When 20 percent-shooting Edgar Sosa pulled up from more than 20 feet out to fire a shot Sunday, one could almost hear a collective gasp from Rick Pitino and Louisville fans. No! NO! … Three!
Kentucky fans? If one imagined the Wildcats’ half-million Internet assistant coaches we might have heard, “uh, oh!”
No, not Sosa’s last shot but his first one that put Louisville in front 3-0.
“Uh-oh” because it was an early signal that UofL’s little New Yorker had found a groove to match his audacity to take the Cardinals’ first and last shot.
Sosa’s topsy-turvy three seasons have mystified and frustrated Pitino like nobody since Rodrick Rhodes 13 years ago. The difference may be the light has come in Sosa’s head while Rhodes’ head stayed smogged at Southern Cal.
Credit Kentucky for bringing the best out of Louisville so far this season.
Credit the Cardinals for providing UK another video to review … 21 turnovers and an incredibly badly timed technical foul on Billy Clyde Gillispie.
Pitino was what he can be, outstanding. Prod, probe, speed up an opponent to maximize turnovers. And, he not only pushed the right buttons, but his timing for line-up changes was impeccable.
Gillispie? On a one-to-10 scale from here, an anemic 3.5. Here’s why.
1. UK starters bumbled to six turnovers in first eight possessions, putting into question their preparedness for Pitino’s speedup.
2. The coach’s technical foul killed his team’s momentum and re-energized the home team and partisan crowd.
3. His helter skelter line-up changes negated rhythm and had players looking over the shoulders to see who was coming in.
Postscript. Whatever happened to inspirational Landon Slone?
Louisville is far more ready for the first two weeks of Big East play which includes Villanova, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.
Kentucky should get well on Vandy Saturday. A prep for Gillispie’s next test to “win a big one” — this time in Knoxville.
Liberty Bell Chimes To wrap a Kentucky football season … a pair of glory images for Big Blue partisans to hold onto until spring practice.
To start, Myron Pryor scooped up a fumble and ran all afternoon to rock Louisville on August 31. Season’s end: Ventrell Jenkins picked up a fumble in Memphis and ran his team into Kentucky football history. A hat trick of winning seasons and bowl wins, too.
Between those twin rumblings the Wildcats’ season was on script early, a nightmare in the middle as the wounded list grew and who’s-on-first at quarterback almost sank the ship, In the end, the survivors taped up, spoke up with bravado, then manned-up and ended their season with a Liberty Bell ring.
In Memphis, when Jenkins rudely dislodged Pat Pinkney’s mouth-piece on the way to a winning touchdown last week, I thought Kentucky’s 7-6 big picture was a metaphor for Rich Brooks.
Be he 27 or 67 years old, a taste of winning and a passion inside a blue collar coach is fresher, stronger and keeps him younger. While rewards and media love and 50 cent adjectives are reserved for JoePa, Woody, Spurrier, Saban and even pretenders Mumme, Corso and Holtz, Rich Brooks the democrat labored on to a point we think he should sell his home in Oregon and buy a spread in Woodford County.
Brooks is making a basketball school into a football one (snicker). UK’s perpetual monkey, being Rodney Dangerfield, is showing signs of change. And same for the word worst. As in: Kentucky was worst in the SEC East. And, UK’s coach is the SEC’s worst (according a dwarfbrained Alabama columnist).
UK football history is forever chained to Bear Bryant, Blanton Collier and Jerry Claiborne, but raise your hand if you like the idea of the man to put Bear and the rest in silhouette is Brooks. It’s official, he has.
America loves top dogs, winners. A close second are underdogs. Those hungry and relentless types trying to earn a place at the dog dish. Maybe 15 minutes in postseason (BCS?) conversation.
Kentucky football has scrambled onto the stage. Having earned a brag-rights pedestal with back-to-back-to-back winning seasons and bowl wins, we are reminded of a paraphrase from the movie Patton. The American general assures his men, “… and another thing, we aren’t holding anything. Let the enemy do that. We’re going to be moving forward all the time!”
Rich Brooks’s blue collar doctrine is: Hat tricks are nice, but Kentucky football isn’t holding anything. It’s on the move … all the time.
And so it goes.