Louisville Card File: Florida

It is at such joyous moments as this that fans are able to parse their peculiar idiosyncrasies, yet abide those of fellow acolytes.

In his New York Times game story, covering Louisville’s come from behind W yesterday over Florida to advance to the Final Four, Greg Bishop writes about Peyton Siva’s ubiquitous dad. Seems that Siva Sr. during games has been wearing the same black Cardinal uni jersey since the beginning of the post-season run in the Big East tournament.

Father was quick to point out to the scribe, “Yes, I washed it.”

I too have been wearing the same garb for each of U of L’s 8 straight victories, a red, retro dunking Cardinal logo tee.

Unlike Mr. Siva, I neither tempt nor taunt the Basketball Gods. My t-shirt, redolent victory and the scent of success, hasn’t been near the Bosch. Now is not the time for detergent. After each game, I have folded it, put it in the same spot on the couch in the bedroom, the donned it again before tip of the next game.

Which, at this late point in an increasingly wünderbar Louisville Cardinal season, there will be at the very least one more.

Bruce, my man, our Cardinals have given us one more weekend, the last of the season.

* * * * *

I feel compelled to mention the coaching job Rick Pitino has done to guide the Cards to this improbable spot, the first school to qualify for the Final Four, waiting at the door to great the other three guests.

Despite the successful and obviously necessary switch to man D in the second half, I remain somewhat skeptical of The Rick’s in game coaching. After watching the tape of the second half this morning, it seemed like a tweak to keep Gorgui Dieng under the hoop on switches should have come much sooner. Way too many times, GD was on the perimeter, after a switch, guarding one of Florida’s quicks. (He was inside however for a monster block in the final minutes.)

But that criticism aside, that Pitino has nurtured this underwhelming squad to such post-season success is a testament to his coaching prowess. (Has there ever been a Final Four participant that starts two non-scholarship walk ons?)

I’m not sure there is any other mentor in the land capable of turning a team around in such a situation quite so adroitly. After losing 4 of 6 to end the season, Pitino dug in and has gotten way more out of the Cards than anybody could possibly have hoped for or expected.

So, hats off to Rick Pitino.

This post-season, you have been gittin’ ‘er done.

* * * * *

Here’s a question to ponder.

If Mike Marra, Stephan Van Treese, Rakeem Buckles and Wayne Blackshear aren’t injured; and if Kevin Ware doesn’t prove he’s not quite ready for prime time, how much PT does Russ Smith get this season?

And, where would the Cardinals be now if not for the fearless, go for it play of Russ Smith?

Well, I can tell where they wouldn’t be, and that’s sitting in front of a TV this afternoon, watching to see if it’s rival UK or Baylor they will be playing Saturday night in New Orleans in a NCAA semi-final.

Russ gives it away. He committed four of the U of L’s 6 turnovers yesterday, two in the last minute.

Russ grabs it by the short and curlies. He cooly made the two FTs that pushed the lead to 3 with :16.7 to play.

The irrepressible spirit force was more than there at critical junctures at crunch time. Eleven seconds after Florida pushed its lead to 11 after that T on The Rick, Smith canned a silencing jumper. Florida scored its next trip down the court. Smith answered 8 seconds later, completing a +1.

Further along, after a 7 point barrage by MVP Chane Behanan, and with the Gators holding a 6 point lead, Russ Smith netted a trey, then a deuce, both within a minute to cut the lead to a single digit.

* * * * *

Speaking of Chane Behanan, let’s further consider what he did down the stretch to earn that MVP trophy.

He tallied 11 of U of L’s last 19 points, including 7 straight Louisville points to kick start the comeback, plus the bucket that put the Cards up for good at 69-68. With :53 on the clock, he made a lead-saving — and game-saving — block on a Bradley Beal attempt.

He finished with 17 points, 7 boards, 2 blocks and a steal.

* * * * *

Chris Smith tallied 7 critical second half points.

Kyle Kuric scored 8 of the Cards’ first 15 points.

Peyton Siva had 8 assists and only 1 turnover. Let me repeat. Peyton Siva dished out 8 assists and committed but one wafer thin turnover. Plus he scored on a critical follow tip early in the second half.

Did I mention his assist to turnover ratio in the Regional Final was 8 to 1?

Some team stats are worth noting.

Florida scored zero (0) fast break points.

Florida scored zero (0) points off turnovers. U of L scored 8.

Florida scored only 2 second chance points to U of L’s 6.

* * * * *

Which brings us to the real determining factors of this W, and of this stunning Louisville 8 game winning streak.

Defense. Determination.

Destiny?

I dunno. But it’s damn fun.

* * * * *

Celebrating last night’s W over Bennie Impellizzeri’s championship-quality pizza, my gang contemplated where last night’s win ranks among our all-time Cardinal favroites?

I’ve slotted it at #4, after the two national title wins and the Dream Game. If the improbable run should happen to continue, this team may jump further up the list.

* * * * *

Before you continue carping about the referees, remember this. Chris Smith should have been called for a rebound foul during that last Florida flurry. He wasn’t.

Finally, riddle me this?

Why is Karl Hess calling games at this juncture of the tournament?

– Seedy K

4 Comments

  1. Phil
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    “Chris Smith should have been called for a rebound foul during that last Florida flurry. He wasn’t.”
    Watching the final 17 seconds over and over on the highlights, I thought the same thing.
    Also, before we bury Hess, he did call the traveling call on Beal. I think the other ref was about to call a foul on Dieng.

  2. Seedy K
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    In interviews with Florida players in Gainesville paper, they have some comments about calls not made. I’m a firm believer that 99% of the time, the calls even out, bad and good. That said, Karl Hess, like “Quick Draw” Curtis Shaw before him, has rabbit ears.

  3. Mark Hanley
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    ….and Behanan got the crap knocked out of him on one of his last baskets…with a ref.standing there looking at it….not to mention the fore arm dribbeling technique that Donavan favors,and seems to go unnoticed by the zebras….hell,Russ got called for a foul while getting assaulted by that short,muscular kid from Fl………so any complaining about C.Smith’s late foul falls on deaf ears around this household….

  4. cbcard
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    A better question would be why is Hess officiating any where, any time?

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