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.

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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.

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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

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