Make It Louisville 61, Villanova 60

Two Villanova free throws bouncing off the rim with four seconds to go. Three shots at point-blank range failing to fall at the horn? Scottie Reynolds with only 11 points? It has been a number of years but maybe, just maybe, the law of averages is swinging back in the direction of University of Louisville basketball.

Enough Wildcats for a while.
Enough Wildcats for a while. (Associated Press photo)

Welcome back, Lady Luck. UofL had forgotten what you looked like. Great to see you again. A little good fortune, combined with relentless defense and decent shooting, will take you a long way. Actually, the shooting, 24 of 62 attempts, not that decent but Villanova was held to 20 of 53.

— Terrence Williams, with a fortunate bounce, making what would be the winning basket, but forgetting the advice of Rick Pitino seconds before about not getting beat long on the out-of-bounds play, setting Villanova up for what would ordinarily have been the killer.

— Jared Swopshire displaying his basketball I.Q. with the hard foul on Antonio Pena with five second remaining, sending a poor free throw shooter to the line. It will be a tough week for Mr. Pena.

— Earl Clark indispensable. Needs to stay focused, however, especially in the final minute when errors are unforgivable or unforgettable.

— Samardo Samuels not getting pushed around as much today. Knows what to do when he gets open, hitting six of eight attempts, winding up with 15 points. His getting open is the challenge, and he’s getting it, just not as fast as some would hope.

— Terrance Jennings may not know the plays but he has the natural abilities. He’s not about to get pushed around. He will keep getting better.

— Edgar Sosa fine mostly, but the Hail Mary passing with the game on the line is somewhat puzzling. The encouraging thing is that he is not hanging his head for three consecutive games.

Better lucky than good? Better to be good: The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.

*   *   *

Pitino Speak? — Fans never know when Rick Pitino says something whether he means it or not. Caught up in the emotion or thinking out loud? “I’ve looked forward to this year more than any other,” Pitino said after the game. “You’ll never see 12, 13 teams as tough as this. It’s special, I’ll tell you that. I’m getting the hell out of here after this year, I’m telling you that.”  Those words will be disected for weeks and months on end.

Earl Clark Returns, Louisville 71, USF 57

By Charlie Springer

The eyes of Card fans would be tightly focused on Earl Clark and Edgar Sosa going into the Louisville vs. South Florida game.

No way Earl Clark was going to take any team lightly Wednesday, not after Sunday’s dismal performance against the Lexington team. Someone was going to feel his wrath.

His team would need him in a huff because South Florida turns out to be a decent team. Disrespect the Bulls this season and you may just go home with your tail between your legs. One gets the feeling that, under Stan Heath, the program will advance quickly, making the Big East even tougher in the not-too-distant future.

Clark kept the Bulls at bay in this game, with his game-leading 22 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a block.

Who knew Clark could shoot three-point shots? Everybody does now, with knocking down three of eight attempts. Nice shooting form this night. So that’s why Rick Pitino has given him the green light.

As for Edgar Sosa, more of the positive vibes he exhibited Sunday. Five of nine field goal attempts, including two three-pointers, and no disparagement. Need to pick up on those assists, however. Just one won’t help much with the killer schedule ahead.

Samardo Samuels doing his Derrick Caracter imitation with all the fouling lately.

*   *  *

Strangely, Louisville didn’t get to the free throw line in the first half. “We didn’t get fouled,” said Pitino, calling Big East officials “the best referees in America.”

Here We Go Again

By Charlie Springer

Just wondering as the University of Louisville basketball team prepares to begin Big East Conference play against South Florida:

— Whether the players will take South Florida seriously, respecting the perennial conference doormat, giving it their best effort. The Bulls came close to upsetting a good Syracuse team over the weekend.bigeast1

— How much a letdown the Cards will have have after defeating their arch rival Kentucky on Sunday. The level of intensity they displayed should be standard operating procedure.

— How the players’ psyche will be affected the flight incident on the first leg of the trip to Tampa. Standing around airports is a drag, and can sometimes take a little time from which to recover.

— How Earl Clark will play after one of his more embarrassing performances ever in the game again Kentucky. Pass, shoot, don’t dribble. Not a ball handler, never a guard.

— Whether Edgar Sosa’s transformation is permanent. One has to believe it is. The alternative is not good.

— How long it will take Samardo Samuels to return to early season form.

The Cards need to get off to a good start in the Big East for a change, and the mind games have to become a thing of the past.

Where Have The Cat Fans Gone?

By Charlie Springer

Life is as it should be, the University of Louisville basketball team having defeated Kentucky, depriving Cat fans of opportunities to flaunt their obnoxious qualities. No sympathy here, Cat fans. Look at the loss as a leardeadcatning experience, one of life’s valuable lessons.

You might even want to consider acknowledging that you were beaten by a better team,  rather making excuses like your beloved Billy G. and badmouthing UofL fans as you do even when things are going well for you.

Have you seen any of those people today by the way? They’ve been pretty scarce around Louisville, a rare species, indeed. No car flags, no Kroger baseball caps, few if any blue sweatshirts or jackets. They’ve gone into hiding, bless their hearts.

If you bleed blue today, you’re among the walking dead.

*   *   *

Why was Lee Todd, the UK president, sitting behind the Wildcat bench on Sunday? One would think with all the alleged Big Blue boosters in town he would have been in a VIP suite, seeking contributions in dismal economic times. Maybe there aren’t as many as Todd would have you believe, or maybe he thinks UK will get all he needs from the Legislature which begins work Tuesday.

*   *   *

Okay, just one more video of the UofL-UK finish, with about 15 seconds to go in the game:

* * *

Another way to relive the Sunday’s triumph is to visit Hell In The Hall for a plethora of highlights, emotions, who’s whos and photos from the scene. The enthusiasm of Frankpos, the moderator, is contagious. He may not post much, but when he does, he goes all out.

*   *   *

Those two Indiana recruits who verbaled to UofL’s 2011 class after the game are apparent major catches. ESPN Insider says of 6-11 Michael Chandler that he “He runs the floor extremely well, he is active on both ends of the floor and he rebounds very well. He is very coordinated for a kid his size and his age. He oozes with potential …” Of 6-6 Ryan Taylor, they opine: “He is a good athlete that plays with great effort. He has great length that aids him in being a terrific rebounder on both ends, shot blocker and defender on the ball and in the passing lanes.”

*    *   *

Haven’t seen the Lady Cards play yet? Need an engraved invitation? They play a fiery brand of basketball and are ranked 10th in the nation. They play Seton Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday (see Sonja’s preview). Next up is Rutgers, perennial women’s basketball power, in Pack The House II on Sunday. Free coupons are available at Kroger stores.