Louisville Card File: Memphis State

I’ve said it before, and I repeat.

Memphis State is Louisville’s biggest rival. Yes, bigger than any team in the Big East, bigger than UK, because there have been many more heated, meaningful games against the Tigers through the decades than against the Cats or anybody else.

Former Tiger star and coach, Larry Finch, put it all in perspective once post-game, when the series was renewed after Memphis State left the Metro for the Great Midwest. He’d just lost to a Beau Zach Smith-led Card squad, and was obviously down because of the L. Yet, he was adamant, (to paraphrase) “This is a great rivalry. These schools need to play every season.”

Let it be said. Let it be done.

* * * * *

There are several stats that jump from the box score.

Russ Smith: 7 steals. And, yes, 24 points. 10/12 from the free throw line.

Gorgui Dieng: 14 points. 14 rebounds. 6 blocked shots. 2 steals. 1 turnover. Only 3 fouls.

Chane Behanan: 8/8 at the line. 8 boards.

Rakeem Buckles: 12 points. (4/4 FGs) 6 rebounds. NO turnovers.

U of L: 32/40 (80%) from the charity stripe.

* * * * *

My first note of the game: “Why is Pitino messing with the starting lineup?”

Well, because, he knows a lot more about basketball than I do. And more than most other people too. Inserting Russ Smith and Rakeem Buckles for Behanan and Chris Smith was obviously an astute maneuver. Russ Smith tallied 13 of Louisville’s first 17 points.

* * * * *

The key play of the game came with 4:06 to play.

Before which, U of L’s tidy halftime lead had disappeared. The teams battled back and forth for a bit. The game was knotted at 70. Then the Cards ran off 8 straight on Behanan FTs, a Buckles layup, a Dieng jumper and a Kuric slam. Memphis hit a couple FTs.

Then it came. Kuric missed a jumper. Rakeem snared a monster, reach for the sky, one-handed offensive board. He was fouled. He made the +1. U of L 80, Memphis State 72. Ball game.

* * * * *

Random on-the-court musings.

What did Peyton Siva do to piss The Rick off in the first half? The point guard caught some pine time splinters for most of the stanza.

Kuric didn’t touch the ball a lot in scoring position, but still tallied 11, most of which were at emotional moments of the tilt.

Kevin Ware looked far more comfortable than expected, playing in such a big game with only two days of practice.

It’s hard to complain about a 10-0 start to the season. Especially since this Cardinal team with its new and returning additions has a serious upside. But that part of me that always worries wonders if that record isn’t a false positive. Nine of the games have been in the Yum! As the song goes, “Time will tell, just who has fell and who’s been left behind?”

* * * * *

Random off-the-court musings.

Missing from the game was one of college basketball’s most endearing traditions. Parachuting t-shirts. ????

Also missing was “Surfin’ Bird,” which, if played every game, would become the crowd’s favorite moment. My pleas to the powers that be at U of L and its marketing team have obviously fallen on deaf ears.

U of L’s 10 time and defending national champion LadyBirds still trail the Memphis State dance team, which has 12 national championships.

Watched the game from the luxe vantage point of my pal Harry Dennery’s mid court suite. Our frat brother, Bruce Kramer, a lawyer in Memphis, and a big Tigers fan, was in town. Another frat brother, Steve Sweitzer, joined us. Another brother, Charlie Bensinger, and his better half, chose to sit in their regular seats, but met us later for dinner.

It was the first time I’ve viewed a game from a suite. It’s a sweet way to go. I could get used to it.

* * * * *

Finally a mention of The Bag Man.

He’s part of the rivalry’s mythos. Lou Strasberg’s been showing up at U of L/ Memphis State games — and surely all of Memphis State’s games — for as long as I and my gang can remember. Walking with a lilt, always carrying a heavy briefcase, looking like a Damon Runyon character, the guy’s been a mysterious presence.

What’s he carrying in that leather case? What’s his role with the Tigers? Something nefarious for sure?

The Bag Man returneth. The Bag Man exits with an L.

So, as the sun set over the Ohio, and a victorious peace settled over Hoopsylvania, we bid a fond adieu to The Bag Man and the mysteries he carries in that leather satchel.

– Seedy K


  1. cbcard
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    What PS did to piss off RP was get two fouls in less than 6 minutes. The Rickster took no chance of Siva picking up #3 in the first half, especially with the run and gun and penetrating Memphis State guards.

  2. c d kaplan
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Of course, foul trouble early for Siva. So much for my astute observational skills.

    Another stat of some significance that I forgot to mention is the number of fouls. 54, almost perfectly evenly divided.

  3. fred
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    The game took 2 hours, 35 minutes because the zebras called every conceivable foul they could. Overkill orders from above in lieu of the Cincy-Xavier officiating nightmare?

  4. Justin
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Surfin’ Bird is one of the worst songs ever recorded.

  5. bob
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I told the Memphis fans near me that I picked “Jail House Rock” for the song to be played in honor of Dana.

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