Considering the Cardinals As They Head Down The Stretch

At least one fan wasn’t so pleased with my observations about the Louisville Cardinals in the wake of yet another blown opportunity, this time in Morgantown.

Basically the comment sardonically complimented my “brilliant conclusions” made in the “emotional fervor of the moment.”

I wrote that this edition of the Cards is toast, and that U of L will not make it into the NCAA tourney.

I wondered if I had rushed to judgment? So I have reconsidered.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I stand by what I’ve said. It certainly is not impossible for this team to go on a late run, nabbing a pair of those dancing shoes on Selection Sunday. I don’t see it happening. Even if the Cards get something going, here’s their last four: Georgetown, @ UConn, @ Marquette, Syracuse.

That has the look of an 0-fer from where I’m standing.

Of course the ’06-’07 squad comes to mind. But David Padgett’s not walking into Yum, and nobody on this squad has displayed DP’s ability to be a catalyst. Sure it could happen. I hope it does. But . . .

Let’s start at the top. This is not one of Rick Pitino’s better coaching efforts. I’m frankly surprised. I thought Ralph Willard in the second chair would help more than it has.

Pitino has always called out his players in the media. It’s never been a very enduring trait. Less so with a fragile bunch like the current one. “We’re not a very good defensive team.” “Stephan Van Treese is not ready to play collegiate basketball.” “Buckles started, but didn’t know what to do when they gave him space.” “TJ worked on the wrong things this summer.”

Too much public negativitude, one guy’s opinion. How can that not hurt the psyche of this team?

Pitino’s forte has never been in-game adjustments. He’s seems especially underwhelming in that regard this season. The latest evidence was the Cardinals inability to cope with Bobby Huggins’ 1-3-1. U of L had a deer in the headlights look about them.

The coach is still searching for combinations that work. And this campaign has rarely found the right one at the right time.

I’m not going to go through the squad player by player. I’m sure not going to do what I’ve just accused The Rick of doing. Missed free throws. Silly unforced errors. Lack of rebounding fundamentals. Periodic woeful shooting. Strange substitution patterns. Defensive lapses at critical junctures. The inability to close the deal. All and more have contributed to this team’s mediocrity.

On the plus side, Samuels and Siva have improved appreciably as the season has progressed. So too Reggie Delk. Swop is playing better than fans give him credit for, but is inconsistent. Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles always play full tilt, even when their skills abandon them.

Come Monday, the Cards have another chance at rejuvenation, to start down the road to redemption.

Will they be Phoenix, arising from the ashes?

Or Icarus, crashing and burning?

– Seedy K

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