Louisville Card File: St. John’s

My three favorite moments last night mostly came with the clock stopped. Off the court.

During his post game interview with Paul Rogers as “Star of the Game,” Russ Smith, when asked whether he had really posted the internet apology for his poor play at Notre Dame, said (to paraphrase), “Yes. I take full responsibility for my bad play.”

What a stand up kid. If only his coach could display the same humility and responsibility.

The second came during last night’s edition of the inane interviews the crowd must endure during one of the second half timeouts. Roger Burkman and Wiley Brown, members of the ’80 title team, were asked about that year.

Wiley said he specifically remembers the “excitement we generated,” and “we invented the High Five.”

In a moment of self deprecation, he continued, “For me, it was a High Four and Half.” (For you youngsters tuned in, the forward has a missing thumb, and played with a prosthetic one. Which, adding to Cardinal lore, had to be retrieved from a dumpster before the championship game, after it had been inadvertently tossed away.)

After confirming U of L’s claim to fame as the birthplace of the High Five, Brown then jacked up the then moribund gathering, leading a C*A*R*D*S cheer.

And, the one that actually came when the ball was in play: Peyton Siva’s hustling end to end dash for the final deuce of the opening half.

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Okay, there was another memorable moment off the court.

During their routine, the 79 time National Champion Ladybirds, danced to the lyrics, “make it nasty.” The suitably pornographic moves of the young ladies stirred the emotions of the male of the species throughout the stands.

The Ladybirds forge ahead in grand fashion, enhancing one of the great traditions of college sports.

* * * * *

Which brings me to . . . oh yes . . . the game itself.

The sequence of the game that most typifies this edition of the Cardinals is the one commencing with 7:43 to play, after the Johnnies cut the score to 53-43 on a made jumper.

During the next three minutes plus, the Cards went missed layup, turnover, turnover, missed 3, missed 3, missed dunk, missed jumper. They did hit 3 of 5 FTs.

But, at the other end of the court, Louisville stopped St. John’s on 6 consecutive possessions, before Marco Bourgault finally canned a trey, cutting the visitor’s deficit back to 10.

If this Louisville team makes a run in March and April, the success will have to be generated at the defensive end. They must consistently stop their opponents from scoring during prolonged offensive droughts that are endemic to this ’12-’13 edition of the Cards.

* * * * *

Louisville opened the second stanza still in the locker room, allowing St. John’s to tally 10 straight unanswered, totally erasing a 9 point advantage at the break.

Flying in to save the day, the Effective Russdiculous. (After two Wayne Blackshear FTs.)

Smith scored the Cardinals’ next 12 points. Threeball (ignoring a wide open Silent L under the hoop.) Threeball. Jumper. FT. FT. Jumper. Which skein reinstated U of L’s nine point lead, and command of the proceedings.

* * * * *

Even though Louisville knew from the scouting report that the Johnnies are serious shot blockers — 7.6 bpg is 2d best in the nation — they took it to the hoop early. Three layups were blocked, another missed because of the threat thereof.

* * * * *

Louisville’s halftime advantage was mostly attributable to its 10 offensive boards and 6-0 advantage in 2d chance points. The good guys outrebounded the visitors by 8 on the night.

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Before I could even get this breakdown posted, I heard from loyal reader and salient observer Smart Guy. His comment was short and to the point: “What I found notable was the Siva/Smith combo, in their 65 minutes, had 36 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 5 steals…and one foul.”

Russ committed nary a turnover. Peyton only two, against 6 assists. Plus, Siva, whose dad was in the house, blocked a shot.

Gorgui Dieng had 17 rebounds, 10 points, 2 blocks and a steal.

Chane Behanan had a solid 10 point, 8 board outing.

U of L was 23/30 at the line, +18 over the visitors, who were 5/7.

* * * * *

If not held back by the mediocrity of Steve Lavin’s coaching, St. John’s shall be a force to be reckoned with in seasons to come.

The visitors played 7 guys last night. The breakdown by class. 2 sophomores. 5 freshman. If they can recruit some quality bulk for the frontcourt, watch out.

My pithy comment about Lavin’s coaching abilities notwithstanding, I’ve always admired the guy. Loved him as an announcer, when he always added some pop cultural context to the proceedings.

I also love the way he’s taking a legitimate break to grieve the passing of his father. None of this manly man “my dad would want me to be on the sidelines” crap.

* * * * *

It was apparent that Pitino is sticking to the pick and roll. But with increased emphasis on giving it up to a big underneath at the end of the play. Unfortunately last night, some low, off target passes and bad hands skewed the strategy.

* * * * *

One down, six to go, on The Rick’s “We need to win 7 in a row” strategy.

U of L “should” win out in February, before it visits the Carrier Dome. @ South Florida, Seton Hall in the Yum!, @ DePaul.

Let’s see if the Cardinals stay the course?

– Seedy K

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