Louisville Card File: Marquette

“Louisville has pretty much disintegrated.”

That was the observation of color analyst Len Elmore, a man normally measured in his comments, an eloquent man disinclined to hyperbolize.

It came with seven and a half minutes to play and Louisville 7 down but without hope in its MlKJr afternoon meltdown in Milwaukee. The Cardinals were outscored 45-72 in the final 33:49 after leading 18-2. All Buzz Williams did was switch from zone to man, and the Cards were flummoxed.

Elmore again: “I’m not surprised Marquette came back. I didn’t think they’d do it so quickly.”

* * * * *

Actually, losing that early lead is the least of my many concerns about this reeling Cardinal squad. It happens in a lot in games, most of which right themselves, evening up by halftime.

This squad is battered, and, if not face down on the canvas with the ref counting eight, supine on an elbow, looking to the corner for help. The cut man might be out of styptic.

Where will it come from? To quote, Elmore one last time, “Louisville doesn’t have a leader on the floor.”

The starters were in at the moment.

* * * * *

I haven’t looked at the stats, not a single one of which would tell the tale of this particular loss, nor offer perspective on the rudderless, rapidly deteriorating season.

Weeks ago, fourth in the land — a faux 4th, but 4th nonetheless — this team now has NIT written all over it.

Can we legitimately expect that Kyle Kuric’s return will be the catalyst for a resurgence, given his reticent demeanor and an offense that fails to get him the ball where he can fire it? Would the return of Van Treese, or the emergence of Zach Price, add that much post depth? Will Kevin Ware’s development accelerate to the point this season, that he — he without a right hand move — can carry the squad? Would Wayne Blackshear’s debut provide the balling and leadership to shake off this team’s doldrums?

Will Peyton Siva suddenly discover his jump shot, and start making the kinds of on court decisions quality point guards do?

Most important, will master motivator — or so it is said — Rick Pitino find some encouraging words to embolden the troops? Will he amend his offense to something that resembles workable and effective? I’m thinking some sets where perhaps Gorgui Dieng isn’t bringing it up court, or handling the ball 25 feet from the bucket, looking for somebody, anybody to pass it to.

Will a three point defense emerge from this mid season wreckage?

(Not that a really resilient assemblage can’t overcome that obstacle. Pitino’s one Final Four team here was Pittsnoggled — giving up 18/27 3s — and survived. Of course, Otis George, Ellis Myles, Francisco Garcia, Larry O’Bannon, Juan Palacios, Brandon Jenkins and Taquan Dean ate nails for breakfast, then again for midnight snack.)

* * * * *

If we’ve learned anything through the years, it’s that team chemistry is elusive and unpredictable.

The ’96-’97 team featured DeJuan Wheat, the grit of B.J. Flynn and not much else, yet made it to the Elite Eight. Last year’s version of the Cards, one of the most beloved in recent years, a gang with many comebacks, crapped out against Morehead State, losing for the second year in a row in the opening round of the NCAA.

* * * * *

I hope I’m wrong, but this team looks like toast.

– Seedy K

5 Comments

  1. cbcard
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Here is a stat for you:
    Russ took umpteen bad shots and still shot only 2 points lower than the rest of the team (40% to just under 42%). Once you get past Russ, Chris, Chane, and Gorgui the remaining players shot well under 20%.

    Another stat is Siva has not hit a jump shot from ANY distance in four straight games.
    And one last one. We certainly believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive. People keep giving us points at the free throw line and we keep saying “No, you take them” by doing things like hitting 4 for 10.

  2. Birdie King
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    It’s a scary thing about our two best offensive players – Pitino didn’t know who Chris Smith was when he showed up and he tried to run Russ Smith off. Also, we could really use the one guy he successfully ran off – George Goode !

  3. Seedy K
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Hmmm. I’m as prone as the next guy to criticize Pitino for his penchant of running players off the team once he has determined them to be expendable. That said, I’m not sure George Goode would be the answer this season for U of L. He is averaging 12+ ppg and 8rpg, but it’s for a 1-16 Farileigh Dickinson team playing a considerably more modest level of competition. U of L’s problems this season, one guy’s opinion, go much deeper than the lack of “power” forward play.

  4. bob
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    There are a few things this team needs to work on and then they will be equal to Cards of the past.
    1. Shooting
    2.Defense
    3. Rebouning
    4.Free Throwing Shooting
    5.In bounds plays
    6.Basketball IQ

  5. Seedy K
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Yeah, Bob, but other than those items, everything’s in place for success. Except, perhaps, astute recruiting, the proper assessment of talent, bringing players who understand the game and have an instinct for success. 

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