This is a little guidebook to the University of Louisville basketball team. Before we go any farther, you pronounce it Louavull.
It isn't Looeyville. And please forget the stuff Jim Murray wrote about Lousyville having so many distilleries that if the wind blows right, the town smells like a wet bar rag. All together now, with a touch of magnolia in your voice, everybody say, "Louavull is heaven, Ah do declare."
Denny Crum, the Louavull coach, loves it so much in the bluegrass he turned down the UCLA job when St. John ascended into retirement. Crum bought 55 acres outside the city. Working his own bulldozer, Crum put in a fishing pond outside the kitchen window of his farmhouse. He raised a cow called Joe B. (a fellow named Joe B. Hall coaches Kentucky). Crum rides the range on a motorcycle.
Louavull's peer-group leader is a 230-pound center whose uncharacteristic sulking last year took the shape of a refusal to wear his artificial thumb. The team's top reserve is a quasi-poet who two years ago, when Louavull eventually won the national championship at Indianapolis, coined the team's motto, "The Ville's going to the Nap." Its leading scorer came to practice today in a Nashville Sounds baseball cap.
Many a reader has been through paragraphs such as these and decided this Louavull outfit is so loosey-goosey it can't play basketball with the beautifully disciplined teams of, say, UCLA. Those readers are wrong. Even unfortunates who never lived in Louavull know that Denny Crum is as good a coach as there is. In 11 seasons, he has taken Louavull to the NCAA semifinals four times.
Crum's teams have never won fewer than 20 games in a season. No coach ever began his career that way.
Louavull presses all the time. Crum's guys like to run. They play with great enthusiasm. They come at you eight or nine deep. Their discipline is not the sort obvious to the casual witness, for they look to shoot long before a 19-pass series puts everyone to sleep. Discipline they have, though, and Georgetown will discover as much Saturday afternoon.
The Hoyas will discover it when Crum sends an assault wave toward Patrick Ewing.
Much was said about the running game and the transition game at press conferences this afternoon. Louavull guard Jerry Eaves said, "It won't be a passive, hard-to-get-things-going game." Derek Smith, the team's leading scorer, said, "The ball is going to go up on the glass every 15 seconds." Crum said it was just a matter of who played the fast game the best.
That's fine as far as it goes, but the game will turn on Ewing's performance because these teams are look-alikes except for the 7-foot freshman center.
Ewing has been wonderful lately, fresh from a triumphant tour of the West, where he frightened into submission Wyoming, Fresno State and Oregon State. Georgetown fans can be forgiven if they assume Ewing's domination will continue.
Against Louavull, certain new factors come into play.
For one, Crum is the best bench coach you ever saw at using his eight or nine players and orchestrating the flow of a game. If you're in a two-point game with Louavull in the last two minutes, you're in a lot of trouble.
Two, Louavull is a class team tempered in the fire of perhaps the nation's toughest schedule (outside the Metro Conference, it played De Paul, Oregon State, Marquette, St. John's, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Missouri and Virginia).
Third is this: Ewing ain't gonna scare a 230-pound guy with no thumb. Besides which, when Wiley Brown gets tired of batting Ewing around, Crum can match him up with two more very good 220-pounders, Charles Jones and Rodney McCray. The three will take the ball at Ewing until Ewing proves he can stay out of foul trouble and still control the game. On defense, these three will use 15 fouls if necessary to keep Ewing away from the hoop.
"Rodney, Charles, Derek and them," Eaves said, naming everybody but the mayor of Louavull, "will have to keep Ewing off the boards."
"We can't let him use his height and strength in the low post," Smith said. "We have to get him five feet from the basket."
"Ewing is a better athlete than Randy Breuer (Minnesota's 7-3 center)," said Crum, whose team beat Minnesota, 67-61, in the Mideast Regional, but lost six times to teams with centers 6-10 or taller. "He runs up and down the floor better, he rebounds better, he fills a lot of holes on defense."
Oregon State beat Louisville, 62-56, three months ago.
Georgetown beat Oregon State to death, 69-45, last week.
"When I saw how Georgetown dismantled Oregon State, well--Georgetown must have an outstanding team," Crum said. To have a chance, he said, Louavull must play as well as it did in winning the Mideast.
If Ewing plays well, Louavull can't win. Georgetown will win when Ewing takes away the inside game so completely that Louavull is forced to depend on its undependable outside shooting. Make the score, 59-53, with Ewing the defensive star while Eric Floyd and Eric Smith score 32 points.