very well, but they did it to obviously positive effect. (That lone giveaway was not a skip pass.)
And, Tech was so passive, they shot nary a free throw.
Noah Locke played like somebody not ready to finish his college career.
That aforementioned gadfly Williams appeared to care.
Louisville’s game was, dare I say it, mature. It helped they were balling against mannequins.
At halftime a friend from whom I never hear about the Cards, but understands my love, emailed, “Happy for you.”
Smart Guy texted just before half, when the Cards were on fire, “Who are these guys?”
Which was the exact phrase MOP Luke Hancock uttered to start the halftime ACC Network breakdown.
* * * * *
So, yeah, when the Cards were good, they were very very good.
But when they were bad, they were horrid.
Louisville remained in charge, leading 67-40 at the media timeout with 11:54 to play. Out of which, GT shot its first FTs.
Then the Cards went turnover, turnover, turnover, missed a couple bad shots on the next possession, followed by turnover, turnover.
U of L didn’t score for five minutes plus. Georgia Tech went on an unanswered 19 point run.
Oh, I’m not going to describe exactly how and why the Cards were scrambling, who and what the culprits were. You’ve seen it and heard it before.
But, like Mighty Mouse coming to save the day, Jarrod West, bless his heart, hit a couple humongous triples on consecutive possessions, netted 4/5 FTs down the stretch, made several key defensive plays.
He willed the Cards to steadiness.
The Techsters learned about Sisyphean tasks, learned that when you fall in a deep, deep hole, you need a lot of heavy equipment to get out.
* * * * *
OK, so I fell back to default, found a lot of words fill the page.
Cards prevail, just not sure how I feel. Beyond the usual happy for such things.
Except that I hate those last game of the day NYC tourney tipoffs. They start at my bedtime.
But, the Cardinals do live for another day. They generally played better. So, good on them.
Can they beat UVA tomorrow night? It would be sweet given how the bubble-perching Cavaliers have had the Cards number through the years.
But, uhhhhheeehhuh, I dunno. That’s why they play the games.
Louisville’s season continues as curioser as ever. Be sure to caffeinate, it’s a late one.
— c d kaplan