Louisville CardFile: Lipscomb

The first regular to check in after the Cardinals’ tough it out W over the better-than-you-thought-they-were-even-if-you’d-read-the-pregame-warnings Lipscomb Bisons was Smart Guy.

His text read, “Malik — Player of the Game?”

To which missive, my knee jerk and essentially correct reaction was, “Absolutely.”

Here’s why:

With seven and a half minutes left, U of L’s premature sigh of relief 50-38 advantage had long since dissipated. The relentless visitors ate through that lead like a bunch of frat boys consuming a table full of Benny Impellizzeri’s husko gordo pies and killer garlic butter breadsticks. Louisville’s only tally during that 2-14 give back was struggling Steven Enoch’s second jump hook of the night.

After another trying-to-do-too-much Jordan Nwora turnover and Bison tally to tie it, perturbed Coach Chris Mack called a timeout. Some boffo D by Williams — more about his career segment dead ahead — a great drive for two by Dwayne Sutton and a couple Ryan McMahon charity tosses and, as we are wont to say, the bleeding had stopped.

But the Cards had only canned 2 of their last 11 FG attempts and a Lipscomb FT cut the unsteady advantage to three at 56-53.

Malik Williams, come on down, it’s time to grab this thing by the short and curlies.

Sixteen seconds later, MW slipped his man and flushed the rock after an alert feed from McMahon. Williams then blocked Rob Marberry’s shot, altered the Bison pivot’s attempt for a follow and snared the rebound.

He followed that with his second nothing-but-net threeball for a somewhat more secure 61-53 margin. Assist by Darius Perry, who, by the by, played a most steady and contributory  19 minutes.

Williams stayed strong at the defensive end, blocking the NashVegasians next attempt.

So, for that ;49 second foray, along with his stat line of 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks, Smart Guy and I in the immediate aftermath of another hang-in-there-at-crunch-time W, bestowed Malik Williams with the POG honor.

Oh yeah, he also set a screen which allowed Christen Cunningham to be open for that trés importanté bank-it-in J at :21 for a 69-65 lead.

 * * * * *

Of course, I considered recanting that position after considering what Cardinal Catalyst Dwayne Sutton did after intermission.

The highlight moment was arguably the game’s biggest make, unless CC’s described above was. With the shot clock quickly approaching zeros, Sutton netted an off the dribble, fall away trey from the left corner at 2:55 for a seven point, 66-59 lead.

(An aside of sorts: Not that the defending A-Sun champs didn’t keep coming, but U of L, as it now does more often than not, stayed steady at crunch time. The Cards only relinquished the lead for :23 early in the 2d.)

Playing every second after the break, Sutton scored ten, grabbed three of his 9 boards, had a key assist, played that Jack Black Tenacious D, proving yet again he’s the motor that keeps this spunky band of Cardinals running down the road with a full load.

For his ever presence, 14 points, 5/5 at the line, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, block, steal, Chris Mack, if he handed out such awards, would probably have named the DuPont Manual grad POG.

I would not argue. Coach and I (and Smart Guy) will just have to agree to disagree. It’s a pleasant argument to have.

 * * * * *

The Bisons turned it over only 11 times, while forcing 17 cough ups by the Cards.

But three of those Lipscomb errors came late at crucial junctures as the game was on the line.

Kenny Cooper gave it away at :46, leading to that Cunningham jumper in the lane.

Matthew Garrison lost the rock at :13, leading to McMahon’s two FTs.

Then Eli Pepper threw it out of bounds on an inbounds play at :04, ending any chance for a Lipscomb victory. (Don’t think it can happen? Look at the tape of last year’s UVa fiasco.)

The pleasant reality is that this year’s Cardinals are not last year’s Cardinals, though most of the faces look mighty familiar.

Louisville’s opening tip to 00:00 defense was one of the main reason for those Lipscomb mistakes. You could legitimately call this a Program Win, the kind Louisville harvested for years, when foes would falter late because the Cardinals were, yes, the Cardinals. A status that appears — hopefully — to be returning sooner than expected.

Lipscomb is a damn fine team, #70 at kenpom.com, ahead of such noteworthies as UConn, Georgetown, Southern Cal, Temple, Dayton, and several ACC members. They beat #30 TCU in Fort Worth.

Yet, against such solid, well-drilled competition, as tweedly as it got, Louisville led the entire opening stanza, and the final 18:53

 * * * * *

Because he remains ever an enigma, as much so as any Cardinal I can recall, I feel compelled to mention VJ King. Again.

Not to pile on, but simply to reiterate my confusion as to how and why he is so ineffectual?

After a burst of energy two games back, he’s returned to being a total non-factor.

Last night, he played 8 minutes in the first half, scoring zero and grabbing a couple of missed Bison shots.  He never got off the bench in the 2d. His +/- of -7 was the worst on the team.

If he ever starts to contribute, even a little bit, it will add a whole new dimension to a team that needs scorers besides Jordan Nwora.

If . . . if . . . if . . . if . . .

 * * * * *

Even though the Cards were -6 in turnovers, giving it away 17 times, they were only -3 in Points off Turnovers (12-15), meaning they hustled back on D at those times it surrendered possessions.

The Cards were 18/22 at the line (82%), including 12/14 (86%) in the 2d. Louisville is making 77% of its freebies, a significant improvement in Mack Y1 over recent campaigns.

 * * * * *

Next Up: Kent State, 8-1, with a W in Memorial Gym over Vandy’s Commodores.

— Seedy K

 

5 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Lipscomb

  1. Wow, how well prepared were the Bison(s) ? The one and only time we tried to run the play in which Nworah gets the ball in the left corner and Enoch/Williams/Agoy come from the weakside baseline after the strongside low post is vacated for an easy baseline pass- lay-in or dunk that worked again and again against MSU and Seton Hall, the play was recognized early and snuffed out with the defender cutting down and intercepting the pass. I’d like to see a game between Bisons and Quakers for pure basketball with minimal athletically spectacular plays. BTW, Malik should also be given props for his continued lack of hesitancy to throw his extended self to the floor to contest a loose ball. He was his most aggressive in rebounding as I have ever seen him; Maybe Coach Mack and weight room work deserve a piece of Malik’s just due.

    VJ’s discomfort on the floor becomes a team wide problem; when he is on the floor his caught in the middle defense and apparent lack of spontaneity of what to do with the ball can become a frustration to the other 4 players who can’t anticipate and prepare for action but stagnate and wait to see if he will keep the ball moving or attack. The gears stop moving. Maybe the kid needs a retreat from the game.

  2. I refuse to pile on VJ—again. He is what he is.

    Sitting nearly courtside as always last night, I continue to be amazed at the officiating at crucial times in collegiate ball games and how the tenor of a game can change with the blow of a faulty whistle. The inconsistency of fouls called in this most subjective of all team sports is one of the main reasons why the game is so maddening at times. At least the NBA refs seem to have some logic to their calls–even though the stars always get protection.

    Not to reinvent history, and despite having the lead for most if not all the first half in Bloomington last Saturday, did anyone else have the feeling that the Cards (who draw fouls at at a proficient rate) were not getting a fair whistle and were, or soon would be, in trouble? The IU’s were not called for a single foul until only 7 plus minutes were left in the half, if I recall.

    Coincidence? How ’bout the fact that Romeo shot more foul shots during the game than our entire team? Protect the stars, right?

    As for last night, the foe was tuff and gave no quarter. The Cards with all of their limitations were hanging in and holding on. In crunch time, the Bisons break away for a layup and Eddie Mac, assuredly our slowest contributor, hustled down and cleanly, without slapping down, knocked the ball out of the hands of the Bisons best player OB. Unfortunately, the trailing ref was not so hustling and called a foul while he was clearly not in position to see anything of importance. Yet he remained steadfast in his defiance, even in light of the replay that proved his judgment was flawed and faulty. This was immediately followed by an equally bad call, this time by a ref who was in perfect position. Result? 4 FT’s for the visitors and the game remained in the balance.

    I am not one to blame losses on refs and believe we did enough bad things in Bloomington to earn our loss. But, the calls in college hoops seem to get worse all the time with the attempt to invoke the freedom of movement initiative. I say if you don’t know, don’t blow. Let the players, not the refs, decide the games.

  3. Don’t know/ don’t blow…. glove don’t fit/must acquit Have we found out Cochrane of the ‘Ville? Very nice one, Mr Joyner,

  4. Ken, I always enjoy your commentary as you can often be as verbose as moi…

    …Seedy….you always wanted Papparo on the road, but not at home…I truly think he loved getting booed by the homies………..

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