The sight of James Green on the Jacksonville State bench brought back some memories from the past, not all of them good.
Last time Green was on the opposing bench, his Southern Mississippi teams were making life difficult for the University of Louisville, winning three out of seven games against the Cardinals from 1996-97 through the 2000-2001 seasons in Conference USA. His last win was a 69-61 decision during one of UofL’s rare losing seasons.
Green returned to Louisville after 14 seasons, coaching a Jacksonville State team from the Ohio Valley Conference. He didn’t appear to have aged much but had to marvel at all the changes since his last visit. Louisville playing in a new 22,000-seat arena, a team coached by Rick Pitino, loaded with giants and speedsters, and preparing for life in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Cardinals would outscore the Gamecocks 54-9 the final 10:07 of the first half and the first 10:34 of the second half. UofL would outrebound them 60-16, outscore them 48-12 in the paint, 31-8 on turnovers, 39-6 on second chance points, and 26-7 on bench points.
Pitino would use every one of his 15 players, holding the score down. Green would play 14 players, looking for the next Clarence Witherspoon.
“This might be the best team we’ve played anywhere I’ve ever been,” said Green afterwards.
If just for old time’s sake, it was good to see James Green once again. But after enduring an 88-39 beatdown in the new era, don’t expect him back anytime soon.