Here's Coach Pitino doing his best Rob Jones impression
It took me a day to recover from the near panic attack I had during the Siena game. The Cards season flashed before my eyes at around the 7-8 minute mark when the Cards were staring at a 4-point margin and possible exit. I remember seeing the season flash before my eyes and envisioning the headlines in the paper. I was even thinking about how long it was going to take me to post something if they didn't come through. Then to top it all off, the powers that be at CBS decided to take a trip around the country in what I thought was the most crucial part of the game. I was literally in panic mode.
And then something happened. As I was watching Marquette fall to Missouri, the ticker at the top kept putting buckets up for the Cards. By the time the game was back on after what seemed like an eternity, Louisville went from being down 63-59 to up 68-63. I stopped pacing, sweating and shaking finally. That was a scary game to say the least.
Nearly every team that makes a deep run in the tourney goes through a similar situation. In 1995 UCLA was the top overall seed and had to recieve a miracle coast-to-coast lay-up by Tyus Edney to beat a hungry #9 seed in Missouri. It didn't come down to the wire quite that much, but a close game like that helps build character for a team that has such high expectations. As long as it doesn't end in a loss, it is the type of game that humbles a team and let's them know they are going to get everyone's best shot. Just like the early season losses, this near-loss could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Cards. For the sake of many-a-Card-fan's health and well-being, let's hope it comes a little earier on Friday.
- I know it is going to get brought up at some point this week and unfortunately it must be addressed, but Rick Pitino's name has been at the top of Arizona's coach wish-list ever since Lute Olsen decided to retire. Allegedly, the knot that ties the two parties together is that rascal CM Newton, who I have heard is assisting the school find a new coach. These rumors rear their ugly head every off-season with his history of jumping around early in his career. However, it is obvious that Pitino has changed and is content where he is. Like Calapari at Memphis and Jay Wright at Villanova, Pitino coaches at a non-state school, so the big-money boosters from "State" U think they can throw their money around and bully "City" College for their coaches. Well, times have changed and the odds of that happening are extremely minute. It does make for a great story-line, but will turn out to be proven bogus.
- Earl Clark needs to borrow some stick-em from TO or Fred Belitnikof before Friday. I've never seen anyone get the ball slapped away from their hands that much. But as we all know, that's what you get from E5. To Siena's credit, the defense was intense and annoying. As always, Clark made up for it with 12 points 12 boards and one of the nastiest, one-handed-snatch rebounds I have ever seen late in the game. Just E5 being E5.
- Preston Knowles' 3 that beat the shot clock was absolutely insane and shifted the momentum drastically. The Siena players looked like they got punched in the stomach. They played about as good of defense as they could and still that happened. I'm sure PK feels terrible about that.
- Edgar Sosa must be a loyal reader of The L Yes! Report because every time I call him out on something he just shoves it right back in my face. I was ready to part ways earlier in the year and then the Kentucky shot happened. Then I purposely started leaving him out of the conversation when talking about how good the Cardinal guards are at defense. Sunday he proceeded to play his best defensive game of the season. Good Edgar showed up. While I'm at it he really needs to rebound the ball better...
- I remember the last time the Cards played Zona in the tourney. In 93 the Cards had a hell of a squad led by guys like Cliff Rozier, Dwayne Morton, and Greg Minor. Arizona had a back-court of Khalid reeves and Damon Stoudamire. It was also a Sweet 16 game, but then it was Arizona who was one of the favorites to win it all. Rozier was a first-team All-American for the Cards and played probably his worst game in red as he committed turnover-after-turnover and basically looked like he was on the take. The Wildcats prevailed and went on to make the Final 4. Can't hurt to have an element of revenge, right?