Louisville Card File: Kentucky

Before I move on to anything else, credit where it’s due.

Best team won. The Kentucky Wildcats are a very good basketball team, a well coached basketball team. I expect them to beat Kansas Monday night. Though nothing’s a given. The Jayhawks have been coming back from the dead the last couple of weeks, even more than the Cards.

I’m glad it was a cleanly played, cleanly called game. There are no gnarly moments to rehash, questionable calls to mope over. The game played out eerily like the first one in December. Cats got ahead early on talent and focus. Cards caught up in second half on grit and determination — in December, it was at 40, last night at 49 — then UK jetted ahead to secure the W.

Play it 100 times, and it’s going to pan out the same 95% of the time.

* * * * *

Score the ball.

We now know what U of L might have done, in addition to a lot of correct things it did do, to perhaps, maybe, arguably pull off the improbable.

Here’s a most extraordinary number. Louisville launched 20 more field goal attempts than the Cats, 69 vs. 49. That’s almost a third more shots.

The coulda woulda shoulda: If U of L hits the same percentage last night as they have previously in the tournament — 42.3% — they score 4 more field goals. You don’t need an abacus to understand what 8 or 9 more points would have done to the final tally in a 61-69 loss.

(It looked like a box score reversed from the classic Denny Crum years. The Cards in those halcyon days would be consistently more efficient on offense than its foes, scoring more points on considerably less attempts.)

* * * * *

Stop the ball.

One guy’s opinion is that, for the most part, Louisville’s incessant press worked. Kentucky was definitely fatigued at the end. (To be fair, so too, the Cardinals. On that last possession, when the game was over but you still wanted one more Cardinal tally, the Cards were mindless zombies from over exertion.)

Yet, any number of times, when the Cats finally got it in front court and the Cardinals weren’t trailing the play, UK was able to get it all the way to the hoop without having to stop and set. Stopping the ball at the top of the key would have been — cue your inner Martha Stewart — a good thing.

* * * * *

I’m not sure why I’m going over all these numbers?

Perhaps because they show just how tightly the game was contested.

Louisville outrebounded Kentucky, 40-33.

19-6 on the offensive boards. Nine of those offensive boards came during a stunning sequence a third of the way through the second half, when U of L cut UK’s lead from 36-46 to 42-46. Kuric, Dieng, Russ Smith and the team together grabbed boards on one possession after missed Card shots. Which resulted, sigh, in zero U of L points.

The next trip, Russ scored after Siva snared an offensive board.

The next time down, Gorgui Dieng fought for three offensive boards, finally scoring on the last.

Wayne Blackshear’s heady slam follow came on the next trip to cut the deficit to four.

Points in the paint were 38-40. Points off turnovers, 14-15.

Second chance points went 13-10 in the Cards favor. Fast break points, 6-4.

Bench points were even at 18.

* * * * *

Kentucky won. Louisville lost. It was a fair measure of these two teams.

Kentucky will likely win the national crown. Louisville goes home with a 30 W season. Ponder that, Card fans, thirty wins and a spot in the Final Four.

* * * * *

I’m way tired of all the Calipari vs. Pitino crap. They are both overpaid prima donnas. Their personal enmity is but a footnote in the storied history of this rivalry.

That said, they both are excellent basketball coaches, who have done great jobs under differing circumstances this season.

And, despite their rivalry, were both gracious last night post game, one in victory, the other in defeat. (And neither gave in to the bile spewing from the mouth of insufferable Jim Rome, during a joint pre-game interview.)

* * * * *

Finally a quick look ahead.

Wayne Blackshear, on the big stage, finally gave us a hint of his considerable promise last night. He will be a way significant upgrade at the #3 spot next season. If every one else returns — not a given, there are rumors that Siva might opt to play pro somewhere to help support his family — and Marra and Van Treese are healthy, next season could be more fun that this one.

During one of his post game rants, college hoops Pontificate Laureate Dickie V spouted, “Speaking of Louisville, hey, they may be pre-season numero uno next season. Dieng, Siva, Behanan . . .”

– Seedy K


  1. cbcard
    Posted April 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Never, ever quote Dickie V. He gets way too much press as it is.

  2. Alan Zukof
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    “Cleanly called,” CD? Were we watching the same game? On one U of L possession, I counted five uncalled UK fouls — then three Cardinal fouls on the Cats’ ensuing possession. I think the zebras took “laissez les bonnes temps rouler” a bit far — I don’t know how they decided what to call and what to let slide.

  3. Birdie King
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Driving home from my game-watch party I turned to WHAS and listened to fruity Matt Jone call-in show (790 was already off) and were the Bluenecks talking about a great win and beating Kanas/Ohio State? No, one after another they were bitching about the refs. It never ends with them !

  4. Seedy K
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    What I meant by “cleanly called” was that there was no single call that affected the outcome. I have long since learned that fans almost always feel their team is the one getting the raw deal from the zebras. In the same game.

  5. gnash001
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Seeing the missed dunks in the first half was kinda reminincent of the 1983 final four game against Houston.

  6. cbcard
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    we need dunking lessons. Missing three in one game is beyond belief.

    And to think the mid-range jumper is a lost art because everyone is practicing their dunks!

  7. Alan Zukof
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I see your point, CD — I guess you can call a game “cleanly called” if the teams are getting equally screwed.

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