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Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Basketball Game was Played... Kinda; Football Today -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

MBB Handed Worst Rivalry Loss Since 1999; UK Wins 90-61

The University of Kentucky Wildcats took David Padgett and Louisville's men's basketball team to task yesterday and stretched their series lead in the MBB rivalry back to 19 games after Louisville had closed the gap last year. Kentucky leads the series 34-16, including the times the teams have met in the postseason. Yesterday's loss, by 29, was the largest deficit for the Cards since 1999, when the Cats won by 30. From 1990 to 2001, Kentucky beat Louisville by at least 20 points five times. Louisville has beaten Kentucky by 20 or more only once, in 1988. Immediately after UK smacked Rick Pitino in his first rivalry game in red, Louisville turned around and won the next game by 18. After that, in the 16 games between the 2003 and 2016 annual rivalry games, no team won by more than 14 and the game was decided by single digits 12 times. 

I guess the reason I've been throwing random numbers at you is twofold. First, it goes to show that the rivalry in recent years has been mostly close, albeit with Kentucky winning most of the games. Second, I really don't have much to say about yesterday's game. Louisville looked bad. Sure, they didn't get a few calls to go their way, but that should not have made them completely abandon their game plan. They should not have been jacking up threes all afternoon only to finish with a final tally of 3-25 from behind the arc. Especially since they were shooting 47% (21-44) from two and 10-13 from the free throw line. Playing inside creates better shooting opportunities and increases the likelihood of a called foul, even if the game appears to be going unfairly.

Louisville actually kept the game close by committing to a balanced game plan for the better part of the first half. However, after Ray Spalding picked up his second foul with 6:42 remaining in the first and the game tied at 21, everything went out the window. Kentucky dominated from that moment on, winning the final 26 minutes of the game 69-40. Yikes. There isn't much else to say about the game really. If you missed it because of work, you didn't miss much. Louisville did not look ready to play. They did not appear to have nearly as much passion as the opponent. Quite frankly, if the Cards couldn't get up and perform for this game, the team is in for a long ACC season. I hope that David Padgett is ready to truly show his worth as a coach because this wasn't a close loss to Purdue or Seton Hall, this was a rivalry blowout. 

Louisville gets an opportunity to get their feet back under them to start ACC play with a matchup against Pittsburgh. Since Kevin Stallings took over, Pitt has been bad. Louisville needs to quickly forget everything about yesterday's game, except for how bad it stung. I'm not really sure there are any other lessons that can be taken from it. Just move on. Win some ACC games. See what happens.

Lamar Jackson Leads Cards Against Miss. St.

With more and more draft prospects electing to skip bowl games, Louisville will have a couple of positions to fill in today's matchup. Fortunately, quarterback will not be one of those positions. 

Russell Okung is one of many professional athletes supporting
college athletes' choice to sit out to avoid injury.
Before I go any further, let me say this: I am completely OK with players electing to sit out of games for whatever reason. This is my opinion only, not that of the site, and you're welcome to disagree with it. When a college player commits to play football, he's assuming he'll play approximately 12 regular season games per year and potentially a bowl game. That used to be a big deal. Bowl games were a great opportunity to play against a marquee opponent on national TV to get more exposure. *Raspberry noise* For lower tier teams, this is likely still true. For most major names, they've gotten their exposure already. They've received draft grades. They've read the draft boards and the scouting reports. They know what the next level thinks about them. Why risk injury in another 60+ snaps in a game that doesn't mean anything (NY6 and CFP excluded)? If they're comfortable and confident enough to sit out, I do not fault them, and I would encourage others to support players that make a tough decision that they consider best for their personal future.

Anyway, Lamar Jackson has stated publicly that he will be sitting down with his family to discuss his future after today's game and that he felt he owed it to his team to play in the game. (His sentiment and that of players that choose to sit out can both be OK!!) Jackson will lead his offense into potentially uncharted territory against the Bulldogs. Former head coach, Dan Mullen, took off for the University of Florida gig and took Todd Grantham with him. Louisville was in a position of unique advantage as far as film study went, as they knew Grantham's style of play quite well. Without Grantham, there is a bit more uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball. Fortunately, Peter Sirmon was there just a year ago, so Louisville should at least know the strengths and weaknesses as far as specific players go. 

Speaking of uncertainty, Mississippi State has some of their own on the offensive side of the ball as well. Bulldogs' star QB, Nick Fitzgerald, suffered an injury against Ole Miss that has him out of this game. Fitzgerald will be replaced by true freshman Keytaon Thompson. Thompson is making his first collegiate start after replacing Fitzgerald against Ole Miss and going 13-27 for 195 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception with 26 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. The interim head coach for MSU has already acknowledged that the playbook was significantly pared down to contain only plays with which Thompson is comfortable. Louisville has had mixed results against dual threat QBs this year, and they'll play today's game without one of their best pass rushers and one of the best cornerbacks in the country. However, reducing the playbook only makes your system easier for the opposing defense to predict and counter. Sirmon should have the defense ready to take on the task against a team in as much turmoil as Mississippi State.

The Cards and Bulldogs will kickoff at Noon on ESPN. Louisville is currently the favorite in this, their fourth straight bowl game against an SEC team. They've played an SEC team in 5 of their last 6 bowls with the Russell Athletic Bowl rout against Miami breaking up the streak. Today's game will move Louisville off of the .500 mark in these recent SEC bowl games in one direction or the other. This may be your last chance to see Lamar Jackson in a Louisville uniform, so try to enjoy it for all it's worth. 

Until next time, Go Cards!


Louisville Lacrosse great Kay Morissette with Paulie
and Sonya tailgating at Taxslayer Bowl
The Cards battled Mississippi St. tooth and nail earlier today in the Taxslayer Bowl but ultimately, know the outcome.

Louisville QB Lamar Jackson(ville) with and alternately good and bad outing...the four interceptions were quite costly but he ran with abandon against MSU and almost got the Cards to victory. My esteemed colleague Worldwide will give you his spin on it tomorrow.

Two sacks on the final drive. A prayer toward the endzone as time expired that was batted down. Game.

Louisville's defense made the freshman Bulldog QB look like a first round NFL pick. The Cards simply couldn't stop plays up the middle and, despite a halftime lead....simply could not stop the Bulldog offense.

Plenty to work on for the defense and Petrino will need to be able to replace Lamar magic.

A sense of longing, that Lamar didn't have to go out that way. One last win would have been great. One last Lamar smile and dance.

A cold bowl game. The fans about equally divided, the MSU fans and their cowbells. I can still hear them.

From shorts, to coats and champagne....
A chance but great encounter with Cardinal Forever and best lacrosse player to ever step on the Louisville Lacrosse field Kay Morissette in the parking lot with her family and friends. Great to see her and fun some conversation about the program, new coach Scott Teeter, Canisuis and her playing days.

Some things that can't be revealed here, just yet. Know this...Kay loves Louisville, enjoyed her year as Teeter's assistant coach and we just might hear some really great news about her future early in 2018.

Kay still looks like she could take the draw control, charge down the field in her unmistakable, hard-charging style, take a toss and drive it deep into the net past a goalie. Same big smile and twinkling eyes. Eyes that Kellie Young couldn't cloud or make misty. Eyes that housed dedication, sacrifice and love of game.

For us, an early day tomorrow, leaving here for Raleigh and a 2:30 p.m. WBB encounter against NC State. In search of the "sweet sixteenth" win for Asia, Walz and the best basketball team on campus.

Ms. Wuf! 6 hours on the road. the Paulie/Sonya road show continues....



  1. I think the men team is missing a true leader a go to guy, last year that was Donavon Mitchell. This year I thought it would be Deng Adel.IMOH
    Go Cards!

    1. The Bird Lady12/30/2017 10:58 AM

      As Q goes so goes the team. I think walking into Rupp without Pitino )who he has known his whole life) was tougher than he expected. Ray getting in foul trouble killed any momentum we had.Not blaming either player. Padgett needs to find a way to make this an anomolly and not a trend

  2. The Bird Lady12/30/2017 10:51 AM

    Yesterday was painful. Padgett needs to throw off the tie, break a clipboard, whatever it takes to get their attention. I want him as our permanent head coach but he needs to be more intense and demand the best. If the women would have been settling for contested jacked up 3's Walz would yank em and give them an earful.

    I agree on the players right to sit out. Selfishly, glad Lamar chose to play, but I will be nervous for his health until the end. Please stay safe out there #8. Then go get paid!

    I know we don't usually talk UK, but I think Benny Snell got hosed on the ejection. The ref initiated contact, if refs had not been late with the whistle Benny wouldn't have been in a position where the ref felt like he needed to help him up.

    WBB goes for #16 tomorrow. Finish the weekend with some victories! Go Cards!

  3. Cards Wbb on Fox Sports 2:30 pm

    1. That game is Sunday 2:30pm

  4. Wow one card did good last night big shout to Donavon Mitchell 29 pt. 4 ast.

    1. Indeed, Donavon is making a lot of people proud. He's been seriously throwing down with the Jazz and drawing a lot of respect across the league.

      One comment I saw on twitter (paraphrased): "It's just Donavon Mit now, because he has no chill."


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