Nothing raises the ire of the faithful like having a dozen or so opportunities to seal a win against a league foe on the road, then failing to do so. Anger from those who feel that any and all criticism of players and coach is heresy. Anger from those whose loyalty and devotion feel unjustified given the performance by players and coach.
I’ve already weighed in once today. You can read it here if you haven’t already.
I feel compelled to opine a bit more about the State of the Cardinaldom. To address some criticism. To pass along some observations anonymously by some of the many who have emailed me. To purge myself of the malaise that still lingers this late on a gray Sunday afternoon.
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I ended my earlier blog with this: Season????
Obviously I don’t think the season is kaput. Cardinal fans have only to look at last year to know “anything can happen.” One disgusted fan said he thinks the Cards will be a one and done #5 or #6 seed.
That’s a bit harsh, but I am positive it’s gut check time.
Last year, Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric, flawed as their games were, played with an edge that’s missing this season . . . so far. I’ve also made conjecture previously that this year’s edition might feel they have the ability to simply turn it on in the post-season, a delusion born of last year’s finish. An internal fortitude adjustment is called for.
What I did mean is it’s not too late to add a motion offense. It’s not to late for The Rick in his famous individual instructions to teach his ball handlers judicious decision making. Then do it again. And again. And again until it’s rote. It’s not too late to change the team’s attitude from fear to one of joy at the prospect of success.
Otherwise, the season is destined to end in disappointment.
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I have been severely critical of Pitino’s coaching last night. And his coaching all season.
I don’t take back a word. The guy’s getting paid an obscene amount of money. Not an insignificant portion of which — to me anyway — is mine.
I’m on record as believing his negativitude really doesn’t work as well as he believes these days. Players don’t like to be criticized publicly. He does it all the time, and has done so during his entire career.
I watch, say, Tom Izzo, harshly get on a player for a mistake after he takes them from the game. More often than not, the player is standing next to coach with his arm around Izzo’s shoulder.
I watch, say, Mike Brey, and his charges, laughing and having fun last night as the number of overtimes mounted like Nemo’s snow totals. While Louisville’s players tightened.
I’ve heard and read several national commentators criticize Pitino’s game management. I know I am not alone.
One more thing, Rick. Take losses like a man. You have a way of disappearing in such situations, failing to meet your obligation to meet the press. I’m advised you were in absentia last night. Tsk, tsk.
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Several fans have wondered about Wayne Blackshear’s state of mind?
Of course, he made a horrid decision at the end of regulation, trying to take a charge on layup while three ahead with seconds to play. But he still deserves way more PT than he’s been getting recently.
People are wondering whether he might transfer? I haven’t a clue how much or whether he’s pissed at all?
I do know I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked if the situation doesn’t change.
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Because of prep schooler Terry Rozier’s academic woes, this year’s Cardinals only have two ball handlers.
Neither lately has displayed any real talent as a decision maker.
I know Russ Smith is a good kid. I know he tries. I also know his game hasn’t been the same since that Sports Illustrated spread.
His play last night during crunch time — there is no way to sugarcoat it — was awful. (Except for his FT shooting.)
The worst: At the end of the 3d OT , or was it the 4th, with the Cardinals up a deuce and the shot clock off, Smith had the ball on a 3-on-one breakaway. He should have kept his dribble, circled it around outside and wait to be fouled. Or, drop the ball off to Chane Behanan for a dunk.
Instead he went for the layup. The ball was knocked off his knee out of bounds, giving Notre Dame the ball with another chance. Which, as was their wont, they took advantage of.