I don’t always drink in defeat, but when I do I want it to be a learning experience.
Pass me another Dos Equis, please. My Louisville Cardinals were schooled.
(Actually I don’t drink at all, in victory or defeat, but was aiming for cute there.)
My pal David was smart enough to go to the woman’s game. (Which was, he advises, another big time back and forth, last minute comeback, overtime W over a good team, this one, Florida State.) As he was walking out, he ran into John, another pal of ours, who had apparently been watching the game, or, at least following stats, on his phone.
“Jones took 20 shots or something like that,” John said, apparently with some disgust and incredulity in his voice.
“Well,” I tried to explain to David, “you had to see the game to understand why.”
Because, so tight and steady was the Tar Heels D, mostly a match up zone, that Louisville couldn’t find the key to an effective attack. So there was lots of perimeter passing, lots of dribbling by Chris Jones and Russ Smith and little resembling national-contender quality penetration. Nor adjustments by Coach Pitino.
Jones did take 20 shots, made 7 and was 4/9 from downtown Uncasville. Smith fired 21, made 11 and buried 6/14 threes. The only other Cardinal to take more than 4 shots was Luke Hancock, who attempted 8, but made only one.
Statistic. Louisville assists: 8. The Tar Heels got a dozen.
Louisville either couldn’t solve the Tar Heels defense, or didn’t have the tools and wherewithal to do so. We’ll find out more when they start playing mo’ better competition, opponents unlike the first four that can legitimately challenge them. It might not come until Rupp on the 28th of December.
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Louisville gave up way too many breakaways. Many of which came when the Tar Heels — Kennedy Meeks and Marcus Paige — did their spot on imitation of a Wes Unseld two handed overhead to Butch Beard at midcourt sideline, then past lagging D for an easy deuce. The lagging D was implemented by the Cards.
Did I mention the scores by Carolina on Williams’ patented secondary break? Should have, there certainly were plenty of them.
Louisville gave away way too many points on its own missed layups. Some were deflected, but many more were either too short or too long at the rim.
Okay, I’ll say it. Louisville’s defense — in the full court, in the half court — was B.A.D. Period.
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Not only was North Carolina short-handed because of two players back in Chapel Hill, but the leaders among the remaining were shackled with foul trouble. Yet so complete was the baby blue’s domination, that Roy Williams was able to steal a lot of clock in the second half, much of the time with one walk-on or more on the court.
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I’ll make this reference, hopefully for the last time. Because, well, life lurches forward and one must move on.
U of L misses Gorgui Dieng, probably more than even the most inveterate naysayer would admit. That reality manifested itself today more than ever.
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After the ho hum victory over Fairfield, I opined we’d find out against North Carolina whether that mediocre performance was a throw away or not?
Well, I probably misspoke. Indeed, the Tar Heels showed what happens when a well-coached team performs at a high level against a lesser prepared, if equally talented squad.
While I am not quite as ebullient as John Calipari after UK lost to MIchigan State, an L way more valuable in the long run than a win would have been, I am not in distress. As two-time national champion Denny Crum realized more than most at the time he was coaching, good competition early, even if you come up short, means a lot more than easy Ws over the Schlepper States of college hoops.
This Cardinal team will be fine. It’s just going to take awhile for it to happen. And take awhile for fans to see it.
– Seedy K