Rough break for the Spurs tonight – pun intended. Tony Parker broke his hand, and he’s out for up to six weeks – the rest of the regular season, in other words. The Spurs aren’t exactly locked into a playoff spot – they are just one game out of eighth place in the West, and though there is a gap between them and Houston, Memphis, and New Orleans – the teams out of the playoffs – but it’s not an insurmountable lead if the Spurs don’t keep their act together. Without Parker this isn’t the same team (obviously), so this will be very interesting to watch. There’s a very good chance, though, that the public will overcompensate for this injury – at least in the short term. George Hill is a competent player who is putting up some solid numbers (11.7 ppg), and he’s more than capable of stepping up, playing more, and doing it well. The Spurs have already had to play 10 games without Parker this year thanks to various ailments, and the team is 5-5 in those games. The Spurs aren’t likely to self-destruct in the short term without Parker, so there could be value.
What a great way to say goodbye to Freedom Hall – Louisville beat number one Syracuse in the last game that will ever be played in their home arena. Freedom Hall holds a special place in my heart – it’s the first place I ever saw a college basketball game. It was a pre-season contest when I was 10 years old. It obviously didn’t matter much in the scheme of things, and the crowd support wasn’t anything like it would be in a big game, but it was still enough to make me hooked on the sport for life. The building is old and uncomfortable, but it’s the kind of place that just oozes character. Louisville will have a shiny new building downtown next year, and it will be a much more aesthetically pleasing place to watch a game, but I’ll still miss the old hall. Aside from the end of the building, this was a very interesting game. Syracuse only has three losses all year, and two of them have come at the hands of Louisville. The Cardinals clinched a spot in the dance with the win, and they are clearly rounding into form. Pitino is a pressure coach, so Louisville will be a team to watch in my book once the tournament starts. Great stuff.