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.

Must Read from The New York Times: The Little Cardinal That Could

Who Gives Up Tickets To UK Fans

Why kind of Louisville fan gives up tickets to UK fans for UofL-UK basketball and football games in Louisville? Despicable types, that’s for sure.

By Charlie Springer

What kind of person buys season tickets to University of Louisville basketball games and hands them over to Kentucky fans for UofL-UK games? The question is relevant because Freedom Hall will have more than a few blue-clad partisans on Sunday. It’s inevitable.

  • The self-serving boss who wants to reward customers out in the state with the ultimate gimme, tickets to the biggest game in the state. They make most of their money in Louisville but take advantage of a rare opportunity to kiss Big Blue butts.
  • Transplanted brown nosing employees from out in the state who lay claim to the company tickets three months in advance.
  • The Benedict Arnold types, the neuter-genders who say they like both UofL and UK but pull for Kentucky when the teams face each other.
  • The spineless wimp who marries a UK fan and gives in to pleas to let the brother’s family in Burgin or Paintsville use the tickets.
  • Fans who lost bets to UK fans during the last UofL-UK football game.
  • The shameless hucksters who sell their tickets to the highest bidders.
  • Victims of clueless people born and raised in Shively, St. Matthews and parts in between who call in favors from UofL fans who owe them big time. Their parents were UK fans so it was bred into them.

You don’t have to go out of your way to be nice to UK fans in Freedom Hall. That may be asking too much. Just make up your mind that you will be courteous and civil with them. Their brains are wired a little differently that ours, and they can be a little looney.

Save your ire for the people who gave them the tickets.

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Rutgers Wants Fans To Believe Louisville A Threat

The regular season of college football should be over by now for the University of Louisville but this challenging season is being extended with what almost amounts to an after-thought against Rutgers on Thursday. Or as some fans might view it, still another dagger into a corpse of a season.

One good thing about the late date of the game is that U of L gets a few more practice sessions – not as many as bowl-bound teams will, but every practice counts for a program in the process of reestablishing its competitive self.

Not much news coming from the Schnellenberger Football Complex in recent days, not even the predictable “sending the seniors out of a winning note,” probably because that’s what was said prior to the West Virginia debacle.

*   *   *

Rutgers is doing its part to enhance the image of Louisville football, conjuring up images of a powerful foe coming to town. Senior defensive end Jamaal Westerman appears to have convinced himself that the Cards are a viable threat:

“You think about it a little bit, but the biggest thing is this is a one-game season for us and that’s what’s been working for Rutgers and for us this year. So we’re really trying to focus on this as one individual game and not really think past it or what came before it.”

Louisville (5-6, 1-5) comes into Piscataway riding a four-game losing streak and needing a victory to become bowl eligible.

“If you look past Louisville, they will beat you,” Westerman said. “They will come in here and they will beat you.”

*    *   *

The best advice for Westerman and his Rugers’ teammates would be to remember how much better the Scarlet Knights have played than Louisville this season. You’ve watched the Cards on TV, reviewed the game films, read the scouting reports, seen the extensive injury list. Your biggest concern is where and when you will next play in a post-season bowl. If ever there was a game in which you could afford to be overconfident, this is that game.

One More Test Of Louisville Football Loyalty

Before anyone else gets the urge to call, the observer doesn’t want or need any more tickets to the Louisville-West Virginia football game. Season ticket holder here for 40 years. Two tickets are all we need, but thanks.

People giving up tickets is not good. Twice today, individuals have offered them. Gonna be too cold, they say, adding something to the effect that the Cards will get creamed. The encouraging part is they said they want the tickets to be used and will offer them to someone else. That would be a positive thing.

The Louisville football team could very well “get creamed” on Saturday. But even more embarrassing would be an excess of empty seats belonging to people claiming to be ardent UofL fans. The ultimate test of loyalty is a game in which the Cards are sure underdogs, with a coach under fire, with a losing season looming for the first time in over a decade, and with temperatures in the low forties.

People who will show up for game under these conditions are the diehards. Their affinity for the university extends beyond personalities, temporary setbacks, and controversy. A game actually provides relief from the arguments about who did what, for whom, why, who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s smart, who’s dumb and what will happen during the off season. They are more than diehards, they are the foundation, the people you know you can count on whatever the future holds for Louisville football.

They are well aware that this team has nothing to lose. Nothing to lose, unless you count the 22 seniors who will be playing in their final Louisville football game at home. The Cards have compiled a 32-15 record during their time here, including an Orange Bowl win and a Gator Bowl appearance. And, yes, they know the young men will be playing their hearts out for them.

Plus, it’s the last college football game in Louisville for another 10 months. Basketball can help fill the sports vacuum but it’s not football. Plenty of reasons to put those football tickets to good use.

Not Closure, But Open Season

Tom Jurich seems to be going out of his way to make sure the world knows that he stands behind football coach Steve Kragthorpe. The decisionmaker for University of Louisville athletics reinforced his support today for the third time in a week.

Funny, he needed a news conference to repeat what every UofL football fan already knew.

Tom Jurich
Tom Jurich

Makes you wonder what else is going on. It wouldn’t be the first time an athletic director has given a coach a vote of confidence and then axed him a few weeks later. But Jurich is not going fire a football coach after only two seasons for any reason other than unethical conduct. Doing so would make finding a successor much more difficult now than later.

While Jurich’s assumed purpose was to quell talk of a coaching change, he inadvertently or purposefully — only he knows for sure — may have reignited the speculation all over again. When asked if Kragthorpe would be returning, he replied: “Yes, Steve will be back next year … if he wants to be.”

That may be all the encouragement the Kragthorpe haters need to turn up the heat. My guess is that Kragthorpe has already decided, one way or the other.

*   *  *

Construction on stadium expansion could conceivably begin as early as Monday. Jurich said only that construction would begin after the football season. This month? Next month? The guess here is the answer will come about the same time as the answer to the coaching question.