The game started going south for the University of Louisville basketball team when Anas Mahmoud was whistled for his second foul with just over eight minutes to go in the first half. UofL was leading 19-18 at that point.
Who’s next? Won’t be long until the next blow, a crushing one.
The game was over two minutes later when Ray Spalding picked up his second foul, the game tied 21-21 at the 6:49 mark. Kentucky would score 11 straight points and would never be seriously threatened thereafter.
UofL can’t afford to have the two big men in foul trouble. Coach David Padgett knew it, their teammates knew it, and Kentucky knew it. Just a matter of how big the margin was going to be. The Wildcats were not good enough to hit the century mark , but they did pummel the Cardinals 90-61.
Expressions say a lot at times like these. The only visible ones were looks of bewilderment, confusion and victimhood. No one stepping forward to assume leadership on the court, the interim coach with that familiar blank stare on the sideline. Nobody getting emotional, showing any signs of fighting for survival, much less fighting back.
Some say these players have been through a lot since the disruptive days of last October when the FBI got interested in college basketball and the UofL athletic department wound up losing two of the best people in their respective professions. That may be true but there’s no way to justify or rationalize what happened at Rupp Arena on Friday.
Heading into the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, one can only hope that an embarrassing loss to Kentucky was what it takes for David Padgett to get his team’s attention. Or for that matter, what it takes for the young coach to show some emotion, like getting angry now and then, making demands on the players. Kicking butt. Hard.
Nice guy, feel good, intellectual discussions, everybody being on a first name basis with a 32-year-old coach approaches don’t add up to being much of a factor in ACC competition. It’s already ugly, but the worst may be yet to come.