Here’s what I intended to use for my opening:
“Where have you gone Matz Stockman, the Cardinal Nation turns its lonely eyes to you? Oh yeah, The Rick, unable to go Professor Henry Higgins on you, turning you into his next Nazr Mohammed, sent you packing off to play for his son. Well, Matz, had you not shipped away, you might have turned the tide last night against the big Boilermakers.”
Then I awoke this morning after, and went to the tape. Figuratively, not literally. That game, even had the outcome been different was U.G.L.Y., a home movie of the world’s homeliest canine frolicking in the yard that only a parent would love.
What I did was study the stat sheet. Then compare it to the box score from last year’s encounter, a 7 point Cardinal win.
Matz’s presence would have had peripheral effect if any.
Because as much as it seemed like Isaac Haas was dominating the game from inside, the numbers say otherwise. Surely his presence was a factor, especially after the horrid interlude, the results of which caused Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud to sit with four fouls each. But Haas wasn’t the difference in the game.
He finished with 8 points (2/9 from the field, 4/6 at the line) and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Last season, when my memory is that he was not factor whatsoever, he scored 9 points (2/7, 5/7) and grabbed only 4 boards in 21 minutes.
Plus, an obvious point of emphasis, generally well executed, Louisville grabbed two more misses than Purdue, winning the rebound battle.
So, then Mr. Blogger Boy, what was the difference in the game?
My weak, possibly fallacious conclusion is Jitters.
This U of L team, still a work in progress with its potential remaining a big question mark, simply wasn’t quite ready to deal with the hostile environment and a legit foe anxious to atone for a mediocre performance in its tourney last week.
Purdue is the best 3 point shooting squad in the B10, and drained 11/22 when it blistered Arizona. Last night, though it seemed like they were all daggers, and they may well have been given their timing, only five of 23 attempts fell for the victors. U of L was 6/18.
U of L’s 14 turnovers were only 3 more giveaways than Purdue’s 11.
The literal difference came in the FT disparity. Do not mistake my mentioning it for a complaint against the officiating. The Cards didn’t get jobbed. Their defense was simply discombobulated much of the night, thus they got lost, thus they committed a bunch of silly fouls.
I’ve owned that I still haven’t been able to exactly figure out this hybrid zone with man principles. Last night, neither could the Cardinals.
The Cards simply weren’t ready to win on the road.
The freshman were frazzled. Malik Williams came in and acted the fool. Jordan Nwora took some bad shots.
Darius Perry seemed dazed and confused and only played 8 minutes. And, to be fair, senior Quentin Snider was also out of sorts, making several serious mistakes late when the game was still in reach.
U of L simply wasn’t ready to win the game. I know I already said that.
The Cards started splendidly both halves, playing crisply and with focus. But couldn’t maintain it.
The game was lost essentially in that 1:55 interlude in the 2d after U of L went up 6. Spalding and Mahmoud each was guilty of their third and fourth fouls and had to sit. Williams went bad boy. Q traveled. The Boilermakers found their rhythm. Dakota Mathias found a sweet spot in the corner, twined some treys. Minutes later, Louisville was down seven.
The Cards had a last run, but were too tweedly to maintain a winning presence.
* * * * *
But let’s talk about Louisville’s best sequence of the game. An interlude of which we wags say, it’s something to build on. Put it in some Tupperware and save it.
David Padgett flagged a timeout at 9:11 when the Cards were behind 36-43, after a 12 zed Boilermaker run. Back in play Nwora hit a three. After a steal from Haas, Q tallied another. Spalding grabbed an offensive board, netting a follow.
The 8-0 run took only 1:13.
It was gutty. It showed heart, was a display of inner fortitude. It wasn’t maintained. But is something that can be built upon.
We’ll find out Sunday against Seton Hall what if anything was learned from the loss.
— Seedy K