How is Spida Mitchell so Cardinal Red?

 By Steve Springer
 
I grew up my entire minor life in Louisville.  My mother took me with her to a teachers’ in-service at Male one summer when I was a wee little Card. Probably early eighties. Alumnus Griff was shooting by himself in the gym. She took me in and Dr. Dunkenstein held me up to slam it through.  I don’t remember it but my parents are proud to remind me of it. 
 
Donovan Mitchell having some fun at John Gillian’s expense during game against Syracuse last season (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

In the following years I was blessed to have been provided the opportunity to go to game after game at Freedom Hall and see his mug here and there and always reminded of his place in Cardinal Lore, in record books, posters, memorabilia adorning my parents’ home.  He was a fixture of my childhood. 

 
We ran into him again on the Toonerville Trolley by the Galt House a few years later and I of course recognized him and got his autograph.  He seemed pleasantly humbled that a young kid would recognize him after being gone from UofL for so long, and so did my mother.
 
I’ve lived the UofL life. I’ve known him since I was able to have conscious memories. I went to all the home games as a kid. I skipped school when I was old enough to drive to sneak to the daytime C-USA tourney games. I went to UofL out of high school. I know the whole story. Griff is fully appreciated by me, as he is by you probably if you took the time to click on this article. 
 
This begs the question, how is Donovan Mitchell so Cardinal?  How is he so Louisville?  How is his blood so red that Don dons a #35 jersey in the process of becoming the first Cardinal to win a Slam Dunk contest?  We’ve had four Cards try to bring home the trophy, with Billy T, Greg Minor, and of course Griff, coming up short.
 
Spida exudes L1C4 as much as I could. If I was six inches taller I would be in the NBA doing what he does. At least in my imagination.  I would be ripping off my team jersey and dunking in my throwback Mike Abrams #44 Dunking Cardinal jersey.  But where does he get it?
 
He’s not from The Ville. He is from friggin’ New Hampshire, grew up in New York, and went to school in Connecticut.  Not a recipe that had him popping cups at Redbird games.  He didn’t count down the days until Derby Festival. He didn’t party at Kentucky Kingdom Friday Night Dance parties with N2Deep and cruise Preston Highway.
 
He spent two years as a Cardinal, yet he’s tweeting pictures of custom red Adidas kicks that he’ll wear in honor of a championship team he didn’t play a second for.  He’s being honored by Griff himself to receive his trophy in Salt Lake tonight.
 
As cliche as it is, Donovan embodies everything that is L1C4, us against the world right now.  His character, demeanor, and sentimentality for everything that is so sacred to Cardnation is so refreshing right now that it is such a breath of fresh air in all of the moral repugness that is the NCAA and its shenanigans against UofL the last couple of years. 
 
The shoes Donovan is wearing tonight have a “D” that looks like a wing. Some or most would say a that is a Cardinal wing. I think it just might be an angel wing…
 
 
 

“Biggest Fan of the Big East”

 

Louisville pleased to welcome UK to FBI recruiting scandal

Well, now.  Maybe there’s a chance that the problems that have long permeated the NCAA and college basketball will be finally be addressed. The recruiting process has been exposed as ripe with corruption, exposing many of the top programs in the sport.

The cheating has obviously become so ingrained in the system that administrators, coaches, players and fans long ago turned a blind eye to the system, with concerned observers giving up hope that anything would ever be done.

The corruption has gone on for so long and involved so many members that it has become an integral part of collegiate governance.

That all changed last October when the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced numerous arrests, naming names of some players and assistant coaches in connection with illegal payments and fraud. Caught in the process was University of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, who would, in fact, be fired two later, along with highly popular Athletic Director Tom Jurich.

UofL fans and supporters were understandably disappointed and angered that two of the most successful people in the school’s history would be singled out for retribution. Especially when it was widely suspected, if not common knowledge, that the University of Kentucky had turned questionable recruiting into a fine art. 

One can forgive Louisville fans, whose program was unfairly made the face of the FBI scandal for five months, for a collective sense of exuberance when it became apparent they had lots of company. One caller to a local sports talk said UofL fans were hanging Christmas tree lights all over the downtown, joyful that UK had finally been named in the scandal.

This after the news broke Friday that many other programs and players were involved in illegal financial schemes with professional sports agents, including UK, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Villanova, among others.

Many programs already implicated in the cheating. But to date, the FBI has released the records of only one professional agent. Much more to come with an estimated 50 sports agents with links to professional basketball and college recruiting. If the FBI is truly serious about bringing about change, the investigation has only just begun. The hypocrisy of the NCAA with its ignorance of the shady world of college recruiting and its uneven approach to administering punishment to member schools is inexcusable.

The real fear for any basketball program, especially if one has systematically cheated for decades, may be that the new or reformed organization truly wants to make an example of one of the former blue bloods of college basketball. A poster child for bad behavior, if you will.

A continuing avalanche of revelations may finally force the organization to address the problems in an comprehensive and honest approach. One would not be surprised, however, if the organization is beyond repair and will need to be replaced by a new one that bringing a whole new approach to administering college athletics, including compensation for athletes.

A few schools may decide to withhold some athletes who have already been named in allegations, if only to protect their programs against the possibility of vacated wins in the future. Others, having seen what happened at UofL and Notre Dame in cooperating with the NCAA, will fight the organization at every step of the way.

One fears that no punishment will ever be meted out against some of the top programs involved in illegal recruiting. Because there are so many of them, and they do constitute the organization, the NCAA is more like to go into a self-preservation mode, creating changes and bending existing rules to protect the organization and the members involved.

The corruption has gone on for so long and involved so many members that it has become an integral part of collegiate governance. The individuals charged with bringing about change in the NCAA will be, in too many instances, the same people who perpetuated the organization’s problems and are oblivious and resistant to the need for real change.

 

Louisville women can add a conference banner Sunday

Full speed ahead for Sam Fuehring and her braided ponytail. Sam would not get a field goal but was four of four from the free throw line. In top photo Jazmine Jones gets loose for two of her 10 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).
Kylee Shook added four points and blocked two shots in 14 minutes (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

One banner came down in the KFC Yum! Center a couple of days ago. But if all goes well, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team will have earned the right to hang another.

The UofL women are in a position to earn their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference banner come Sunday afternoon against visiting Pittsburgh. The Cardinals have not won a regular season conference championship since winning a Conference USA title.

Technically Louisville is currently tied with Notre Dame with identical 14-1 conference records. They likely wind up sharing the title, but the Cardinals will go down as the better team, defeating the Irish 33 points in January. UofL would also get the tiebreaker and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Jeff Walz’ team overcame Virginia 51-39 before a crowd of 8,434 on Thursday night, Asia Durr with 13 points and seven rebounds leading the way. Louisville led most of the way against a Virginia team that played incredible defense but had a terrible shooting night. UofL’s offense wasn’t much better, hitting on 38% of its shots to only 26.5% for the Cavaliers.

Myisha Hines-Allen, in her next to last home game at UofL, added seven points, as did Arica Carter. Jazmine Jones keeps getting better, adding 10 points and two assists.

Look for a banner day on Sunday.

Louisville baseball is back, lighting up a dark day

Josh Stowers is greeted by his teammates after scoring the third of UofL four runs in the second inning (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A dark day in the University of Louisville sports history, but a beautiful day for baseball. Coach Dan McDonnell ushering in the 2018 home season, reason to cheer again, reminding fans only one sport was affected by NCAA bungling.

Brian Hoeing gets off to a rocky start but hangs on for first win (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A crowd of 2,535 showing up for game against Eastern Kentucky, the first game under the paid admissions structure. Temperatures reaching the 80’s, 300 more people on hand than attended last year’s opener free in equally nice weather.

Right hander Brian Hoeing, getting the mid-week start, notching his first win of the season despite giving up four bases on balls and three hits in four-and-a-half innings.  Sam Bordner would shut down the Colonels one-two-three on strikeouts in the ninth to get his second save of the season.

The firepower was provided by junior Devin Mann with two singles for the game, one of them driving in the two deciding runs in the second inning. Sophomore Ethan Stringer doubled to open the inning and scored on a single by classmate Drew Campbell.

The long wait is over, and UofL is 4-0 after the first week of the season. More of an attraction than a distraction for UofL fans, lots of new faces in the lineup and much to look forward to if the past is any predictor of the future. 

NCAA finally acts, UofL can resume journey again

The worst possible outcome.

The ultimate indignity of the result of Andre McGee’s actions has become a reality with the NCAA’s decision that the University of Louisville must take down the 2013 NCAA banner. 

Any official references to UofL’s third national championship must be removed from the playing facilities and future media guides. And the athletic department is subject to a $600,000 fine. 

The irritating thing about running afoul of NCAA restrictions is the time involved in the investigative process. The revelation about McGee was made in October 2015, making UofL subject to all kinds of ridicule and angst for almost two-and-a-half years. Agonizing and unnecessary.

Small wonder that many Louisville fans feel a sense of relief now that the NCAA has announced the punishment. The legal process is flawed, the punishment is not justified, and the NCAA has once again suffered a self-inflicted blow to its credibility.

The problems within the NCAA that are reflective of what have been happening with higher education over several decades. So much competition, jealousy, arrogance in a class system of universities. They preach publicly about “fairness and equality” while crushing institutions and athletic programs for the actions of one or two individuals.

It never mattered that the University of Louisville tried to do the right thing, self-imposing an NCAA tournament ban, reducing its recruiting budget and the number of scholarships. This was a chance for a group of officials from other schools within the NCAA to throw the book at another school. Especially gratifying to them because UofL’s growth had been so phenomenal over the past decade.

UofL will recover and move on from this, much stronger from all of the trials and indignities. Louisville alumni and fans have been through a lot but the vast majority of them will remain supportive and loyal. 

The athletic department has hit bottom, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. It begins here. Now.