Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

As a diehard, I’m not sure whether to be really pissed, or moderately pleased and accepting with U of L’s efforts in an 89-86 OT L at Pitt last night.

As is my way, I’m writing this the morning after. Win or lose, I like to let the game sit in my soul for awhile before weighing in. Kind of like how expert chefs advise to let a dish cool after taking it out of the oven.

So I’ve gone back and forth in my mind.

 * * * * *

Pissed because the Cards fumbled the ball away 10 times in the opening half, which the vastly improved Panthers turned into 14 points. Pissed because U of L was throttled 16-4 to finish the 1st, making but 1 of its last 13 FG attempts. While the victors canned 6 of 7.

Pissed because, after settling a bit and draining 12 of its first 17 FG attempts after the break to pull within three with 7:50 to play, the Cardinals surrendered that momentum immediately after a Pitt timeout. The Panthers pushed ahead for a 13 point advantage in just over a couple of minutes of playing time.

Pissed because Louisville continued to be loosey goosey with the rock, giving it away seven more times in the 2d.

Pissed because U of L didn’t take advantage of Pittsburgh’s horrible 16/33 (49%) FT shooting.

Pissed because U of L was -14 on points off turnovers.

Pissed because, if Louisville wants to dance in March, it needs to win games like this one.

And just generally bummed because the game further underscored the reality that this edition of the Louisville Cardinals is destined to struggle. And, best case scenario, will be perched precariously on a bubble come Selection Sunday.

 * * * * *

I’m somewhat accepting because conference games on the road, regardless of the opponent, even in a relatively empty arena, are never — never ever — a gimme. (Ask Auburn about what happened last night during a visit to Oxford Town?)

I am pleased, at least a bit, because the University of Louisville Cardinals DID NOT QUIT.

Pleased, for in the last four and a half of regulation, taking advantage of a height differential, and displaying significant grit, U of L pulled even at the buzzer to force extra time.

A trey by Christen Cunningham (23 points, 5 assists). Seven straight by Stephen Enoch (14 points, 7 rebounds, most after intermission) on a +1, a follow and a short J. A pull up by CC, and long ball twin tickler by Ryan McMahon.

Really pleased with the heartening thirty seconds at the end of regulation.  Inbounding the ball under its own basket with but a few seconds on the shot clock, Dwayne Sutton (12 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists) strongarmed a deuce to knot the battle at 79. Louisville then prevented Pitt from even getting off a shot in the final :26.

Accepting, because the looks the Cards missed at the end of OT that might have meant victory were all legit shots.

 * * * * *

Cardinal coach Chris Mack was not conflicted after losing his first ACC road game.

He was pissed.

“Bad night for our team.

Jeff’s guys were a lot harder playing than our team.”

“Our defense was deplorable.”

 * * * * *

Next stop: Chapel Hill.

— Seedy K

3 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

  1. unfortunately Stephen’s breakout was against a team with a small frontline that when he was able to be effective was playing with 4 fouls and trying hard not to foul. When earlier in the game the defenders were all “out-aggressing” us, he was not at all dominant. It is sad that aside from his first personal foul, which came from him being very aggressive in trying to establish position, at least 2 of his fouls came not from aggressive defense but not paying attention and running over people of late reacting and reaching. A work in progress for Mack to sculpt, but maybe a very indurate block to chisel and shape, unlike the evidently fragile material a couple of the other projects the coach has. For your culinary analogy, Stephen may be a tough cut of protein that needs to braise and regularly be re-seasoned and basted, while another couple of kids are more like fragile soufflé that can collapse with the slightest insult. Fortunately he does have a couple of good old-fashioned peanut butter (smooth, not crunchy) and jelly sandwiches that are nothing fancy, but are consistently there and are going to supply protein, some fat and carbs for energy.

  2. The dessert of your blog was in the last line. “Our defense is deplorable.” Having read enough and seen enough on the pack line, I can tell you there is a wide, wide gap between what UL plays and what Coach Mack says they should play. “Extreme pressure on the ball handler.” Uh, I don’t think so. That’s why our opponents seem to do well from three. “Never EVER get beat on the baseline or in a straight line.” We get off the bounce all the time. These kids need to tighten this up or just play zone.
    Am I pissed or encouraged? Well, I’m not too thrilled about losing to a patchwork team of freshman and transfers that didn’t win a game last year. (Kudos to Jeff Capel). Yes, they did not quit, as if that’s a merit badge. I am encouraged by an overall performance that’s ahead of where they should be. There is some talent there. There is potential. I wish there were more grit on defense. To paraphrase The Rick, “Ellis Myles is not walking through that door.”

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