Louisville Card File: Kentucky

A couple of important notes before I hit the details.

I understand that Gorgui Dieng’s parents are not familiar with our ways in the Commonwealth. They don’t even speak English. Plus it’s hard to even comprehend the culture shock they must have felt in yesterday’s Yum! Center environment.

Strangers in a strange land, they were.

That said, somebody in the Cardinal family needs to get them the memo. They looked resplendent in their native garb. But . . . Ms. Dieng, no blue on UK game day. Your headdress was beautiful, but not when the Cats are the foe. It’s an imperative.

I also feel the need to apologize to fellow Cardinal fans for my own behavior. I ate blueberries on my cereal yesterday morning. After the last bite, I realized the gravity of my mistake. Blueberries. What was I thinking? I considered a purge, but realized that would have been too obsessive even for me.

It won’t happen again.

Now the breakdown.

* * * * *

My favorite sequences of the game. Meaning the ones I consider critical to U of L’s W.

1) At 14;45, Russ Smith stole the ball, scored a layup, and Louisville’s 8 point halftime lead ballooned to 17.

At 5:32, UK, showing, as The Baron would have said, “intestinal fortitude,” cut their deficit to to a deuce on a Ryan Harrow jumper, 61-63.

Five seconds late, Russ canned two bit FTs. After an Archie Goodwin FT, Smith snared a defensive rebound, then followed his own miss with a bank shot for 67-62 lead. Huge trip down the court.

2) With 1:01 to play, and Louisville clinging to a 75-70 lead, Gorgui Dieng blocked Goodwin’s threeball attempt. A few moments later he played great defense on a Wildcat inbound play, forcing a Nerlens Noel turnover.

A few seconds later, Dieng fed Behanan for a dunk and an insurmountable 77-70 lead.

3) Kentucky made a mini run early to take a 18-12 lead halfway through the opening stanza on an Alex Poythress 3. A few moments later he rimmed another trey, which, if good, would have pushed the lead to nine.

Instead, Louisville countered, grabbing control with a 10-0 run.

* * * * *

After watching the replay this morning — Ron Jaworski’s not the only one who spends time, watching tapes — I’m not nearly as discouraged by Louisville’s second half performance, blowing 15 points of a 17 point lead, as I was when walking out of the Yum! last night.

Yes, there were some defensive lapses, but Kentucky, though young, is indeed talented, and the Wildcats kept coming.

Louisville never relinquished the lead. Nor, after the 5:32 mark, did UK have possession of the ball with the possibility to take the lead. The Cardinals steadied and kept them at bay.

* * * * *

I loved the play of the Killer Bs.

Wayne Blackshear took an ill advised triple early in a possession at the 1:30 mark. But he hustled down court and grabbed a key rebound. A sequence later, he missed two FTs, which could have been crucial. Yet hustled down court, played good D and snared another defensive board.

He grabbed 7 boards for the game to go with his 5 points. I was most impressed by his defensive effort throughout his 31 minute stint.

Chane Behanan was simply dominating. 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a blocked shot. His steal and slam with :19 to play sealed the deal.

* * * * *

At a critical juncture yesterday, I kept hearing Bobby Knight’s observation ringing in my ears. Commenting during the Western game on Peyton Siva’s propensity to reach in and commit silly fouls, the former Texas Tech coach said, “In some game that’s going to be tighter than this, it’s gonna be a problem.”

Not long after Kentucky started its comeback yesterday, kickstarted by two Kyle Wiltjer treys, Siva committed Foul #2 at 11:23, Foul #3 at 10:31 and Foul #4 at 10:11. Three immature and potentially fatal fouls in 72 seconds.

Indeed, he scored 19, and played great D most all of the game. But he simply must show more good sense, and stop reaching in.

* * * * *

Cardinal fans have often questioned the reason for Ralph Willard’s stint as a U of L assistant.

Fugettaboutit.

Two words. Russ Smith.

The Rick trusted Willard’s championing of the kid, thank you very much.

Without RS, where would U of L be now, etc, etc?

Yesterday’s 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, while marvelous numbers, belie the guard’s most important contribution to this team.

He is the catalyst. Like Cardinal great Milt Wagner before him, nothing bothers him. No adversity will temper his resolve.

* * * * *

Those Cardinals I haven’t mentioned much if at all also contributed in various ways. This was a big victory.

Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell gave no quarter underneath. Louisville won the battle of the paint, 44-28.

Kevin Ware and Luke Hancock were stalwarts in reserve.

* * * * *

The yin and yang for Kentucky.

Ryan Harrow was hardly shaken by U of L’s relentless pressure. Three assists. Three steals. And ZERO TURNOVERS. He tallied 17. Archie Goodwin morphed more relentless as the game wore on. He hit three treys in the final 2:01, and totaled 22 points.

Yes, Kyle Wiltjer can shoot. 4/7 from beyond the arc.

Alex Poythress seemed totally intimated by the intensity of the action. Cal played him only 15 minutes.

Willie Cauley-Stein missed 6 big FTs at key junctures. Ofer 6. Huge.

* * * * *

When, early in the second half,  Calipari was teed up — intentionally on his part for sure — former Fairdale coach Pinky Gardner turned to me, “Watch now, Kentucky’s going to get all the calls.”

Sure enough.

Truth is the officials did a fine job in an intense game.

* * * * *

The Press Room was jammed to the gills before the game, and not only with media from around the state, covering the Cats.

Lots of national scribes who cover college hoops were present. You know it’s a big game when The Toupee is in the House. You can find “Hoops” Weiss’s account of the tilt here.

There was significantly less blue in the crowd than two years ago. Though still too many UK fans in the first five rows around the court. Before the game, I was chatting with former AD Bill Olsen about that phenomenon. After the first rivalry game in Freedom Hall in the 80s, Olsen recalled, “I got a call from Sonny Bass (Cardinal letterman from the early 40s and a huge fan), complaining that so many UK fans got tickets. I told him there was little we could do, but if he could tell me who gave up their seats to UK fans, I’d take away their tickets.”

Thought the Cardinal Christmas Carol bit they played on the video walls was cute.

The Rick, who coached a really good game by the by, went double breasted. But, giving in to the stress and pressure of the situation, lost the tie at halftime.

In a change of routine, the teams were not on the court during the national anthem.

* * * * *

Yes, that’s a photo of an oil painting of a Louisville Cardinal that graces the lede of this blog.

The original hangs in my home. And was painted by my very talented artist bride, Joanie Lerman a/k/a The Film Babe, who gave it to me years ago, early in our relationship.Why I haven’t used it before is beyond me. You’ll see it again.

– Seedy K

4 Comments

  1. fred
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    From my perch in the mezzanine, I can say there were many more blue shirts in the lower arena than in the upper seats. Because of the way tickets were allocated in the move to YUM with corporations able to grab 10-20 seats, it’s no wonder. There are more “extra” seats available downstairs. Also, I think the lower level donors are more likely to sell their tickets to the highest bidder. Kentucky fans don’t do that. It’s just a fact.

  2. Jason Puckett
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I also thought Mrs. Dieng’s headdress was blue at first, but in other pictures I’ve seen it actually looks more purple than blue.

  3. Seedy K
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I was standing right next to her before tipoff. Blue. I was going to tell her to take it off, but thought my admonition might be lost in translation. :-)

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    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:27 am | Permalink

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