5 OT L to ND: Further Louisville Cardinal Considerations

The natives are restless.

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.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *
Chane Behanan played really well. 30 points. 15 boards.
Gorgui Dieng, hampered by fouls, played pretty well. 17 points. 13 rebounds. He was not dominant at all in the paint.
Russ Smith was 10/13 at the line. He grabbed 10 rebounds. Which good numbers were more than undermined by his 4/19 shooting from the field, and his truly shocking lack of decision making prowess when it mattered.
* * * * *
Every fan has his/her own way of expressing loyalty.
I am getting more than tired of those who point fingers at realists. Weary of those who are critical of any fan who dares question aspects of their team’s play.
I will match my love of the Cardinals with anybody. They’ve been the love of my life since I attended my first game at the Armory in 1952. Which is not to say my opinion of their play is any more valid than anybody else’s. But it is to say that calling me out for lack of faith is absurd.
* * * * *
The computers, which can’t quantify heart, still are enamored with the Cardinals.
They remain #3 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, behind Florida and Indiana in that order.
They stand in 5th place in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings behind the Gators, Hoosiers, Michigan and Duke.
– Seedy K

3 Comments

  1. Jason Puckett
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    There was plenty that went wrong Saturday night, but I can’t fault Wayne for trying to take a charge any more than UGA’s Chris Conley for catching the last pass in the SECCG.

    Obviously “time and situation” would dictate WB letting the guy go on by, it’s hard for instinct not to take over, as in Conley’s case (a wide receiver intentionally dropping a catchable pass).

    Also, considering that 100-of-100 times Wayne would be on the treadmill/bench if he failed to rotate and stop a ball-handler driving to the hoop, I can see why he did it, even though it was definitely a case where he should have gone against his training.

  2. Concerned Cardizen
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I was just thinking that the consideration of Russ Smith for POY is the worst thing that could have happened to him. Instead of humbly learning how he could get better this year he has it in mind that his role is to be the hero and “take over” a game for his teammates. He should not be the first and last scoring option. I love the kid but he has to relearn his role.

    I think these kids have heart… they just don’t know what to do with it. They play pretty well until the end of games. They have not been blown out the way all the other #1s have been this year.

    Cards can’t win with Siva on the bench. Ever.

  3. cbcard
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    To C. C. re: “can’t win with Siva on the bench. Ever.”

    I would say most of the time. Ever is incorrect. Proof would be the Florida game in last year’s NCAA regional final.

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