How is Spida Mitchell so Cardinal Red?

 By Steve Springer
 
I grew up my entire minor life in Louisville.  My mother took me with her to a teachers’ in-service at Male one summer when I was a wee little Card. Probably early eighties. Alumnus Griff was shooting by himself in the gym. She took me in and Dr. Dunkenstein held me up to slam it through.  I don’t remember it but my parents are proud to remind me of it. 
 
Donovan Mitchell having some fun at John Gillian’s expense during game against Syracuse last season (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

In the following years I was blessed to have been provided the opportunity to go to game after game at Freedom Hall and see his mug here and there and always reminded of his place in Cardinal Lore, in record books, posters, memorabilia adorning my parents’ home.  He was a fixture of my childhood. 

 
We ran into him again on the Toonerville Trolley by the Galt House a few years later and I of course recognized him and got his autograph.  He seemed pleasantly humbled that a young kid would recognize him after being gone from UofL for so long, and so did my mother.
 
I’ve lived the UofL life. I’ve known him since I was able to have conscious memories. I went to all the home games as a kid. I skipped school when I was old enough to drive to sneak to the daytime C-USA tourney games. I went to UofL out of high school. I know the whole story. Griff is fully appreciated by me, as he is by you probably if you took the time to click on this article. 
 
This begs the question, how is Donovan Mitchell so Cardinal?  How is he so Louisville?  How is his blood so red that Don dons a #35 jersey in the process of becoming the first Cardinal to win a Slam Dunk contest?  We’ve had four Cards try to bring home the trophy, with Billy T, Greg Minor, and of course Griff, coming up short.
 
Spida exudes L1C4 as much as I could. If I was six inches taller I would be in the NBA doing what he does. At least in my imagination.  I would be ripping off my team jersey and dunking in my throwback Mike Abrams #44 Dunking Cardinal jersey.  But where does he get it?
 
He’s not from The Ville. He is from friggin’ New Hampshire, grew up in New York, and went to school in Connecticut.  Not a recipe that had him popping cups at Redbird games.  He didn’t count down the days until Derby Festival. He didn’t party at Kentucky Kingdom Friday Night Dance parties with N2Deep and cruise Preston Highway.
 
He spent two years as a Cardinal, yet he’s tweeting pictures of custom red Adidas kicks that he’ll wear in honor of a championship team he didn’t play a second for.  He’s being honored by Griff himself to receive his trophy in Salt Lake tonight.
 
As cliche as it is, Donovan embodies everything that is L1C4, us against the world right now.  His character, demeanor, and sentimentality for everything that is so sacred to Cardnation is so refreshing right now that it is such a breath of fresh air in all of the moral repugness that is the NCAA and its shenanigans against UofL the last couple of years. 
 
The shoes Donovan is wearing tonight have a “D” that looks like a wing. Some or most would say a that is a Cardinal wing. I think it just might be an angel wing…
 
 
 

“Biggest Fan of the Big East”

 

Louisville pleased to welcome UK to FBI recruiting scandal

Well, now.  Maybe there’s a chance that the problems that have long permeated the NCAA and college basketball will be finally be addressed. The recruiting process has been exposed as ripe with corruption, exposing many of the top programs in the sport.

The cheating has obviously become so ingrained in the system that administrators, coaches, players and fans long ago turned a blind eye to the system, with concerned observers giving up hope that anything would ever be done.

The corruption has gone on for so long and involved so many members that it has become an integral part of collegiate governance.

That all changed last October when the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced numerous arrests, naming names of some players and assistant coaches in connection with illegal payments and fraud. Caught in the process was University of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, who would, in fact, be fired two later, along with highly popular Athletic Director Tom Jurich.

UofL fans and supporters were understandably disappointed and angered that two of the most successful people in the school’s history would be singled out for retribution. Especially when it was widely suspected, if not common knowledge, that the University of Kentucky had turned questionable recruiting into a fine art. 

One can forgive Louisville fans, whose program was unfairly made the face of the FBI scandal for five months, for a collective sense of exuberance when it became apparent they had lots of company. One caller to a local sports talk said UofL fans were hanging Christmas tree lights all over the downtown, joyful that UK had finally been named in the scandal.

This after the news broke Friday that many other programs and players were involved in illegal financial schemes with professional sports agents, including UK, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Villanova, among others.

Many programs already implicated in the cheating. But to date, the FBI has released the records of only one professional agent. Much more to come with an estimated 50 sports agents with links to professional basketball and college recruiting. If the FBI is truly serious about bringing about change, the investigation has only just begun. The hypocrisy of the NCAA with its ignorance of the shady world of college recruiting and its uneven approach to administering punishment to member schools is inexcusable.

The real fear for any basketball program, especially if one has systematically cheated for decades, may be that the new or reformed organization truly wants to make an example of one of the former blue bloods of college basketball. A poster child for bad behavior, if you will.

A continuing avalanche of revelations may finally force the organization to address the problems in an comprehensive and honest approach. One would not be surprised, however, if the organization is beyond repair and will need to be replaced by a new one that bringing a whole new approach to administering college athletics, including compensation for athletes.

A few schools may decide to withhold some athletes who have already been named in allegations, if only to protect their programs against the possibility of vacated wins in the future. Others, having seen what happened at UofL and Notre Dame in cooperating with the NCAA, will fight the organization at every step of the way.

One fears that no punishment will ever be meted out against some of the top programs involved in illegal recruiting. Because there are so many of them, and they do constitute the organization, the NCAA is more like to go into a self-preservation mode, creating changes and bending existing rules to protect the organization and the members involved.

The corruption has gone on for so long and involved so many members that it has become an integral part of collegiate governance. The individuals charged with bringing about change in the NCAA will be, in too many instances, the same people who perpetuated the organization’s problems and are oblivious and resistant to the need for real change.

 

NCAA finally acts, UofL can resume journey again

The worst possible outcome.

The ultimate indignity of the result of Andre McGee’s actions has become a reality with the NCAA’s decision that the University of Louisville must take down the 2013 NCAA banner. 

Any official references to UofL’s third national championship must be removed from the playing facilities and future media guides. And the athletic department is subject to a $600,000 fine. 

The irritating thing about running afoul of NCAA restrictions is the time involved in the investigative process. The revelation about McGee was made in October 2015, making UofL subject to all kinds of ridicule and angst for almost two-and-a-half years. Agonizing and unnecessary.

Small wonder that many Louisville fans feel a sense of relief now that the NCAA has announced the punishment. The legal process is flawed, the punishment is not justified, and the NCAA has once again suffered a self-inflicted blow to its credibility.

The problems within the NCAA that are reflective of what have been happening with higher education over several decades. So much competition, jealousy, arrogance in a class system of universities. They preach publicly about “fairness and equality” while crushing institutions and athletic programs for the actions of one or two individuals.

It never mattered that the University of Louisville tried to do the right thing, self-imposing an NCAA tournament ban, reducing its recruiting budget and the number of scholarships. This was a chance for a group of officials from other schools within the NCAA to throw the book at another school. Especially gratifying to them because UofL’s growth had been so phenomenal over the past decade.

UofL will recover and move on from this, much stronger from all of the trials and indignities. Louisville alumni and fans have been through a lot but the vast majority of them will remain supportive and loyal. 

The athletic department has hit bottom, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. It begins here. Now.

Louisville still looking for take charge guy after North Carolina loss

Best crowd of the season, 21,210 fans for the Louisville-North Carolina game at the KFC Yum! Center (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

University of Louisville basketball fans, bless their hearts, hoping for the return of the good times. An electric atmosphere, a white out game, a crowd of 21,210 on hand at the KFC Yum! Center. Ready to make some magic happen.

The frenzied throng would will their team back from an early deficit of 19 points only to  see UofL fall short time and time again. Unable to handle the pass, make the play, grab the rebound or make the shot that would have put the game on the line.

Deng Adel missing on this shot but leading UofL with 20 points and six assists (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A team seemingly unable to match the enthusiasm or confidence of its fans. Unable to make shots within point blank range, blowing all kinds of layups. Not a threat on the offensive boards, getting outscored 22-6 on second chance points.

Missing from UofL was a lack of any defensive presence in the 93-76 loss to North Carolina. The Cardinals unable to sustain any intensity on the defensive end, allowing the Tar Heels to make almost 50% of their shots.

As in UofL’s previous eight losses, fans looking for someone to provide some positive energy — take over a game, provide some leadership, refuse to lose — would be disappointed. The leadership doesn’t seem to be there, either from an individual or collective basis, verbally or by example. 

The latest loss occurring after impressive wins over two of the worst teams in the conference, dashing any hopes that UofL had turned any corners. Exposing the Cardinals, and their biggest weakness, still looking for leadership with four games to go in the regular season. 

 

No sweat for Louisville in listless loss to Syracuse

Anas Mahmoud in a tight spot going for a rebound (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Apparently asking a bit much to get overly excited about playing Syracuse for a team that had lost three of its last four games and on a two-game skid. Easy does it, nothing to get worked up about for the University of Louisville basketball team.

Fire in the belly, what’s that? Never let them see you sweat. Not against Syracuse.

Another disappointing night for Deng Adel, third loss in a row (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

UofL seemingly just going through the motions, content with hanging around for much of the game. Syracuse, like Virginia and Florida State before them, sliding through the UofL defense with ease, making all kinds of improbable shots. 

Fans hoping for the Cardinals to make a run would be only partially rewarded. UofL would manage to cut a 10-point deficit to two points at the 4:05 mark. Getting back in the game with Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud repeatedly taking the ball inside, fouling out two Syracuse starters.

Ready to capitalize. But no.

For some inexplicable reason, Louisville will revert back to the outside game. Three-point clunker by Quentin Snider, three-point brick by Deng Adel, a two-point unanswered prayer by Snider. Forget about Spalding and Mahmoud, those guys won’t see the ball again.

Just a momentary scare, not a serious threat, and Syracuse will easily prevail 78-73. The Cardinals going from almost a sure thing to a desperate bubble team over the past week, their won-loss record falling to 16-8 overall and 6-5 in the conference.

The Cardinals showing all the signs of slipping away at a time when they need to be fine tuning. Not that they seem all that concerned, with the disappearance of any intensity. Maybe they know something we don’t, and they’re saving it for a stretch run.  Maybe.