Louisville Card File: Duke

joaniecardFact: Louisville’s task yesterday against the Blue Devils was going to be difficult under any circumstances.

U of L’s offensive inefficiency this season is well chronicled and statistically proven. Until Rick Pitino is able to nurture more points from Wayne Blackshear, Chinanu Onuaku, Shaqquan Aaron, David Levitch, Anton Gill or some combination thereof, the Cards are going to struggle against other top shelf teams.

Effective defense alone can only carry a club so far.

For the doomsayers, remember this. U of L is a perennial Top 25 school. Some years, that translates to a #1 or #2 seed. Other campaigns, like this one more than likely, it means a #4, #5 or #6. Deal with it. It happens. The folks who are faithful to the Gators, Sparty and the ‘Cuse are also wearing furrowed brows today.

The good news is that it’s still mid-January. There’s a full week before Louisville’s next encounter, a visit to Pitt. And, for all the nit picking with The Rick’s ways, he’s a competitor, and gives 100+% effort during the season to improve his teams.

Still, yesterday’s headlines hurt. The Cards’ chances took a hit sometime very soon after the Duke locker room’s doors closed after their 16 point beatdown to Miami in Cameron Indoor. Though they are bluish believers in Beelzebub, I trust there was a come to Jesus moment, foisted upon them by Preacher Krzyzewski.1

There are any number of reasons why Coach K, love him or hate him, is unarguably the best coach ever in the game, a mentor but a week away from an unprecedented four figure W. Several of them were on display yesterday at the Yum!.

The ability to adapt, going against predilection by playing zone. Refocusing his young squad in an alien environment. He wasn’t about to lose three in a row.

To best the Blue Devils, the Cards were going to need to be clicking on all cylinders.

To be less oblique, they needed to play their usual stifling defense. To catch some breaks.

And to make a reasonable percentage of their shots. Which they did not.

* * * * *

The Cards drained their first shot of the tilt, a trey by Chris Jones, sixteen seconds after tip.

The Cards canned their final three shots before intermission, a running J from Anton Gill, a deuce by Mangok Mathiang, and that four bounce rim job by Montrezl Harrell at the buzzer.

In between, well . . . Clank!!! Doyinyinying!%#!?!! Briiiiiiick! U of L connected on but 3 of 27 field goal attempts, 1/12 long balls.

That considered, a ten point deficit at the break wasn’t all that disheartening.

What was disheartening, and the ball game essentially: Immediately after play resumed, Quinn Cook hit a three, followed by a Jahlil Okafor deuce before a minute had expired, for a 15 point lead.

The visitors scored on each of their first seven possessions after the break, 8 of their first nine. So, with 13:13 to go, the Blue Devils advantage was 49-25.

Ball game.

* * * * *

Were there moments when the game might have turned in a different direction?

Maybe. Possibly. Uh, probably not.

Both teams came out nervous. Twice early, Duke drove the lane, had a wide open layup in front of them, and passed the ball out. The Cards also seemed unsteady, though they led 3-0, then 8-4 after two WB FTs and Terry Rozier three.

Soon thereafter came a couple of key moments that, had things gone another way, coulda woulda, shoulda changed the course of the game. Maybe.

Chris Jones committed his second foul with 11:08 on the clock, forcing him to sit for the rest of the half.

Blackshear fashioned the boldest move of his career, blasting through the lane for a chocolate thunder dunk, and a 12-9 lead at 8:45. Don’t bother knockin’, the Yum! was rockin’.

That is, until Duke reserve Matt Jones hit the mute button with a corner trey just :15 seconds later.

The Cardinals’ shooting woes did them in from then on. Duke inexorably pulled away for the W.

* * * * *

In the first half, U of L grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. But was only able to tally 2 second chance points. While the visitors scored 7 on only three offensive boards.

The Cards grabbed 8 more offensive rebounds in the second half, converting them into 8 second chance points. While Duke got but a couple offensive rebounds and no 2d chance scores. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter.

Silent L had his best rebounding game ever as a Cardinal. He was relentless, grabbing 14 rebounds.2

The only numbers that really matter are the shooting percentages.

After going 7/31 in the opening stanza, Louisville went a mediocre 11/30 after the break. The Cardinals had 18 more FG attempts than Duke, which was 21/43 for the game.

* * * * *

Positives?

Louisville never stopped competing.

Nanu and Gill looked more sure of themselves on the court.

The Boogie Man was back in the house. So too, Milt Wagner.

The throw back unis are righteous. I’d love to see the Cards wear them the rest of the year at home, but I doubt it will happen.

Grif honored Denny Crum with his halftime comments.3

The season is far from over. The. Sky. Is. Not. Falling.

Road games at Pitt, BC, Miami, Georgia Tech and Florida State are eminently winnable. A W in Charlottesville is doubtful, but certainly not beyond comprehension.

Home battles with Pitt, Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Miami are eminently winnable. While a visit from UVa in the regular season finale is a doubtful W, it is certainly not beyond comprehension.

— Seedy K

8 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Duke

  1. Loved K’ s defense of CRP’s 6 sec end of half offense….. if you got em to give at six sec. foul…. let em inbound wait a beat, foul again…rinse and repeat…. he’s a thinker that Coach K…

  2. Reality check: 1) When will we accept that trez is a great athlete with a great motor, but minimal basketball skills or hoops IQ. Whomever he has listened to has evidently convinced him that he doesn’t need to work on post-up moves (an almost effective right handed hook shot is not enough combined with a quick turn to the baseline while hooking opponent for a right handed layup or dunk are not adequate), and although he has definitely improved his FT form and against Duke did use 2 hands to catch in bounds passes, who would spend a 1st round draft pick. It appears to me that he is not creating any positive team chemistry and in fact appears to be playing more for himself and his aspirations for the next level than for the team. When Rick alludes to the younger palyers and the vets not being on the same page it may be team chemistry is a bigger issue than we the fans know.
    2) CJ is a talented head case. In spite of the coaches counsel, calls from the ref can take him out of his game and flirts with technical fouls
    3) Having only one “4 or5” who can catch, pass and be aware of to whom a pass should be thrown and be capable of making said pass and maybe score from the high post, being considered to weak to play means we have a constant roadblock in our offense. We might not be any worse if we put trez at the 5 and gave Shaqquan time of the floor with Wayne, CJ and Rozier. Our defense is no longer turning opposition over now that we play upper tier teams, so how much would we suffer if we tried to have potentially more offense on the floor?
    4) It seems that we have quite a few flaws in the fundamentals of passing mechanics and realizing that the passer needs to know where the defenders are, as he should already know where his teammates are. It seems that that concept has either not be taught or learned.
    5) We no longer have a home court advantage that we once enjoyed at Freedom Hall. Could we sacrifice income for at least some of our biggest games, and not take an enthusiastic home crowd out of the game with the incessant “timeout games”/commercials. The opportunity for thunderous “C-A-R-D-S” cheers that used to boost our team and distract or discourage opponents has been lost with “smiles”, “kisses”, “dance cams” and t-shirts brought to us by payers.

    That at least is my reality as an admitted “negaholic” and I think Pitino’s. I will hope that our coach will again work some magic and turn things around; from his post-game radio show “hope for 22 w’s and get better by March” he acknowledges his challenge.

  3. Hey guys–let the Perfesser give you the “emes.” That’s “truth” for those of you who don’t speak Yiddish. The emes is that our problems are not with x’s and o’s. Our problems are with initials We are in the ACC but have AAC talent. If Harrell and Rozier have the sense to stay in school and our recruiting class is as good as the Rick says, maybe we can change the initials.

  4. Cute, Mr. Professor, but the AAC was only a way station. The Rick’s been recruiting for the Big East and ACC.

  5. David, we weren’t in the AAC long enough for that league to affect our recruiting. We have Big East talent, and other players who we recruited after we knew we were going to the ACC.
    As I read the New York Times article on Bellarmine and Scotty Davenport’s ability to get his team to lead NCAA Div 2 in shooting percentage year after year, that maybe Rick should adopt some of Scotty’s drills and techniques.

  6. Ok Boys, after yesterday’s fiasco the Ol Pony down here in sunny Florida has a couple of long distance comments .Never, AND I MEAN NEVER underestimate the ability a really bad shooting team to lose basketball games. There will be few if any teams we can now just take for granted. Second if anybody whom we play was looking, a zone defense would seem to do the trick as far as beating the Ville. I managed to see almost all the major games on Sat. and no team came even close to throwing up the wide open bricks that Lou. did. And sorry Seedy K but under 40% shooting in the 2nd half is not nearly adequate enough especially when a few came at the end of the game in garbage time. While we will probably be in the NCAA we have come to expect far more than just getting into the tourney, especially this year with all the pre-season hype. While it may not yet be time to push the panic button the time is not far away.

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