This post appeared on Rush The Court’s Big East microsite on Wednesday, but it’s still relevant after the Cardinals dismantled North Carolina A&T in the Second Round the following night. UofL will face much stiffer competition at 5:15 on Saturday in a Colorado St. team that rebounds well, scores efficiently and averages fewer turnovers than all but 12 teams in the country.
With seven regular season games remaining on the schedule in mid-February, Rick Pitino called on his team to win them all. The Cardinals had just lost a demoralizing five-overtime road game to Notre Dame, capping a precipitous three-week fall that saw his team lose four of seven games and drop from #1 in the country all the way out of the top-10. While the Cardinals’ bout with the Irish was heralded by some as the game of the year for its suspense and intensity, Louisville fans shook their heads in resignation after their team choked away an eight-point lead in the final 45 seconds. The team hyped as the strongest national title contender in the Pitino era at Louisville couldn’t seem to generate enough offense outside of Russ Smith, couldn’t seem to generate the fast breaks it desperately needed, and couldn’t seem to close out games.
The biggest shocker following Saturday’s big win over Syracuse was this statistic:
Not only was last Saturday Louisville’s first March road win over a ranked team in the past decade, but it was also only the second time the Cardinals had won their first road game of March against anyone––ranked or unranked––in their eight seasons in the Big East. (Bear in mind, Louisville didn’t play a true road game after February in 2007.)
This entry appears on Rush The Court.
The narrative of today’s defensive match up between #1 Louisville and #6 Syracuse has already been explored extensively. A collision of defensive juggernauts: the nation’s first and third most efficient defenses, respectively. The two lead the Big East and are top-five nationally, again, in creating steals. The Cards check in at #2 in the country in turnovers generated; the Orange: #8. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams leads the conference with a staggering 3.18 steals per game and combines with Brandon Triche to produce 4.8 SPG; Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are top-five, producing a cumulative 4.6 pilfers.
On paper it’s a push, and a juicy storyline to hype. In reality, Syracuse fields an excellent defense, but Louisville’s has the potential to be historic, and it’s just now hitting its stride. Continue reading
I should preface this post by apologizing for this blog’s descent into neglect. The world of part-time retail beckoned, and I abandoned unemployment to answer the call. Having just experienced my first (and last) Maine winter, I sense a return to productivity as the glaciers enshrouding my apartment recede and the roving mammoths’ blood lust subsides. Look forward to more unsubstantiated gossip and juvenile photoshops pertaining to your Louisville Cardinals as my metabolism returns to normal.
What better way to dust off birdswag than with a blog update from Rick Pitino––the Narcan of Louisville sports writing:
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Pat Forde published his much-anticipated best case/worst case analysis for each team in the NCAA tournament field today. Here’s his take on the Cardinals after the jump: Continue reading
In an homage to this incredible thread of masterful photoshops over at ITV, I present without further comment:
The Big Russbowski (Working Title Films, 2012)
I apologize for the delay in getting this post up. I spent my four-hour drive back to Maine processing my experience on Saturday night and trying to wrap my head around this team’s accomplishment.
Four wins in four days. Three avenged losses. Two wins over ranked teams. One dominant leader emerging from a team that lacked identity all season.
On Saturday night, the Louisville Cardinals defeated Cincinnati, 50-44, to claim the title of Big East Tournament champions.
(observations from MSG after the jump) Continue reading
My typical anxiety that precedes a Louisville game was tinged with uncharacteristic dread last night. It was potentially their last opportunity to notch a win against a current top-25 team before Selection Sunday, and the stage was set for a letdown: Marquette’s best team in years was fully rested and looking to avenge last year’s blowout loss to the Cardinals in the Big East quarterfinals. Louisville’s historic offensive struggles were on full display in an ugly win against Seton Hall on Wednesday night, and it had been almost a month since the team had last secured a win in a highly emotional environment, against West Virginia. Defense notwithstanding, it was hard for me to imagine U of L scoring enough points to beat such a skilled, explosive Marquette team.
Then the whistle blew, and Louisville scored 50 points in one half for the first time this season.
I sit writing this for you in the little free time that I have found. Having taken a job tending bar at the best restaurant in Louisville, RYE on Market (shameless plug, come in, say hello,tip me well) I have fallen off the map as a u of l fan. Yes, i record every game, but I have rarely watched any of them. I read the write ups on the chron and then cannot force myself through the impending disappointment. The past couple of weeks have been the most tormenting and I am repulsed with myself when I say that I’m glad that I did not have to suffer through watching u of l bball (bring on football season!). But that being said it is game day today and instead of previewing what will hopefully be a notch in the win column this evening (I’ll leave that for the other writer on this site). I will instead give you with reflections and thoughts. Continue reading
Internet forums, long text messages, awkward bathroom conversations, drunken diatribes, and other 21st century urban poetry notwithstanding, birdswag is the closest I’ve ever come to polished sports writing. As a chronic procrastinator in college, my pathological fascination with U of L sports manifested in other forms. Here are a few examples after the jump:
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