The most a fan should expect from a team he/she loves is that it overcomes apparent aberrant tendencies, and transcends inabilities in certain areas of its game.
The Louisville Cardinals, all things considered, have played to their potential, limited as it appears to be. With one adventure ahead, it still hasn’t overcome many issues.
Nor has Rick Pitino done his best job of getting the most from this squad.
That’s the major takeaway from a ten point setback to the Tar Heels in its first ACC tournament tilt. Simply U of L has not been able to move beyond talent, technical and personality shortcomings that appear imbedded in this Cardinal edition’s DNA. They’ve not been put in a situation, giving them the best chance to consistently beat elite teams.
The Cardinals had a 10 point advantage, 30-20, with 5:15 to play before intermission.
The Cardinals had a 5 point lead, 37-32, at the break.
The Cardinals led by a digit, 57-56, with 7:08 left.
From that point to the buzzer, U of L’s only tally was a Blackshear three, was outscored 3-14, losing by ten, 60-70.
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The major culprit: Inability to get the ball in the bucket, with the game on the line.
In the opening half, Louisville hit 52% (14/27) from the field.
In the second half, against a makeshift Tar Hell zone, Louisville hit 22% (8/26) from the field.
The Cards made but 2 of their last 17 shots, only 1 of their last 11. Terry Rozier, leading Cardinals scorer on the day with 20, missed his last seven FG attempts.
The Cards grabbed six more rebounds than the Tar Heels in the first half. Those numbers were reversed in the second stanza.
Louisville reverted to its fatal form at the free throw line, hitting only 12 of 20 total, and only 4 of 8 after intermission.
Midway through the first half, Louisville had tallied 18 points in the paint to 8 for Carolina. The rest of the way, the victors outscored U of L in that vicinity, 26-10.
Once again, an opponent’s subs manhandled Louisville’s reserves. Bench points: Louisville 4, North Carolina 23.
Which is to point out, the three statistical categories that have been vexing all season remain so as Louisville awaits its Selection Sunday placement.
Field Goal shooting.
Free Throw Shooting.
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Mangok Mathiang appears to have been invigorated by his game winning jumper against UVa. He grabbed 7 rebounds, scored 4 points, blocked 3 shots and nabbed 2 steals, But, he was hampered, as has been his wont, by foul trouble.
Wayne Blackshear was aggressive and scored 18. He was responsible for 3 of the Cardinals’ 4 treys. While he attempted 16 shots, he remained hampered by offensive schemes that rarely are focused on getting him the ball in a spot where he can take it to the hoop. Where he usually scores, or gets fouled.
That’s on The Rick.
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Midway through the season, It appeared obvious — to me anyway — that U of L would be a #4 seed at best.
I stand by that assessment, +/- a seed line. Meaning, I expect the Cards to be a #5 seed, with a #4 possible, and a #6 also in play.
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What type of success, if any, can reasonably be expected of this Cardinal team in the NCAA tourney?
Well, the immediate hope, having been required by adidas to don t-shirt jerseys,1 is that they’d crank it up like the ’12 team did.
The early results say, uh, no. That team conquered four foes in four days in the Garden to win the Big East tourney, before making its improbable Final Four run.
To me, this squad seems much more like the ’10 and ’11 squads.
The former lost to Cincy in its only Big East game, then were trounced, 62-77, by California in the first round. The latter lost to UConn in the Big East, after a couple of victories in NY, then fell to Kenneth Fareid-led Morehead State in the first round.
I hope I’m wrong.
We’ll find out soon enough how much fortitude this gang can muster, to fashion a satisfying end to the season.
— Seedy K