Louisville Gear Attracts Friends, Foes

By Paul Sykes

Wear the gear and people will comment. We recently went on a “mini-vacation” to Nashville and Gatlinburg…a chance to relax, get away from it all and enjoy the splendor of the Great Smokies. I packed several Cardinal hats and shirts and proudly wore the colors as we toured.

One young man, wearing a questionable pink University of Kentucky baseball cap, assured me that UK would sweep football and basketball this year. I laughed good-naturedly and commented that he looked good in pink ...

More than ever, total strangers were coming up to me out of the blue to discuss University of Louisville sports. I heard several positive comments about Lady Cards hoops, the baseball team and the prospects of Earl Clark and T-Will in the NBA draft. An Atlanta resident informed me she was so happy that Angel McCoughtry was playing for the Atlanta Dream.

One young man, wearing a questionable pink University of Kentucky baseball cap, assured me that UK would sweep football and basketball this year. I laughed good-naturedly and commented that he looked good in pink, which drew the laughter of his sidekicks and produced a scowl and verbal obscenity from him as he slinked off.

A young lady later that evening, sporting a John Calipari T-shirt, smugly informed me “those Cardinals weren’t no damn good.” I chuckled and offered her a couple of dollars to take off the Calipari shirt and let me use it to clean off the table where we were sitting.

Rejected.

We were in an English pub on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, sampling some very tasty porters and stouts, when the proprietor of the pub walked over to our table, grinning broadly and informed me he was a transplanted Cardinal and bought our next round. Discussion turned eventually to the prospects of the football team. “Joe” isn’t a candidate to start the Gatlinburg Steve Kragthorpe fan club, believe me. If you read this, Joe, remember Sonja’s motto: Love the players, love the game.

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Minutes later, the news flashed about Michael Jackson. For the rest of the night, the sudden death of the “King of Pop” was the buzz of the city.  The band playing in the bar even played a nicely done four or five-song tribute to the icon. Say what you will about the headline grabbing Mr. Jackson, “Rock With You” and “She’s Out of My Life” are two songs that will always bring back the memories of the beginnings of my life long love affair with the cagey lady who shyly agreed to go out on a date with me over 3o years ago.

The album “Off The Wall” was released in 1979 and several months later,  UofL won its first National Championship in basketball. It’s the only Jackson recording I’ve ever bought. I’ve even owned it in eight-track, cassette and CD.  Good times.

Shake It Off, Louisville 74, Morehead 54

No mas, por favor!

Cast the nightmare spell, the disaster scenario on another top seed another year, the nightmare with the 64th seed toppling the No. 1 seed. Visions of the ice gathering, the ship sinking, bubbling, never to resurface.

Those big second halves aren’t automatic and the supply could be limited.

Andre McGee making the most of every second.
Andre McGee making the most of every second.

Come out pumped, ready to play, the first 20 minutes. Louisville was, but the adrenaline was pumping overtime for Morehead, providing ample evidence:

Every opponent will be super charged, over motivated, driven and desperate to take you down.

Not necessary, not appropriate, this stuff reported by CBS Sports:

Terrence Williams had extended his long, tattoo-covered arms and boogied at midcourt when the Morehead State pep band played “We Got The Funk” during pregame warmups, an indication that the tournament’s top team — one with two titles already on its resume — was in the mood for some celebrating.

There’s loose and there’s being silly.

The No. 1 ranking, the No. 1 seed. Forget ’em. Bathed in the accolades for four days, almost four days too many. More of a detriment than a weapon in the NCAA Tournament.

  • Andre McGee all over the court, here, there, back, forth, in, out, relentless on defense, setting the example, defining leadership. No time for laurels, got to bust one’s butt, or get out of the way.
  • Samardo Samuels never celebrates, no joking around with him. The closest he comes to smiling is a rim-rattling dunk, his body language all business, with his nine points largely responsible for Louisville’s two-point lead at the half. Some day going to be great one because he is so focused.
  • Terrence Williams due to come out of his shooting slump, adjust to whatever the opposition is throwing at him these days. A Louisville win without a T-Will dunk or two or three leaves fans with a half-full sensation, just not quite as satisfying. Get serious, T-Will, this is serious stuff. Show time comes later. We appreciate the nine rebounds, the 13 points, but there is more in the tank.
  • Earl Clark apparently saving his best for Sunday. The five assists would have been impressive without the five turnovers. The one steal was impressive but what followed the next few seconds wasn’t.
  • Edgar Sosa not letting Clark out do him with an equal number of turnovers. Can’t afford them.
  • Jared Swopshire finally hitting a three-point shot. Progress but still timid. Invest some energy into all that playing time.

Typical of many Louisville performances this season, the good, the bad and the ugly. Wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun if the Cards made it look too easy.  Bring it, Sunday.

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