One of the first times I tried to act like a big shot sportswriter and go to an event I probably had no business at (and still don’t) was a Louisville basketball media day/open practice a couple of years back. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just kind of wandered around like a little kid lost at the mall. I was terrified to ask anyone questions, so I just kept wandering… and listening.
After the Q & A session was over and all the slick reporters like the triumvirate of Bozich/Lindsey/Deener got all their needed info, the team began warming up for a scrimmage. I was finally back in my comfort zone… sitting in the stands and watching hoops. What happened next will be something I never forget. Supposed Louisville bench-warmer George Goode put on a performance that you, honestly, had to see to believe. An unofficial 47 points in my book with a mid range display that would make Bernard King proud. If Goode had an open jumper, you might as well have marked it down like Milt Wagner shooting free throws in the final 2 minutes. I was in absolute shock.
I told myself right then that George Goode would be Pitino’s secret weapon at some point and had the ability to contribute on a Final Four contender. There was no way Rick Pitino could leave a guy on the bench that just completely abused his stud recruit, Samardo Samuels. Right?
Unfortunately, that scrimmage was NOT an indication of things to come. If you look at Goode’s stat-line over his career as a Card, I was very wrong with my assessment. The man who started from a 4-star recruit with promise… to academically ineligible… to eligible and hurt… to healthy and out of position… never really got his fair shot. With all those factors involved, it’s hard to put the blame on Pitino or George on why his Cardinal career turned out making a smaller splash than expected.
Last week, Goode decided he would play his last year of eligibility at Missouri, ending his career as a Louisville Cardinal. Although George’s name will never be in the rafters at the Yum! or at the top of the all-time leaders in any category, a basketball fan can appreciate what Goode did for the squad over 3 years and 60 games.
Averaging 1.9 points in less than 7 minutes of action isn’t exactly what most would call filling up the stat sheet. However, what you don’t see is the impact Goode had on the Cardinal program since joining the team in the 2007 class. At 6-7 225, Goode has a prototypical body for a Big East forward. Due to injury and team need, he was forced to play center in a brutal conference with a smallish frame that didn’t match. With that, not an ounce of complaint was heard from Goode. Whatever the team needed, he was there to fill a role. Every successful business or team has people who sacrifice individual accolades for the greater good of the squad. Goode was that man.
Whether he was in the game for 1 minute or 10… Goode took care of business. Louisville hasn’t been the luckiest team in the country over the time Goode was in town. However, George helped soften the bad luck blows the Cards were dealt in his time with the squad.
Goode was a part of two Elite Eight teams (didn’t play in one), a Big East title and overall #1 seed, the closing of Freedom Hall, and the opening of a state-of-the-art arena. He was also around for the debacle against Morehead, the Derrick Caracter departure, and SypherGate. Just like classmate Preston Knowles, Goode has seen the good, bad and ugly of Louisville.
On the sidelines, Goode looked like any other Card fan in the stands. He was always in the center of the often used bench camera shots during a big run or close game. Goode’s extra-large smile could be seen in row ZZ of section 327 of the Yum!. Someone never would have gathered by watching that the guy cheering on the bench caught so many bad breaks and came into school with a lot of promise. There is something to say about that team-first attitude Goode possessed.
Off the court, Goode is hilarious on twitter (@GGoode0) clowning on people and ending every tweet with #wordaapp. By all accounts, he is the consummate teammate. Never can I remember anyone saying he had an attitude problem, alienated teammates or lacked work ethic. Not the same can be said for guys Goode played with who saw more time on the court. Pouting, complaining, or giving up just don’t seem like thing George Goode would be down with.
On a team as tradition rich as Louisville, for every superstar there is a team guy who could have gone elsewhere and had more individual success. For every Pervis Ellison and Francisco Garcia there was a Mark McSwain and Otis George. George Goode was not a superstar by any means, but the fact that didn’t seem to bother him is what should garner the same respect.
I’m not trying to tell you George Goode got screwed or using this post as another way to bash Pitino for his mysterious ways. All I’m trying to say is that if circumstances were different, more people would be aware of Goode’s ability to play some really good basketball at a high level. Former Louisville assistant Tim Fuller would not have suggested Goode to his new boss, Missouri coach Frank Haith, if ability to play big-time college hoops was even remotely an issue.
Goode never hit that big shot or even had that big game that would have etched himself in the memory of Louisville fans forever. He did, however, make an impression on me that will last. With the arrogance of athletes these days, the unselfishness Goode showed in his time at Louisville is refreshing. Give me a guy that can knock down the mid-range jumper and play gritty defense on my team any day of the week.
So, one last time from Cardinal Nation, I would like to bid farewell, good luck and one last #wordaapp to the outgoing George Goode. He will forever be a Cardinal, but hopefully he gets to showcase his skills next year in Columbia.
Adios, George. Give ’em hell.