Tell me if you’ve seen this scenario before from this ‘22-’23 Louisville Cardinal team that shall go down in the lore.
Actually, you don’t need to tell me, I know the answer. Also, I know even more that there shall be comments.
Anyway . . .
Cards get a decent start.
At some point early on, U of L looks like a legit (if not great) team. The ball’s moving. The players are moving. Feet are moving on D. The rock’s finding net. Glass is cleaned.
Then they go butterfingers. The opponent gets scoring opportunities gift-wrapped.
A sinkhole opens, U of L’s game falls like the ‘Vettes on display in Bowling Green.
Then, as in recent days, when it seems like Louisville is going to get blown out by 20, 30 or more, the guys hunker down and fight back.
They get within reach. OK, they get within a long stretch and reach.
Then, in the guise of heroics, stupidity returns.
This, The Cards 15th.
Clemson 83, Louisville 70.
* * * *.*
In Littlejohn, U of L opened with a Brandon Huntley-Hatfield threeball from the corner, on a pass from El Ellis, when he drove the ball toward the hoop, but actually stopped and got it the open guy.
Syd Curry followed a miss for two.
Ellis scored on a fast break.
The D was solid, borderline tenacious.
Curry scored a second chance underneath, after BH-H dove to the floor, scrapping to maintain possession.
Kamari Lands tripled.
At the first media break, all four starters had tallied except Mike James. Which he did thereafter.
At 12:40, Jae’Lyn Withers canned a trey.
The balloon bursts.
Turnover. Turnover. Turnover. Turnover. An 11 point Tiger run puts them up 18-16.
The Cards counter to knot it at 18.
The victors score 7 straight, never trail again.
When its 21-18 favor of Clemson, my eyes are diverted to my notes. As I write in caps “CRITICAL TIME,” Curry forces a shot that misfires, the Orange hit a three, Lands gives it away, Clemson FT, shot clock turnover (#8) after Withers’ attempt is blocked.
If only what I wrote was wrong, wrong, wrong. Sigh.
The Tigers finish the opening stanza 33-12, and are up 40-28.
* * * * *
Three minutes into the 2d, U of L’s disadvantage grows to 17, at 32-49.
Then, U of L, as it does, steadies.
Slowly, headscratchingly, inconsistently but relentlessly, the Cards get back in the fight.
They pull within 8 at 56-64. Then Withers turns it over unforced off his dribble. Next trip, JJ Traynor pass it to the wrong team. Then Ellis herohoists an ill-advised three that misses.
But . . . still . . . they don’t spit out the bit.
And, lo and behold, a Kamari Lands longball with 2:51 to go, pulls the Cards within 6 at 66-72.
Then, with the game still not impossibly out of reach, El Ellis forgets he’s just one of five on the floor in a Cardinal uni.
He’s tied up on one of his HeroDrives™. Cards maintain possession. But Ellis jacks up a shot on the inbounds. Miss. Then he gives it away. Then gets a herodrive attempt blocked.
Clemson 83, Louisville 70.
* * * * *
This Louisville team is bad. Historically bad. Legendarily bad.
But, it must be mentioned, to their credit, they have not thrown in the towel.
Which is the norm when any sports outfit sits at 2-15. Especially in these days of social media and chat rooms and instant communication and constant comment and a historic lack of point/ counterpoint civility.
At a time when a large portion of the fanbase wants to walk Kenny Payne to the guillotine, wants to put the players’ heads on a spike, they continue to compete.
Not very well. Obviously. Not to any even modest effect . . . yet. But, nonetheless.
In a season when any positive should be appreciated, they get credit for that.
At least they do here.
— c d kaplan