T-Will Get Ready

Remarkable, all the work, the reproving of themselves that former college basketball stars like Terrence Williams, from the University of Louisville, have to do to get ready for the National Basketball Association draft. Hang in there T-Will, only a couple of weeks away, June 25th at Madison Square Garden.

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Remember Doris Burke, the ESPN commentator who impresses few viewers with her oratory during women’s basketball games and even fewer during football games? Pat Forde apparently doesn’t want to included among the few, as indicated in his tweet about her chirping after a recent game:

40onBurke

Siena A Blur? How About Some Highlights

The win over Sienna a blur, switching back and forth between two TV stations and Slingbox, with wife, son, and three grandkids all huddled around the laptop on the floor at one point, demanding, praying, hoping, wishing CBS had people with common sense making the broadcasting feed decisions.

Grandson Koby was getting baptized over the weekend so it was off to Murray, in far Western Kentucky, far from Louisville TV stations, the only sources available in Nashville and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The Louisville game was not available in the second half on either station so we crank up Slingbox which enables you to watch Louisville TV stations on the computer. The viewing is far from great but at least you can see the game.

We were able to watch the second half on Slingbox, at least until Siena made its run. Then even the Louisville feed was interrupted for other games. WHAS radio in Western Kentucky? Are you kidding? And, believe it or not, junior doesn’t have a radio and we weren’t going to leave our lucky seats and sit in a car, knowing that WHAS is a myth in that part of the state, as is the U of L radio network. The only option available was waiting, waiting and waiting for the tiny scores to change at the top of the screen, methodically, magically bending U of L’s way.

That was when Terrence Williams was turning in the performance of his career, carrying Louisville on his back, taking over the game, T-Willing it to happen.

The sad thing was that even most University of Louisville fans, watching their game in their own family rooms at home, missed his dazzling heroics. Here are a few highlights (not enough of T-Will’s, some of those are mythical, buried deep in the recesses of our collective heart):


Get The Darts Ready — The man responsible for all the network cutaways from the Louisville-Siena game was Mike Aresco, executive vice president of programming at CBS, who is sadly lacking in a basic understanding of his target audience, denying Louisville fans a chance to see their team successfully struggle for its basketball life. Some on his staff forgot to tell him that Louisville has the highest percentage of college basketball viewers in America, and the vast majority of them are U of L fans.

Mike Aresco earned the ire of U of L fans.


No Doze: Louisville 60, St. John’s 47

Another sleepy Sunday afternoon. Mediocre opponent. Neutral court. Poor shooting. Jerry Smith not starting. Terrence Williams not hitting. Been there.

Back to the big city, home territory for Earl Clark, Edgar Sosa, and Will Scott and the hangout for many Rick Pitino contacts. Madison Square Garden, scene of 10 losses in the last 11 visits.

Not pretty, but not déjà vu. Not this trip.

The jovial part of T-Will missing.  Hitting three free throws for his only points but keeping his head up and into the game, knowing he’s the leader this time around, seven rebounds and eight assists. Invaluable.

Jerry Smith, he of the slow feet, hitting 11 of 11 free throws and leading all scorers with 21 points. Not starting, but not riding the bench much either, Pitino recognizing that he is indispensable in this kind of game.

Samardo Samuels unveiling some new moves, collecting nine points before catching an elbow in the mouth, losing two teeth, heading to a New York hospital for oral surgery. Pitino with his New York connections probably getting prompt medical attention for him. No sitting around in Manhattan emergency waiting rooms.

Terrence Jennings checking in, needing to be a force, playing big, pulling down the rebounds Louisville had to have, winding up with seven of them, five on the offensive end. Providing exactly the kind of raw talent and strength Louisville needed in a bruising toughest.eam-wins kind of game.

Andre McGee stepping back, sinking a 15-footer, giving the Cards an eight-point lead, making a three-possession game at the 1:57 mark.

Earl Clark making only two turnovers, progress. Twelve points and eight rebounds. Still, would have been a good day in front of family and friends to put the team on his shoulders. Maybe next time, has to happen soon, running out of regular season.

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File The Memories, Pittsburgh Looms

By Charlie Springer

Anyone else have trouble sleeping the night of the Notre Dame game? Eyes closed but the mind still churning, dwelling on T-Will dunks, Earl Clark explosions, Samardo Samuels put-backs, Terrence Jennings blocks, Edgar Sosa’s prayer shots, and Kyle McAlarney being hounded by Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles and Andre McGee.

Visions lingering, lingering longer than those years-ago hangovers. The observer had to catch a three-hour nap the next afternoon to get back to normal. Tuck the memories away for now, move on. There is work to do, other issues, each game bigger than the last one.

Still, the observer would venture that Louisville hasn’t played a game at that level against such a good opponent since 1986. Yes, of course, we remember the comeback versus West Virginia in 2005, the Tennessee finish in 2001, and all the Memphis and Marquette thrillers.

Games like these are what turn ordinary fans into full-fledged fanatics and raise expectations through the roof. Four breath-stopping finishes in less than 10 days. The difference between Monday’s game and the other games is that UofL was playing at a much higher level against Notre Dame. No miracle comeback required.

Among many reasons to be nervous as No. 1 Pittsburgh comes calling Saturday is whether this particular group of Cards will have a mental letdown after so many close games. One can expect Rick Pitino to dig deep into his repository of motivational kick-starts for a pre-game speech that will rival all others this weekend. How much would you pay to hear that one?

Memories of last season’s game at Pittsburgh are dominated by flashes of burly monsters who constantly dominated the backboards, obscenely stuffed the baskets, and physically abused the Cards while rarely getting called for fouls. Yeah, the Cards lost for the third straight year to Pitt in the Big East Tournament. Memories of those games non-existent. Intentionally or unintentionally, who knows?

Time to create new memories: The Notre Dame game may have been child’s play compared to what’s coming Saturday.

Lady Cards Now 16-1

The Louisville women’s basketball is having a special season, too, off to an incredible 16-1 start. Two wins in a row the last two seasons over perennial power Rutgers. They would be undefeated if they had not played Nevada and some questionable officiating on Nevada’s home court but you won’t get any excuses from Jeff Walz.

If you’re a University of Louisville fanatic, you owe yourself the next home game against Cincinnati next Tuesday, at 8 p.m. at Freedom Hall. Angel McCoughtry is as good as they say she is, an exceptional basketball player.

Before that happens, however, the Lady Cards face South Florida in Tampa tonight (see Sonja’s preview) at 8, and they travel to Washington, D.C. on Saturday to face Georgetown at 4 p.m.  One week later, they will play No. 1 UConn (15-0) on the road.

Catch your breath if you follow both the men’s and women’s teams. Huge times ahead.

Another Freedom Hall Classic

By Charlie Springer

The latest experience begins with the observer forking over a pile of cash for two prime seats, anticipating that this would be one of those kind of games. An investment that would be rewarded tenfold with a magnificent view: a defensive masterpiece that would rival any seen in dozens, maybe hundreds of games at Freedom Hall over the years.

— You’ve seen them, we’ve all seen, games where someone emerges as a star, someone who has to be reckoned with. It happened for Louisville in this game. The eruption of Terrence Jennings as a defensive behemoth. Luke Harangody unable to miss a shot for much of the game, tip-ins, hooks, jumpers, three-pointers, it didn’t matter where, anywhere and everywhere. Until Terrence Jennings emerged. Thwarted. Not once, not twice, but three times. That wasn’t in the game films, huh Luke?

— Kyle McAlarney will be seeing the nostrils and sniffing the arm pits of Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles and mclarneyAndre McGee in his nightmares until the teams meet again on Feb. 12 at South Bend. A player who could probably make a good living as a Notre Dame leprechaun look-alike has an incredible, almost robotic precision as a shooter.  When denied three-pointers, he attacks the basket with equal ability. That is until Smith, Knowles and McGee deny him any semblance of daylight.

Earl Clark. Forty-three minutes of emotion and all-out effort. He’s playing for the name on the front of the jersey now, the rest will follow. He keeps surprising fans with startling new moves previously unimaginable for No. 5.

— Terrence Williams had the look before the tipoff. A special night, a special game. He knew it would take a special effort, one of the kind of efforts you look back at after your career is done. He has impressed many times at Louisville but never more often in one game. How fitting it would have been if his final shot in regulation had counted. Replays indicate that it should have but what the heck. Do an encore in overtime.

— Samardo Samuels is quickly gaining on the learning curve, taking Harangody to the basket time and time again, knowing that half the fouls would never be called. Collecting 18 points himself, most of them requiring body-jarring effort.

Yeah, just had to have that mind-bogging, twisting prayer from Edgar Sosa bouncing off the glass straight into net abyss. Had to be good, just had to be good in this game.

The Speech.  You know, the pre-game motivational ones, the Rick Pitino specials, each of them unique, fiery, making you want to charge the bayonets. Pitino, the masterful motivator.

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Other views of the game: Frank at Hell In The Hall and Mike at Card Chronicle.