“ALL RISE!!! Court is now in session. The honorable Bucket Hat King LJ tha Fiasco presiding. Please be seated and come to order”
Before we begin let me point out that nothing good comes from playing NCAA tournament games before 1pm, especially when Louisville is involved. Also, for future reference when Louisville is a 7 seed expect them them to be a one and done team. History has shown us that Louisville has never won a game as a 7th seeded team.
One more thing, if Louisville’s opponent is notoriously a bad shooting team, expect them to hit every damn shot they put up because as history has once again shown us, Louisville has a history of making poor shooting teams look like the Golden State Warriors.
Ok, if it sounds like I am bitter I am not. This season was everything I thought it would be. I knew we would win some games we were not supposed to but I also knew we would struggle with depth and consistency. Team 105 was not your ideal team. We had no incoming freshman class and had to rely on grad transfers, one of them a journeyman with a history of knee injuries.
We saw the emergence of Jordan Nwora and wondered why he didn’t play more in his freshman season. We saw Malik Williams have a breakout season. Dwayne Sutton’s arsenal, and the birth of the “Ryan Run”.
We saw Darius Perry have a horrendous sophomore slump as he tried to adjust to the new staff. We saw VJ not only have to battle bad shooting but also the expectations of the Louisville fanbase, some of them unreasonable. We fell in love with CC, the defense of Fore, the oversized suits of Mack, and we literally introduced fire into the starting lineups.
I just wanted a 20 win season and a chance to at least be on the bubble come March. I didn’t expect to blow UNC out at home by 21 or physically dominate Duke even though it ended in heartbreak. Louisville had a shot to beat Tennessee. They technically beat Marquette but math is hard for refs. If not for one bad half at Pittsburgh they would have continued thier dominance over the Panthers.
We had big shots to knock off Seton Hall, and a near disaster against Clemson. We finally got to see an EnochNess Monster in person as well.
Team 105 was not the same after Duke, that is evident. Even though this season will be known as “what could have been” I think we will all be grateful we had the opportunity to see some good times for Louisville basketball this season. And that is something none of us thought we would say in year one of the Mack era.
For the last time in 2019…….TO THE NOTES!!
Any outbursts and you will be removed by the bailiff Mark Blankenbaker (@uoflsheriff). Over the past few weeks Mark has drove eight hours to Charlotte for the ACC tournament. He came home for two days, then loaded up the car and headed back out to drive eight more hours to Des Moines where he watched Louisville lose. After hanging with Bill Murray he drove back to Louisville and then boarded a flight to Florida. Blankenbaker is racking up the mileage and is picturing everyone as an ACC ref due to mental fatigue, I wouldn’t test him.
**Disclaimer** Before we start, let me just say the verdicts are my thoughts on what I think will happen. I have no inside source or a crystal ball underneath my bed. Your guess is as good as mine. We will all find out together over the next few months.
- Thank you Christen Cunningham, Khwan Fore, and Akoy Agau. Each of you came here wanting a chance to make you last season of college basketball special and you succeeded. Glad that you all finally got to see the NCAA tournament, I just wish the stay was longer.
Final Verdict: Christen Cunningham and Khwan Fore will probably end up playing overseas and getting some quality minutes. Akoy’s knee issues during his career probably means he is done. I can see him getting into coaching, his personality alone will get him on a staff somewhere in America. Cunningham may join the coaching ranks as well after his playing career is over. Regardless, they will all do great.
- Jordan Nwora went from riding the bench to the ACC’s most improved player of the year. Jordan lit up the scoreboard this season and had some nice, highlight reel dunks. At times his passing was non-existent and he played a lot of hero ball when he should have involved his teammates. However, without him Louisville doesn’t even make the Dirt Bowl tournament. The Mack hire did wonders for Jordan as he became a double double machine and a crowd favorite.
Final Verdict: I think Jordan enters his name into the NBA draft and tests the waters. After talking to his father Alex Nwora who is a legendary coach, Nwora may decide to stay in the draft. We saw Jordan getting better on the Nigerian team last summer which was coached by his dad. My thoughts is that Jordan will leave his name in and hire an agent. Mock drafts have him being selected late in the first round. I could see him getting drafted late 1st or early 2nd round. He could spend most of his time in the G-league similar to Ray Spalding who eventually moved up to the big league. I would love to have Jordan back next season but my gut tells me we will be leaving the Nwor-Zone soon.
- Steven Enoch was as advertised. The big man was polished at times but had games where he looked lost on defense and ineffective on offense. There were games where his teammates forgot he was on the team and refused to throw the ball to him. There were games where Enoch was a black hole and refused to throw the ball back out. He lost his starting spot but responded well off the bench. Enoch was a great addition to this team and I am glad he decided to stick around after the previous staff was fired.
Final Verdict: Enoch is already 21 years old. By the time the new season tips off he will be 22. He has already redshirted after transferring in from UCONN and was not expecting the sh*t show that was the beginning of the 2017-2018 season. You come in to play for Rick Pitino, and then have to sit and learn under a guy that has never coached before. You end up playing for two coaches who you never signed up to play for. That being said, I think Enoch will enter the NBA draft and hire an agent. If he is not selected he can either go in the G-league or head overseas to Europe. I get a feeling that Enoch is done with college basketball and feels that there is nothing more he can learn by coming back for his senior season. Granted he would probably be a starter on Team 106, he may not feel the need to spend another season as an amateur. I would love to see Enoch, Malik Williams, and Aidan Igiehon in the front-court next season but I think that is too good to be true. My gut tells me we have seen the last of the EnochNess Monster in a Louisville uniform.
- Dwayne Sutton, the Swiss army knife. Sutton was Mr. Do-it-all for the Cards whether it be a key rebound or a big time shot when we needed one. We will remember his monster game in Chapel Hill against UNC as well as his effort against Virginia Tech. Unfortunately he hit a late season slump and never fully recovered. I am so glad we have him for one more season.
Final Verdict: The Swiss army knife will return for his senior season and I predict he will be one of the vets that will help the new players adjust to the game. Sutton may step up as the vocal leader of this team next season having been around for a few years now. I think his veteran leadership and the fact that he doesn’t mind doing the dirty work will help lead Louisville to success next season. It’s something about the local guys that bring out the best in the fanbase.
- VJ King took all sorts of verbal abuse from the fanbase this season. He was blamed for losses in which he only played 5 minutes. He was the proverbial punching bag from November until the last dribble in Des Moines. He worked his ass off regardless of what the fans hurled at him. Coach Mack lauded him after the Notre Dame game on Senior Day for having high character. VJ may not have lit up the stat sheet but when he was in he did play great defense and rebound the ball. Like Enoch, he signed up to play for Pitino and only did for one season. Three years, three different coaches…..that is enough to drive anyone insane.
Final Verdict: VJ has already gone on record to say he will return next season for his senior year. Some fans speculated that he would not be invited back by Mack which was absurd. Hearing Mack rave about VJ when his name was mentioned is enough to toss that outrageous thought. Part of me thought VJ would graduate in the spring and then use his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer somewhere else. While that could still happen, I don’t see it. Like Sutton, VJ is a vet that will be help the new guys gel with the returning players next season.
- Darius Perry, the bulldog. I had a lot of hope for Perry this season. He was a crowd favorite and founding member of the bench mob at Louisville. His sophomore season was filled with a ton of question marks and head scratching plays. Perry had issues with ball security and committed a lot of costly turnovers. His shot selection was less than stellar at times, and while defense was his strong suit he struggled to stay on the floor long enough to play it. He was suspended a game this season for being late to the team shoot-around. It seemed that he was unable to transition under the new staff.
Final Verdict: I think Perry transfers to a school that fits his style of play. I just don’t see him being a great fit in Mack’s system and that is fine. Plenty of players leave when there is a coaching change. Perry would have been great in Pitino’s system especially with the way he plays defense. But that system is not here anymore and we are in a new era. I won’t fault Darius for wanting to go where he can be successful. If that is here in Louisville fine, but at times he looked extremely uncomfortable playing the point guard position. It became apparent this season that Louisville would need to bring in a grad transfer PG next year. Whether here or somewhere else next season, here’s hoping that Darius is successful.
- Malik Williams is going to be a stud. He showed flashes this season with his rebounding and shooting. Although I really wanted him in the post more, it worked out better that he was able to play the stretch four position well. I am interested to see how Mack uses him and Igiehon next season. Again, Enoch could still return to this team as well.
Final Verdict: Scouts LOVE Malik Williams. If he is able to put on more weight and get stronger in the post he may be a threat. I would love to see him have a Ray Spalding type year next season. Big Play Ray got bigger in the off season and also developed a mid-range jumper to go along with his post moves and rebounding. NBA loves future potential so Malik could easily be one of the best players in college basketball next season.
- Ryan McMahon, the worse thing to happen to marriages since the Ashley Madison website. It was well documented that if Ryan hit his first shot you better get a hand up because he is not missing the next few. We saw “Ryan Run” become a real thing. He went on a personal 12-0 run at Virginia Tech and then another one a few days later in Tallahassee. For a half he tormented Kyle Guy who had no idea how to guard him. Oh yeah, Dick Vitale was hell bent on letting everyone know he was the reason McMahon is a Card.
Final Verdict: This one has me a bit perplexed. I don’t think Ryan transfers because that makes no sense. He redshirted his freshman year and would be a RS senior next season. I could see him graduating early but not sure he would want to be a grad transfer somewhere else. I don’t foresee him riding the pine next season either. If Ryan was 6’2 he would probably be starting. Mack is bringing in a ton of height so I assume that is why people think Ryan won’t play. I think McMahon not only plays but plays meaningful minutes next season. His shoots the three too well to just leave him on the bench. I honestly went back and forth on this one.
Bonus verdict: We lose Luke Murray in the off-season to another school filling a head coaching vacancy. Yes, the Bill Murray connection only lasts a year and we will be left with pics and memories. I will say that Louisville played like crap whenever Murray was in the stands. I think he only saw the Cards win in person one time this season. Regardless it was not as bad as Adam Sandler showing up to practice and then the Cards getting absolutely wrecked a few days later at home by UNC.
For the final time this season, I will open the courtroom up for statements and questioning
Nigel (@danflowe: Who stays and who goes?
I answered all this above and I probably should have told you that before I posed the question on Twitter. My mistake Nigel.
AP (@GoCards_AP) : Do you think coach implemented his whole playbook or just what he could with guys he had? Also the play where the ball is moved around to the corner and then a bullet pass under the rim for an easy lay up is a thing of beauty.
Good question. I think Mack only gave the team what he thought they could handle. Louisville didn’t have a recruiting class. There were no incoming freshman at all. Without the grad transfers we don’t even have a senior day to celebrate. I think next year we see a few more wrinkles and also with more depth we can probably play the version of pack line defense that Mack had wanted. And yes, I loved that easy under the rim play all year.
Harold (@LilHurl): Is it acceptable to base all our expectations on preseason analysis and then not evaluate the season based on what we saw? Kinda like this hate for slaw, what kind of pulled pork sammies y’all eating?
Yes. Yes it is. I was just content with being in the conversation for the tournament in March. I never would have imagined we would be a top 15 team at one time. I think we benefited from playing the bottom of the ACC early and then get socked in the mouth in February. Mental fatigue, as well as physical fatigue seemed evident as we lead into March.
I legit have no idea how we went from basketball to slaw to pulled pork. I only eat my aunt’s cole slaw and I don’t dine on the swine so if you have some pulled chicken or brisket sliders we can talk.
The Ghost of Matty Nice (@thetruefeny_t): You think we enter the season next year wearing D.O.N issue number 1 ‘s ?
I hope so, it makes complete sense. I think they wore Dame Lillard’s shoe the majority of this season. We saw the team wearing Spida’s hoody during the ACC tournament so I would think the shoe would follow.
Jason Sanders (@JasonCardsFan): Starting lineup entering 2020 ACC play?
Ok here goes. This is all assuming everything that I said in the final verdict is proven to be correct.
C: Aidan Igiehon
PF: Malik Williams
SF: Dwayne Sutton
SG: Josh Nickelberry
PG: Grad Transfer
Although, I could also see this scenerio:
C: Malik Williams
PF: Aidan Igiehon
SF: Samuell Willamson
SG: Josh Nickelberry
PG: David Johnson
If everything I said in the final verdict is wrong (probably is) and some guys do in fact come back:
C: Steve Enoch
PF: Malik Williams
SF: Samuell Williamson
SG: Jordan Nwora (move him to the two spot and let him fly)
PG: Grad transfer -or- David Johnson
But what will probably happen because I am terrible at this sort of thing:
Person(s) or things who get to watch an advanced screening of Game of Thrones as well as Avengers: Endgame before everyone else.
- CC, Khwan Fore, Akoy Agau, Asia Durr, Arica Carter, and Sam “Fury”. Thanks again to all the seniors
- The Villens
- Mike Rutherford of Card Chronicle
- Mike Brey (he is just impossible to dislike)
- Boxcar Michael (we all live vicariously through you and your early retirement)
- Team 105
- Bill Murray’s hat that was worn during the Cards/Gophers match
- Donovan Mitchell
- Consistent 60 degree days
- Tennessee saving my bracket
- Selection committee putting BBN in the Midwest region and not the South
- Sidebar Coach Walz
- Everyone who retweeted and shared this during the last few months.
Person(s) or things who earned an advanced screening of Tom Crean reading his colonoscopy results:
- TV Ted Valentine (retire please)
- Cole Slaw (no one wants or respects you)
- Cincinatti in the tournament (killing brackets one dribble at a time)
- One game suspensions for using bad language
- Minnesota Gophers finding their three point shot at the wrong time
- Zion Cam (Why???)
- The plot to the movie “US”
- Muffet McGraw (nice try Ann)
- Armchair Sports Dudes. Nothing makes me want to gamble less than watching these two idiots trying to scratch off lottery tickets.
- Flexing for no apparent reason**
- Keldon Johnson and Ty Jerome believing they never foul
- Chris Webber. Give an explanation, not a dissertation fam.
- Matt McGavic (one last time for Team 105)
And in closing I want to say thanks to all of you who read this and continue to read and share. Thanks for submitting questions and interacting with me in this post. I really appreciate all the support that I receive while doing this, its my form of therapy that I so desperately need after Louisville games.
Thanks to Mark Blankenbaker who gave me the platform to write on and the chances to be heard on the radio this year. Special thanks to 93.9 The Ville/ESPN680 for allowing me to be a co-host on some of the postgame shows.
Thanks to Dave Scull and my other TCZ crew members for pubbing my stuff when they had the chance, we are just getting started. Also thanks to my agent Teflon Tam who continues to secure the bag for me.
Thanks to Mike Rutherford. Mike, the head of Card Chronicle, puts my posts on his site although we are technically a rival website. He doesn’t have to pub my stuff on his platform but I am extremely humble and grateful that he does each week. I have been a fan of the News and Notes on Card Chronicle for years so its always a joy to see my name and posts being featured on there. The day Rutherford hangs it up, we should all take a day off to celebrate…..without pants. That is how Mike would want it done.
As I prepare to take off my heavy crown to get some rest and take a sip from my bourbon that I am sure one of you spit in, I just want to say that we have a ton to look forward to as a fanbase. I am glad I get to experience it with you. I will return in the fall with BucketHatism as we look forward to the Satterfield era and hope that Van Halen’s “Right Now” has died a horrible, deserved death at Cardinal Stadium.
When I return we will have the answers to if Thanos was defeated, if Jon Snow will ignore incest, if the Night King will ever speak, if Louisville football/basketball will find a grad transfer QB and point guard, and if Dixie Highway construction will ever be completed.
It’s gonna be an interesting summer.
Be cool in this hot city.
Court adjourned (bangs gavel)
Latest posts by LJ Nesbitt (see all)
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- BucketHatism: The 2019 Verdict - December 9, 2019
- The CrunchZone Podcast: We had a bad day 12/3/19 - December 3, 2019