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


Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me, yeah
And I’m feeling good….
-Nina Simone


Let’s just take a moment and reflect.  That moment will begin with a smile that we will call August. It will temporarily be replaced with sadness and anger that we will call September.  It will go from hope, to anxiety, to frustration, to numbness that we will call December, January, and February.  It will begin with gut wrenching heartache and then transition to a renewed hope and relief that we will call March.

These moments were all too familiar for the Louisville fanbase this season.  Last summer we were giddy when thinking about the incoming class and the returning players.  We had angry Rick Pitino and the last time we saw that guy we ended up cutting down nets in ATL.  We had the team this year that the class coming in next year to make some serious noise………and then that fateful week in September proved that we had nothing but a pile of feathers, a ton of questions, and a team with no leader.

Before we close this chapter of Louisville basketball,  let us all applaud the sacrifice and effort put forth by one David Padgett.  It takes a special person to step into a role with so much on the line and lead the team.  Padgett deserves every head coaching offer he gets.  He stepped into a impossible situation and did the best he could with what he inherited.  Yes there was soul crushing defeats, yes there was head scratching coaching moves.  Merely growing pains.

But there was also the night of January 16th when we came home from South Bend, Indiana without a loss in our column.  There was the night where half the fanbase went to bed and missed a 17 point comeback against FSU, our first win on the road against a ranked team in years.  There was the first ACC tournament victory in Brooklyn weeks later followed by an unbelievable crowd at several NIT games in the YUM Center.  That is what CardNation is all about, and David will reap the benefits of that in due time.

I will always speak highly of Tom Jurich. I will always get chills talking about the defense of Pitino’s teams and how we suffocated teams with the press or matchup zone.  But I will most remember the 2017-2018 season as the season where Lousiville fans were broken, bloodied, but unbowed.   No other fanbase can get punched in the mouth hard, lose consciousness while laying on the floor, and then continue to get up.  Again, that is CardNation.


Thank you David.


Now, lets move forward.  You are wondering why the BHK is in swim trunks and flip flops with no shirt and exposing his kid-less dad bod.  Well, the BHK is prepping to go on his yearly sabbatical from writing but do not fret, I will return for Season 3 in the fall when we kickoff football season.  Before I go,  let’s get to the final notes as we close the book on Season 2:


Any outbursts from the court and you will be removed by the my multiple bailiffs which is  every single teacher or principal in the state of Kentucky.  It takes a special person to step in and agree to teach. Your pay is terrible, you put up with a ton of BS throughout the year, and like the students there are days you want to stay in bed and not go to school.  But day after day, and month after month there you are in the classroom putting together a lesson plan and trying to improve lives whether it’s a 1st grader or a senior headed to college.  Perhaps we should take what we pay politicians in this state and instead give that to people who are REALLY bringing the changes that we need.


  • Thank you to the Louisville Women for the best gift you could have given fans this year,  a healthy team with nothing but positive energy and exciting play.  The fanbase couldn’t lean on the football team the way we wanted to and the men’s basketball team was dismantled before we could finish the CARDS cheer.  But thanks to Jeff Walz, Myisha Hines-Allen, Asia, Sam “Fury”, Kylie Shook and Ms. Carter the fanbase was able to see some amazing basketball.  I will forever refer to the Miss. State loss as the one where the refs decided to stop calling fouls with two minutes left.  Good luck Myisha, and for goodness sake lock Jeff Walz down Tyra.


  • Wherever he goes, I hope that Anas continues to be the person that he was off the court.   Mahmoud never hung his head after games, was always available for interviews and always answered each question with a smile and honesty.   I said earlier that this team deserved a leader on the court but it was obvious that Mahmoud lead in other ways.  Not sure if he will continue to play basketball but one thing is for sure, he will do well in life regardless.   We will miss the big Egyptian.


  • There are going to be times next season where I am going to miss Quentin Snider.  Not totally sure when but I know that it will come.  This fanbase didn’t deserve Q.  He gave his all and did his best and even when he was having good games it was never enough.   I hope that wherever he goes the success that he has makes us all look as dumb as some of us sounded this year.   And shout out to his dad Scott, a guy who had to gnaw his tongue to keep from losing his cool when those around him railed on his son.   Next season I implore some of you to put yourself in Scott’s shoes and imagine how you would feel if your child was called everything but a child of God while on the court playing a basketball game.


  • I am not sure who returns next season and who goes but I would be absolutely shocked to see any backcourt other than Ryan McMahon and Darius Perry.  Both have proved that can produce offense and while Ryan’s defense needs some polishing Perry was a pit bull missing a leash when on the court this year.  I am excited to see both of them grow and mature over the new few seasons. Someone has to pick up where Darius left off in terms of bench celebrations.


  • I was nervous about losing Jordan Nwora but he may go from riding the bench to being a starter in this system next year.  I believe him when he says he wants to be here and loves it here.  Plus, when you are a shooter you tend to like top 10 offenses.  Again, his defense will need to improve drastically, too many times he looked lost and gave up way too many baskets.


  • VJ King is the comeback story I am most ready to see.  We all see the potential in him, well at least most of us do.  I want so bad for that guy to succeed.  Being the punching bag for an entire fanbase is a cruel as it sounds……especially when you could have signed elsewhere.   I think a lot of the times we look to place the blame on the person that everyone piles on and in that case it was VJ.   I hope he comes in under the new regime next year and plays with both middle fingers extended.  Sometimes its not the player, its the system.  Also, our new coach is from Cleveland, as is VJ.  You have to think if anyone can relate its him.  I hope we see VJ back in a Louisville jersey next year, but if we don’t I wish him nothing but success wherever he goes.


  • Ray Spalding is testing the NBA waters as we all expected.  Judging by his attire at the press conference I would say he is as good as gone.  The rest of the team came dressed alike in team apparel. Ray came with Nike’s on and some Louisville shorts.  I expect him to get drafted and make and NBA roster.  He has so much potential and as I have said before, if he is able to develop a consistent mid-range jumper then he may find himself in the league for a while. Selfishly I want one more year from him but he needs to go get paid for his services.


  • Deng Adel is expected to test the waters again this year and unlike last season I also expect him to go.  This is not a “bash Adel” post but we all saw that Deng clearly was not the same player he was last year.  Part of that is coaching, at times the staff kept Deng in the game far too long and even when he made critical mistakes.  Adel’s defense didn’t improve, his shot selection was questionable, and at times he forgot his other four teammates on the court and decided to become a black hole.  I don’t expect him to be drafted but I do see him making a G-league roster or playing pro ball overseas.  Adel saw his good friend stay in the draft and become a lottery pick and also saw another buddy make a NBA roster when no one saw it coming. I feel that he put too much emphasis on impressing scouts rather than playing his game.  I would like to see how the new staff would use him but I don’t think we will  know.   Ray and Deng would be playing for their 3rd coach in 2 years, I highly doubt they are looking forward to that.


  • Steve Enoch is a large adult and had he been eligible this year we would have won a few more games.  Looking forward to seeing him take the court next season….er….assuming his stays.  He came to play for Pitino and now that that is not going to happen I am assuming he will be back but you never know. Seems to me that he is our starting Center next winter and as long as he can dunk the damn ball when standing near the basket then I am a happy man.   Gotta rebound too……..


  • I have been notified that M.A.R.M (Married Men Against Ryan McMahon) has been formed in protest of Ryan McMahon.    Not to be confused with K.A.R.M.A (Kids Against Ryan McMahon Antics)  the M.A.R.M group is founded by the married men of Louisville who are  tired Ryan McMahon getting the attention of their wives.   McMahon drives the women of Louisville wild, that is for certain.  But with that he has destroyed more marraiges than a gambling habit.  Take a look at this pic:


This was taken after  a McMahon three pointer. Shorty in the red shirt is risking it all.   This guy must be stopped.


  • Lance Thomas should return next year,  I wouldn’t think he would want to go anywhere else and sit out a year.   Thomas was not set to get much PT before the season started but found himself appearing in a few games this year.  Besides, this Cardinal team cannot lose one of the founding members of the bench mob.


Which brings me to the guy who I have not mentioned until now.   The BHK wants to send a warm welcome to Chris Mack who was named head coach on Wednesday afternoon at the YUM! Center.  I was fortunate enough to cover that along with fellow TCZ running mate Joe Kelly (TBG) and our entire experience was documented here if you wanted to relive it:



Excuse my hairline and scruffy beard.  The BHK gets his hair and beard taken care of every Thursday so as always I was a day late and a dollar short.  Back to Mack.  I was happy Louisville finally got their guy and was pleased that is was the person the majority of the fanbase wanted.  Mack seems to bring the optimism and attitude back to the fanbase and that is a great thing to have.  It also helped to have his face all over San Antonio this weekend while he was at the Final Four.

I am not sure how Mack will do here, there is still a ton of uncertainty surrounding the program and as you know the Big East is not the ACC.  This was also the first big hire for Vince Tyra who was named permanent AD last Monday.  There is so much that we won’t know until the team takes the court next season.  What recruits will we get?  Will we land any grad transfers?  Who stays/leaves on this current team?   How many games will Bill Murray attend?  Which Hibachi grill will the Mack family attend first?   How will we get Chris Mack to stop liking Kid Rock?  It’s exhausting.

But Mack is a fiery guy and now has the tools and resources to do more. Xavier was great, but you are officially in the big league now.  Coach Mack vowed to pull students out of dorms to get them to games, something the fanbase has griped about all year. He also extended an invitation to attend practice to all former players which is a good thing and something Coach 2’s ego would not allow.  Hope has been renewed in the fanbase and hopefully winning returns next winter.


  • I know a ton of folks wanted Kenny Payne.  Former player, great recruiter, highest paid assistant, the list goes on.  It would have been great for the program to hire it’s first African-American coach for Men’s basketball……..but Payne was not the right one in my opinion.  Payne wasn’t even my 3rd choice.  If we are going to hire a black coach,  why not Shaka Smart, or Kevin Keatts, or Cuonzo Martin?   They all have something Payne does not, and that is head coaching experience.  Payne’s first head coaching gig should not be at Louisville.   This job is not, and will never be a “learn as you go” job. If that was the case, we would have kept David Padgett.   Apparently me not being a part of the Payne Train resulted in my being called a racial slur on live radio while we recorded TCZ After Dark last week.   Which is fine,  people are entitled to their opinion of me but that doesn’t make it true.   I hope Kenny Payne gets a head coaching gig and is able to prosper in that position. Until then we won’t know what he can do other than recruit for that team down the road and die from boredom in Lexington all year.   If Payne is so great of a coach, let him coach when that team down the road comes to the YUM! next December.


  • We need to renew the series with Cincinnati NOW.   Mack and Cronin aren’t exchanging gift cards and we all know the history with the Fair-cats.  Hell, renew the Keg of Nails while were at it.   I will never get tired of beating Cincy in anything.  Skyline Chili  is terrible and your city is too dumb to fire Marvin Lewis…..congrats, you played yourself.


  • My goal is to reenact the Kingpin scene with Bill Murray as Big Ern.  The scene where his hair is all over the place and he needs to bowl 3 straight strikes to beat Munsen.


And in closing, I just want to say thanks to all of you who read and followed this blog all season long. We had some good times and bad, but you all stuck through it and allowed me to be your tour guide through some of the roughest stretches we have seen.  Thanks for sharing, and for interacting with me along the way.

The BHK is off to get married here in a few months so when I return it will be with a ring on and a fully dissolved hairline.  Just want to thank Mark Blankenbaker and the good folks over at The Crunch Zone website.  Thanks for giving me a platform to spew my thoughts and most importantly to be a fan with an outlet that people can relate to.  Thanks to my boys Joe Kelly and Dave Scull for pubbing my work and for inviting me to join the TCZ Podcast this year, it has been a great experience I am grateful for it.  Thanks to Orlando Larry for keeping my humbled on air last week lol.  Thanks to my agent, Tammy2k for keeping the checks coming in and the bucket hats replenished.

Welp, I will return in August for football season with the third season of BucketHatism.   New QB, new defensive coordinator, new defense,  same old me.   Catch us all at the TCZ/FDKY tailgate on April 14th for the Spring Game.  I will be there consuming ungodly amounts of brisket and slandering Kid Rock’s music catalog.


Welcome to TCZ…we like to have fun here.


Be cool in this hot city.


Court Adjourned  (bangs gavel)





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LJ Nesbitt

The BHK. Writer for thecrunchzone.com , 1/2 of the TCZ Podcast. Surviving in the great city of Louisville, in the not so great state of KY. Loui$ville KY thecrunchzone.com

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