Coaching Transitions & Instant Gratification

Difficult to ignore, all the consternation going on over in Lexington where two players have left the UK squad less than four weeks into the basketball season. More defections may be on the way. The team is off to a less-than-glorious start, and Cat fans are becoming increasingly irritated.

The topic is relevant here for a couple of reasons. First, because so many people in Louisville are watching the turmoil closely. Second and more important, it is another reminder of the challenges that often accompany the ushering in of a new era, also known as a coaching transition.

Many outstanding athletes, idolized much of their young lives, have difficulties adjusting to new ways of doing things. They don’t take kindly to being criticized or having their weakness exposed. When they’ve been successful doing things one way, why should they be expected to change?

People have trouble acknowledging that different approaches can sometimes lead to equal or greater success, resisting or rejecting new ways of doing things. The results are magnified when you’re dealing with so-called super stars.

The same can be said of fan bases. New coach comes in, does things differently, doesn’t have immediate success, and doesn’t communicate the challenges very well. Predictably, many disappointed fans get angry, start pointing fingers.

This scenario was all too familiar to U of L fans during a disappointing football season. Patience became a rare commodity after years of non-stop winning. Once loyal supporters become detractors, ripping even the most respected administrators. Mistakes are magnified, leading to other miscues, losses on the playing field and dismissals of assistants.

Losing is just not acceptable in an age of instant gratification. It’s even more difficult for the new guy on the block. What goes around comes around and it has arrived center stage in Lexington.

Card Fan Christmas Tips

Time to get serious about holiday shopping. Okay, or to just start thinking about it for the procrastinators. Over the next couple of weeks, watch for some suggestions. Buy or receive, these will be great gifts for Card fans.

The U of L Scoreboard Clock was introduced last year. Look for it to catch on with fans this time around. Displaying the time, temperature and date, the 12 x 19-inch clock is ideal for the fanatic’s office, game room, bar or family room. Also weatherproof for outdoor use. It’s available at Cardboard Heroes or the Neutral Zone for about $99. Or you can get it from Sports ‘n Chips for $89.95.

If you have suggestions, pass them along for posting here.

Paying The Price For On Field Issues

If anyone needed evidence that new defensive management was necessary, it came early in the first quarter in game twelve. Rutgers’ Ray Rice scampering 10 yards untouched to the end zone, the U of L defense running the other way. Just another glaring error in a season of defensive lapses.

Also during the season, a once proud offensive unit was reduced to relying solely on the arm of Brian Brohm to keep games close or from getting out of hand. One is forced to credit senior leadership for the inexplicable turnaround in the come-from-behind win over Rutgers in the final game.

They needed to go — Mike Cassity and Charlie Stubbs, the coaches with the immediate responsibility for the defensive and offensive units. They were obviously ill-equipped for the challenges they encountered. Other dismissals are sure to follow as their successors assume control.

Steve Kragthorpe gets more time to shape the program in his image. He promotes Jeff Brohm to offensive coordinator, tapping into a mind shaped by offensive geniuses like Howard Schnellenberger and Bobby Petrino. Kragthorpe also finally has the opportunity and time to secure a decent defensive coordinator.

Kragthorpe pointed out during the news conference that out of the past four recruiting classes, there are 43 players no longer associated with program. Where did all these players go? We will probably never know because the local sports media didn’t follow up on this revelation, probably missing their Sunday afternoon naps.

Nor are we likely to learn much more about the extent of the “off the field” issues. Tom Jurich and Steve Kragthorpe will never tell us because they aren’t the sort to point fingers. And there are no “insiders” close to the program willing to shed any light on the issues. Fans will just have to take the coach’s word for it in these litigious times.

That’s a challenge that’s difficult for many to comprehend, especially among those who elevated the players to unprecedented levels after the Orange Bowl victory. Some are simply unable to differentiate between a program that produces solid citizens and good football players and a program that wins without doing both.

Kragthorpe, meanwhile, will continue to pay the price for the losses on the football field.

Slow Motion Turn To Basketball vs. Miami

— Slow dancing and no fun, but good to play a team like Miami early. Lots of lessons, maintaining defensive intensity among the most important. Cards prove to themselves they can do it, rewarded with a win.

— Terrence Williams makes fans wonder how Michael Bramos could possibly be averaging more than 24 points a game, not allowing Bramos to take an uncontested breath. Bramos was fortunate to wind up with five points — hitting one three-pointer but not courtesy of T-will.

— Good to see Edgar Sosa starting, hitting the two free throws this time to give the Cards their final three-point margin. Should do wonders for his confidence.

— Earl Clark just won’t be denied when he makes up his mind to block a shot. Just ask Tim Pollitz, not once, not twice but three times on one trip. Same for when he decides to go inside, hitting two straight clutches to put U of L back on top to stay the end.

— Andre McGee can’t afford to get lackadaisical, just can’t.

— Derrick Caracter, always smiling, just enjoys playing basketball. Would be even more fun without the fouling.

Darrius Ashley Watch

U of L signee Darius Ashley rushed for a Division I title-game record 271 yards (and two touchdowns) as Cincinnati St. Xavier beat Mentor 27-0 for the title Saturday night,