Oh, never mind. My sports writer’s license requires that, after a Thanksgiving Eve slogfest like last night’s, I start my game report with some sort of turkey-being-served-a-day-early humor.
Feel free to insert your own joke of that ilk here before moving on.
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I am surprised at myself that I’m not more distraught after last night’s laborious, low-scoring scrum.
A win is a win is a win.
The Rick was correct, Gary Waters’ well-coached Vikings were certainly more of a challenge than Savannah State.1
There are, one guy’s opinion, some long-term issues the Cards must fix, for a successful campaign. Beyond last night’s inability to generate any offense.
But I shall start with the positives.
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Chinanu Onuaku is going to eventually stand among the Top 5 Cardinal centers ever.
He’s certainly rising to the accolade of best shot blocker, perhaps ever, more instinctual than Gorgui Dieng, who was a pretty fair rock swatter. And those Samaki Walker and Pervis Ellison characters. He can pass, joining former Cardinal bigs who succeeded at that. Like Westley Unseld, Bud Olsen and David Padgett.
He’s only five games into his Louisville career. Last night, he grabbed 9 rebounds, had seven blocks and a couple of steals.
Anton Gill still has found his lauded shooting touch as a Cardinal. Yet, I thought he played hard last night, especially on the defensive end, his best effort of the year.
Another aspect about which The Rick was absolutely correct: Louisville’s defense.
It was stiffling.
After holding Savannah State to, what, 7 points in the first half, U of L smothered Cleveland State in the 2d last night, allowing the visitors but 11 points.2
The visitors were held to 25% shooting. They had 11 shots blocked, and turned it over a baker’s dozen times. They couldn’t and didn’t score for the final 6:01 of the tilt.
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U of L had but 6 assists, only one before halftime. Against 13 turnovers.
Cleveland State had 10 steals. Ten.
Louisville’s shooting was yet again woeful. 32% from the field, 3/20 from beyond the arc.
And, and, and, and . . . raise your hands if you’ve heard this before . . . the Cardinals hit only 12 of the 26 free throws it attempted. 46% at the charity stripe reads to me like a Round of 32 knockout.
I must respectfully disagree with Coach Pitino that fatigue is a factor in Louisville’s failure at the charity stripe. The Cards only hit 5 of their first 12 attempts, early, before being tired might be an excuse.
This aspect of the game rises to the top in category designated, Achilles Heels.
Of perhaps more concern should be this: Too Much Dribbling by Rozier and Jones. Especially the latter, who, too often, does his Dwayne Morton impersonation, driving the ball into trouble in the lane without purpose or outlet or chance to score.
Louisville hasn’t had much offensive flow all year. Even when the Cards attempt to get the ball into the post, the angles aren’t there. There is no inside/ out game that’s apparent.
There is little, if any, crisp passing, i.e. ball movement. Last night, U of L simply could not penetrate the Vikings OK but not transcendent zone.
There’s no BOOM!.
U of L nabbed only three steals, scoring only 2 fast break points.
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So, there ya go.
All the above said, I’m not in doomsday mode. It is still early, but . . .
. . . but there are some issues trending, which, if not corrected, shall ultimately be fatal to any legitimate national contenda status.
Next up: Ohio State. Tuesday. Get your nap in, tip off is scheduled for 9:30 in the p.m.
— Seedy K