Louisville Card File: Villanova

Revised 3/15 10:00 am

(In the dulcet voice of Bill Graham, introducing a group at the Filmore.) “Ladies and gentlemen, the Louisville Cardinals.”

Last night’s performance was the paradigm of this edition of the Cardinals, the essence of ’12-’13 U of L.

Defense so suffocating at times, it could take your breath away. It certainly did the Wildcats. 25 turnovers forced, including 12 swipes. 58 deflections, a record for a Pitino team. 39% shooting for the losers, including 2/12 from downtown.

At times, a lot of times, ‘Nova looked like the Keystone Kops, pratfalling, whirling and swirling and hurling the rock hither and yon, all to no avail. Jay Wright’s guys’ eyes were often cartoonish question marks.

On offense, Louisville’s seminal mediocrity was on display. The Cards committed 18 gaffes themselves, dropping balls, throwing it away, wasting opportunities.

U of L had already forced a turnover a minute, eight minutes into the game. Yet only led 20-13.

Jay Bilas: “Louisville should be killing Villanova.”

When this happens, as it often does, Solution Numero Uno is Russ to the Rescue. Most of the time it works. It certainly did last night, as Smith tallied 28 on an efficient 7/12 from the field, including 4/6 from long range, and 10/11 at the line.

That, Card fans, is this team in microcosm.

* * * * *

Here’s how Louisville stumbled out of the gate.

Missed 3 Blackshear. Turnover Smith. Turnover Siva. Turnover Dieng. Steal Siva. Turnover Siva. Missed 3 Siva.

Finally at the 16:18 mark, Blackshear hit a trey, cutting the deficit to 3-4. (Note: When Wayne doesn’t drift sideways, which unfortunately he does far too often, and when he’s squared to the basket, he hits a stunning percentage of his long balls. Which is to say his shooting woes are technically correctable.)

At which juncture, as is his wont, The Rick subbed Hancock for Blackshear. Luke immediately canned a threeball. 6-4, Cardinals, a lead they never relinquished.

* * * * *

Have I mentioned Louisville’s defense was stifling?

So I have.

‘Nova had to call a timeout 6:30 into the game, after a 7-2 Cardinal run. They called another 19 seconds later, when a Wildcat was trapped in a corner. And were forced to call their third, 1:19 later, to save a possession.

Louisville set traps as if The Rick had brought in survival maven Bear Grylls to tutor the Cards. There were many possessions when Ryan Arcidiacono and his mates had . . . nowhere . . . to . . . go . . . nowhere . . . to . . . turn . . . nowhere . . . to . . . hide.

* * * * *

Not sure there are really any other noteworthy stats, beside Smith’s line.

I liked Stephan Van Treese’s 8 boards off the bench. Turning Gorgui Dieng into a non-factor was obviously part of Jay Wright’s game plan. It worked for the most part. GD pulled down only 3 rebounds and scored but 6 points. The Wildcats outscored U of L in the paint, 34-18.

Peyton hit 3 of 6 threes.

Okay, well, yeah, I guess U of L’s 10/24 three-point shooting is pretty impressive.

* * * * *

With each game, more evidence is presented how wrong I have been about Luke Hancock. He has an unorthodox, shouldn’t he be playing in a Tuesday Night League at the Y game. But he is savvy, and fundamentally sound. And an offensive catalyst. Though he remains a detriment on D when Louisville is playing man to man.

* * * * *

One other reality that’s becoming clearer.

Chane Behanan has hands of clay.

* * * * *

The Cardinals were aided by a very forgiving officiating crew. Truth is all the Big East games yesterday were brutal. Much of the time, it was No Blood, No Foul. (A notable exception was Dieng’s third personal last night. He was clearly set way outside the arc, drew a charge, but was called for a block.)

Jay Bilas: “The referees aren’t watching the game, frankly.”

This tendency to let ‘em play is to the Cardinals’ advantage in the Big East. Problem is, in the Dance, the zebras will be from different conferences, which tend to call the game closer.

* * * * *

Of course, I have to mention the Cards’ uniforms. After opining in a blog yesterday that the Zubaz duds might cost them a chance at the national crown.

Actually, I liked the t-shirt look. Homage to Evansville’s Purple Aces, Lou Henson’s New Mexico State squads and Elgin Baylor’s Seattle team.

The shorts still look like Kilts by Versace.

At least they’re not as bad as Cincy’s version, nor Notre Dame’s.

U of L will wear the white version again tonight as the higher seeded team.

* * * * *

Does Bill Clinton still like to talk, or what?

* * * * *

In honor of the Cardinals’ most trapping defense of the season, I’ll leave you with this musical interlude:

– Seedy K

3 Comments

  1. marko
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    …Hardening clay……that may become a fatal flaw…we got us some bad hands along that back line……

  2. cbcard
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Nice Martha and the VS’s reference.

    On one Nova possession we double teamed at least four consecutive holders of the ball. I have never seen such amazing defensive rotations. It seemed as if we were playing seven defenders against their five offensive players.

    And if there has ever been a better basketball conference with worse officials than the soon to be departed BE…………..

  3. cbcard
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Oops. Typing is not my strong suit. VD’s not VS’s. Can I sue my Barrett Jr. High School 8th grade typing teacher?

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