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.

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.

Rutgers Relief

Good to get that one out of the system. Looked like two teams of players roused from their beds on a Sunday for a noon time television game.

— Rutgers has plenty of talent. Will surprise teams at home if they can get their act together.

— Had to be embarrassed for Derrick Caracter who kept getting shot after shot of his blocked in the first half. Ten miles from home, he had to feel humiliated.

— David Padgett is making it tough on opponents on the defensive end but he still lacks the ability to get off the floor. That will hurt against mobile big men.

— Will Scott was a magnet for the ball during his few minutes, attracting stray rebounds and bad passes. Hey, whatever works.

— Edgar Sosa should not feel bad for attempting to block a three-point shot, barely touching the shooter after the shot, not when officials ignore so many shooters getting hammered on layups.

* * *

Good vibes coming from Inside the Ville and Rivals on the football recruiting weekend. Apparently several key recruits were on hand for the U of L-UConn women’s basketball game at a sold-out Freedom Hall. How could one not be impressed?

Putting The Pieces Together, How Soon …

Not as bad as Kentucky, about even with Cincinnati, not as good as Dayton …

Before the win over UK, U of L fans would have had been deluding themselves if they gave this basketball team a five on a scale of 1 to 10. The Cards had lost to four teams they could have beaten while not looking very impressive in achieving the nine wins.

A win over Kentucky, the hated arch rival to the east — no matter how bad the Cats are — is reason enough for temporary amnesia about early season play. Beating the Wildcats on their home court, shutting up their vocal fan base, has that kind of effect.

Assuming the win over the Cats was the result of “smart play” and not driven by high levels of adrenaline, Card fans have a number of reason to believe this team can still be among the best U of L teams in a couple of decades:

  • The miraculous return of David Padgett with his leadership abilities. Padgett’s desire to play basketball is exceeded only by his will to win. He has earned his position as a leader, and his teammates are taking note.
  • Juan Palacios, if he plays like he did in Lexington, will be another stabilizing force on the front line.
  • Derrick Caracter seems to have discovered the ability to feed open teammates. That’s good because the opposition is becoming more effective in stopping him around the basket.
  • Jerry Smith is exuding confidence behind the three-point line. Knows when to shoot and when to dish.
  • Terrence Williams obviously has the physical attributes. Showed last season he can play smart and under control. That’s the form to which he needs to return.

Meanwhile, Andre McGee and Edgar Sosa need to settle into their respective roles. How soon that happens depends on how quickly Sosa comes around. Earl Clark? Quite a bit of ability but low levels of intensity thus far. If he ever becomes a team player, look out.