Wes Unseld and his winning ways

By Ed Peak

Big Wesley Unseld was the total package. Some actually believe he was the greatest to ever play basketball at the University of Louisville. The 74-year-old  local legend died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia, according to a statement from his family.

In his three year varsity career, he averaged 20 points and 18 rebounds a game, helping the Cardinals to win two Missouri Valley Conference titles. Unseld’s team lost to Houston and Elvin Hayes in his senior year — a classic matchup of two of the game’s best in the NCAA Touranment.

Unseld was a second round pick of the Baltimore Bullets. He was selected as one of the league’s 50 Greatest Players by NBA.com in 2017. He also coached the Bullets before moving to the front office. He won Rookie of the Year and League MVP honors and led Baltimore to its only NBA title.

I had the opportunity to interview Unseld before the Bullets played an exhibition game at Freedom Hall. Wes, then the head coach, came on the playing floor before warmups. He spotted me, calmly asking, “What are we talking about today?” He looked at me over those big glasses, never cracking a smile. He was in game mode two hours before game. It didn’t matter if was just an exhibition game. Continue reading “Wes Unseld and his winning ways”

Quit giving college baseball the cold shoulder

By Ed Peak

One could say that Ed Peak gets excited over things most people don’t even think about. The last two weeks or so I’ve been hungry for those preseason college football magazines. I picked up two Saturday.

With sports sidelined because of the pandemic since March. I was chomping at the bit, anxiously waiting for something. Anything. NASCAR provided a little relief. as did horse racing and golf.

When I heard the conjecture that professional, college and high school football will be played this fall I was giddy. It looks like the NBA is coming back in Orlando at Disney World. If we could only get major league back on the field, it won’t be a lost summer.

I have sorely missed University of Louisville baseball and coach Dan McDonnell. This could have been Dan’s best. We’ll never know.  We do know McDonnell is in favor of moving the baseball season further into July. Instead of beginning in February as the Cardinals do and a lot of teams in the North and East do, it makes sense to move the start of the season.

Continue reading “Quit giving college baseball the cold shoulder”

Daily newspaper losing the battle on UofL sports coverage

By Ed Peak

Before cell phones, social media and all things we have now to crank out whatever we think when ever we feel there was the daily newspapers. Families took time to read at the breakfast table or the evening edition in the family room. Together.

Newspapers are thin now and don’t carry near the weight they used to in any part of society. About the only way to get information about University of Louisville sports for decades was the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times.

The Courier-Journal, especially, is a mere shadow of its former self, losing much of its prestige and respect. That’s despite having recently been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for covering a travesty that dumped on their front porch. The Times, unfortunately, was put to bed for the final time in 1986.

Now you have a long list of sources you can tune into. The C-J, 790 WKRD, ESPN, Louisville Sports Report, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, Cardinal Authority,  Card Chronicle, The Crunch Zone and Card Game, all dedicated to Cardinal Sports. I know I’m missing some, forgive me.

Most sites are dedicated to reporting only the positive of Louisville athletics and not the negative. At Card Game, I believe we report the good and the bad to the fan base. It seems as though our local newspaper loves to hammer the negative, one columnist in particular.

Tim Sullivan is a friend of mine. But it’s a sad situation when the lead columnist seems to be desperate for Internet clicks, pummeling the home team on every issue that emerges. He’s not doing himself or the Courier-Journal any favors at a time when the print media is already in danger of extinction.

A weary public needs college athletics, start making plans

By Ed Peak

A report from NCAA President Mark Emmert about the upcoming college football season is disturbing and depressing. Four months from opening weekend. Much can and will happen between now and September.

“All of the commissioners and every president that I’ve talked to is in clear agreement: If you don’t have students on campus,” said Emmert in an interview with The Spun.  “If your school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple.”

We get it. The coronavirus has affected everyone like no one dreamed. But for goodness sakes. We are four months away. Let’s not panic.

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi is on record as saying “students will be on campus for fall classes.” Every school in the ACC, save Duke, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are on record as saying football will go on.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby believes football can continue whether students are actually on campus or not. “School has to be in session because football players on college teams are student-athletes. That doesn’t necessarily mean that football players or volleyball players or soccer players couldn’t be taking classes online just the rest of the students…I think that meets the criteria.”

The challenge is that different areas of the country have different levels of problems. The New York, New Jersey area with millions of people have a much more difficult problem. Let’s say Michigan has to travel to Rutgers in Brunswick, New Jersey to play a conference game. Michigan has a problem as well. Is it safe? We can’t just fold and give in. We must live our lives and sports such is an important diversion to this mess.

I love sports and it’s a big, big part of my life and my family’s as well. I will never, ever take for granted another game I am attending.  Whether it be eighth graders on a dirt field or UofL vs. Florida State at Louisville. If this pandemic has done one thing it has made all of us appreciate sports even more.

I married into a family 18 years ago that are huge Cardinal fans as season football and baseball ticket holders. If the Cardinals are playing on the road in football have a watch party. Bowl. They are usually there. Basketball on weekends. Baseball, same.

Please, let’s not jump to conclusions so early. Don’t worry so much. Play this thing out. Yesterday is a memory. Relish today. Plan for tomorrow. Plan on college sports this fall.

Louisville football will be back if college football returns in 2020

By Ed Peak

There have been more important games in University of Louisville history than the Music City Bowl come from behind win over Mississippi State last December. But this one was a very convincing win at just the right time, confirming my feeling about the direction of the program.

Louisville football is back. Just one year after enduring a 2-10 season which included a 70-21 loss at Clemson. To come back so quickly and finish 8-5, 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, earning Coach Scott Satterfield the honor of ACC Coach of the Year.

This makes one anxious for the upcoming season. Per USA Today all ACC schools plan on having students on campus in the fall. Only Duke, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, Independent in football, haven’t said if they are going to allow students on campus.

No students, no football. Duke and Pitt will decide early to mid-June, the Irish in July. Presuming there are no negative spikes in the Coronavirus.

UofL returns a load of offensive talent, led by sophomore halfback Javian Hawkins who ran for 1,623 yards. Sophomore receiver Tutu Atwell caught 12 touchdown passes and had 1,276 receiving yards. Dez Fitzpatrick is a big physical receiver. Quarterback Malik Cunningham passed for 2,065 yards and 22 touchdowns.

The biggest loss was tackle Mekhi Becton, now with the New York Jets. He could block the sun with his 6-foot-7, 364-pound body. He can move fast. He ran a 4.6 40 at the combine.

The defense needs repair, but has parts to work with. The Cardinals need a break from the 41-39 i’ll just outscore. Wins over Boston College, 62-59 can’t stop anything win at Wake Forest and the 34-20 victory at North Carolina State. The worst losses were to national runner up Clemson 45-10 and at Kentucky 38-28. The Cardinals were in those games until midway through the third quarter.

I’m really looking forward to the season. Satterfield has had a year to implement his system and should be even better prepared in 2020.

Losses at Clemson and Notre Dame are probable. Virginia, the Coastal Champion, will be tough at Charlottesville. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has rebuilt the Cavaliers. Florida State at home with a new coach is a complete unknown.

“Our guys have been very resilient,” said Satterfield. “Our guys are hungry. They can’t wait to get back to campus. What ever they tell us, we’re going to have a plan.”

No one knows for sure when or if there will be a football season. The closer we get to that date, the more promising it looks. Can’t help but be giddy.