Louisville Card File: Houston

dunikcardYou know that TV ad for the chain faux eatery — Applebee’s maybe? — the one with the Jason Sudekis voiceover, where he waxes frat guy ecstatic over a menu featuring unbelievably low calorie entrees? The one where the guy is one arm spinning on the floor by the office coffee pot?

“Steak Bearnaise with fried au gratin potatoes and chocolate raspberry ganache cupcake dessert — And only 120 calories!!!!! Whoa! Wow!”

That one?

Well, I was going “Whoa!,” “Huh!” and “Wow!” last night, while observing some of the lineups The Rick threw on the hardwood, all because of this year’s redux of the Cards’ annual injury anschluss.

Rozier, Jones, Smith, Van Treese and Mango. Huh!

Henderson, Gill, Van Treese, Harrell and Jones. Wha! How?

Meet the Mix & Match Edition of Louisville Hoops, circa 2014.

* * * * *

During U of L’s big run in the first half, Luke Hancock lingered for an extra beat or two like an orangutang, hanging by one hand from the peach basket after a slam.

I jotted this down in my game notes, “They don’t call hanging on the rim anymore.”

Uh, well, yeah they do.

Silent L, a serial recidivist in this regard his entire career, was teed up early in the second half for holding on the rim, posing and pirouetting 180 after a dunk.

* * * * *

In the opening half, despite 8 turnovers, Louisville, undermanned and Lilliputian to boot, ran smoothly like a well-oiled machine.

70% from the field. And from the charity stripe. 60% (6/10) from the site of the old Astrodome. 15 boards to only 7 for the Cougars. 11 assists. 6 steals. A couple of blocked shots.

Plus the Cards were quick to the ball. Under control. Prepared to win, executing to prevail, despite the absence of a minyan of ballers who were supposed to be available for the entirety of this post-championship campaign.

* * * * *

Remember all those sort of nasty things I said about Russ Smith about his last effort, despite his deceptively glossy stat line?

None of it applies to how he played last night.

Which was Ultimate Russ. Meaning relatively under control most all of the time. Prepared to take over the game if necessary. Steady.

He had six assists to go with his 17 points.

He was a leader.

* * * * *

I thought it was Rick Pitino’s best coached game of the season.

During their immaculate first half performance, the Cards scored on set plays called in the huddle after several timeouts. Coach cut and pasted his available parts into a winning collage.

The Cards were in foul trouble during their we’re-way-ahead-let’s-get-this-thing-over-and-get-outta-Dodge second half. SVT and Luuuuuuuuuke finished the game with 4 infractions each.

Chris Jones fouled out. But only after his most meaningful effort in red & black. He snared 5 steals, dished 3 assists, along with 5/8 shooting.

CJ’s 5th and final foul came with 4:32 to play.

Just 1:46 of game clock earlier, U of L’s lead was cut to single digits, 62-53. The “crowd” at Hofheinz was loud, and Houston, runnin’, gunnin’ and gettin’ in the paint, believed.

At which point, Jones drilled a three after a great pass from Russ. Then the former juco stole the ball and drained a deuce. Moments later, he nailed another. And, a few ticks after that, he perpetrated his final allowable transgression, and found a spot on the bench.

But, his flurry sealed the deal for the Cardinals.

* * * * *

Despite the Cards’ letdown after intermission, they only committed one turnover in the second half.

* * * * *

Color commentator Tim Welsh coined it.

And, get used to it, because we’re going to see a lot of it as the season winds down to crunch time.

“Hack a Harrell”

Of course, most foes will be somewhat more subtle than Danuel House, who simply started pushing Montrezl around mid court, when the ball was in the opposite corner thirty feel away.

Silent L did miss both FTs after the intentional foul call.

* * * * *

Keeping track of stats on the Sosa Play, I’m pleased to advise that Terry Rozier — he was rock solid the entire night, by the by — was fouled with seconds to play in the opening stanza and canned both free throws.

* * * * *

Coming immediately: Another week long layoff before a trip to Philly to meet the Owls.

Coming soon: Trips to Cincy, Memphis and SMU. UConn at the Yum!.

Is this schedule back-loaded or what? There’s plenty of work left to be done.

— Seedy K

4 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Houston

  1. Couldn’t tell if the “T” was for hanging on the rim, or for “barking” at the Closest Cougar, akin to the devastatingly dangerous stare Kuric threw at the ‘Cuse player way back when.
    If rather than the lob that made Harrell resort to the twisting catch and jam maneuver there had been a less flashy and dangerous bounce pass a simple dunk could have dayenu’ed.
    Will “L” ever be able to have his elbow pointed toward the rim rather than flailing out to the side, for a more consistent and reliable delivery from the charity stripe? Will TR ever hit lay-ups nearly as well as he converts jumper’s? Could I be more critical ?

    1. Being picky I need to point out King Kyle glared at (through?) a Notre Dame player when Driscoll teed him up, purportedly for speaking trash. When he realized Kyle never said a word he changed his story to cover his ugly ass. Totally bogus T.

  2. Perhaps it has been brought to Rick’s attention that statistical evidence might show that the Sosa play works maybe 2 out 10 times…if that. I DO remember the KY game at The Hall. I also remember Peyton Siva tossing the ball over his head backwards in an attempt to hit SOMETHING. If the PG “waits” until :05 to “go”, the clock is at :04 when he takes his first step, which, given that’s he’s at the top of the key, gives him NO chance to do anything but put up a shot…forced or not. Gotta be a better plan. I will also offer that this play has perhaps been scouted and anticipated. Maybe?

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