Louisville CardFile: Florida State

It may not have been biblical, but this win on the road, this conference win on the road, this conference win on the road against a Top 25 foe, this win on the road against a Top 25 conference foe with a 28 game homecourt winning streak, this win on the road against a Top 25 conference foe with a 28 game homecourt winning streak from 13 down at the half sure felt like Old Testament.

Especially during the seemingly interminable timeout with 2:34 to play, before which the Cards had carpe diemed the whole affair, doubling up the Seminoles 36-18 after intermission for a five point lead.

How long was that sphincter-tightening stoppage while some staff guys used to lacing pigskins were trying to fix the net on the home team’s goal? According to my timepiece, it was longer than the forty days and forty nights it took Moses to trundle down the Mount with 15, make that 10, Commandments, but not quite the forty years he and his fellow Hebrews wandered the desert.

Long enough for me to hit the head, hit the bowl of pistachios thrice, clean my glasses, empty the dishwasher, read “Moby Dick,” wonder nervously which team might benefit and which might suffer for the delay, and call my man Doc on the phone and bellow, “Isn’t there some sort of automatic forfeit for unplayable court or something?”

Not that I was nervous, understand?

Play finally resumed, and I invoked two incantations, two commandments that would be necessary were the Cards to prevail. Mr. Bunny’s “Do Not Relinquish The Lead.” The Bail’s simple but ever so axiomatic, “Be The Cardinals!”

And so it came to pass. But not without travail.

On the first possession, Florida State drained a second chance trey. 68-66.

Ryan McMahon, who would prove his mettle moments later, set up the finish with a stress inducing turnover.

Be the Cardinals, guys.

On the ensuing Seminole foray, Anas Mahmoud blocked two shots and snared the board. With an assist from Deng Adel, Ryan McMahon then went (your choice of descriptor) “String Music Tallahassee, Florida” or “Nothing but Net.” From “Downtown.” 71-66.

Eleven seconds later, State’s Braian Angola matched it. 71-69.

Anas Mahmoud then turned it over with :31 to play.

Come on fellas, do not relinquish the lead.

At which juncture, the Good Lord from the Good Book, who apparently was watching the tilt with his pal Naismithius, the Greek God of Hoops, looked at him, each nodded, winked, and enjoined John Higgins from blowing the whistle when Mahmoud “blocked” Terance Mann’s layup attempt at :10.

McMahon grabbed the bouncing rebound and was fouled.

Adhering to the spirit force of the Two Arts, he made the first, then the second.

Victory. 73-69.

 * * * * *

At least a word or two of heartfelt praise for the effort and performance of Deng Adel.

It’s the least I can do for myself and on behalf of other Cardinal fans who have been, let us say, displeased with his efforts so far.

The kid came to play. The kid played.

He was strong from the start. Which I’ll say even though Florida State tallied the tilt’s first 9 points. Because Adel was all over the bounceback. He canned two jumpers and a FT. After a steal, he presented a nifty feed to Mahmoud to knot the score at 11. Then had a marvelous assist to Q to pull the Cards to 16-17.

Again early in the 2d, after another less than stellar Cardinal start, Adel was the catalyst. While U of L was stopping the Seminoles with solid D, he scored six in a row to cut the disadvantage to 40-48.

Louisville was relentless the rest of the way. Adel netted a trey for the first tie at 55. State pulled ahead for a bit, but the Cardinals kept coming.

Deng Adel finished with 16 points, including 5/6 at the line. Six rebounds. Five assists. A block and a steal.

Keep it up, dude.

 * * * * *

After VJ King, who once again just didn’t seem to be in the flow, missed an ill advised three at the 7:35 mark, I jotted down “Why not Sutton for King?”

Seconds later, David Padgett, who, despite the fact he’s less than half my age knows a lot more hoops, inserted Ryan McMahon for King. (Padgett coached his best game so far. That substitution wasn’t his only astute move. He mixed up his Ds. Called some great sets, which the players actually ran.)

McMahon was everywhere, a key to the victory.

King never returned.

+/- is a somewhat skewed statistic. Especially in a one game situation. It’s more salient over a period of time. Nevertheless, it was a telling stat last night.

Only two Cardinals had minus numbers. One was Ray Spalding, who gave his all (15 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals, an assist and zero turnovers). He just happened to be getting a blow during one of the Cards’ late surges. So his -1 is an aberration.

The other negative number belonged to VJ King.  Minus 12.

Other than a four minute segment in the 1st, when he displayed his potential, and tallied all 7 of his points and grabbed most of his rebounds, King wasn’t in sync.

How the Sutton/ McMahon/King rotation plays out shall be interesting to see.

 * * * * *

All of which hyperbole notwithstanding, the win was HUGE. Hugely huge.

The Cardinals earned this W. It would have been a shame, and a possible season breaker, had they not prevailed after that gritty effort. They suffered a 5:21 drought near the end of the 1st, when they were outscored 0-13. Yet still came out after the break with energy and winning resolve. When it mattered U of L hit 5 of its final 7 FG attempts.

Next: Virginia Tech. Saturday.

And, don’t forget, the womens’ team plays its biggest game yet this season tonight. Notre Dame visits the Yum!.

— Seedy K

17 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Florida State

  1. Our higher power may have helped but good solid basketball and coaching is what I saw. It is more fun to win regardless who gets the credit.

  2. As posted elsewhere, actual basketball skills proved more valuable and maybe should be more valued than athleticism and potential. The kid without blazing speed or size just knows HOW to play the game, and does play the game. I don’t know whether it was just the ill advised 3, or the continued leave your feet blow by closeouts on perimeter players on defense of a 50:50 ball on a deep rebound around the FSU free throw line that VJ was standing on the wing and watching rather than pursuing that prompted COACH Padgett to make the switch, but he knew to do it.
    Also coach Leonard Hamilton didn’t know to, or chose not to make Anas try to hit FT’s in the closing minutes of the game and force our coach to decide whether Anas’s rim protection was more important than risking empty trips with a “hack-a-shaq” approach taken this season by other opposition coaches. Thank you lower case coach H

  3. I plead guilty as a card carrying member of the “Deng Adel is Driving Me Crazy Club”. But, considering his last 2 efforts, I suspect (hope?) I am about ready to get off the drip and check out of OLOP to reenter the world where watching the Cards play is something to anticipate rather than dread.

    As for VJ, I believe benching him would cause some unintended side effects. We need his raw talent even if it is just for small stretches as shown in his short burst last night. He wasn’t pouting on the bench when we went with Mac$$ at the end. Not sure if that would have been the case if hadn’t started and had his chances. I agree with the legions of Card fans that believe we play better with 2 guards rather than with 2 wings, but I think we can do that without breaking King’s spirit.

    My opinion about this team really hasn’t changed. There are no dominate teams this year, including Duke. A timely run ala UCONN 2014 can take the Cards or any team with as much talent to a 4-6 game winning streak. Until yesterday, we showed no inclination to be one of those teams.

    Unfortunately, the real possibility is that FSU was “Hamiltoned”. No, not the play, but doomed by the efforts of the great Leonard H who learned at the foot of JoeBee Hall. For the first time all year in a close game, i thought we had the coaching advantage. May that continue unabated for the future, but Buzz is no slouch and Mike Brey may be one of the best and we have those 2 coming up next.

  4. tru dat; now if Deng would work a bit on running a 2 on 1 fast break with the classic give it up early to get it back on the 2nd pass after the defense has been made to move, and if they don’t move the other guy has a good chance to score, instead of the too late pass to the other guy with less chance to score that would be nice and pad his assist column as he has improved both that while eliminating TO’s. VJ still has a long way to go in understanding the game and finding ways to get fouled when he goes into the lane. Trying to get contact rather than avoiding it, especially inside that smaller semi-circle where there are no charges, only blocks or no calls.

  5. JGJ, I agree with you re: VJ. Continue to start him. A demotion could be devastating.

    As for a UConnish run, well, there ain’t no Kemba Walker walkin’ out of the Yum! locker room in red and black.

    One game does not a season turn. But an L last night after that effort could have totally demoralizing. Hope springs.

    Always nice having LH in the other coach’s box.

    1. Uh, I could be wrong Seedy, but I don’t think kemba walked out of the UCONN locker room in 2014 either. We crushed that 2014 team 3 times I think and he played in 2008-10ish if I am not mistaken, against TWill, Earl and the boys….

      This year, it will be all about match ups..

  6. The so called “no call” on Anas from Higgins was for Matt Jones and his wonderful followers. Besides, you gotta let ’em play at some point. Adel needs to start playing like that every night if he wants to go to The League. And Ryan Mac might be one of, if not the, most underrated player in Louisville history. The kid can ball. I’m now seeing why Rick didn’t play VJ all that much. But… huge win for the Cards. Bigly!

  7. JGJ, excuse me. In ’14, it was Shabazz Napier who lugged the rest of the team on his back to the title in the worst championship game ever contested.

  8. It appears to me that our offense is much better and fluid in a run and gun, up and down type game as per last night.

  9. I can exhale now? Padgett went with Q, Ryan, Ray, Adel, and Anas about the last 6 minutes of the game. He kept that group in and they got UofL to the finish line.

    VJ and Adel both cannot handle the ball and struggle creating their own shots, most nights. Adel did play a good game; B+. Begrudgingly given. When those wings are on the floor together, the only ball handler is Snider. McMahon alleviates the expectations on Snider, while he’s on the floor.

    I guess starting VJ is prudent; but why coddle? Maybe Nwora can offset the points from the bench? Start Ryan Mac. Jes’ saying. Perry provided some real spark, too. Malik, he of weird shot, plays a role. Sutton! Like his grit. He’s focused.

    All the points outlined above (esp. Bunny… yeah!) are excellent, and it is so nice to read the faithful in a positive mood, with your spot on analysis, Brothers.

    The Lord said it is good… I hope.

    1. Nwora has, admittedly, no hops, bad footwork. Crosses his legs on defense, a Cardinal sin. Deng, VJ and Sutton ahead of him in rotation.

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