Not very much fun at all.
My thoughts are as discombobulated as the play of the Louisville Cardinals in the final 16:18 of the dispiriting setback in Tallahassee, when a 51-40 second half lead turned into a 67-82 loss.
So, I’m just going to just throw out some random observations, and leave it at that.
If some of this doesn’t make sense, my apologies. I’m as disoriented by Florida State’s withering pressure as the Cardinals were.
Malik Williams going out hurt on Florida State’t fourth possession after tip was big. For the game. And for the season if it’s serious. At that point, the fellow who has ascended to team leader status in recent weeks had already scored on an inbounds play and fed Jordan Nwora for a deuce.
At the other end of the court, Williams is key to any success U of L will have. Chris Mack emphasized that after the game, “On the defensive end we are always going to miss Malik no matter who we play; he’s our best defensive player. He defends the rim, very vocal, he sees the game.”
Still, the Cardinals led for the entirety of the 1st, heading to the locker room with a 40-32 advantage.
Yet, that wasn’t as solid as it might have seemed. U of L hadn’t gotten many, if any “kills.” (Mack’s term for three defensive stops in a row.) It seemed like State immediately answered when the Cards looked like they might pull away significantly.
* * * * *
During that opening stanza, I made specific notes about two Cardinals.
One was Fresh Kimble, who, as has been obvious all season, dribbles too much. Too too too much. It may very well be that, given his size, he simply doesn’t see the court. Whatever. It’s not a good thing.
He plays better at the 2, I observed in the margins of my legal pad. Unfortunately, because of Williams’ injury, and foul trouble, the Cards had to go often after the break to a three guard lineup with David Johnson playing the 3, and Kimble at the point.
After intermission, Kimble scored a deuce on U of L’s third possession, after dribble dribble dribbling too much. A couple possessions later, he again tom tommed the rock for the entirety of the shot clock, but drilled a trey to push the lead to 49-40.
During a stoppage at that score, I asked in my notes, “Can FK 1 on 1 to a W?”
Correct answer: No!
The other player whose performance was noteworthy in the 1st was Jordan Nwora. 11 points. 7 rebounds. No turnovers. No forced shots. A mature performance.
At least for that first twenty.
After the break, he was a non-factor, 0/6 from the field, did not score, and only retrieved one rebound. Somewhat in his defense, he didn’t touch the ball much in a sweet spot because of: 1) Kimble and Johnson’s incessant dribbling in Chris Mack’s ineffective double high ball screen offense, 2) Florida State”s relentless pressure D, and 3) JN’s own nascent nonchalance when running offensive sets.
* * * * *
Also, during that stoppage at 49-40, despite that lead, there seemed to be cracks developing in the Cards’ composure. I jotted down rhetorically, “How will CM manage this game?”
Not very well. Not very well at all, to be frank.
The wheels fell off after intermission, and Mack had no answers. Louisville ran that same offensive set possession after possession after possession. More often than I care to admit, I screamed at the screen, “Pass the damn ball.”
Of course, it didn’t help that the Cardinals couldn’t find the tin. Especially from deep, where they hit but one of 12 (8.3%).
* * * * *
With 14:44 to play, Steven Enoch scored on a follow to push the advantage to ten, 53-43.
The Cards scored moments later when Ryan McMahon hit a pair of FTs to push the Cardinals lead back to eight at 55-47.
Then the wheels fell off, and the lug nuts disappeared.
U of L’s next FG came from David Johnson at the 5:39 mark, nine minutes and five seconds after Enoch’s tip. It felt like eternity. The only U of L scores in the interim were three more McMahon FTs, which stopped a 15-0 State run.
Johnson’s J pulled the Cardinals within 60-67.
Not that there was really any hope, even with five and a half to play. U of L had cracked.
Louisville never got any closer, and surrendered the game’s final seven points to the victors.
* * * * *
After scoring 12 on 9 Seminole giveaways in the 1st, Louisville garnered no points off turnovers in the 2d.
David Johnson, still a freshman, scored 13, but turned it over 6 times, offsetting 4 assists, all delivered before intermission. Fresh Kimble had but a single assist against 3 giveaways, and scored 9. Ryan McMahon scored 14.
When the Cardinals pushed the lead to 11 early on after intermission, it was aided by hitting 4 of their first 6 from the field. They were 5/22 (23%) the rest of the way.
Before Florida State’s scrubs missed three shots in the final minute, the home team was 15/24 (63%) in the 2d.
The Cardinals couldn’t score. The Cardinals couldn’t stop the Seminoles from scoring.
Florida State’s simply got the Cards measured. The Seminoles have now beaten Louisville thrice in a row, 4 of last five, 5 of last seven.
U of L gets a well needed period for R & R, until Virginia Tech comes for a visit Sunday evening.
— c d kaplan