“ALL RISE!!! Court is now in session. The honorable Bucket Hat King LJ tha Fiasco presiding. Please be seated and come to order”
I have been searching all week to find some entertaining words I could spread in this column but I apologize to those of you who read this column each week, because I have none. We have seen the highest of highs as a fanbase but now we are experiencing the lowest of lows. I feel like I have said this before but it is worth noting this is by far the worst week in Louisville Basketball history. But hey, you already knew that so my apologies for stating the obvious.
For a fanbase looking to grasp on to something positive, aside from the Louisville Women’s team that continues to win, we are coming up empty. Football was supposed to be a distraction once the FBI probe news dropped in September. While Lamar Jackson dazzled and created another season of amazing memories, the team underachieved. Before September, the buzz around Louisville’s basketball team was reaching levels we have not seen since 2013, but all of that ended soon after.
It is so hard to be positive right now, but WE will move forward. I am looking forward to the day that I can tell my grand-kids about the darkest days of Louisville basketball and how we prevailed, because WE WILL do just that. Anyone who thinks Louisville won’t isn’t a true fan.
This is the first time that I thought about not writing this post because I, like most of you, am tired. I am tired of scandal news, tired of talking about Coach 2, tired of the NCAA, tired of being on the bottomline of ESPN, tired of Jeff Goodman reports, tired of Greg Postel, and tired of wondering who our AD and head coach will be next season. But I realized that I needed to write this just as much as you needed to read it. I didn’t ask to be one of the voices for CardNation, but I don’t mind it. You all know that I am not going to sugar coat a damn thing, I am not Willy Wonka and this is not a candy factory. So it’s time to be completely honest.
Here we go.
Any outbursts from the court and you will be removed by CardNation. We couldn’t care less about your opinion right now. Half of the outside world sounds like idiots and the other half spend their days writing about our program just to gain clicks. We only ask that you keep that same energy when your name is called. No program is clean. Not one.
- Anas Mahmoud has been a huge disappointment and I cannot justify him starting or playing more than 11 minutes for the rest of the season. It is time to look ahead to the future, and that is Malik Williams. Anas seems lost on defense, camps out at mid-court on offense, and is passive all over the court. He has not once became angry, and that is fine, but this is ACC basketball. This is Louisville basketball, if you want to be friendly while on the court that is fine….just make sure its AFTER the game. Imagine Montrezl Harrell getting dunked on every game or not getting involved at all on offense. Imagine Gorgui not slamming a ball down while under the rim and instead gently laying it up or shooting an awkward hook shot. I am so angry at Anas because a 7-footer should be dominating in the paint and around the glass. Too many times smaller guards drive right thru him like his name is Burger King. Too many times, Anas is put on a poster. I have seen him dunked on nearly every game, and normally by smaller guys. How?? How does that happen? Anas is a nice guy off the court and very friendly in post game interviews, but the team needs a leader to get pissed off and command them to play better. Where is that leader at?? Anas played with some great leaders, but none of that has translated to his game. I will continue to go back to his comments after Coach 2 was fired “Practices are much easier now“. That spoke volumes then, and we are seeing the results now.
- Our criticism of VJ King has been unfair. When I see VJ, I see a guy that is trying his hardest to get out of the slump that he has been in. I see a guy that gives his all when he is out there. While his struggles to finish around the basket have earned me a few more grey hairs in my beard, I remain a fan of his. After each loss, VJ has always been available to the press. A lot of players on our team hide in the showers after losses until the media is gone, but not VJ. Good or bad, win or lose, he has been there to face the music. And fellow Card fan Birdhead Ryan made a great point last night on the post game show. VJ signed with us when the scandal was fresh, he didn’t have to. He stuck with us when he could have went elsewhere, he didn’t have to. We as fans have a punching bag each year on the team, but I don’t think VJ should be that guy especially after what he sacrificed to sign with Louisville. It’s not fair, and he is not perfect. But he stuck by us in our darkest hour, and I hoped we as fans return the favor. So far, we have done the opposite. To hear that VJ King’s dad had to console his son who was in tears after the Duke game is gut wrenching. As fans, we forget that these are 18-20 year old student athletes. We don’t talk to our kids or elders the way we talk to our team at times.
- Our criticism of Quentin Snider is completely off-base. Here is a guy who grew up a Card fan, and dreamed of playing for his hometown school. Maybe that is the reason why fans feel free to take shots at him over and over. I don’t know, but the things I have heard about Q from our fanbase and even by some of the guys I sit around on press row are disgusting. There are some guys who groan, or roll their eyes each time he doesn’t hit a shot or has a random turnover. I look at those same guys when he scores or gets a steal and their lips are pursed like they just ate a sour patch kid. Q will be missed, and it will take a lack of a true point guard next season to that through our thick skulls. The funny thing is, the main fans that are bashing Q will be the same ones kissing his a** after he leaves. Keep that same energy……
- David Padgett’s subbing has been a huge head scratcher this season. Darius Perry brings defensive energy, yet can’t get off the bench. Jordan Nwora is a great three point shooter, yet can’t get off the bench. Malik Williams can rebound and score, yet is left on the bench. This is our future, they cannot get better on the bench.
- We all know at times Deng develops tunnel vision, he also makes some terrible decisions when passing that normally results in turnovers. I hate saying people have checked out but mentally Deng is not there. I think his mind has been on the NBA draft for the past few months. If that is the case, I wish him the best. We all wanted Deng to take that next step and dominate to join Donovan and others in the league. I really wanted him to be the leader on the team and maybe I expected too much. Without Deng, we would have more losses that’s for sure. As I said, we are all just disappointed in some of our vets on this team.
- Ray Spalding has been a bright spot all season and I for one appreciate his effort. In the past two blowouts he has given us a glimmer of hope. I think next Thursday will be his last game as a Cardinal. He plays with so much energy and just wants to compete.
- Ryan McMahon is going to be a good player for UofL. He has not had the greatest stretch and he has not been great on defense but we appreciate his heart just as we appreciate Darius Perry and Lance Thomas who are constantly cheerleaders on the bench. The future of CardNation will be in good hands, these guys are the heart of the team.
- As a fanbase, we need to stop giving major attention to minor people. We are going to be the laughing stock of college basketball until the FBI releases names and docs and then the NC double A-holes decide to punish everyone else. Right now, it’s Louisville against the world….. as it’s always been.
- Kudos to David Padgett who coached last night’s game after the loss of his brother in-law. An already difficult week just became worse for him and his family. I couldn’t imagine having to coach a game with that on your mind, let alone a game at Duke. Godspeed David.
- The Cards have 3 regular season games left, and all three will see the Cards as an underdog. Cards are looking squarely at the NIT right now. Sorry to state the obvious.
- I struggle hearing fans say this team should play for the name on the front of the jersey. I have always hated that cliche. The name on the front of that jersey has delivered a ton of bad news to the team since 2015. The name on the front of that jersey took away a tournament appearance from the team, fired it’s coach days before practice was set to start, fired the legendary AD, and have completely overhauled the foundation of Louisville athletics. The banner and once proud symbols hanging in our arena are gone. We have a interim President who has done nothing to earn the trust of the fanbase, we have another guy who sneaks out of side doors to avoid questioning. We have subjected a team that had nothing to do with any scandal to taunts and ridicule that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Perhaps the name on the front of the jersey should root for and uplift the names on the back.
And in closing, this is the time for CardNation to stand up for the program they have loved since birth. I hear so many fans say “Red till I am dead” or “I bleed Red and Black”, well lets see it. I am sorry, but the VJ King news broke my heart especially because it has been unrelenting at times. For a team that has been beat up and talked down to all year, the last thing they need is their fans to turn their backs on them. I am not saying that we have done that, but it is starting to feel that way.
The Virginia game should be sold out, no excuses. It’s our last chance to see Anas and Q. I may be our last time to see Ray Spalding and Deng Adel in a Cardinal uniform. None of these guys asked for any of this, and all had the same dreams and aspirations for this program last summer as we did. We all know the NCAA punishes the innocent and let’s the guilty *cough UNC cough* slide. But f*** them, this is about us and our school.
This is our f**king city, and no banner defines us. No SI article about dangerous cultures, no panel at ESPN, no fanbase down the road, no grown men who think it hilarious to mock and ridicule kids.
Pack the bars this weekend for a road game against V-Tech. Let the world know that CardNation is here and is not going anywhere. I am strong believer that positive energy will cancel out negativity each time it surfaces. We have enough negativity to deal with, no need to pile on. If you want to pile on, get you a blue and white shirt and start making plans to move 70 miles east, this is not the fanbase for you. There are a lot of great fans in CardNation, there are also a lot of bandwagon fans and former players who wish us hell instead of wishing us well. The same players who posed on the court back in September in support of Padgett are the same ones sitting on press row or giving interviews on WHAS11 tearing down the program. You’re a cancer that needs to be removed.
3 games folks, then the ACC tourney. That is all we have. You knew what CardNation was about when you put on that red shirt, when you enrolled in classes at the Belknap and Shelby campuses. This fanbase does not fade, it does not forget. We take a punch, spit out blood, smile and say “is that all you got?”. We are the 2013 National Champions, and will forever be that. You knew what fanbase this was since you were a kid. You knew there would be rough roads ahead, but you stuck with it. This is Louisville basketball, the high flying, pressing, dunking, insane fanbase that will start a Card cheer at a funeral and throw their L’s up at weddings. You knew that no matter what, you are part of a prestigious fanbase.
Let’s know it again………let’s know it again.
Be cool in this hot city.
Court adjourned (bangs gavel)