February 12, 2008

Ballz: sports commentary for 2-13-08

Get out the heart meds, Cards fansIt’s season ticket insurance time for Cardinal fans.The U of L is resurgent. Be wise. Be insured. Pay the premium now.This perhaps confusing concept has been a running stream of consciousness for a cadre of inveterate Cards fans for decades now. It started when the program became a national player, when the school kicked it up a notch during the invigorating uptick of the 1970s.The Cards got good. Which meant more big games, resulting in a rash of ulcers, hives, nervous breakdowns, cardialgia and bouts of faintness with the team down three and less than a minute on the clock. Such symptoms run rampant when your team is a national factor. With meaningful tilts on the schedule, ailments ensue. Fans need protection for such moments.Thus the season ticket insurance schtick was born. It made sense. Playing Memphis State for the conference championship? Call your agent, it’s a season ticket insurance game. Playing UK in Knoxville for a trip to the Final Four, double your policy limits. That was yesteryear. Now, just when you thought it safe to watch the Cards, that the games didn’t matter that much, it’s baaaaaaaack!!!! Anxiety returneth. Had there been agents Saturday night as the exuberant 20,083 white-clad believers exited, they would have done boffo business. The good guys drew-and-quartered Hoya Paranoia by 16 in the second half. With optimism reigning, folks were ready to find some good hands for protection.(Caveat: Deadline came before Tuesday’s visit to DePaul. After a heady week with Ws over two top 20 opponents, it was a trap game. Hopefully fans didn’t need to make a claim before this missive hits the news racks.)Saturday, it was don’t bother knockin’, the Hall is rockin’.The stands were white on white. Erin Andrews — be still, our beating hearts — was skintight, outta sight. On the tube, Digger said he liked us. Ouch. Bilas said he didn’t. Double trouble.T’was a Big Game. It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.T-Will had five turnovers before the 10-minute mark. The U of L was stymied. Jerry Smith hit the team’s first-made jumper, a three, with 1:22 to play before halftime. The Hoyas answered with a deuce. Smith hit another trey. Austin Freeman responded with one of his own. DC missed a layup. Freeman hit a layup. The Cards, a net minus-three on the sequence, trotted to the locker room down 23-31.One fan exclaimed, “What a game.” Next to him, a more astute observer inquired, “Do you find 10 turnovers in a half fascinating?”Hibbert hit the first bucket after the half. With the Cards down 10, fans were reaching for cell phones to call the adjuster. Another tried-and-true fan’s mantra at such moments is, “Be the Cardinals.”They were the Cardinals. Louisville scored 21 of the next 25 points tallied for a 44-37 lead. Georgetown never had a possession where it could take the lead the rest of the way.For one glorious night there was no reason to make that insurance claim. Rejuvenated Louisville, 3-0 against Top 25 squads, remained third — a precipitous spot — in league standings. There’s plenty of work ahead. Commissioner Mike Tranghese was in the house, wearing the look of a man certain his BEast is as mighty a college hoops confederacy as has ever been. There will be no games off until spring has sprung, the Derby princesses are around every corner and The Rick can wear that white linen suit knowing it’s appropriate attire. Contact the writer at cdk@culturemaven.com