Really, in a couple of weeks, what will you remember most about last night’s 29 point Cardinal W in Miami over FIU?
The palm trees? The bucolic shoreline? The gently rippling surf onto the pristine sand? All of which were painted onto the court.
The cabanas along the endline? The sunset super graphic on the far wall?
All of the above?
Yes, those visions, frankly, shall be the most memorable take away.
At least for me.
There was little on the court of significant note that might be a harbinger of what’s to come a week hence in Rupp. Yes, I’ll now talk about the game against You Know Who. Because it’s the next one on the schedule.
Which is not to say I don’t have some observations in the wake of the 85-56 victory.
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I’m not sure I can recall any U of L Cardinal team in the last half century, of which I would say, “They were a great passing team.”
It wasn’t a significant factor during Denny Crum’s reign. It’s my understanding his philosophy was that if the players were properly situated during a specific set, they’d be able to get the ball to one another. Of course, the pivot in the high post had to be able to make that wrap around bounce pass down low. But other than that, I don’t remember anything special during that era.
Same for the current regime.
Surely the most famous pass in Cardinal history, one known throughout the hoops universe actually, was that grab the rock off the glass turn around in the air overhand two-hand fling to Butch Beard at mid-court sideline that Wes Unseld completed at a percentage that would make Peyton Manning jealous.
But, I’m talking about team passing prowess. Despite all the success through the decades, it’s never been a prominent Louisville Cardinal team character trait. Like, say, the bounce passes that were always featured in Dr. Tom Davis’s offense at Boston College and Iowa.
All of which is my rather wordy, and probably unnecessary prelude to the aspect that impressed me the most about last night’s win.1
In the second half, Louisville had more than a few sequences when they really whipped the ball around on offense. Two, three, four pinpoint passes that eventually ended up in the hands of the guy with the best shot.
Frankly it doesn’t matter if the Golden Panthers’ zone was porous as South Beach sand. The Cards saw the gaps and took advantage of them time and again. Louisville is averaging 15.4 assists per game. Against FIU, they had 20.
Chris Jones had six; Chane had four; Russ and Rozier, three apiece.
In hockey, there can be more than one assist on a goal. A pass that leads to the pass that leads to the score is also recognized. Were that the case last night, U of L might have had a half dozen more assists.
So, that’s what I liked most about last night’s game.2
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Louisville’s long range marksmanhip (13/24, 54%) was better than their overall shooting (26/54, 48%), and almost as good as their FT shooting, which was again unacceptable (20/32, 63%).
Against a team whose zone was porous enough to penetrate, the Cards tallied as many treys as deuces. Hmmmmm.
Louisville was beaten on the boards. The game’s leader with 9 was that fellow who used to wear the red & black, Rakeem Buckles.
U of L only committed 10 turnovers, while causing 20 FIU gaffes.
I also liked Anton Gill’s energy off the bench. He was intense on D. And Mango’s 7 boards. And Chane’s steady 9 points, 5 rebounds and four assists off the bench.
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Next up, traffic jams on Shelbyville Road, Christmas Day, Festivus, Boxing Day . . . then a trip down the road to You Know Where to play You Know Who.
I trust I’ll have more to say about the upcoming encounter with the Wildcats as the tilt draws nigh.
— Seedy K