Which is different than hating Bobby Knight for his duplicity, which I also do.
Knight is most always less prepared than the rest of the ESPN A Team. And, well, okay, such is my dislike for the fellow, who I acknowledge was a great basketball coach, that I simply can’t give him a break.
But, such was the nature of last night’s game, I decided to open my mind and pay attention. More than the flow of the game, Knight focuses on the specifics of technique at each end of the court. He uses the terms “ball fake” and “help defense” so much, I heard them in my sleep.
Given my attitude and acceptance, I found his insight more illuminating than usual during Louisville’s walkover of the Hilltoppers in Music City.
Plus, he made some statements that should have Cardinal fans giddy.
Specifically this. After making several positive comments throughout the contest about the depth of U of L’s talent and how certain players were going to be “huge assets,” he dropped this bombshell of an assessment of the Cardinals.
“I’m trying to sit here and figure out what Louisville doesn’t have?”
* * * * *
That’s what makes this season so scary.
For the first time since 1986, a national title is legitimately within reach. (I don’t want to hear about that TWill-led contingent that was Big East champ and top seed, before losing to Michigan State in Indy. That gang had psychological cracks.)
Ladies and gentlemen of the Cardinal Nation, the stakes have been (choose your metaphor): 1) raised; 2) kicked up a notch; 3) cranked to 11 or 4) all of the above.
What makes me even more nervous with anticipation is a statement made by my pal David as we walked out of the FIU game. This is a man for whom pessimism comes naturally. He has been know to utter early in a first quarter, or during an initial media timeout, that “this game is over.”
So, when he said, “I’m sure we’re going to win the national championship,” my sphincter tightened.
* * * * *
So, given my propensity to see the flaws, let me get last night’s out of the way, before moving on.
Peyton Siva fouled out. For sure his final two fouls, and possibly another, were silly freshman-like reach-ins.
Referring to that annoying propensity, Bobby Knight, after Siva was buzzed off the court: “In some game that’s going to be tighter than this, it’s gonna be a problem.”
Russ Smith played — the first half especially — like a fellow who just had a big spread written about him in Sports Illustrated. And that he’s been reading it every fifteen minutes since publication.
In the opening half, he dribbled into trouble repeatedly and threw up shots that were absurd even by his standards. He finished with 20 points, but most were garnered at garbage time, after Siva had fouled out, meaning The Rick had to keep him in the game.
One other quibble, and it’s a minor one, but one that could haunt U of L at an important juncture in a game come March. Montrezl Harrell needs to stop hanging on the rim after those monster dunks. I almost wish he’d have been teed up last night when it would have been without consequence.
* * * * *
Other than that, Silent L, tallied 13 on 5/5 shooting from the field, grabbed 6 boards, blocked 4 shots, had a steal and committed 0 turnovers.
I did not have to ask myself after the game, as I’ve done almost every time out recently, “Why didn’t Blackshear get more minutes?”
I did not ask myself that because Blackshear was on the court for 31 minutes, and is now as we always hoped he would become — cue the Vince Vaughn — Money.
17 points. 7/12 from the field. 3/6 from beyond the arc. 8 boards. Plus a steal and an assist.
Chane Behanan, Louisville’s other McD’s All American, scored 14 on 50% shooting from the field, while grabbing 7 rebounds.
Kevin Ware added 6 points to his always tough defense. Bobby Knight: “Kevin Ware is going to be a huge asset to this team.”
* * * * *
The Toppers have themselves a really good coach in Ray Harper.
Western hung tough last night without its two best players.
* * * * *
When flipping channels during a timeout, I noticed that there was a “Dunk of the Year” contest/ show on another of the World Wide Leader’s channels. An all dunk show.
Which reminds me of car ride I had with the Winston brothers, back in the 70s. Paul, then a student at Syracuse, was the younger brother of my pal Marc. Paul kept going on and on about how we should produce a TV show that was nothing but dunk highlights.
To which suggestion, I opined, “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Who on earth would watch a half an hour of dunks?”
Just another brilliant observation of mine.
* * * * *
Well, kids, the preseason is over.
The dangerous Cats are up next. Then conference play.
Lace ‘em up.
– Seedy K