A former coach turned broadcaster, whose TV career didn’t last long, once said when you get a team down you have to step on their collective throat and crush the life out of them. That’s what the University of Louisville basketball team didn’t do when it had Mississippi gasping for breath in the first half.

The lack of a killer instinct reared itself again, threatening to turn what should have been an easy win into another loss which would have further embarrassed the Big East against a mediocre SEC team.

The reason it didn’t happen was Earl Clark, and some timely three-point baskets from Edgar Sosa and Terrence Williams.

Fans saw what the pro scouts have been anticipating but had never actually seen – Clark assuming control of a game for almost 10 minutes in the first half, making moves he had never shown, hitting shots he had been missing, rebounding, blocking. He what? 25 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks.

He showed why he changed his mind about going to the NBA last summer, wanting to return to Louisville and his teammates. He’s taking the college game more seriously this time around, becoming more of a force than a role player, putting the load on his shoulders if that what it takes to win.

A new outlook, a whole new weapon for the Cards, against Mississippi anyway. Clark just may have assumed the leadership role vacated by David Padgett. Now that he has shown he can do it, it will be expected of him. And he should want it, badly.

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Samardo Samuels looked like a freshman for a second time this season, struggling mightily for anything he could get around the basket. Had it too easy in those early games against the no-name teams. Puts all the things the coaches have been preaching to him in perspective. Keep your eyes on the basket, go strong to the goal. Finish.

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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.

4 thoughts on “Finding A Leader: Louisville 77, Ole Miss 68”
  1. Earl was a monster last night, he needs to be fed the ball at least every other possession, if not more.

    T-Will was stellar on defense in the second half againist their 2 guard…his name escapes me at the moment – that was a smart coaching move by Pitino to shut the guy down.

    Samardo had a rough game, but I think learned a valuable lesson or two. Point guard play was slightly lacking – I like Sosa’s agressiveness, attacking the glass in important for opening up outside shots, which didn’t fall too nicely last night. McGee jacked up a few too many quick shots, he’s better as a spot up shooter coming off the ball.

    It looked ugly at times, but if a few more shots from the paint would’ve fallen, we would have had a complete rout in the second half.

  2. Watching the UofL game last night brought back memories of those great Cardinal temas of the eighties..that chemistry, ball movement, swarming defense and Earl was out there trying to do his best Derek Smith/Darrell Griffith/Milt Wagner imitation. Then, it disappeared as quickly as it came to life.


    This amateur observer saw the Cards go from a brilliant inside-out passing game to a lot of one on one, let me put the shot up syndrome. The Ole Miss defense finally decided to key on Earl and prevent the ball from getting to him, Samardo was ineffective inside (play above the rim, Sam!) and the guys basically panicked.

    I commented to Paul that Delk needed some more court time and he gave me that deer in the headlights look…saying “bench T-Will for him?” Shame we can’t go with six guys out there. I like Delk’s hustle and aggressiveness, and he’s not afraid to give up the rock to an open man (take notice Edgar Sosa).

    The object of the game of basketball is to outscore your opponent, we all know that. Rick believes that a team’s defense pressure is the perfect catalyst to create scoring opportunties, and when the Rebel legs got tired at the end of the game, and the Cards defensive intensity returned, the game was wrapped up.

    Look out, Billy G. and Mildcats. This kid Huertas can sink ’em from Commonwealth Stadium and the Cards may have faced one of the fastest guards they’ll see all year in Chris Warren…a shame about the knee injury late in the contest. But, two cannot defeat five…and when the Cards started playing as a team again late in the second half, they secured the win.

    Minnnesota lies in wait, and despite the gaudy record against every Northwest Eastern Central State opponent they could find early this year, they’ll be a formidable test with 9 days rest under their belts. Can you put on the Superman cape twice in a row, Earl?

    You know Tubby would love a win over the ex-boss, and I guess you could bill this one as a match between two ex-UK departees. Wonder which one Wildcat fans hate the most?

  3. I agree that Samardo learned a valuable lesson or two last night. At least I HOPE he did. He will be a machine later in the season but right now he looks like a freshman most of the time. I am very nervous about playing Tubby’s Gophers – Tubby knows HOW to beat Pitino and he will have his team ready. Sure hope E5 saved some of that heat it brought last night. Good win – scarey at times but a great win.

  4. If the Cards can recreate those first 8 minutes twice per game, they have a chance at being competetive with anyone in the country. Save for maybe UNC, which they’d have to play 3 segments like that – but I’ll take it.

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