Louisville Card File: Syracuse

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Even those oversized inanimate faces in the student section knew that Peyton Siva was going to drive to the hoop on U of L’s last chance to upset Syracuse last night. It was Notre Dame deja vu all over again.

So, with seconds to play, Peyton Siva drove to the hoop where an Orange grove of trees awaited to impede his progress. Imagine our surprise.

Which is not the only reason why Louisville failed to close the deal. Just the last.

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Of the recent favorite Cardinal whipping boys, the players who consistently failed to meet the expectations of fans and who have been villified in the years since their matriculation ended, Edgar Sosa tops the list.

So it was with more than a little consternation that we watched Sosa lead the C A R D S cheer, during the media timeout with 11:33 to play. (Which is not to even mention the bad juju of institutionalizing Rob Hickerson’s cheer by having him on the court instead in the stands among his people.)

The Cards were down a digit, 35-36, during that break. I’m thinking, why invoke the spirit of Sosa during such a tactical game which obviously was going to turn on one bad play . . . or two?

After the break, as if on cue, Siva did his best Sosa imitation, driving to the hoop out of control and making a bad pass that was stolen. A quick deuce at the other end started a six point Orange run.

Sosa karma prevailed. The Rick was forced to call a timeout to stop the anschluss. The Cards were down 35-42.

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In the first half, the Cardinals missed 6 of the 14 free throws they attempted. 57% at the line.

I kept thinking of a Larry Bird quote, which, paraphrased, went something like: Free throws in the first half are just as important as those at the end of a game.

U of L hit 4 of 7 in the second half to finish, 12/21 for the entire game. Had they tallied just 2 more, hitting a still less than boffo 67% . . . well . . . you do the numbers.

Louisville’s ineptitude at the line is as good a scapegoat as any for the L.

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Okay, Louisville also gave up too many dunks from an open guy on the weak side.

* * * * *

Syracuse scored 49 of its 52 points in the paint, the only other tally, a Dion Waiters trey. The Orange were 1/15 from beyond the arc (7%).

This may be of some comfort to Cardinal fans. I read somewhere online this morning that only twice before this season had U of L won as many as 6 Big East games in a row. They made it to the Elite Eight in those prior seasons.

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Let’s look at that last sequence again, the one starting with U of L down 1 with :27 to play, after Kyle Kuric snared the board after a Dion Waiters miss.

The Rick never calls a timeout in such situations, figuring why give the defense a chance to challenge the inbounds, press or set up some special configuration. It is a legit theory, which I think is the right call most always.

Not last night.

Jim Boeheim wasn’t going to change his defense, which was effective all night and has been the same for years. U of L would inbound the ball at midcourt, which would negate any serious issues facing a press.

Most important, U of L could have put Russ Smith in the game, giving them not one but two fellows who could break down the zone off the dribble.

Okay, maybe more important, The Rick might have tapped into his inner Hubie Brown, and drawn up something unique that Boeheim and his troops hadn’t seen already.

* * * * *

The Dieng vs. Melo matchup was a wash. GD went 9/10. Melo, a former future Cardinal superstar, went 11/6.

Chane Behanan’s 16/9 was the obvious highlight performance of the night for U of L.

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I’m advised that the #L1C4 on the Cards’ warmups stands for “Louisville first, Cardinals forever.” It’s Twitter lingo, I suppose.

Which gives me pause to ask this question: Is # the new @?

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I know I’m turning into a cranky old fart, who has never much liked to be told what to do. But . . . what is it with these White Outs?

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Anyway, the bottom line for me is this. I’m bummed by the loss. The game was there to be had.

That said, this is the best ‘Cuse team since Carmelo and McNamara led them to the title. Maybe better. Tall. Talented. Long. Deep. Well coached. A legit Top 5 squad.

There have been more disturbing losses this season.

Losing to them by a single point says Louisville can play with the Big Boys.

The question is whether the Cards can beat any of them or not?

– Seedy K

10 Comments

  1. gnash001
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Your last comments echo my thoughts exactly. I was encouraged that the Cards were able to hold their own on the boards, for the most part. They just didn’t get as many putbacks as Syracuse.

    To me, the biggest difference in the stats was the number of Louisville turnovers. Syracuse gave the Cards a big dose of their own medicine, especially when Sive and R. Smith kept trying to dump the ball down low to the big guys. When that happens, aren’t you supposed to kick the ball out for open shots?

  2. Mark
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I’m baffled as to why U of L never attempted to get Kuric free in the seam of the 2-3 zone of Syracuse, for a 10 ft. jumper? It has worked earlier this season, on recommendation of Pitino The Younger. Baffling game, and no, not one you feel good about. This is precisely the game a very good team wins.

  3. Ken
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Siva, like Sosa both 4 letter words that start with S; with what do they play like and have in common ? Has our Ga freshman a case of gastrointestinal illness, or no stomach for sitting on the bench with a one handed dribble and no “J’ … kevin W H Y ??
    Kuric not only not swing ing to the high post as suggested but even against a zone, screens can work (see SU screen Gorgui, see Melo dunk. See Kyle rarely get an open look.

  4. fred
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    White outs are for tv directors and t-shirt vendors. Period.

  5. bob
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    22,000 plus people knew Siva was going to drive and piss the ball away.

    One of the main reasons Kuric was not getting open was he trotted around his picks most all the night.

    If the players were picking a player for their side in a pick up game, how many would pick Swopshire over Blackshear?

    Anyone think “that this would be his kind of game”, if Blackshare would have hit the wide open three pointer at the start of the game?

    Merde! Merde! We could have beat this team and I would bet we do if we meet in NYC.

  6. fred
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps we should all put our whips away and remember that EdGAR gave us all one of the greatest moments in Freedom Hall history when he nailed a jumper from Philips Lane and sunk the Wildcats. I wish Peyton had EdGAR’s shot. This game was lost at the free throw line. I said in the first half that you can’t beat teams like this shooting free throws like that. It was a good game. Ugly but good. It’s easy to dumb on Peyton. It wasn’t a bad play. It was bad execution. Even at this point in the season, we are on the rise. The rematch could be interesting. It was our game to win. But the last play wasn’t the true story.
    And I hope we never have another white/red/backout again. It’s hokey and just meant to sell merchandise. Wear what you want!

  7. cbcard
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    A reply to Mark:

    Because Pitino has many virtues but mid-game stategy changes aren’t very high on the list. For that you need Denny Crum.

  8. Big Smooth
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t think you want to use virtue and Pitino in the same sentence

  9. doug
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Denny asked a good question on his radio show Tuesday morning. After a bad half of free throw shooting, why did not not 1 Card practice free throws upon return to the floor? Denny mentioned staff of 3 assistants and about “14 other folks” on staff and not one had players practicing free throws.

  10. MattChew
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Siva’s problem is he seems to make up his mind prior to the drive through the lane: Do I pass or do I take it to the hoop? (he seems to have completely forgotten about that 15 footer he was hitting a few games ago). He then proceeds to go ahead with what ever he decided no matter what the defense commits to.

    He was past that defender and then feels the need to pass it back into a scrum of five other players?

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