We knew that WalMarticus, the Greek God of Commerce, declared that this year Black Friday would commence on Thursday. And that Toyotacus, the Greek God of Automobilia, has extended the day through the end of the month.
It became clear last night, though without advance notice, that Naismithius, the deity who controls all we hold sacred in Hoopsylvania, extended Black Friday for an additional 24 hours. (So too Pigskinium, but I’ll deal with his proclamation in another blog.)
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Duke 76, Louisville 71.
I am disappointed. Very disappointed. But not nearly as distraught as I might have expected.
It’s only November. (The Cards ’86 title team lost to #5 Kansas and #18 St. John’s on consecutive nights before midnight of December 1. That squad also lost again to the Jayhawks a few weeks later, as well as to #13 Kentucky and #6 Memphis State.)
If U of L is truly a legit national contenda — and I believe it is — then this is just an early step on the path. A worthwhile learning experience. If being tested by Northern Iowa gives one three hours credit, the L to Duke is a Master’s Degree.
We can hate the success of Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devil aura all we want, but the bottom line is this. Coach K’s teams play the game. Great spacing. Intensity. Mature decisions. Solid techniques. Fundamental. They stay with their man on defense. They probe until they find offensive seams.
Comparing those traits with Louisville’s current state is striking.
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One stat concerns the most. For me, it tells the tale.
Louisville launched 66 shots. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva took 34 of them. You’ve got a team legitimately 10 deep. (Though only 9 deep last night.) And two players, the ball handlers, launched over 50% of the field goal attempts.
Which is to ask: What happened to offensive sets?
On a few occasions when U of L got the ball into front court, there was cutting and ball movement. For maybe a third of the shot clock, at which time it would end up in Smith’s or Siva’s hands and they would dribble, dribble, dribble. Then either launch a jumper or drive the lane without a thought of passing to a teammate.
Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock played a combined 40 minutes. And took only 3 shots. What’s wrong with that picture?
It was that glaring lack of offensive acuity that disturbs the most.
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Louisville scored six more field goals than Duke.
The Blue Devils hit 85% from the free throw line. That is what champions do.
The Cards were 9/14, and missed several key charity tosses down the stretch when the game was still to be decided.
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Obviously, Gorgui Dieng was missed. Whether his presence would have changed the outcome is open for discussion. Given how Siva and Smith hogged the ball, I doubt it.
Stephan Van Treese was as solid as expected.
Zach Price played far better than could be expected, given his lack of experience. He scored 4 of U of L’s first 6 points.
– Seedy K