There were no expectations in this corner that U of L could or would win a game at MSG this weekend.
And, frankly, there were no expectations from here that they’d be legitimately competitive against Texas, UConn or IU.
And so I sit here after two tough losses in winnable games, doing something I never expected to be doing.
Replaying moments or interludes when the tilts might have turned.
Dealing with that gnawing disappointment that comes with coulda woulda shoulda defeats.
Hoping that a little dinner will remove that pit in my stomach.
Frankly, as an old fart with a faint heart and too many miles on the odometer, it’s often easier when circumstances are such, you can say, “Well, it just ain’t happenin’.”
So much for that.
Though U of L followed up its last second heartbreaker to Texas with a meltdown late against IU, the improvements were manifest.
As I observed after Sunday’s L, this team finally resembles Louisville Cardinal basketball.
Let’s hope the uptick continues.
There are some telling encounters on the immediate horizon.
* * * * *
With 4:23 to go, Skyy Clark found JJ Traynor underneath for a slam deuce putting the Cardinals up 64-61.
They actually had been ahead by 7 as late as 60-53 at the 7:55 mark.
That in itself was a seriously surprising development because at 14:44, the Hoosiers held a 9 point advantage.
After that Traynor slam, the Cards played strong D preventing an IU score. Especially on strong that possession (and all afternoon really) was Brandon Huntley-Hatfield with weakside help. His trapping moments were stellar.
(In toto, the interior defense was not of a winning nature. Louisville was -14 points in the paint. One not so heartening development, despite the surprising sudden improvement of B H-H, is there’s apparently not much else to cheer about with the obvious other 5s.)
But, in a sign of what was going to play out Monday, U of L turned it over soon.
Louisville did not score again until a gimme layup with a tick or two left.
Mike Woodson put his team in a zone, which U of L never figured out.
A 13 point run by Indiana was the reason for the deceptively lopsided final score.
IU 74, U of L 66.
* * * * *
Ty-Laur Johnson provide spark and substance, spurring Louisville to its advantage.
Physical Kaleb Glenn showed some promise in the middle, as the Cards played small which it seems they will have to do.
The Cards were +17 when he was on the hardwood. Way more than anybody else. Even Johnson was only +4.
Huntley-Hatfield’s a new man in there. If his progress continues, it bodes well for this team.
* * * * *
The loss, and the nature of it, sting.
But how the season might play out is far more difficult to figure out than it was before New York.
The Cards were competent and competitive.
There is ample evidence that hope is not a hallucination.
Now it’s time to kick it up a notch.
— c d kaplan