Perhaps the Louisville Cardinal basketball players should have been a bit more despondent after giving away a game they should have won last Saturday at home against Syracuse. Obviously they didn’t find the L worthy of self reflection.
The cocky confidence they expressed in the post-game locker room doesn’t seem so apropos after their truly disgusting follow up last night, losing to Villanova in Philly. Out hustled. Out played.
A double digit favorite, the Cards lost by double digits. (Don’t get technical with me. That Blackshear 3 at the end was meaningless.)
There is no way to sugarcoat this one. Louisville wretched an awful game. The Cardinals did not show up. They were fumblin’, bumblin’ and stumblin’. Villanova hit the floor for loose balls when necessary. The Cards watched.
Rick Pitino coached an awful game. Not a worthy effort in his 400th on the Cardinal bench. His pick and roll game plan didn’t jell. He didn’t adjust. Wayne Blackshear was en fuego, having a career game. (17 points, 4 steals, 3 boards) Pitino took him out for a blow with 10:21 to play, putting in coach’s pet Luke Hancock (0 points on 0 shots, 3 turnovers). Then he forgot about Blackshear, who sat too long for the game he was playing.
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With 7:57 to play, U of L led 52-46. Nova went on a 13-1 run to seize control. During which interlude, the Cards threw it away twice and missed 5 free throws in a row.
Until Wayne Blackshear canned that meaningless, garbage 3 with seconds to play, the Cards was outscored from that second to last TV timeout, 27-9.
For the second game in a row, Louisville didn’t finish.
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Louisville committed 17 turnovers.
The Cards hit a glossy 50% at the free throw line, 12/24. Villanova, which had lost three in a row, was 22/29. That disparity is statistically the difference in the game. But that belies the reality that Louisville wasn’t ready in any phase of the game.
Russ Smith and Chane Behanan were nowhere to be found. Everybody else left part of their game back in the dorm.
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The absolutely only positive I can take from this disturbing loss is that Gorgui Dieng appeared to have regained his offensive game in the 2d half, tallying 10 after the break after being shut out in the first half.
Blackshear was more assertive. The question is whether Pitino will grant Wayne the PT to emerge, it, or will he continue to give Luke Hancock more minutes than his play would indicate he deserves.
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Obviously this loss, like that to Syracuse, is not fatal.
But how the Cardinals react to this adversity in the weeks to come will tell a lot about the team’s mettle. U of L meets the criteria that says it can win the national title. The question is whether, from this point on, the team is going to display the intensity, desire, hustle, acumen and fortitude to git ‘er done?
This bunch has flaws. With work, those could dissipate. Without it, they will become manifest, and this team will devolve into an also ran.
This is a pivotal point in the season. Which way will the Cards turn?
– Seedy K