A few weeks ago, U of L honored the ’86 national championship team.
The unsung hero on that squad, which included guys named Ellison, Thompson and Wagner, was Herbert Crook.
Herbert Crook was a GREAT second forward, averaging 11.8 ppg, getting offensive boards, doing the dirty work, making clutch baskets. He was an integral part of a championship squad, but more important, the perfect complimentary player.
He was an afterthought as a recruit, given an offer only after the Cards didn’t snare Big John Williams, who eventually matriculated to LSU. Which squad, by the by, U of L beat on the way to the title.
Crook has been my favorite second banana Card of all-time. Until now.
Kyle Kuric. That’s what I’m talking about. He’s my niece Lena’s favorite player ever. And she’ll have to fight for his favors.
He gets offensive boards. Makes clutch baskets. Does the dirty work. Is an incredible complimentary player. Was an afterthought as a recruit.
He’s hitting better than 50% of his shots on the year. Has nabbed over a hundred boards. Scored the Cards Dunk of the Millennium. Last night’s effort was his fifth 20+ point effort of the season. Whodathunkit? (Not The Rick, who wanted him to walk on.)
In my report on the Pitt game, I forgot to mention that the scene was set on the opening tip when Kuric fought a Panther for possession, ripping it away to give the Cardinals first crack at a hoop. Well, he did it again last night, leading to a Preston Knowles trey.
In the first Providence game, KK scored 0 field goals. Last night he was 11/17, tallying 25 points. He grabbed 7 offensive boards, plus a couple more on the D end. Plus a couple of assists, several steals, all of which entrenched him into my niece’s young heart. As well as that of the 22,000+ who witnessed Louisville’s final home game of the campaign.
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Preston Knowles — the engine that runs this feisty Louisville team — was also a late recruit. Oh yeah, the Cards also signed this two guard from Winchester. I forget which big name baller was supposed to have that scholly.
He is relentless.
Coursing through his veins is the Blood of the Tiger, and I’m talking a totally different strain than Charlie Sheen’s.
Sometimes he takes a few ill-advised shots. To which I say: BFD.
This scorer kicked this campaign up a notch with that last second assist in the Marquette comeback. After radaring several key treys. Last night, he flipped one in over his head at the halftime buzzer to totally deflate the Friars.
Last night, when the #2 guard was running the point, he had 5 assists vs. one turnover.
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If Knowles is the engine, Peyton Siva is the guidance system of this edition of the Cards. For those insufferable fans, who have absurdly compared Siva to his predecessor at PG, let me point this out. Last night, the Gyroscope had 7 assists, including that highlight reel pass while laying on the ground, and only one turnover.
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With the loss of Rak Buckles comes the return of Chris Smith. The Manhattan Transfer’s game suffered when he lost PT upon Rak’s return. Now that Buckles is out for the season, Smith’s game has shifted back in gear.
Dare we compare this squad to the ’80 champs, which did the tighten up after Scooter McCray went down?
That we’re even dreaming those dreams is a testament to this beloved band of ballers.
I’m more inclined to compare them to the most overachieving Louisville team in my memory, the DeJuan Wheat, Al Sims, BJ Flynn, Nate Johnson, Alex Sanders squad that lost 9 games but made it all the way to the Elite Eight. Where an injury to Wheat prevented it from really competing for a Final Four spot.
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While it’s hard to fault Rick Pitino’s coaching this year, which has been far and away his best at U of L, I have to wonder why Elisha Justice didn’t get more PT in last night’s blow out?
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Other random thoughts:
1) Those new skin tight “athletic” jerseys worn by Siva, Smith and Dieng looked like they were picked up in the kid’s department. Plus the lettering was teeny tiny small.
2) The Student Section, filling the north end zone (kinda like at Maryland), is starting to be a real Student Section. Loud. Wacky. Commencing cheers. It’s been a missing piece of the Cards home scenario for years.
3) Peyton Siva’s dad was in the house again last night. Has he moved to town?
4) As much as I love tournament time, there’s always a certain sadness exiting the gym after the final home game of the year.
Did I mention that Kyle Kuric is a great college basketball player?
– Seedy K