Reasons To Back Memphis

This observer picks Memphis in the NCAA championship. Not because he likes Memphis, nothing could be further from the mark. Memphis is the choice because it is the non-traditional power overcoming all the biases against non-state universities and schools that are not considered by the herd as traditional powers.

Memphis is not at all likable, with players like Joey Dorsey who use intimidation more than finesse to get their way. The sight of Dorsey towering over and glaring at a Tennessee free throw shooter is one I won’t soon forget. Their coach, John Calipari, is a whiner personified, a man who recruits controversial players, the kind of person you like to see get canned and have his team placed on probation.

The pick for Memphis is for all the schools that have to work twice as hard to get recognition, that don’t get first choice at state monies to beautify their campuses, that have to fight the rural legislators and the big state university like dogs for recognition, that have to convert “state” fans to “hometown” fans or have to work or park next to state fans every day in their own communities.

Go get ’em, Memphis. Beat the stereotypes.

* * *

50,000 VisitsCard Game just today surpassed the 50,000-visit mark, a remarkable milestone since undertaking this venture in late September. It is a fun endeavor, writing about a program that has been extra special since childhood, absorbing over five decades. Thanks for visiting. Add Card Game to your favorites and check back daily for new material.

Tar Heels All Day Long

Much at stake Card fans.

Saturday will be a long day whether Louisville wins, splits or loses two games against North Carolina. Carolina fans have all but marked both games down in the win columns. Can’t blame them because the University of Louisville has had to make up ground in recent years, getting the men’s and women’s teams competitive.ul_cardinal_head_logo2.jpg

The challenges are immense but Tom Jurich hires people like Rick Pitino and Jeff Walz because they relish such opportunities. Take on the best, means more, even more satisfying, if you beat them in front of their fans.

Men must defeat the nation’s No. 1 team, a team with a 32-2 record to make the Final Four. A real shot at a third national championship beckons for the first time in two decades. The surprising trip in 2005 was a major achievement, but nobody gave U of L any chance.

However, the Cards are a serious contender this time around; they’re close, they can almost taste it.

Got to get past North Carolina first.

Women must get past a No. 3-ranked team with a 30-2 record to make the Elite Eight. Would be the first time ever to get that far. This is all new to them. Perennial powers UConn and Rutgers can attest to their toughness, however.

It would be too easy to say they’re a year away. That would be a mistake, next year is a mirage, not yet real. The next level is staring the women in the face.

Got to get past North Carolina.

Alcohol Sales at Louisville Games

This observer doesn’t drink at Louisville games, primarily because it seems every time I do the Cardinals wind up losing, the most memorable occasion being the overtime loss to UCLA in the 1975 Final Four. That’s reason enough to abstain, staying under control to keep things on the court or field in hand. Don’t mind if my neighbors partake — just don’t interfere with this one’s personal intensity.

In August 2005, the NCAA Executive Board suggested that member colleges and universities stop selling alcohol at athletic events, probably at the urging of NCAA Commissioner and former Indiana University President Myles Brand. One of Bobby Knight’s favorite people. Won’t happen at U of L any time soon, because the companies have been so good to the program.

“A lot of our facilities were built through sponsorship with certain companies, such as Budweiser through Freedom Hall,” said Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics. “We have to conform to what is in our contract with them. Alcohol sales are part of that.”

Speaking to the student newspaper, Jurich says U of L’s policy is consistent with that of other Big East members, including St. Johns, Villanova, Seton Hall, and Providence universities. “We consider everything that the NCAA asks us to look at,” he said, “but our conference has told us we are welcome to sell alcohol, and right now that is where we are at.”

The only time alcohol sales were ever a noticeable problem was at a football game against Tennessee in the old Fairgrounds Stadium in the mid-nineties. Must have been a record number of fights that night, several of the Vol fans apparently not able to manage their alcohol intake.

U of L owes companies like Brown-Forman, Budweiser and Makers Mark a huge debt of gratitude for all they’ve done for the program over many years. The continuance of the alcohol sales is an important way of saying thank you.

Drink responsibly.

Derrick In The Present

Now that’ s more like it, Derrick Caracter getting emotional. Clapping his hands. Waving a fist. Clapping his hands. Going strong to the basket, making the difficult shots.

Scoring 17 points, grabbing four rebounds and being called for only two fouls [one of them a phantom foul], helping U of L score an important win over St. John’s. Being named player of the game by both the TV and radio broadcasting crews.

Representing the university well in his radio interview following the game, saying all the right things, knowing he has to continue working hard to get better. Acknowledging that he has not been contributing much lately, pledging to bring it in future games.

Coach Rick Pitino said he told Caracter a couple of days ago that players who play exceptionally hard always look good, that you can’t dwell on what’s happened in the past, have to work hard and get it done in the present.

What that means is enjoy the moment, Derrick. But the St. John’s game is history. Gotta prove yourself all over again Monday night in a challenging road game at UConn. Play exceptionally hard.

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.