Louisville Card File: Marquette

More than a few regular readers of these Cardinal basketball dissections of mine through the seasons have opined that I tend toward the negative.


In my defense, Jury of My Peers, I love the Cards and want them to play perfectly. But I gained some perspective yesterday before the game.

Sitting in the Press Room before tipoff, several of us were talking about IU’s W over Michigan. I lamented that my team — the Cardinals — with its flaws being exposed recently, is not quite at top line level, like the Hoosiers, Wolverines, Gators, Jayhawks and Blue Devils.

At which point, Bob Valvano looked at me and said, “Oh you’re one of those fans. A couple losses and you’ve given up on the Cardinals.”

“No,” I retorted. “It’s just that some flaws have become manifest.

“I believe I watch U of L with a discerning eye and try to be honest about their play. I’m not a knee jerk naysayer.”

“But all the contenders have flaws,” said Valvano.

At which juncture, I realized, perhaps for the first time, why it’s impossible for me to assess other teams the same as I do Louisville. I watch every single play of the Cardinals. Sometimes twice, using DVD. I observe them through a microscope.

Thus the flaws are magnified. Whereas, I tend only to “see” the good moments of other teams when I catch them on the tube. (Other than NC State this year. The Wolfpack’s flaws are many.)

Anyway, there ya go.

* * * * *

That caveat stated, let me start the assessment of yesterday’s performance with this. (Remember, I want the Cards to be firing on all cylinders all the time.)

Peyton Siva dribbles too much. Period.

You may try, but it’s going to be hard to convince me otherwise. Especially so in late game situations. Yesterday, even though the Cards had the game in hand, Siva lost the ball twice in the last 2:43 because — all together now — he was dribbling too much.

Peyton, I love ya. But, Peyton, I’ve seen Steve Nash play. And you’re no Steve Nash.

The Cardinal point guard had 7 assists. Several spicy. But those were counterbalanced with 6 turnovers. (As a team, U of L had 17 assists, but also 16 turnovers.)

In assessing the Cardinals as a title contender, one of the national pundits — I think it was one of the cbsportsline.com crew — offered that he’s never really trusted Siva to be a preeminent point guard. The point, alas, is well taken.

The positive though is that he’s capable of raising the level of his game to a lofty level, as he did last post-season. Two years in a row would be nice.

* * * * *

During the moments yesterday when Silent L (and SVT) were lighting a fire under the Cards after a less than stellar opening segment, a couple of fellow on press row were offering that Harrell was more efficient than Chane Behanan, and should be getting more PT.

So I ran the numbers. The old fashioned way. (Not as old school as using a slide rule, but I went to my trusty Casio light-sensitive calculator.)

Extrapolating their stats over 40 minutes, here’s how they shake out. Behanan averages 15.8 pp40 and 10.8 rbp40. Harrell’s comparables are 14.5 and 9.3.

They both hit 54% at the charity stripe. Ouch.

Silent L has an advantage in two categories. His FG % is 61% (60/98) vs CB’s 49% (87/178). Harrell has 17 blocked shots on the campaign, Behanan only 9.

Soooooo, the numbers tell me that Harrell is not really more effective at the offensive end. Other than he plays with more enthusiasm. Behanan remains a better defender.

The bottom line is this. The Cards are well served by the two-headed beast at power forward. 16.9 ppg. 11.3 rbpg.

When Harrell really learns to play the game, watch out. Silent L is going to roar.

* * * * *

The Cardinals were tough on the boards, easily winning that battle.

Much has been said and written about The Rick’s tactics to get them tougher around the glass. Reality is that a lot of teams lack blocking out skills. The art is just one of the fundamentals gone a glimmer in the AAU Era.

Louisville hit 50% from the field in both halves, even though Russ Smith was his normal 6/15 from the field. The visitors had their pockets picked 11 times.

I liked the way Pitino mixed defenses. Some zone. Some man. Some o’ that zone/man mix that I — and most foes — haven’t been able to figure out.

* * * * *

Marquette had won 7 of 8 coming into the game. Four of the Warrior’s next 6 are on the road.

Louisville has won 8 of the last 10 in this heated rivalry.

* * * * *

Love, love, love those simple white unis the team wore yesterday. Classic, less is more stylin’.

Of course, it’s nothing but a ploy by Adidas to sell merch. Those jerseys were there for the buying at the game for only $70. Actually I might have gone for it, but the one numeral available was #3.

Hate, hate, hate white outs. Or red outs. Or black outs. I simply don’t like to be told what to wear. I’m just not sure how this loathsome trend started? Was it the World Wide Leader? Do schools do it on their own to sell more shirts?

* * * * *

It’s nice to learn that even his cohorts think Digger Phelps is an idiot.

Before the game, Jay Bilas regaled several of us with this anecdote. The anniversary of Notre Dame’s famous W in South Bend, ending a record UCLA winning streak, fell recently on an ESPN Game Day. Apparently, Digger spent the morning calling all of his players on that team, just to tell them he was thinking about them and that achievement.

As Bilas tells it, “None of them took the call.”

Bilas also offered that he was blindsided by the jumbotron interview at a recent Big Monday game at the Yum!. He thought it was an internet only interview, and wasn’t told it was going to be projected live to the fans in the stands.

* * * * *

Next up: Rutgers in Piscataway.

Here’s how I spell it: T R A P  G A M E !!!!!!!

– Seedy K


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