“ALL RISE!!! Court is now in session. The honorable Bucket Hat King LJ tha Fiasco presiding. Please be seated and come to order”

Yes, it is me. I know I look older and my beard has more grey hair than it did a week ago. But boy, what a week it was. I have been running from the pain of last Tuesday’s game all week but now I think I am ready to talk about it. Are you guys ready to go back to the YUM! center??

It’s been 7 days…..and I can still smell the freshly poured beer. I can still hear the dribble of the ball on the court. I can still see the armpit sweat-stains on Zion’s warmup jersey. I can still see a sea of black, and the person behind the Louisville bench wearing a hot pink jacket for some reason. The student section was still buzzing, the pep band was still blaring the fight song, the first ever blackout in the YUM! was a success.

For 30 minutes, it was beautiful. Cards were doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Zion was in foul trouble. RJ Barrett couldn’t hit the side of a barn, Coach K’s combover looked like Bill Murray’s at the end of the movie “Kingpin”. It was going to be a nice night in the city, and Louisville was about to shock the world. Then it happened. Rushed shots with plenty of time on the shot clock. Turnovers…..a lot of them. Zion playing like a future #1 draft pick with four fouls. Shot after shot dropping for Duke. Clank after clank for the Cards. Celebrations turned to funeral processions. It really happened.

After the game we all sat there with the “I sharted ” face. Scared to move, but also afraid to leave. We needed answers, we couldn’t believe what we had just witnessed. Louisville has blown big leads before, but not like this. Louisville has given away games before, but not like this. Louisville fans are well aware they are not supposed to be doing this with this team….but here we are. Part of us wants to accept that we were not expected to do much. But now that we are doing the unexpected, the selfishness in all of us wants more.

It hurt. It still hurt on Saturday when we huffed and puffed to a win but also a near catastrophic loss against Clemson (more on that later). Time will heal this wound and one day we will be able to look back on this week and say “holy hell that was bad”. Take as much time as you need CardNation. Cards are 18-8 (9-4) and tied for 3rd place in the ACC. The Cards are still in good shape for a double bye and are also still in a position to polish up their March resume for better seeding.

I know it hurts now, but we will pick ourselves up and dust our clothes off. As you awake from a 7 day bender where you drank bourbon and survived off your kids old Halloween candy, just know it could be worse. We could be Indiana.

To the notes!!

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Any outbursts and you will be removed from the courtroom by Lady Boss (@ladyboss502). Little is known about Lady Boss other than the fact she has talked trash with the best of them and is always down for a a good twitter fight. While I don’t condone violence against rival fans, I must say there are some fiesty women in CardNation that the BHK wouldn’t mind going into a dark, dangerous alley with for protection. She likes dogs, and drinks hard liquor from a teacup…..I know a female assassin when I see one.

  • I have said it before and I will say it again, the recipe for beating Louisville has been out since the second half of the Boston College game. It was the first time we had blown a huge lead and turned the ball over a ton. BC ran out of time and Jordan Nwora nailed a last three pointer to seal the win. While I don’t think Jim Boeheim presses Louisville on Wednesday, I do think you see some different looks before they drop back into their vaunted 2-3 zone. As Clemson’s coach Brad Barnwell stated in his postgame presser, not everyone can press like Duke and FSU. The Cards are going to be in the tournament so any wins in the last five regular season games are just going to pad the stats. Other than Virginia and BC, not sure any other teams have the ablilty to press us into a ton of turnovers. At least I hope not.
  • Good to see Darius “Bulldog” Perry regaining his confidence. The sophomore followed a 17 minute, 6 point game against Duke with a 16 minute, 8 point game against Clemson. Perry stated that he has always had the support of his teammates and now that his shot is coming back it is beginning to translate over to his scoring. Hoping he continues to improve, we will need him next month.
  • VJ King made his first appearance since playing one minute against FSU. The junior didn’t leave the bench against Duke but did play 2 minutes against Clemson pulling in one rebound. Here’s hoping that VJ can be counted on to do more next month.
  • I would say we would be in a world of trouble without Christen Cunningham and Jordan Nwora but you knew that already.
  • Speaking of Jordan, I am all about big dunks to extend the lead when the game is close. I am still hoping we are fortunate to see another no-look dunk this season before its all said and done.
  • I criticized the student section in years past but the Villens have really stepped it up this year. Seems like the meeting with Tyra really lit a fire under that group. They were insane on Tuesday night and loud for the majority of the game. I hope they continue to grow as a spirit group and truly make it a home court advantage.
  • Can I just say that if you are selected for BMW of Louisville shot contest at least act like you want to be there. There was a guy at halftime of the Duke game that was shooting like he had a car for every day of the week already. Also, if you know for a fact you are shooting for a car at halftime it may not be the best idea to get hammered in the first half of the game.
  • I think JB Smoove is terrible at comedy and loud for no reason. Yes, I know this is random but he is starting to appear in more commercials and has single handily caused membership at Planet Fitness to decline.

So about that last play:

Yeah, that is Dwayne Sutton being tackled to the floor causing a turnover that could have cost the Cards the game. That fine ACC officiating……

  • We need more Ryan celebrations after key assists or big shots. Nothing like seeing McMANE running down the court screaming at the top of his lungs. Now granted the game is delayed from all the unmentionables thrown at his feet each time but at least the Goodwill has some quality items now from this season alone.
  • The BHK likes change but also hates that he is extremely superstitious. I am starting to think every commemorative jersey or color themed game is a bad sign for the Cards. The Cards wore throwback jerseys against Clemson and slogged their way to a hard fought win. Also, Joey Wagner was not the in-game MC, Lottie Stockwell was not sitting at courtside, and I failed to get a cup of water from the media room the entire game which never happens. That is not me, and I don’t like that I continue to mess with fate. We all remember my bucket hat fail that cost us the UNC game and now we have this mental error. I am sorry folks, we all need to do better the next home game.
  • I have to point out how awesome it is to see the entire Louisville Football coaching staff at a majority of the games this season. And the cool part about having a new staff in place is that they all stay around the entire game. Not only that, but they cheer and get into the game with the fans. I looked over several times and Coach Satterfield was up yelling and screaming after a big play. Love seeing the culture change before our eyes.
  • So earlier yesterday I was quote tweeted. Before I address that, let me give you the backstory. Chris Mack stated that he watched the film on the Duke loss but didn’t show his team. During the post-game press conference, I poorly worded a question to Coach Mack which implied that he himself did not watch the film at all. He corrected me, it was a stern response but nothing at all about it was malicious. If you have listened to any of the Mack pressers, he is not going to give you a bubbly, feel good answer that we have been privy to in past seasons. Afterwards, myself and few other media members joked about and while it was embarrassing at the time it was merely a learning experience. I joked about it on Twitter as well:
https://twitter.com/LJthaFiasc0/status/1096855049664380936
https://twitter.com/LJthaFiasc0/status/1096856512004349954

Now with that being said I have seen some media guys get the same treatment and while it is uncomfortable at the moment I applaud their bravery since I would not dare ask. I sometimes joke with Pat Jaggars who is a producer for 93.9 The Ville about who is going to ask the tough question that may or may not get us wrecked by the coach. For the record, Pat always takes the lead and asks the tough questions.

I am not a journalist. I will say that again, I am NOT a journalist. I am just a fortunate fan who was given the opportunity to cover my favorite team and have some really cool experiences doing so. From being in a room with people that you grew up watching on the local news to speaking with Jeff Greer and Howie Lindsey who are two of the best writers this city has ever seen is humbling to say the least. So you have to imagine my face when I saw a comment about me not being qualified to have media credentials

Let me address this the best way I know how. First, let me again say that I am not a journalist. I didn’t major in journalism, I am not a trained reporter. What I am is a fan. I have never lied about being a fan and I am extremely grateful for each opportunity that I have been given.

I don’t think I am hot sh*t because I get a media pass for some of the biggest games of the season. I do what I promised I would do, and that is provide insight from a fans perspective every game and then recap it with you all each Monday. I made a mistake, not sure why this person had to magnify it but that is fine. One thing I have learned from social media is that you will have a group of people who will object just to get attention. It was brought to my attention that this was supposed to be a joke, but later my wife’s name was brought into it, and that is one thing I don’t joke around with. That happens once, and not again. The old me would have told this person to ingest a specific body part, but the more mature me is not going to waste the time on someone who is upset for whatever reason.

There is another Twitter user who seeks our negative comments or threads that involve my name so he can piggyback and let the world know he too has an issue with me. This is all fine, if anything you will get more attention and hopefully more followers due to your pathetic efforts.

As far as me being “qualified” to cover UofL Athletics, I think I along with a ton of you who read this are qualified. No, I probably won’t win a Pulitzer prize, or write a bestselling novel. My humor won’t get me a job at the Courier Journal with Tim Sullivan or Danielle Lerner. I doubt I will get a job writing alongside Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich at WDRB. The Athletic more than likely won’t be reaching out to me anytime soon to join Jeff Greer and C.L. Brown.

But one thing I do have is a unique ability to provide a voice to and for CardNation. There are fans out there that think like me, act like me, cheer like me, and are diehards just like I am. There are fans who hate Van Halen on 3rd down during football season. There are fans who groan each time they see Ted Valentine walk on the court to officiate. There are fans who have been season ticket holders for years and are still waiting for the chance to get in on the peanut and t-shirt toss. There are fans who will climb over sections just to give a high five a random stranger after a big play. As long as I have this platform on The CrunchZone, those fans will have a voice. It’s not my fault that I have transitioned from fitting in to standing out while some of you have to create fake accounts just so you can like and retweet your own stuff. The people respect authenticity, and that is what I try to provide. Hope that doesn’t come off as smug or conceited.

The people’s king must be everything the people can’t be. I won’t ever apologize for being dope.

Am I qualified to be in this position? You’re gotdamn right I am.

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The courtroom is now open for questioning:

Bubba Ray Lindy (@jclindeman): Do you think UofL will ever get a home whistle?

I have been a fan since I moved here in 1992. I have never seen a home team get the screws put to them more than Louisville has. While we have had some questionable calls go our way, we have also been screwed by a few calls at home. Basically, this is our identity now and I hate blaming the refs. Just take care of business and never let it go to the officials. EVER. That being said, when you are up 23………….

J’Aunna (@j_truebeauty): 12 days until March … Will we have our sh*t together in time enough to make a decent run ?!

I hope so. I really don’t want the Cards to be home the first day of the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament. I think these late season growing pains will serve a purpose next month and going forward. You lose in excruciating fashion in back to back years, you have to think the guys who were a part of those losses will remember and ensure it does not happen again. I think we will be fine, and I believe Mack and staff will have this team ready. Regardless, we weren’t supposed to be in this position at all this season.

Jules (@julesmaysmith): Help me understand why VJ can’t be utilized in another position maybe even coming in as a sub in the 2 guard position. He’s long athletic & can play solid defense. Also Fore did zero contesting on those last two made threes today…I do like Fore but yeah.

I am at a loss for words like you are. King has played 3 minutes total over the last three games. I hate to think that Mack has given up on him but to go from playing to only getting a minute of play is extremely telling. I am done trying to figure out VJ, it has been a weird storyline all year long. As far as Fore, I think he was doing all he could to not foul a three point shooter. I would have like him to put a hand in the shooter’s face but I get it. Unfortunately, they made the shots.

Bass Ackwards (@chadinjax): I think it’s important to note that the turnover issue needs to be rectified. With that being said, I had no idea an oil change these days was $45 or more. Cheers.

I agree, it does. I also was not aware until my last oil change when I paid $49 bucks. I try to get oil changes for my wife’s car and mine within a week of each other every 5,000 miles. So you’re looking at $100 for a oil change every few months but hey….ya need it. Sucks but they have us by the jewels on this one Chad.

Eathy Clark (@eathyuofL): Is coach Mack intimidating in a press conference?  

Not really, but I get the sense he really doesn’t want to be there and there is nothing wrong with that. Imagine after every shift at work you have to answer questions about why you did what you did? It could get annoying and I think that is why a ton of his answers seem edgy. Mack is a huge family guy so I think he is more interested in hanging with his wife and kids than explaining why we didn’t break the 2-2-1 press.

Jimmy (@jrnall): LJ, big fan of your work. How much of UofL’s late game yips do you attribute to the start of college baseball season?

All of it. Everything was going well until the aluminum bats were brought out. Baseball ruins everything, and this is further proof of that. I cannot wait until late October when its over. For now, look for me outside of Patterson stadium doing this:

Danimal (lord_chewie): If our basketball team was a baseball team, who should be our closer? Who would you like taking the last clutch shot to seal the game. Who gets the ball if it’s LJtheSkipper?

Damn you for making this baseball related. Our closer should be one of three people. Christen Cunningham should have the ball in his hands in all late game situations. Jordan Nwora has proven to be our silencer when we need him to be. Dewayne Sutton has shown he can hit a clutch shot as well. And of course you have Ryan.

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Person(s) or things who earned front row seats to a huge game of their choice:

  • CC
  • Enoch 3’s
  • Darius Perry’s confidence
  • The first 30 minutes of the Duke game
  • Mic’d up Scott Satterfield
  • The Miami Northwestern to Louisville pipeline
  • The Pink out and #Play4Kay campaign
  • Jordan Nwora late game blocks
  • Indiana losing streaks continuing.
  • LSU tip-in buckets
  • Howie Lindsey (congrats on the new gig)

Person(s) or things who earned front row seats to a baseball game in bitter cold February:

  • Ted Valentine’s whistleBlack Out games
  • Louisvilling
  • Turnovers
  • Louisville in the last 3 minutes of the last 3 games.
  • Poor phrasing in post game interviews with Coach Mack
  • Mesh. It shouldn’t take you 20 minutes to bring a straw and some pepper to our table.
  • ESPN Gameday. Not sure how you can visit the same damn city twice within weeks. Makes no sense.
  • The last 10 minutes of the Duke game
  • Tennessee Vols
  • The last episode of season 2 of The Punisher.
  • Being “qualified”
  • The Ohio River
  • Matt McGavic and everything he does to bring attention to that sport

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And in closing, I just want to say thanks again to all of you who take the time to read this each week. You could literally spend your time doing anything else but instead you give this piece a click and enjoy the recap. Thank you. Things could be worse, I could write this and literally have no one but my mom and wife read it. Scary thought.

We have 5 games left. I am mentally prepared to think UVA will UVA for two of those but you have to beat BC and Notre Dame and if you could steal a win from Syracuse in the dome on Wednesday that would be greeeeeat.

While I wish we could have got through the gauntlet at 3-1, I am just happy to be in the conversation of the tournament. Missing 2 of the last 3 dances sucks more than you know. Luckily it appears we won’t have that issue in a few weeks.

If Chris Mack doesn’t get the COTY award, it would be a travesty. And if I don’t redeem myself in the next press conference then I have failed you all.

No pressure.

Be cool in this hot city.

Court adjourned (bangs gavel)

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