Thus it is time to pose a legitimate query.
What has happened that caused the hoops deity Naismithius to be so pissed off?
Is it too many parachuting t-shirts Is it replaying “Sweet Caroline” every game for some inexplicable reason? Is it retribution for so many long time season ticket holders getting hosed by the athletic department upon the move to Yum!? Has Karen Sypher rubbed the god’s leg and whispered sweet nothings in his ear? Is it the presence of Joey and his microphone? Has the god become friends with Dana Kirk? Is it pay back for getting rid of the righteous dunking Cardinal logo?
Whatever the reasons, the situation has moved beyond mere happenstance. There must be an explanation for so many injuries over these last few seasons. It is not simply bad karma, rotten luck or accidents will happen.
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When rehashing the game with my pal, Dr. Professor, he, usually always mired in negativitude, felt victory was never in doubt. (Apparently, he wasn’t alone. With the Cards wobbling, fans still started leaving in droves at the final media timeout with 3:58 to play.)
I can’t say I felt the same.
At the 1:03 mark, the Cards were ahead 73-66, but, frankly, that lead didn’t seem secure to me. Peyton Siva had just done his very best Edgar Sosa impression. With an 11 point advantage, U of L had the ball. Siva wisely passed up an open trey, realizing that running the clock was more prudent. Then he made an idiotic drive to the hoop, which netted nothing. LBS immediately scored 4 quick points to stay alive.
When Jared Swopshire missed a challenged lay up, it was Chris Smith who saved the day. He stole the ball on the ensuing possession, and converted two free throws to push the lead to an insurmountable 9 points with :46 on the clock. Siva did hold steady at the end, canning 4 of 4 charity tosses for the final margin.
I just get a queasy stomach when realizing my point guard commits more turnovers — six — than the rest of his teammates combined (5).
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Louisville did stay the course. Like the hard fought W over Ohio, this was a good win. Though we shouldn’t forget LBS might have beaten Pitt, but was felled by Montana on Saturday.
The word that comes to mind to describe the W — especially when considering the second half performance — is methodical.
Plagued with a depleted roster, and serious foul trouble, U of L persevered.
The visitors cut the lead to 5, but never could get closer, though it seemed as if it would happen on several trips down the court. U of L needs a new latch on the back door. The 49ers entered it all night. (I’m not pleased the Cards were outboarded by 5, but, hey . . . that’s not how the winner is determined in the end.)
What the Cardinals did do well was steal the ball 14 times, and force 21 turnovers.
What the Cardinals did do well was to hit 20 of 26 free throws, including 14 of 17 in the 2d half. Chane Behanan, leading scorer Chris Smith and Peyton Siva hit all 8 in the final 1:43. I like that a lot.
What the Cardinals did do well was make 7 of 17 from beyond the arc.
Other things that pleased me (though I realize that pleasing me is not the team’s main focus). Gorgui Dieng blocking a shot and simply going about his business afterward without woofing. Jared Swopshire’s nifty left handed half hook for a deuce. The quick passing sequence with 12:56 to play: Russ Smith to Chris Smith to Chane Behanan. Slam.
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I still haven’t figured out U of L’s defense. And, as long as the opponents don’t either, I’ll be comfortable in my lack of understanding.
I miss Mike Marra.
I can’t believe, at this juncture, that this team is the sixth best in the nation.
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Scheduling ambitiously, the 49ers still face Xavier, Kansas and the Tar Heels before commencing Big West play. Their “big” W over Pitt notwithstanding, if Long Beach State loses all these games, it won’t be such a glossy resume for the NCAA selection committee, should the school not be the automatic qualifier from the Big West.
I was reminded last night of the year when LBS was my stealth NCAA tourney team to win my bracket contest. Seth Greenberg was the coach. I’d seen them beat down some foe in their league tourney and was impressed. Had them going to the Elite 8. They lost in the opening round.
– Seedy K