No Trophy Today, Maybe Later

Georgetown won, and the Hoyas are to be congratulated. Not the final chapter in this saga, however. Louisville wins the best two out of three if both teams are still around this time next week.

U of L showed in this loss that it can take a punch, dig deep, come back clawing and scratching. You make a mistake, relax or nodd off, the Cards will make you pay. Still, Georgetown managed to hang on for a win, an unconvincing win, but a win nevertheless.

Can’t win ’em all. At least one loss is inevitable for every team but one from here on out. This loss may have come at the best possible time. Undivided attention for the great motivator.

David Padgett, Terrence Williams, Jerry Smith and company will put this one behind them, learn from the experience. They’ve had a taste of winning, and will come out hungry.

Hundreds of practice free throws must come first. Emphasize it, put blindfolds on them if you have to, until they can hit them with their eyes closed. No excuse for people who spend 85 percent of their waking hours on a basketball court to continue missing so many free shots.

Jerry Smith, missing all seven three-point shots and hitting one of two free throws, getting a terrible shooting game out of his system, proving he’s not perfect. Smith will pump those fists again this season, count on it.

The four turnovers by Earl Clark costly, but making up for them with 10 rebounds. The lazy pass by Edgar Sosa more costly. Clark’s continuing miscues must be corrected, usually unforced, no rhyme or reason for them. Every possession too valuable at this juncture.

Terrence Williams with 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, the best player on the floor. Bottled up by the Hoyas, no opportunities, not even close, for even one of his thunder dunks today, you know, the kind that demoralize, spell doom for the opposition.

David Padgett, zero rebounds. That’s the last time that will happen.

The Cards still have a blowout win in their system, long overdue, somebody will pay soon, hopefully Seton Hall, most deserving.

Madison Square Garden, neutral court, straight ahead.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

His final high school game was a memorable one for Jerry Smith. It would be the last time he would play for his coach and dad, Jerry Smith, Sr., at Wauwatosa East High, notching 46 points that night, just one point shy of the school’s single-game scoring record.jerry.jpeg

Smith scored 31 points in the first half of his final game, eventually raising his total to 46 with a three-pointer. That’s when it happened, the injury, fracturing a bone in his right foot. That would be the final prep game for Smith, a two-time Wisconsin All-State guard. No more games for Jerry, no chance of a state championship for Wauwatosa East.

Should come as no surprise to Card fans that Smith was injured while playing defense. Smith is relentless on that side of the ball, challenging his man’s every dribble, pass, and shot, making his role in a 2-3 zone resemble man-to-man coverage. Watch him play D against Georgetown. He’s all business, a great role model and pure inspiration for reserve Preston Knowles.

David Padgett, getting most of his shots around the basket, has a higher shooting percentage. But Jerry Smith is the Cards’ best shooter, hitting 47 percent of his field goal attempts and 39 percent from the three-point line. He is also hitting 77 percent of his free throw shots. No anxiety for fans or coaches when Jerry takes a shot, he rarely takes a bad one. If he’s open, the opposition is in trouble.

Smith does all he does so effortlessly, so smoothly that he often goes unnoticed. Just contributes in every way imaginable.

Tradition Breeds Expectations

Wes Unseld, Junior Bridgeman, Allen Murphy, Wesley Cox, Jim Price, John Turner, Darrell Griffith, Dejuan Wheat, Reece Gaines, Francisco Garcia, Roger Burkman, Philip Bond, Jerry Eaves, Billy Thompson, Rodney McCray, Wiley Brown, Taquan Dean … This list could go on and on.griff.jpg

Names familiar to all knowledgeable University of Louisville basketball fans. Gone but far from forgotten, they have been instrumental in making U of L one of the most beloved and respected programs in college basketball. The skills of former U of L greats and the devotion of their fans have made Louisville the most profitable basketball program, according to Forbes Magazine.

You can bet all these former greats will be in front of their TVs Saturday, anticipating still another great moment in U of L history: Louisville vs. Georgetown for the Big East championship. They will be tense, keyed up, ready to go but there’styra.jpg nothing they will be able to do. You don’t want to be sitting next to any of them.

One can even imagine the ghosts of the late Charley Tyra and Derek Smith making the trip from basketball heaven for a game of this magnitude, hovering protectively over the Cardinals’ bench.

These and other U of L achievers established the foundation. But they’re history and they know it. They expect the current group of players to not only carry on the tradition but to set new expectations and exceed them.

Attendance Dip In Bandwagon City

Remember the days when a basketball game at Cincinnati was a great road trip, when University of Louisville fans made more noise in UC’s rotating venues than the home team? They may be returning soon, or at least until Mick Cronin returns the Bearcats to be in a more competitive mode. According to one UC blog, the Bearcats have seen their basketball attendance fall for the fourth straight season:

UC is averaging 8,477 fans per game this season, the lowest average in the 19 years the Bearcats have played in Fifth Third Arena and a 23.3 percent decline from the 11,059 that UC averaged in 2004-05, the last year that Bob Huggins was the head coach and the year in which the Bearcats made their most recent appearance in the NCAA Tournament. That figure is down four percent from last year’s 8,831, which was the previous low at Fifth Third.

“Am I concerned?,” said UC athletic director Mike Thomas. “No, I’m not. I’m actually excited about the future. I think what Mick and the kids have done this year, what the future looks like with the kids on board, the kids that are coming back and the kids that he has committed for next year, I think all arrows are pointed in the right direction.”

Interesting, the athletic director all but admits that fan loyalty hinges on the team’s up and downs. Obviously, lots of bandwagon jumpers in Cincinnati. The jumping off and on has been apparent in football for many years, where U of L fans actually outnumbered UC fans at some games.