Louisville Card File: California

There have been many observations of this year’s Louisville Cardinal basketball team. Any and all were subject to contradiction, if not immediately, certainly after the next game.

Here’s one for which there is unequivocally no retort.

Louisville’s 2009-10 basketball season is OVER!

And as sad as I am to say, it: It’s a good thing. The thought of certain evisceration tomorrow before a big national audience to Duke would be too much to take. If there is a silver lining to Louisville’s numbing, uninspired performance against California, it is that it came at a late hour. Very late. Only the most addicted of hoopaholics and the fans of both teams could possibly stay tuned to the end.

Even the Film Babe and I took our leave with a couple of minutes to play from the HummelDome where we watched with friends. “I’m ready to go,” she stated. Not waiting for a response, she headed for the door. I dutifully followed.

“If we go now too, honey, we can beat the traffic,” joked my pal David to Phyllis, his better half.

That U of L would counteract the glory that was the Freedom Hall finale with two clunkers in a row is a most appropriate finish to this 13 loss season.

* * * * *

The postmortem is complete. The autopsy results are in.

They are certainly subject to second guessing. Feel free to contact the coroner’s office yourself if my interpretations don’t suit you.

* * * * *

For me, the blame starts at the top.

Whatever this team’s faults, individually or collectively, Rick Pitino never was able to find the tourniquet that would stop as much bleeding as possible.

Ofttimes his substitution patterns were incomprehensible. He’s always had a quick hook. On a team where the youngsters might have benefited from leniency to play through mistakes, The Rick didn’t move beyond his default quick hook.

Speaking of youth, I, for one, don’t buy this excuse, trotted out again after the L to the Golden Bears. “This is a young basketball team.”

Pardon my French. Bullshit.

Louisville started three seniors, including both guards and a forward with a redshirt year. The sixth man was a junior with lots of prior PT. The sophomore center was a veteran of a full season of starts as a freshman.

“California had too much experience for us.”

Well then, whose fault is that?

Peyton Siva looked a little quesy last night. But he did light a little fire despite his three turnovers. Why on earth, given Edgar Sosa’s inherent and indomitable lack of judgment, didn’t Siva get more of a chance to run the team during the season? Thirty three games in, with Sosa in foul trouble, the Golden Arches All American sat on the bench while 2 guard Jerry Smith and 2 guard Preston Knowles ran the offense. Riddle me that.

Rakeem Buckles displayed a penchant for rebounding and mixing it up under the hoop in every one of his very very limited appearances this season. Why didn’t he get more PT? Ditto Kyle Kuric.

I have no intention of dissecting the plusses and minuses of each Cardinal. But I will ask this. Whose fault is it if your senior point guard with more than a hundred games under his belt, doesn’t know to flay to a side lane on a 2-on-1 break instead of forcing it up the middle into defense?

I am not sophisticated enough to totally comprehend how different offensive schemes work. What I do observe however is that Louisville’s hardly worked at all this season. Open shots were at a premium. I’ve watched most all of the tournament games so far. No other school has looked as disheveled offensively as U of L.

* * * * *

Enough. There’s no need to go on.

I’ve already received a number of emails from fans. Are Siva and Jennings transferring? Is Samuels going pro? Is Pitino taking the St. John’s job?

I don’t know. But I don’t think so.

If I were coach, and, let’s make it clear, I certainly am not. I’d call Peyton Siva in my office today. I’d symbolically hand him a basketball. Then I’d tell him, “It’s your team next season. Here’s what I want you to do and work on over the summer . . . “

Several times in the last 10 days, Rick Pitino has opined that the team will be better next year. Each time he’s mentioned returnees who he expects to improve. Swopshire. Buckles. Kuric. Never once has he mentioned Peyton Siva. But he rarely fails to reiterate yet again what a great season Edgar Sosa had.

– Seedy K


  1. the bass
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I would encourage Jennings to transfer because it’s obvious Pitino has no idea how to use him. He’s way too talented, and has been too productive, to be sitting on the bench so much. Sure, he made a stupid intentional foul in the first half, but it’s inexplicable that he didn’t get any minutes in the second.

    Not sure why Siva would transfer. This is his team the next three years, and he has always said how much he loves Louisville. Plus, he’s going to have a lot of talent around him his junior year.

  2. cbcard
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Jennings: much raw talent but won’t be any significant help ever unless he decides to work hard, listen to the coaches and improve his work ethic and game.

    Buckles: raw talent and perhaps a lot of athleticism but don’t go by the Cal game. I am 65, 5’8″ and 15 pounds overweight. I could have gotten a couple of putbacks in that game. Cal had one big in there and he was completely occupied by/with SamSam. Buckles was being guarded and boxed out by guys way, way smaller than him. He did great to get 20 but there was no way with the matchup so strongly in his favor that he shouldn’t have gotten at least 14.

    Sosa/Siva: Sosa had plenty of Bad Edgar moments but his A/TO ration was far better than Siva’s. Siva definitely should have gotten more playing time but at the expense of Knowles and Smith, not Sosa.

    Knowles: Different kid than the one we saw last year. If his shot selection improved by a factor of five it would have improved to horrible. No wonder he shot so poorly this year and finished his last four games shooting 10%. That’s not on 3′s, that’s from everywhere. And the more he rushed shots and took contested ones the more his shooting form changed. When rushing or under pressure he shot with a foot scissors kick swimmers would be proud of. When he took slow, uncontested shots his form was far better.

    Pitino: say what you want to about his coaching this year and his bizarre substitution patterns but his biggest failing this year actually was one and two years ago when his recruiting failures left us with a team of one dimensional, slow footed, inconsistant players. There wasn’t a single guy out there this year who could play well at both ends of the court. We had a batch of guys who could do one thing well but no one who could do two, much less three things well. And no one who could be counted on to have a good game against different types of opponents. Who played was dictated more by matchups than in any year I can remember. And no one, not one player at any position could stop dribble penetration with any consistancy. That spells losses. Denny was the best game coach around but when he didn’t have players his last four or so years he couldn’t win. We need more talent!

  3. dennis hummel
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Well said. And by the way, was that a coma Ralph Willard was in the last two games?

  4. doug
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    My hope for next year is based on the “addition by subtraction” theory. Exit Jerry and Little Eddie, hand the ball to Peyton, and watch a new team emerge. For whatever reason, and it does start at the top, this “box of chocolates” bunch was one of my least favorites over the last 40 years of watching UL b-ball.

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