Work In Progress

A lot of good things happened in U of L’s 80-60 win over South Florida, pushing the Cards’ record to 14-5 overall and 4-2 in Big East conference play. Among them:

– Terrence Williams handing out 10 assists in the first half. Has U of L ever had a more unselfish player as physically talented as Williams?

– Earl Clark hitting eight of 12 shots for 18 and eight rebounds. Probably more motivated as a reserve than as a starter.

– Defense holding the Bulls to 40 percent shooting, 22 of 55 shots from the field, 5 of 16 from three-point range. The carnival shooters from Seton Hall relegated to ugly memories.

— Jerry Smith, consistently good, never shot happy even though he’s the team’s best shooter, serious about defense.

But there continue to be some troubling issues:

– Team relaxing, letting up when it gets a good lead, lacking a killer instinct, allowing South Florida to get back to within 14 points in the second half.

– Edgar Sosa forgetting his role as play maker, getting lost in traffic, killing momentum. Everybody loves the guy but if this continues, Edgar is going to keep losing playing time. Rick Pitino may even forget to put Sosa in for a couple of games.

– David Padgett missing layup after layup. Obviously, still recovering.

– Derrick Caracter going backwards these days, rarely contributing in the last two games.

South Florida Mirage

Louisville fans can be forgiven if they relax against South Florida. The Bulls have been down so long it’s hard to remember if they were ever a serious basketball threat. USF is trudging along with 10-9 won-lost record and is mired in a five-game losing streak.

But Cardinal fanatics should know better by now. This team can’t let up against anyone, not at home, not on the road. This South Florida team was very much in the game at Seton Hall last Thursday before finally succumbing by 10 points. Highlights include a win over Florida State 68-67 at Tallahassee and a 23-point spanking of Rutgers at Tampa.

The Bulls are backed into a corner, trying to salvage their season. They view the U of L game as an opportunity to salvage their manhood, ala Seton Hall. USF has a balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging double figures. They are led by 6-foot-9 Kentrell Gransberry with 16.9 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Their rowdy fans have always hated anything U of L, often taunting coaches and players on the bench. This is not a team to be overlooked or pitied.

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Anyone else needing a college football fix? News from the Schnellenger Complex is that the Spring Scrimmage has been set for April 19th. By the way, football signing day is February 6th.

View From The Valley

U of L looked like a team to be reckoned with in the Marquette win. Persistence on defense. Patience on offense. Brimming with confidence, surely headed back to the top 25.

The Cards didn’t play that badly in the loss to Seton Hall, at least not until the final four minutes. From that point on, they suddenly couldn’t pass, shoot or play defense. Ran out of gas, lost their poise, rolled over and died.

Seton Hall, meanwhile, was playing the game of its life, buoyed by the prospect of beating what their coach described as a “legendary program.” The Pirate fans were pumped, on the verge of hysteria, at the prospect of pulling off the big upset. The players and fans were feeding off on each other. Hazell who? Just throw the ball up from anywhere, that’s who. Crazy stuff.

It’s a game U of L players and fans won’t soon forget. A letdown was inevitable after Marquette, even though it didn’t become obvious until the fatal four minute mark. May be fortunate that such a loss comes early in conference competition. Need to get a chip on the shoulder, and keep it there. Can’t take anything for granted when every game against the Cards means so much to every opponent.

Wanna Get Away?

A limited number of tickets for U of L basketball games against Big East opponents on the road are available for sale through the ticket office.

Available games with ticket prices are as follows: Jan. 28 at UConn, $30; Feb. 4 at Marquette, $15; Feb. 16 at Providence, $17; and Feb. 24 at Pittsburgh, $27.50

Tickets may be purchased at the ticket office at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium or on the third floor of the Swain Student Activities Center. Ticket orders will also be accepted by telephone with a credit card by calling 852-5151.

Warning: Games are played in hostile environments.

Hazell’s Magic Treys

— Can’t feel too bad about that one, not with the freaky shooting of Jeremy Hazell. Taking shots he shouldn’t have been taking, shots going in that should have been clanking. More carnival than basketball.

— U of L played well enough to win, and should have won going away. Hazell apparently could have closed his eyes and still made those bombs.

— Hazell’s heretic heroics overshadowed great performances by U of L’s Jerry Smith and Seton Hall’s Brian Laing, applying skill over absurdity to collect 25 points apiece.

— All those club member bounces for Hazell’s teammates, balls bouncing wildly around the rim, then falling though the net, were frustrating as well.

— Outcome gives new meaning to better lucky than good.

— Starting to hate these trips to the New York area, with all of U of L’s New Yorkers rarely performing well for families and friends.