The View from Press Row: Louisville

As much as Thursday's season-ending loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament turned your stomach, imagine the view from just a few feet away. The Bootleg was in Rupp Arena and had an up-close vantage point for the runaway defeat at the hands of Rick Pitino's running redbirds. Here is the blow-by-blow account of events and observations in Stanford's 78-58 loss to Louisville.

Pregame - I expected a sea of red between the Cardinal and Cardinals fans, but the blanket of red around the whole arena is also due in part to the Ohio State fans who are here in mass - and more will come for the afternoon session.  We won't have a true idea of the disparity between Stanford and Louisville fans until we hear respective crowd reactions during introductions and the game.  I think it's clear that the gap will be exponential.

Pregame - Rupp Arena is impressive.  The building is part of a greater complex that includes a convention center and a shopping mall.  But being inside the arena itself is pretty special.  Being at this site is a big part of the experience of this game.

Pregame - We have the official starting lineups available in the media work room, and it comes as little surprise that sophomore guard Anthony Goods is in the starting five.  He came off the bench seven days ago in his return to action from a high ankle sprain, but there was no question that his place on this roster is on the floor to start the game.  Classmate Mitch Johnson returns to the bench.

Pregame - Something I meant to write this week but did not.  This is in fact not the first meeting between Stanford and David Padgett, who together shared a tight three-year recruiting relationship until the school's Admissions Office parted their paths.  Padgett was at the time the most highly rated recruit in the program's history, and his admissions decision was a scorching defeat for Mike Montgomery.  Padgett ultimately signed with Kansas and played three years ago as a freshman against Stanford in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim (Calif.).  The Jayhawks were ranked #1 in the nation, and Stanford was without junior superstar Josh Childress.  Padgett started and had four fouls, four turnovers and seven points.  Stanford won, 64-58.

20:00 - The opening tip will be between Padgett and freshman Brook Lopez... Padgett gets higher and wins the ball.  He's not just skilled, but also a nice athlete.

19:21 - After Louisville misses its first shot, they show no pressure at all while Stanford brings the ball up.  Defense can help the offense.

19:16 - Stanford has its first turnover, and it was not due to the Cardinals' pressure.  Brook Lopez was under the basket and made a pass through the paint with no chance of success, easily stolen.

19:02 - After a Louisville made basket, we do see full court pressure.  Stanford handles and passes well to get the ball across half court.

18:51 - Goods launches a three-pointer, pretty early in the possession.  It misses off the back iron.  Feels like a quick trigger under the pressure of this environment.

18:41 - Padgett with the tip back on an Edgar Sosa miss.  The crowd is roaring.  Nothing about the play or atmosphere feels good for Stanford in the early going.  Trent Johnson calls a quick timeout.

18:37 - Stanford inbounds the ball, surprisingly without Louisville pressing out of the timeout.

18:29 - Goods with a good drive and bounce pass dish to Robin Lopez, but it is intercepted by Brandon Jenkins.

18:07 - Terrence Williams launches a three and misses.  Stanford needs that all day from the erratic sophomore, who leads Louisville in scoring and minutes.

17:55 - Robin Lopez with the turnaround baseline hook over Padgett... sails over the rim.  Airball.

17:48 - Williams with a turnover - carrying the ball.  He can be Stanford's sixth man on the court today.

17:29 - Stanford finds their first basket on an offensive rebound by Robin Lopez of his brother's miss.  He is patient under the basket - almost too long - but goes up in the crowd and scores.  4-2, Louisville.

17:01 - Padgett comes right back on the other end, with a turnaround move close to the basket for a baby hook.  Robin Lopez is whistled for the foul.

16:59 - Lawrence Hill makes a huge error on the inbound pass, which is picked off by Jenkins and quickly scored.  Here they come!  Stanford has not faced full court pressure like this at any time this year.

16:46 - Fred Washington drives through the Louisville defense on the attack, though the lay-up misses.  Stanford has to punch back and attack in this game - not let Louisville be the sole aggressor.

16:40 - Louisville races the other way, and Robin Lopez picks up his second personal foul bumping the ballhandler hard near the hoop.  Just like that, the seven-footer takes himself out of the game.

16:17 - Washington called for an offensive foul, pushing off while dribbling against pressure near half court.  He doesn't like the call.  Stanford cannot be hit with those calls today when Louisville is the defensive aggressor.  The Cardinal instead would hope to have whistles go the other way.

15:59 - Superb post move by Padgett to score off the glass against Brook Lopez.  He's a Cardinal killer so far in this game.  Louisville is up 12-2.

15:31 - Stanford stops the bleeding with a baseline drive and pull-up floater by Goods.  But Stanford is in a big hole, 12-4.

14:59 - Hill hits a little one-hander from the same spot on the floor where Goods last scored.  The crowd is temporarily quieted.  The offense can be fine if/when they don't turn the ball over.

14:23 - Earl Clark is 6'8" but just made an interception worthy of a guard - or a cornerback.  He explodes to a pass by Washington in the backcourt, snares it and dunks hard uncontested.  Wow.

13:58 - Stanford is having everything possible go wrong with the whistles.  Goods is called for an offensive foul handling the ball against pressure - that may have been a Louisville flop.  Trent Johnson spends a good 20 or 30 seconds into the timeout standing at the elbow and glaring at the official who made that call on Goods.  He has to.  Stanford should have the benefit of Louisville fouls when they pressure like this, but it is the ballhandling team instead picking up the calls.

13:43 - Brandon Jenkins launches a three-pointer that hits the iron hard.  Louisville has only hit I believe one triple in this game so far.  Outside shooting is not their strength, and it's apparent.  It won't matter, though, if they continue to pick up so many scores in transition off Stanford turnovers.

13:33 - Brook Lopez finds himself with the ball on the block with a single defender, and he easily lays it over him off the glass for a score.  Stanford needs "easy" offensive possessions like that.  17-8, Louisville.

12:51 - Mitch Johnson came into the game (sub for Robin Lopez) to give Stanford better ballhandling, but he looks completely uncomfortable bringing the ball up that possession, with a double-team that causes him to attempt a spin move.  He clearly shuffles his feet and is justly called for the travel.

12:20 - Big defensive stop by Brook Lopez, forcing a miss at the basket after a Louisville second-chance opportunity, and then corralling the defensive rebound.

11:57 - Second media timeout.  Stanford's best (and only) hope in this game is to make defensive stops, not only to catch up on the scoreboard, but also to 1) slow the game from this up-and-down pace; 2) keep Louisville's press off the floor; and 3) quiet the crowd.  Tim Kawakami observes that it likely won't matter.  Stanford will tire and get handled in the second half.

11:42 - Mitch Johnson leaves his feet for what looks like a three-pointer, and then decides to pass in the air.  It is easily deflected.  That is a confidence manifestation.

11:30 - Brook Lopez throws the ball away trying to feed the post.  He had a single defender against him, and frankly that is a spot where he would shoot the ball in most games.

11:09 - Foul on Jerry Smith pressuring Mitch Johnson as he brings the ball up.  That is the first foul of the game, I believe, called on Louisville's pressure.  And the partisan crowd thinks it's a bad call.

10:40 - Hill follows his miss on a three-pointer with the long offensive rebound, and he puts it on the floor to attack the Louisville defense.  He pulls up and hits a short jumper.  Good sequence.  Louisville still leads, 19-10.

10:07 - Derrick Caracter is in the game and tries to score in the paint on Brook Lopez, fouled hard to the floor.  That's a big man (270 pounds) to knock down so easily...  Officials say the foul is on Washington.  Huh?

9:44 - Louisville defends in the half court with their zone for the first time.  Taj Finger has the ball at the basket, and it looks like his attempt is either fouled or blocked.  But the refs call a travel.  Ninth turnover for Stanford already.  Making those mistakes when you have the ball at a point-blank opportunity for high-percentage offense is a killer.

8:38 - Nice spin move by Caracter attacking the basket.  Just misses.  He gets the offensive rebound and scores against Brook Lopez.  25-10.  This is brutal.  Stanford can defend fine in the half court against this team, but if they don't exercise a rebounding advantage, they're screwed.

7:44 - Brook Lopez does a great job defending Caracter while he looks for something around the basket, but at the end of the play he gets a whistle.  Lopez is incredulous, as well he should be.  Trent Johnson comes onto the floor for another glare at the officials at this media timeout.

7:44 - Peter Prowitt checks into the game, and Stanford is going with a big lineup of Prowitt, Lopez, Hill, Washington and Goods.  Time to try something different.  Stanford is down 17.

7:37 - Louisville presses after made free throws, and the "big" lineup has no problem moving the ball into the half court offense.

7:26 - Prowitt gets a good look at the basket, just missing, but Brook Lopez tips it back in.  A second positive result with the big lineup.

7:02 - That's a dagger.  Smith buries a three-pointer.  Louisville reclaims the momentum, now up 30-12.

6:39 - On a Washington turnover, Louisville has a breakaway for an uncontested dunk.  Prowitt runs his heart out to try and catch him.  He makes contact after the ball is through the rim, and that draws an intentional foul.  He looks shocked, though it was clearly the right call.  The effort does not excuse the action.

6:23 - Caracter in the paint uses a fake to draw Brook Lopez into the air, and he lands on top of him for a foul.  That's his second personal.  After the free throws, Stanford is nearly tripled up, 35-12.  Lopez is not coming out of the game.

6:03 - Washington grabs an offensive rebound and is fouled going back up.  He hits one of two free throws.  35-13.

5:42 - Stanford plays a zone defense, and Sosa rips a three-pointer.  There are no answers today.  38-13.

5:18 - Goods dribble-drive looks good getting through the defense, but he cannot convert the short jumper.

5:10 - In transition the other way, Smith pulls up for an open three-pointer.  It goes down, and the arena erupts (again).  Stanford has to call a timeout while Smith is pounding his chest.  This is a bloodbath.  Stanford is not only giving transition opportunities to Louisville with a wave of turnovers, but Stanford also is not defending well in the least bit in transition.  41-13.  Woof.

5:00 - In the department of experimentation, Stanford next tries putting Kenny Brown in the game for Goods.

4:52 - That worked quickly.  Brown takes a three-pointer the first moment he touches the ball, and it goes down.  That is Stanford's first make in four three-point attempts today.  41-16.

4:12 - On an offensive tip of his own miss, Lopez is whistled for his third foul.  Brutal.  Stanford is in the middle of a nightmare.  Will Paul checks into the game for Lopez.

3:43 - Paul is trapped on the sideline, though not in the greatest peril, but he travels.

3:19 - Sosa rips a three-pointer after Louisville grabs on offensive rebound.  On that board, Louisville had three defenders all together and by themselves around the ball when it came off the rim.  Succumbing to a Pitino press is one thing, but not rebounding is pretty inexcusable for this Stanford team.

2:54 - Almost the play of the day for Stanford.  Finger leaps for a very impressive offensive rebound, and then puts in on the floor, makes a nice move and lays it off the glass while fouled.  Ball doesn't go down, though.  Someday (next year?), Finger will add the strength to finish those contact/fouled attempts that never go down for him.

2:24 - Brown is on the attack and draws a foul pulling up.  He hits both free throws.  Brown is acquitting himself reasonably.  He should play a lot more in the second half.  46-19.  Can Stanford get to 20?

1:01 - Nice offensive rebound by Robin Lopez off a miss of a very good drive by Goods.  But in a crowd of good players (including Padgett), he really doesn't have any idea where to go or what to do.  His offensive post game remains visibly in need of radical work in the off-season.

0:07.5 - Brown with a rebound off a long miss, and he is mugged.  Only a couple seconds after a Louisville player puts a Greco-Roman move on him does the whistle come.  Trent Johnson was gesticulating during the play until the whistle arrived.  Stanford needs a lot of help, and the zebras are not going to oblige.  By the way, nice leap and rebound by Brown, who goes to the free throw line.  He hits one of two, pushing Stanford to a merciful 20 points.  In the most horrific first half in Stanford NCAA Tournament history, Brown would be the best nomination if you had to choose an "MVP" so far.

Halftime - 46-20, Louisville.  This is the largest halftime deficit of the year, though just two points worse than Air Force's 24-point lead at the break.  The 20 points is pitiful but not the worst of the year.  Stanford scored a mere 12 points against Santa Clara in the first half of that loss.  The Card also collected 20 points at Washington State.

Halftime - Time to break open the record book.  Stanford's worst loss in the NCAA Tournament?  Two years ago by 23 points to Mississippi State and also 23 in 2002 against Kansas.  Close behind is the 22-point whipping by UMass in the 1995 Big Dance.

Halftime - How deep and balanced is Louisville's domination in this game?  Of their 46 points, only one player is in double figures, and that is Clark at 10.  Four players have eight points, and two are subs.  The glaring statistic is Stanford's 12 turnovers against three assists, with Louisville scoring 22 points of those turnovers.  That's a jaw-dropping number.  When you also consider that Louisville shot just 46.7% from the field in a half with so many transition scores, it reinforces my observation that Stanford can defend in the half court against this team.

19:46 - Hill misses a three-pointer on the opening possession, and Robin Lopez is fouled while corralling the offensive rebound.  That might bode well - winning the battles on the glass.

19:45 - Brook Lopez catches the inbound pass on the baseline, but he travels trying to back his way to the basket.  Not so good.

19:33 - Robin Lopez picks up his third personal foul on Stanford's first defensive possession.  Not so good.

19:22 - Louisville can be expected to show no mercy.  They press full court after their first make, leading by 28.

19:15 - Hill looks to feed the ball inside from the corner, and he has it picked off by Clark.

18:43 - Mitch Johnson is the first sub of the half into the game, but not for Robin Lopez.  Hill comes out.  Stanford plays with two seven-footers and two ballhandlers.

17:43 - Sosa drives from 23 feet on Johnson and takes it to the basket.

17:14 - A Goods turnover sends Louisville and Sosa on their way for yet another transition score, this one an effortless uncontested dunk.  Stanford calls a timeout, and Trent Johnson works the official on his side of the court again.  I have yet to see any official even look his way during these attempts.  He's not getting anywhere.

17:14 - Brown is into the game much earlier this half, but he substitutes for Goods.  Neither Mitch Johnson nor Anthony Goods are having anything close to a positive game, but I would keep the latter rather than the former in the game to play with Brown.  Stanford cannot possibly climb back in the scoring column with Johnson playing major minutes the way this game is going.

16:58 - A rare example of a positive passing connection between the Lopez twins.  Robin in the low post takes the ball and kicks it back to Brook, who pulls up for a mid-range basket that rattles in.  52-23.

16:05 - At least Stanford is still fighting.  Brook Lopez goes to the floor for a loose ball, rips it away and then passes it out to reset Stanford's offense.  The scoreboard and performance today is embarrassing, but Stanford can reclaim a modicum of respect if they fight hard for loose balls and rebound the rest of the way.

15:55 - Washington grabs the offensive board off a Brown missed three-pointer, gives a little fake and then goes up and scores off the glass in traffic.  More great fight and effort.  52-25.

15:24 - Robin Lopez swings away on a block attempt and picks up his fourth personal foul.  With so little at stake the remaining 15-plus of this game, do you just leave him on the floor and let him play this out?  Tempting, but I'd pull him.  This game is now a teaching exercise, and Lopez will learn little if he commits his final foul in the next minute...  Indeed, Finger comes into the game for him.

14:59 - Padgett catches the ball and cuts across the lane for a beautiful dunk.  He's putting together a nice little highlight package for NBA scouts.  Stanford was good to him in the end, after all!

14:38 - Caracter goes right and then pivots back left to score in the paint against Brook Lopez.  I'm seriously impressed with how changed and improved Caracter is over the high school edition.  He has better footwork and a vastly accelerated understanding of scoring in the low post.

14:20 - Brook Lopez on the other end scores a short baseline hook over Caracter.  Made it look smooth and easy.  Where has that been today?

13:32 - Lopez scores again, this time shooting from the high post.  He can rebuild some confidence in the second half to help in the off-season, but today this is too little too late.

13:06 - A third straight score by Lopez, this time on the left side of the basket on the baseline, shooting from 14 feet.  He is so good offensively when confident and in rhythm.  The question is how to extract that more consistently from the streaky youngster.  58-31.

11:58 - Define "bloodthirsty":  Your team is doubling up a supposedly dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament, and you boo loudly the call of a charging foul against your team, though Hill is grimacing when he gets up after the hard fall.

11:37 - Hustle plays by Brown and Washington keep the possession going, and the ball finds Hill open out at the three-point line.  He strokes his first make from that range of the day.  60-36.

10:53 - A hand check is called against Smith, guarding Hill out at 25 feet.  That puts Hill and Stanford into the bonus... though he misses the front end.

10:21 - Lopez finishes with a thundering dunk (!), but all the credit goes to Brown.  First, he deflects a ball that keeps Louisville from racing the other way for another transition highlight clip.  Then when he gets the ball back, he threads a nice bounce pass of about 25 feet that lets Lopez make his jam.  In the midst of a nightmare, Brown is providing a real silver lining and some individual momentum heading into the fast-approaching off-season.

9:34 - Louisville is up 25 in a blowout, yet they still want to pressure in the full court.  Don't be offended.  This is more practice that Stanford clearly needs in an area of weakness.

9:25 - Brook Lopez just bricked two free throws.  Stanford is now 8-of-17 shooting at the stripe today.  That isn't why they are getting pummeled, but it doesn't help... and it is probably symptomatic of their overall shellshock this afternoon.

9:05 - Brown pulls up and drains a pretty 18-footer.  He has eight points.  65-42.

8:43 - Terrence Williams just survived what could have been called a travel, pinning the ball mid-dribble on his hip.  I thought Stanford's chances today could go hand-in-hand with the sophomore superstar having a bad game.  He can be streaky bad, in a big way.  Well, he has no points and three fouls, but Louisville is romping.

8:22 - Washington and Juan Palacios collide ferociously when the former catches a pass from Goods over the top of the press.  Palacios looks set but is whistled for the blocking foul.  The Cardinals in the stands boo louder than any time today, and they are probably right.  Washington, however, has little control over his fate, receiving a high pass that forced him to leave his feet and look back.

7:46 - Talk about a bad idea by the scoreboard operator.  They just showed a "puzzle" for the crowd to guess the identity of a former NCAA Tournament great.  It's a picture of Christian Laettner, who hit that famous shot to beat Kentucky in the 1992 regional finals.  He also made the controversial "stomp" of a Wildcat on the floor after a whistle.  Remember, this is Rupp Arena.  I hear some boos.

7:30 - Hill makes a good offensive rebound and is fouled in the process.  Double bonus time, but he bricks the first.  Hill darts backward in visible frustration, biting his lip.  He also bricks the second.  Stanford trails 69-43.

6:54 - Fifth-year senior Carlton Weatherby is in the game.  Almost the entire team returns next winter, but this is Weatherby's last game in a Stanford uniform.  He makes a nice crossover dribble to drive the lane but is called for an offensive foul.  Darn.

6:28 - Fields hits a three-pointer.  He's keep his confidence in the wake of this massacre.

6:13 - Louisville is starting to sub their stars to the bench, and bringing in deeper reserves.  Perrin Johnson just entered, while Clark went to the bench.  I have no idea who this guy is - he's played 17 of 32 games this year.  Padgett went to the bench a minute ago to applause, as well.

5:55 - It matters little who is on the floor.  Sosa just nailed a wide-open three-pointer in transition.  74-46.

5:20 - Robin Lopez makes a great block on an attack by Terrance Farley.  I think that was Stanford's first block of the game.

5:13 - Nice tip for a score by Brook Lopez on Brown miss.

4:35 - Fields scores with the smooth finger roll in the paint after the Robin Lopez offensive rebound.  The game is long over, but I do believe in the positive for these young players to make these plays.  It shows some slice of resiliency and fight, and it gives them some positive experiences for the off-season in this resoundingly negative season-ending game.

4:16 - Nothing positive for Robin Lopez on this foul, his fifth.  He is steaming mad, slowly walking to the bench for the end of his season.  Three points and five fouls.  He has hunger and work ahead in the off-season.

4:16 - Little Brad Gianiny comes into the game for Sosa.  The Louisville fans love it.  This guy is their victory cigar sub at the end of blowouts.  Louisville leads, 77-50 at this mark.

3:49 - Hard to credit Goods as a perimeter defender when Gianiny takes him off the dribble at the top of the circle and drives the lane.

3:40 - Hill is again at the free throw line, and this time he misses the first well short.  He cannot break double figures, stuck at nine points with 0-of-4 shooting on free throws today...  Hill hits the second.  77-53.  All that is at stake in these final few minutes is whether Stanford will today notch a new NCAA Tournament worst defeat.  The record is 23.

3:00 - Brook Lopez airballs a baseline hook against Louisville's zone defense.

2:45 - Stanford pulls down three offensive rebounds, the second and third by Fields.  He goes right back up and is fouled.  Louisville is letting their collective foot off the gas, but I believe the difference between these two halves has everything to do with Stanford's rebounding.  It is their core strength.

2:45 - Da'Veed Dildy is into the game.  He saw action in just four total minutes of Pac-10 play in this freshman season.

1:36 - Fields hits a three-pointer.  Paul scored a little earlier.  Stanford is now down 19 at 77-58.  They should escape the ignominy of the school's record, but that changes little of how bad this loss is.

0:37.7 - Stanford calls a timeout after a defensive rebound to allow senior walk-on Chris Bobel into the game.  This is also his last college basketball experience.

0:00 - Gianiny dribbles out the clock while the Louisville faithful rise to their feet with a loud ovation.  78-58.  Mercifully, it is over.


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