What … ?

You expected more from this Louisville basketball team in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Expected players to emerge from a season-long mediocrity, represent the name on the uniform, make a surprising run.

Nice dream. The wishful thinking clashed with reality quickly, California getting off to a 22-4 start. Rick Pitino’s team making some runs, getting within four a few times, but losing more impetus every trip down the court.

Everybody that is except Rakeem Buckles, with unbridled bundles of energy, never seeming to tire. Just when he seems unstoppable and U of L is within reach, Buckles is pulled to the bench. All signs of offense going with him.

  • All the effort aimed at getting the ball in the middle to Samardo Samuels is wasted if he’s having still another off night. He ends the season where he began, having trouble catching the ball, posting up on anyone near his size, unable to make a decent pass, getting pushed around.
  • Edgar Sosa getting three fouls early, the look creeping back on his face, too easily letting doubt control his game, something he will have to live with for a long time.
  • Jerry Smith not really back from the hand injury, his shooting obviously still affected, even the clunker that rolled in off the back of the rim. He will largely be remembered for scoring 23 points in his first game as a freshman, hitting a three-point winner at Marquette, and scoring the first eight points in the second win over Syracuse.
  • Reginald Delk didn’t receive enough exposure to really create much of an impression. A few three-pointers here and there, a few memorable defensive stops. Gone already.
  • Terrence Jennings is going to bite his tongue off some game chewing that gum. Maybe it affects his thinking.
  • Jared Swopshire should fatten up over the summer, eat mashed potatoes and gravy five meals a day, become the significant factor the analysts keep telling us he will become. But he should always be hungry, playing with a sense of urgency once in a while.

Rick PItino talked a lot about youthfulness on a team that started three seniors in the final game. Sometimes he outsmarts himself. He will have a few months to get back to a few basics.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

17 thoughts on “Louisville Under Exceeds Expectations”
  1. I think they over achieved. Both UL and the Big East over achieved. The proof is in the first round. Congrats !!

  2. Well we was lucky to be in turnament if it wasn’t for good match up against syracuse let’s be real we wouldn’t even be there, but at the end. Of the day coach p need to get up and recruit better talent is simple we had a lot of guys who are not talented enough to wear louisville jearsy,,,,,but let’s be happy our seniors are gone feel sad to said it but is true all year we depend on freshmans,,and I hope buckles get more clock he is balla and swapshire is weak and soft I hope he transfer

  3. About 4 days ago in the NW – it was mentioned that U of O
    Ducks – is looking for a mature basketball coach – Rick Pitino’s name was apart of the Oregon rumor mill. They said he would be great for business – so to speak and his vast knowledge is much needed.
    Just wanted to offer an update. My gut says – no way… – Kentucky is his home.
    Here is the article…
    Oregon Basketball Coaching Search: Jamie Dixon, Billy Donovan and Rick Pitino Potential Targets?
    College BasketballTheBigLeadMarch 19th. 2010, 11:29am
    Oregon fired basketball coach Ernie Kent this week. The Ducks’ head coaching job is currently the most attractive open gig in the country, and here are a handful of names to keep in mind over the next few weeks: Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon and Gonzaga’s Mark Few. One of these five is almost certain to get the job. The key to remember in the search: Phil Knight and the power of Nike. A breakdown after the jump.

    Dixon: His name’s being whispered about already. We’d say he’s the favorite. West coast lifer who has spent the last decade at Pitt, and had a good run the last seven years – two Sweet 16’s and an Elite 8. Reason to stay? The Panthers overachieved this year, and will lose only one senior. Should be near the top of the Big East next year and open the season in the Top 10.

    Donovan: Surprised to hear his name? [Ed. Don’t be.] After back-to-back titles, he’s missed the tourney twice and got booted yesterday. He’s maxed out in Florida – how can he top back-to-back titles? – and it’s pretty obvious that he made a mistake recanting on the Orlando Magic job. If NIKE threw buckets of money at him, would he bite?

    Turgeon: Former Oregon assistant. Rising star in the coaching ranks. The guess here is that if NIKE can’t toss enough money at a big name, Turgeon isn’t a bad fall-back option. He’s done well in three years at Texas A&M and probably will be connected to any quality gig this offseason.

    Pitino: Knows he’s fighting a losing battle in Kentucky. He’s now second fiddle to Calipari. Had a great run with the Cards – Final Four and an Elite 8 – and the guess here is that he explores all options – NBA or college – this offseason. Is he damaged goods, though? Still too toxic post-Sypher . http://thebiglead.com

  4. Hope for better season next year it is what it is I love my cards is been crazy season,,,,we need more talent on team a lot of our guys on our team would even be on bench in elite team we are louisville we should get elite players get out there and recruit them,,,,samardo,,siva,,buckles are only guys highly recruted everyone wlse is solid player and good player down the strech not ready now and we got too many of them same type of players who are not really that good ,,,you can’t teach the talent if the talent ain’t there is simple,,,go cards

  5. Disappointing for sure. But we have some young guys coming back next year that have a big upside. I’ve been a fan too long to stay down after a bad season. I’ll be cheering for Murray State tomorrow. I only hope I don’t have to decide between UK and Duke to cheer for, I’m incapable of that decision!

    And it’s time to cheer for the baseball team now! Go Cards!

  6. You know what kind of fan you are when you put the cards going out in the brackets to the elite eight; OUCH…that hurt! I am as puzzled as the next guy about the substitution patterns. It’s hard to believe we have guys pulled out when they are the hot hand for the night, or even a game before and they get no playing time the next game. I’m not paid to think in this areana so I guess I’ll leave that to the folks that get paid the big bucks to hash that out. Always looking forward to what next year brings.

  7. I am reading the messy ink this morning and I am quoting Pitino, ” We’re just not a good basketball team. From an athletic standpoint, this was one of our weakest teams.” Does anyone remember at the beginning of the season when Pition said, and I paraphrase because I can’t remember the exact quote, but he said something like, no one will be scared of our starting five, but they will be scared of our depth, our second five… I am just mad that the other school down the road is having such great success with their first year coach and their talented freshmen.

  8. The cj has a video of Sosa post game. He does a pretty good job recapping the problems and gives credit to Cal as the better team. He’s a good kid and I wish him well.

  9. I find it hilarious that fans are questioning Pitino this year–the way he picks starters, substitutes, recruits. Last year, Rick had the Cards in higher regard than the Cats were this year–or have you forgotten? We were #1 in the nation, in the region, in the league and in the state.

    1. Sorry–fat fingers, to go with the head, some would say.

      So what happened? It’s college ball. We lost two draft picks and some senior glue. So we suffered all this year with no muscle, weak defense and kids who have learning problems. Good kids, mind you–but this is a team game that requires all 5 to give it their undivided attention. I don’t think we HAD 5 players who could concentrate 20 minutes at a time, at the same time. So you get random-looking substitutions and pray that everyone will get on the train.
      Next year? We need muscle, and smarts. And a talented, all-in team leader. Or it’s more of the same.

  10. Simply put all of our problems begin with a lack of talent.
    No players with quick feet.
    No players who can do multiple things.
    No players who can even spell consistancy much less
    provide it.
    No player with the exception of Good Edgar who can
    create his own shot (yes, PK can but this year they
    were all bad ones).
    I could go on but ’nuff said.

    1. Agree about consistency. Even our most passionate longtime fans have trouble spelling it.

  11. Not too surprising, went as the season has up & down-I did hope they would win 1 tourney game. I would say a lot of brackets are messed up now!

  12. If Pitino had as many losses at Kentucky, He would be gone. The fans would not stand for it. Sure is nice to see him in Louisville!!!!

    1. Martin, I guess that points out some of the differences between U of L and UK fans. We’re not about to go out and hire one of the most questionable coaches in the college game with all his questionable connections. That may buy you wins but it definitely doesn’t buy you respect or help your reputation.

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