Here’s what I know:
The University of Louisville Cardinals won their season opener over Maryland Baltimore County.
Cards 94, Retrievers 93.
Here’s what I don’t know:
How they did it?
Here’s how confused I was.
With :11 to play, Tre White drove the hoop, was forced too far underneath, and threw up a wild layup attempt.
Which didn’t come close.
The official box score says he got the offensive rebound.
That’s not what happened.
I was sitting fifteen feet away.
A Retriever got the board. Then White mugged him like a ski-masked thug under the 2d Street Bridge, and stole the ball. Then White alertly saw JJ Traynor who was deftly cutting and soaring toward the hoop. Oop. Slam :07.
At :02, Skyy Clark was whistled for a foul, giving UMBC two attempts at the charity stripe.
In my delirium, I thought the game was tied, that a make by the visitors would win the game.
I closed my notepad. Grabbed my coat, head down turned toward the tunnel to watch the disheartening end at the beginning of another U of L basketball season.
Only to realize the Cardinals were up 94-92. At which point I scurried back to my seat to watch the harrowing conclusion.
So, somehow, some way, somethin’ somethin’, UMBC was Mr. Creosote, U of L was the single wafer thin mint.
* * * * *
I’m honestly not sure how it came about.
What I know it was a lot more fun walking out of this year’s opener than last.
I know what informed the Cards’ evening negatively.
The losers were +27 from beyond the arc. 11/21 vs. 2/11.
U of L hit only 24 of 39 freebies. 62%. Which is 15-20 % points less than in the exhis.
I have a sense what informed the Cards’ victory.
Mike James first and foremost. His 25 points and 10 boards don’t really do his game justice. He was relentless. He was the energy force. He was 13/14 at the free throw line.
Two other important contributors. One off the bench, Ty-Laur Johnson, who steadied significantly in the 2d when Skyy Clark was in foul trouble.
The other, head scratching starter Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. He grabbed ten rebounds, had a steal and a key block. (Actually he had at least one other block, but wasn’t credited.)
* * * * *
There were some disturbing moments.
As when the Cards fell behind by 13 in the first.
How the Cards allowed UMBC to score on 8 straight possessions in that run up.
How after starting strong after the break to seize a 52-50 lead with 17:16 on the clock, the Cardinals were then out-tallied 12-22 to fall behind 64-72 with 9:22 to go.
But the victors fought back, knotting the affair at 75 on a James smash mouth layup.
Back and forth it went.
Causing me serious disorientation.
* * * * *
Not sure what if anything the win foretells.
But 1-0 by whatever means beats the alternative.
Next: Chattanooga Friday night.
— c d kaplan