No sweat for Louisville in listless loss to Syracuse

Anas Mahmoud in a tight spot going for a rebound (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Apparently asking a bit much to get overly excited about playing Syracuse for a team that had lost three of its last four games and on a two-game skid. Easy does it, nothing to get worked up about for the University of Louisville basketball team.

Fire in the belly, what’s that? Never let them see you sweat. Not against Syracuse.

Another disappointing night for Deng Adel, third loss in a row (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

UofL seemingly just going through the motions, content with hanging around for much of the game. Syracuse, like Virginia and Florida State before them, sliding through the UofL defense with ease, making all kinds of improbable shots. 

Fans hoping for the Cardinals to make a run would be only partially rewarded. UofL would manage to cut a 10-point deficit to two points at the 4:05 mark. Getting back in the game with Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud repeatedly taking the ball inside, fouling out two Syracuse starters.

Ready to capitalize. But no.

For some inexplicable reason, Louisville will revert back to the outside game. Three-point clunker by Quentin Snider, three-point brick by Deng Adel, a two-point unanswered prayer by Snider. Forget about Spalding and Mahmoud, those guys won’t see the ball again.

Just a momentary scare, not a serious threat, and Syracuse will easily prevail 78-73. The Cardinals going from almost a sure thing to a desperate bubble team over the past week, their won-loss record falling to 16-8 overall and 6-5 in the conference.

The Cardinals showing all the signs of slipping away at a time when they need to be fine tuning. Not that they seem all that concerned, with the disappearance of any intensity. Maybe they know something we don’t, and they’re saving it for a stretch run.  Maybe. 

Quentin Snider keeps Louisville close, but finish is familiar

Quinten Snider scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, giving UofL a chance to win (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Quentin Snider heating up, his shots going in. The guy with the hot hand, the one one wants to make that last shot. Something for the fans to remember, maybe.

The senior guard making three of the University of Louisville basketball team’s four field goals in the last five minutes. Including two 3-pointers, UofL slashing an eight-point deficit to two points with 17 seconds to go.

Snider with a look on one trip downcourt that said he would not be denied, twisting to the left, around a defender to make one of those three’s from 25 feet. Setting up a dramatic finish, the highlight shot, the leading role. 

As Snider’s fate would have it, however, he would not see the ball on that final trip downcourt. V. J. King would take the shot, see it blocked, and Louisville was done. Losing to Florida State 80-76 in front of a crowd of 18,305 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Ray Spalding will leave no doubt with this shot (Cindy Rice Shelton).

Quentin would score 11 of his 15 points in that second half, giving his team a chance. Showing how it’s done, handing out seven assists for the game, but still looking to be reciprocated. Deng Adel getting scoring honors with 19 points, Ray Spalding with 13, and King with 10. 

Lots of indecisiveness in those closing seconds, mindful of earlier losses. Seemingly obvious choices overlooked. Uncertainty, lack of confidence, lack of awareness and lack of direction, it was all there. The player with the hot hand lost in the confusion.

UofL’s record falls to 16-7 overall and 6-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, slipping from second to sixth in league play during the week. A chance to get back on track, with Syracuse visiting Monday at 7 p.m.

Find Snider if it’s a nail biter at the end. Please.

Schnatter could benefit from tour of University of Louisville campus

Despite all the negativity occurring in the administration building across campus, the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is continuing — right on schedule and within budget — much to the chagrin of at least one prominent local resident.

Thanks to the vision of Tom Jurich, former Vice President of Athletics, the University of Louisville football program will have one of the finest facilities in the country. The 10,000-seat addition to the north end zone will be concrete reminder of what Jurich accomplished during his 20 years and a symbol of what the University can become again.

John Schnatter in a position to make some positive things happen at UofL, offsetting some of his previous actions.

However, John Schnatter, who heads the company that branded the stadium, continues to badmouth the expansion. His logic is that expanding the stadium is bad when faculty salaries have been flat over the last decade — the old argument of academics vs. athletics. Never mind that the $55 million expansion is fully funded by private donations.

Schnatter appears to be unaware of construction of a new four-story, $83 million classroom facility which will be open for the fall semester of the 2018 academic year. That’s the same date as the completion of a $30 million update and expansion of the Student Activities Center.

These academic facilities, combined with the stadium expansion, will greatly enhance Belknap Campus, making UofL a much more attractive destination for prospective students. The campus has already been recognized as one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses by Travel & Leisure magazine.

Schnatter continues to be a negative voice on the Board of Trustees, despite being the driving force behind the inexplicable dismissal of Jurich. One suspects that Schnatter was angry because he was not asked to donate to an expansion of the stadium that bears his company’s name.

If that’s the case, Schnatter had exacted his revenge. As a member of the Board of Trustees, it is time for him to get about the business of helping to restore the University to its former greatness and financial stability. There should be no place on the UofL board for someone who seems to hold a grudge against the school.

Many of the current issues, including the decline in donations, have exacerbated since the David Grissom-headed board was appointed in January 2017. Schnatter, apparently at Grissom’s encouragement,  has allowed himself to be used as a wedge, further damaging the reputation of  the athletic department.

He resigned from the UofL Athletic Association board in April 2017 without any explanation. However, he’s still on the UofL Board of Trustees and the University of Louisville Foundation Board of Directors. One wonders if he is so unhappy with the school how much longer he will continue in those positions.

Schnatter has done a lot for UofL, having contributed almost $25 million to the school, including $19.1 for naming rights to the stadium. He’s obviously wealthy enough and in key positions to do more. There is so much much he can do, and UofL has never needed his support more than it does now.

Time for some constructive leadership from Papa John.

Digging up dirt on Jurich latest insult to University of Louisville

UofL supporters have endured an avalanche of bad news and insults in the past couple of years but none that have embarrassed the University more than the latest indignity.  About as low it gets, one has to be humiliated on behalf of the school.

Just when one believes the temporary administration might be restoring a sense of civility and normality at the University of Louisville, here comes the word that someone at UofL is complicit with a law firm using a private detective agency to dig up dirt on Tom Jurich.  

Someone is going to say such investigations are routine in lawsuits against individuals and they may be right. However, in this case it is more of a blatant, awkward and misguided attempt to damage his reputation. Of all the revelations and events that have occurred since Jim Ramsey was forced to resign as UofL President in August 2016, this is the most shocking. That Jurich would be the subject of an investigation is beyond comprehension, showing just how far some will go to discredit an individual. 

Tom Jurich embraces UofLBaseball Coach Dan McDonnell for his continuing success in NCAA regional competition.

That’s Tom Jurich, mind you, the squeaky clean former Vice President of Athletics at the school. The same individual who took a struggling athletic department and made it a model of success. Made UofL nationally competitive in 22 sports. Built an athletic complex that is the envy of college athletics, taking the budget from $9 million in 1997 to more than $100 million today.

Stoll, Keenon, Ogden, a regional law firm representing the university against Jurich, has not admitted that it has hired a private investigation agency, citing client-attorney privilege.  One would have been surprised if they had acknowledged it, especially if an investigation is not yielding anything useful. 

Instead of acknowledging what has been accomplished, Postel continues to seek to destroy Jurich's reputation.

Someone involved with the probe from a detective agency approached the Courier-Journal seeking info about “any allegations of sexual harassment between Jurich and females involved with the University.” As if the C-J would not have already plastered any hints of sexual harassment all over the front page for at least two weeks. It’s what the C-J does but that didn’t occur to the so-called detectives.

The University is obviously facing a major challenge in finding evidence to support its charges of “willful misconduct” and “ineffective management, divisive leadership, unprofessional conduct,” and “intimidation and bullying” in the letter delivered to Jurich in October.

Interim President Greg Postel has denied any knowledge of a private investigation. Board Chairman David Grissom and Board Member John Schnatter never respond to the media . But they will rightfully incur the wrath of angry Louisville fans and alumni for this latest blow to the University’s integrity and reputation.

The last thing Postel needed was for Jurich to be the target of a criminal investigation. He had already angered a large segment of the UofL by firing the most respected administrator in the school’s 220-year history. His  attempted dismantling of TJ’s legacy will come back to haunt him.

He’s currently competing for two major leadership posts, including the permanent office of UofL President and permanent Executive Vice President of Health Affairs. Instead of acknowledging what has been accomplished, Postel continues to seek to destroy Jurich’s reputation. That should be unacceptable to anyone who has witnessed UofL’s growth in athletics over the past two decades.

Quentin Snider shows the way, Louisville rolls past Wake Forest

Not a good start against a team that had lost its last six games and with its back against the proverbial wall. Been there, done that, no fun.

Quentin Snider keeping Louisville close early, scoring 15 points in 20 minutes (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The University of Louisville basketball team would fall behind Wake Forest 17-8, the Cardinals stumbling out of the gate, looking confused, out of sorts. Wake Forest with its back against the wall, highly motivated, badly needing a win.

Quentin Snider wasn’t impressed, not going with the script, wanting the ball. He would bring a calming presence during those first few frantic minutes, scoring seven of UofL’s first 11 points. Snider setting the stage for a 19-2 run, including 14 straight points, to gain control over the Demon Deacons by 27-19 at the 7:07 mark, with UofL taking an eight-point lead to the locker room at the half. 

Louisville would win 96-77 before a crowd of 17,215 at the KFC Yum! Center, improving its record to 15-5 overall and 6-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Snider, UofL’s senior point guard, would get only 20 minutes of playing time but he had done his job. During that time, he had collected 15 points, making five of seven field goal attempts, including three of four 3-point shots. 

Big night for V. J. King as well, sharing scoring honors with 15 points. But it was the other parts of his game that stood out, notably those four assists on offense and two steals on defense. Learning what it takes to be around when a game is actually on the line.

V.J. King having career night with 15 points, four assists and two steals (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Next up is Virginia, on Wednesday at Charlottesville, where Louisville has had no success during its first five seasons in the ACC. They should be looking forward to it, eager for an opportunity to reverse the trend. 

This is UofL after all, not your run of the mill college basketball program. That should provide plenty for motivation for Snider and company.