Well, I stand up next to a mountain/
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
OK, so much for that top of the rankings thing.
Other than a quick fix of fleeting prestige, there’s not a lot of good that really comes from being #1 in early December.
Obviously it would have been preferable for the Louisville Cardinals and their fans that the fall off the top of the mountain had been softer and less precipitous than a 57-70 beatdown to Texas Tech.
To a Red Raider team that arrived at Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic, carrying the baggage of a three game losing skein. Playing without their injured, best player, their leading scorer.
But, one guy’s opinion, it’s a good thing the Cards don’t have to worry about sitting at that top spot for now.
Hopefully, U of L will learn from this most instructive loss.
Chris Mack certainly hopes so: “Hopefully, our guys take this as a lesson learned.”
Neither team was very effective offensively. Neither hit 40% of their shots, or 25% of their threes.
Neither team was very secure with the ball. Tech gave it away 14 times, the Cardinals, 19.
Rebounding numbers were essentially even. Though the Red Raiders were significantly shorter. The teams were also about even on points in the paint, second chance points, fast break points and bench points.
Tech did have a noticeable advantage in assists, 15-10, and points off turnovers, 18-11.
The Red Raiders were obviously the grittier outfit, the one that kept grinding to try to execute their game plan.
So what can the Cardinals learn about their effort from all that?
I’ll let Jay Bilas do the talking: “Louisville was outplayed, out scrapped and out fought.”
He also offered the bottom line: “Texas Tech has been the tougher team.”
There was a studio guy I did not recognize on the Deuce during halftime of the Baylor/ Butler, who was more pointed, “I thought Louisville was tougher than this. Tougher physically. Tougher mentally.”
So did a lot of folks.
Obviously the sky isn’t falling, it’s only December 10. U of L was not going undefeated.
Yet, if the Cardinals truly wish to be a legit national contender, they will consume the tape of the mediocre effort and take the significant lessons it can teach to heart.
Play defense the full 30 seconds. Protect on the weak side. Communicate. Move on offense. Stay focused. Make hard cuts to the ball. Set solid screens. Be alert. Don’t force bad shots. Or throw so many lazy passes.
Texas Tech remembered to at least attempt to do all that in what was a slog of a game.
Louisville did not.
Mack: “I give all the credit in the world to Texas Tech. I thought they took the fight to us tonight. I think they have, obviously, lost a lot from last year, but they haven’t lost their identity. They are a very tough team on the defensive end and they completely negated a lot of the stuff we were trying to run. They had a lot of effort and communication and had a want to win the game.”
Frankly, It was a universally lame effort by the Louisville Cardinals.
Let’s hope it was an anomaly.
— Seedy K