Louisville Card File: Rutgers

It was as if we’d been transported back to one of those oh we wish we could forget moments about a decade ago in the still arcing career of Dickie V. When he realized the producers could and would stop a replay if he just shouted “STOP IT!!!!” loud enough.

Fortunately you could then hit the mute button and the game would be totally suspended in time.

With 14:55 to play, Gorgui Dieng, Louisville’s singular, absolutely, positively, unequivocally indispensable player, lay writhing on the Yum! hardwood in pain, clutching his ankle.

Sean Moth stopped schilling. The Kroger Krew stopped t-shirting. The Ladybirds stopped national championing. The Boogie Man stopped boogieing. That Zooper Star wannabe stopped bouncing. Joey was speechless. Even the suite ladies who could care less stopped schmoozing. Nobody was even dropping a pin to test if we could hear it.

Louisville’s already tenuous hold on a scrawled invite to the Dance was in even greater peril than before.

Louisville 53, Rutgers 47. 14:55 to play. It was the Time of the Season.

Two minutes and 34 seconds of clock time later, the Cards lead down to 3 against a Scarlet Knight squad that had no intention of leaving the arena without a fight, Dieng had his Willis Reed moment. Crowd noise morphed from muted to 11 as gamely limped to the scorer’s table.

Louisville scored the next 12 points for an insurmountable 15 point advantage.

Not to make the moment or Dieng’s return seem more important than they were or anything like that.

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Dieng had as many boards (2) after his injury as before. Obviously it wasn’t one his best rebounding efforts. (Of course, Chris Smith had a stunning 13, and that young forward, 11. There are only so many to be had, right?)

The Cardinal pivotman blocked 7 shots, altered at least that many more, saved U of L numerous times on the team’s still inexplicably ineffective inbounds plays, and also bailed out his teammates when they were having troubles getting the ball upcourt when pressed.

Card fans can only pray that when GD awoke this Sunday morning, that ankle wasn’t the size of a beach ball.

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Speaking of that frosh forward, Chane Behanan looked, at least for the day, as the Beast of the BEast.

23 points on 11/12 shooting. The Devil made him take that trey, which, frankly was a good shot, and one which, if not taken in The Rick”s early years, would have resulted in being pulled from the game. 11 rebounds, 8 offensive. He even made a deadball dunk, which in the days of yesteryear would have cost him a T.

I’ve got a theory about his improving play over the last several games. Imagine your surprise that I need to opine!

While Rakeem Buckles injury is obviously not to be celebrated, one guy’s opinion is that it has allowed Behanan to take a deep breath, realize he’s the man at the 4 spot and just play. Exhibit #1: He had 5 turnovers yesterday, but didn’t have to keep ducking The Rick’s hook.

One more musical interlude.

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Chris Smith had 13 boards.

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U of L was 11/13 at the line in the 2d half, and 75% for the game.

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The flip side:

Proving that statistics can often mislead, Peyton Siva was charged with but a single turnover. The reality is that his lack of credible decision making cost U of L at least 10 points. His on court choices look way too often like those of 3d game freshman.

Kind of like Ever Nervous Kevin Ware, who, for whatever reasons, still hasn’t calmed down. It happens. But he’s never going to be an asset to U of L in the future, if he doesn’t spend the entire off season working on his right hand dribble and going to his right with the same facility as he does to the Brooklyn side.

Ten minutes into the game, Russ Smith was better than a point a minute man with 11 points. He scored one free throw the rest of the game. But actually didn’t play that badly. He’s trying to find the open man, and I think he’ll ge there.

19 turnovers. Which is part of a continuing trend that smells a whole lot like 1st round exit. Louisville shot just a smidge under 50% and the game was still in peril. This team needs to cherish its possessions.

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The Mike & Mike Moment.

Watching Rutgers coach Mike Rice self destruct and getting himself tossed reminded this observer of Mike Deane. The former Marquette mentor didn’t get tossed but he sure was taunted. And when his Warriors stole one at Freedom Hall, Deane trotted off the court, saluting the crowd by giving them The Finger.  He was, as you can imagine, an object of scorn on return visits.

– Seedy K

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