A former coach turned broadcaster, whose TV career didnâ€™t last long, once said when you get a team down you have to step on their collective throat and crush the life out of them. Thatâ€™s what the University of Louisville basketball team didnâ€™t do when it had Mississippi gasping for breath in the first half.
The lack of a killer instinct reared itself again, threatening to turn what should have been an easy win into another loss which would have further embarrassed the Big East against a mediocre SEC team.
The reason it didnâ€™t happen was Earl Clark, and some timely three-point baskets from Edgar Sosa and Terrence Williams.
Fans saw what the pro scouts have been anticipating but had never actually seen â€“ Clark assuming control of a game for almost 10 minutes in the first half, making moves he had never shown, hitting shots he had been missing, rebounding, blocking. He what? 25 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks.
He showed why he changed his mind about going to the NBA last summer, wanting to return to Louisville and his teammates. He’s taking the college game more seriously this time around, becoming more of a force than a role player, putting the load on his shoulders if that what it takes to win.
A new outlook, a whole new weapon for the Cards, against Mississippi anyway. Clark just may have assumed the leadership role vacated by David Padgett. Now that he has shown he can do it, it will be expected of him. And he should want it, badly.
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Samardo Samuels looked like a freshman for a second time this season, struggling mightily for anything he could get around the basket. Had it too easy in those early games against the no-name teams. Puts all the things the coaches have been preaching to him in perspective. Keep your eyes on the basket, go strong to the goal. Finish.