With fans gone, NCAA tournament would be next to go

The madness, the idiocy and the panic accompanying the worldwide phenomenon of the COVID-19 virus has mushroomed. A menace threatening not only the economy but the well-being of institutions, organizations and individuals.

With no idea of how serious and how long the threat will continue to disrupt everyday normalcy and routines. Public concern is ramped up on an ever-escalating basis by the mainstream news media and, often, by politicians with questionable intentions. The media fanning the flames,  a health care analyst on ABC News describing the virus as the perfect killing machine for the elderly. 

Just a few days ago one was scoffing at the idea of possibly prohibiting spectators at college athletic events or other sporting events. Doubtful that the original suggestion was rational or even serious, but committees have ways of drifting into controversial conclusions. 

Right on cue, a group labeled as the COVID-19 Advisory Panel on Wednesday issued a recommendation to the NCAA to limit attendance at championship events, including the NCAA basketball tournaments, to only essential staff and limited family members.

At the same time government leaders and officials at federal medical and health institutions are advising that the risk of contracting the coronavirus is low for the average citizen. Elaborate instructions on how to further protect oneself from the virus are easily available from many different sources.

Apparently, there is little faith in the American public’s ability to follow the guidelines. There is a plethora of state and local officials, along with other civic, athletic and private organizations, some seemingly wanting to outdo each other. 

Contradictory at times, with the Kentucky Governor urging religious leaders across the commonwealth to cancel church services this weekend. At the same time, delaying any decision on colleges and universities and public school systems throughout the state.

The NCAA initially banning fans from attending the 67-game tournament. The inevitable next step would be a cancellation of the entire classic. With the fears and actions of decision-makers doubling down from one day to the next, who would be surprised? Any day now.

In the current atmosphere, the inevitable perception will be that there’s no better way of protecting the well-being of coaches, student-athletes and their families. 

Send Jock Sutherland a birthday card, he will be 92

Jock Sutherland was a color commentator for UofL games on WHAS from 1981 to 2001 (Charlie Springer photo).

Gonna ask a favor of University of Louisville fans, especially those who enjoyed the color commentary of Jock Sutherland as the analyst on WHAS broadcasts of UofL basketball games from 1981 to 2001.

The favor is to send a birthday card or note to Sutherland who will be celebrating his 92nd birthday on March 14th. No, there’s not an email address because he doesn’t use computers . “Never did, only when absolutely necessary,” he once told the Observer.

The address: 

Jock Sutherland
234 Fairway Drive West
Nicholasville, KY 40356.

His wife Phyllis says Jock truly treasures the memories of covering Louisville basketball and all the UofL friends he made. “He would be thrilled if Cardinal fans could remember him on his birthday,” she said.

Send a birthday card, a generic card or a note, to Jock today while it’s still fresh on your mind.  Covering Louisville basketball was a joyful time for him.  Do it today.

Old rivals Louisville, Dayton back on collision course

Does destiny dare to match the universities of Louisville and Dayton in another historic showdown on one of college basketball’s biggest stages in March?  The once bitter rivals last met with a championship on the line some 64 years ago.

Charlie Tyra, father of Louisville Athletic Director Vince Tyra, adorned the prestigious cover of the Street & Smith Basketball in 1957, following UofL’s NIT championship year.

A lot has happened since the 1955-56 season, with UofL becoming a nationally acclaimed program. The program won three national championships — in 1980, 1986 and 2013 and joined Atlantic Coast Conference in 2015. Meanwhile, Dayton has quietly labored in the mid-major Atlantic 10 Conference except for a 1967 loss to UCLA in the NCAA championship game.

Not to worry, Dayton is back stronger than ever.  According to this site, Dayton is among the serious contenders to win the NCAA championship. The Flyers are 28-2 overall and 17-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.  Their odds of winning it all are placed at +1200, behind only Baylor, Duke and Gonzaga. Louisville is below Dayton at odds of +1400.

The Flyers have won 19 straight games to occupy their highest poll position since finishing the 1955-56 campaign with a 25-4 record and a No. 3 ranking. They are currently ranked third in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls.

They are led by Obi Toppin, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, averaging 19.8 points per and 8.9 rebounds per game. They have three other starters averaging double figures as well.

Back to that 1955-56 season. Louisville, led by 6-foot-8 Charlie Tyra, and Dayton, with 7-foot-1 Bill Uhl, were both among the top 10 when they collided. They played three times, with UofL winning by two points on last second baskets during both regular season games.

They next clashed in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament, which at time was considered by many to be the premier basketball tourney. Louisville won 93-80, its biggest win ever, joining the ranks of the nation’s elite programs in the years that followed.

Louisville owns a 39-27 edge over Dayton in a series that dates back to 1948. However, the Cardinals lost the last two games to the Flyers in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. And Coach Rick Pitino never pursued a resumption of the series after those losses.

The diehards, or anyone remotely familiar with the series, will strongly disagree that the rivalry is only a distant memory.   The stakes will be high for both programs and intensity levels will be off the charts if they cross paths again in March.

Magic at work, with UofL still having shot at ACC crown

^^ Keith Oddo bows out with 3-point buzzer beater – Mike DeZarn photo ^^

Coach Chris Mack huddles with David Johnson and Dwayne Sutton during the University of Louisville’s final home game at the KFC Yum! Center (Mike DeZarn photo).

Nothing more magical than a nylon-ripping three-point basket at the buzzer. Coming from a University of Louisville graduate transfer walk-on with less than nine  minutes of playing time and zero points for the season.

The delightful wizardry provided by Keith Oddo who had to be surprised he was even in the game. But it was Senior Day and this was his last game. Thrilled that Coach Chris Mack would call his number with 1:05 on the clock. No hesitation after David Robinson finds Oddo alone in the corner, no time to think, nothing but net.

David Johnson making his way through the Virginia Tech gauntlet for a basket (Mike DeZarn photo).

Just the thing the crowd of 18,104 at the KFC Yum! Center needed to close out UofL’s 2019-20 home game schedule. The win improving Louisville’s record to 24-6 overall. More magical is the fact that UofL is in first place in the conference with a 15-4 mark with one game remaining. By a half game over Florida State which has two games left.

The Cardinals may need ever bit of Houdini they can conjure up with their final game of the season coming next Sunday at Virginia. Both teams may have played their best game of the season when they met recently in Louisville, with the Cards prevailing by 80-73.  Virginia has only continued to get better and is anticipating its own special Senior Day observance.

Continue reading “Magic at work, with UofL still having shot at ACC crown”

2019-20 Louisville basketball season in review

By Terry McMillan

The University of Louisville has both men’s and women’s basketball teams of which fans can be extremely proud. With the regular season all but done for the men, now is a great time to take a look back at how it has gone for them. By looking at how they have done in the regular season, fans can see if the men’s team may make it all the way to lifting the 2020 National Championship trophy. Also, thanks to Fox Bet PA and other sportsbooks, you can place a bet and make some cash from any success the team has.

Just how has it all panned out for the Cardinals this time around?

 Coming into the current season, some people had a feeling that the Cardinals were going to do well. This has certainly turned out to be true during the regular season. They sit on top of the ACC conference with a 24-6 record and only one more game to play against rivals Virginia.

If they can win this and remain top dog, it will be a very pleasing end to an awesome year for the side. Results that will stand out include the 91-62 mauling of Indiana State and the stunning 79-73 triumph away at Duke. All this sees them looking back on a regular season in which they have performed to a high standard overall.

What has gone right in particular, and what has been behind this stellar campaign?

Form of Malik Williams and Steven Enoch

 There is no doubt that UofL has done well. Players such as David Johnson and Jordan Nwora obviously have something about them when on court. The two real standouts though have been Malik Williams and Steven Enoch. It is the form of these two that has really helped the team enjoy success in their current campaign.

Williams is not only a seriously good player but also the team’s leader. He is the player who sets the tone and who others look to when games get tough. They have noticeably struggled when he is not there. Coach Chris Mack will therefore hope that Williams’ recent ankle injury clears up in time for the upcoming March Madness. Enoch has also been in great form this year and is another whose presence is missed when not available. Another player who has size on his side, his offensive play at center has been vital to the Cardinals’ regular-season victories.

Almost perfect home record

 To say that the side has been dominant at home this season is an understatement. They currently sit with a 17-1 record – only the defeat against Florida State has blemished their stats at the KFC! Yum Center. With only one game left to play, even another loss would still leave them with a very decent home record to reflect on. This has really helped them build a solid base to do well from in 2019/20 and has helped the players gain enough confidence to perform at their best.

 Nothing breeds success in sports like a settled team. It is not hard to see, then, where the Cardinals have taken advantage of this in 2019/20. Although certain players, including Nwora and Enoch, were expected to leave, the turnover from the previous year was actually quite low. In fact, Christen Cunningham was the only major name to leave in the offseason before this campaign began. This has helped greatly as it kept a real continuity within the locker room and also gave new players such as Lamarr Kimble a solid structure to fit into.

The regular 2019/20 season went well due to Mack being in charge again. Mack is obviously a talent himself and has everything you would want in a top basketball coach. His presence alone is enough to help his team perform, as are his tactics. Indeed, he even got Louisville ranked at number one in the country for a few weeks back in December 2019.

 Although what happens in March Madness may well set the tone for how we remember the Cardinals’ season overall, it is fair to say that their regular season has gone very well. Rising to the number one ranking in the whole country is no mean feat, and topping the ACC is also an indicator of how well things have gone.