By Charlie Springer
The great unknown on game days for the University of Louisville is which Earl Clark will show up. Heâ€™s up, heâ€™s down. He is at best unpredictable, skirting between sensational and disappointing. This is a major issue because Louisville’s overall success hinges on how Earl Clark performs the rest of the way.
This doesnâ€™t take away from the immense contributions of Terrence Williams whose unselfish approach to the game is overshadowed only by his physical talent. Louisville needs another super player to go along with T-Will if the team to achieve the lofty aspirations of the fan base.
Louisville can go a long way if the same Earl Clark who was an overpowering force in wins over Pittsburgh and Notre Dame shows up consistently. However, the journey will be brief one if the same Earl Clark from the UConn loss prevails, you know the mistake-prone wimp who struggles in all phases of his offensive game.
As Draft Express observes, â€œthe impression you come away with from scouting Clark heavily depends on which day you catch him on. On some nights he looks incredibly active, playing extremely hard, utilizing his athleticism to its fullest, and making very good decisions. On others, he looks completely asleep, disappearing for long stretches and being very passive.â€
â€œClarkâ€™s biggest problem is that he seems to be suffering from somewhat of an identity crisis. Heâ€™s a power forward at the NCAA level who wants to be a guard, particularly in the way he settles for jump-shots from the perimeter. His jumper is way too streaky for that to be effective, but you regardless see him pulling up for 19-foot fade-aways off his back heel on a regular basis. While he definitely shows a great feel for making plays for others, there is no way around the fact that his shot-selection is extremely poor right now, which only exacerbates his limitations offensively.
â€œClarkâ€™s biggest assetsâ€”his athleticism and ball-handling skills, arenâ€™t quite polished enough to help him get regular production for Louisville. He often looks out of control by the time he gets to the basketâ€”making him fairly turnover prone–and really seems to struggle finishing through contact, trying to get too cute flipping the ball in off the glass, instead of just going up strong and powering the ball through the rim. Rarely do you see Clark finish a play with a dunk, and after watching his film extensively, itâ€™s hard not to come away thinking that he lacks a good amount of physical toughness.”
Comparisons has often been made between Clark and Billy Thompson, who like Clark, was one of the highest rated recruits coming out of high school. Thompson was an inconsistent player in college, only occasionally showing why he was so highly regarded. But for three and a half seasons, Thompson was a huge disappointment. Thompson finally decided to apply his immense talents, helping lead the University of Louisville to its second NCAA Championship in 1986.
For anything similar to happen this season, the light has to come on soon for Earl Clark.