Louisville Card File: Cincinnati

dunikcardBefore we get to anything else, I gotta ask one question of my new favorite Cardinal, Terry Rozier.

Who, by the by, not only got a heady steady assist on the game winning shot, but played errorless ball at the point in the cauldron that was Shoemaker yesterday.

But there was an inexplicable moment in the first half. The Cards secured possession of the ball after a failed Cincy possession. All the rest of the players, Bearcats on D and Cards on O, were retreating down the court.

Rozier had the ball under the Cincy goal, and, for some unfathomable reason, flipped the ball up toward that basket.

Fortunately, it didn’t drop. Had it, Cincy would have gotten two free points.

Did he think a whistle had blown?

Weird. Fortunately, no harm. But, oh my, so odd.

* * * * *

Mick Cronin called it a “bloodbath.”

True dat. I kept expecting to see Hawkeye and Trapper John working frantically in a M*A*S*H triage tent set up hastily courtside. I swear one of the Bearcat cheerleaders looked just like Hot Lips Houligan.

theordoricIt was medieval under the boards. Theodoric of Yorick was on call.

Montrezl got his fair share of licks in. One time, tossing a Bearcat aside while taking a low post entry pass and turning it into a deuce. Another time, strafing the side of a foe’s head as the Cincy player attempted a lay up.

Then again, a Cincy player did his best Night Train Lane impression at one point to move Harrell out of the way for a score.

It was tit for tat the whole game.

No blood — at least none coming from a wound requiring emergency surgery — no foul.

Midway through the opening half, I noted, “Refs letting them play.”

Coming into the second half, announcer Greg Anthony understated the situation with a chuckle, when he offered that the game was “physical.”

When the physicality really ratcheted up late, I noted, “No place for the meek under the boards.”

It was a titanic defensive battle at its most offensive.

More important, it was a huge, HUGE, H.U.G.E. W for U of L.

* * * * *

U of L played incredible D from the start, opening up that improbable 21-9 lead.

But Mick Cronin has built his team’s surprising season on stopping the opponents from scoring. Which Cincinnati certainly did yesterday. For the most part.1

There was no way, even with that early advantage, Louisville was going to put the home team in its rear view mirror.

My favorite segments of the game were U of L’s two second half comebacks.

With 14:50 to play, the Cardinals fell behind, 27-30, after a Sean Kilpatrick jumper.2 Chris Jones answered with a jumper. Then Chris Jones stole the ball and drained a trey.

Next Terry Rozier stole the ball and layed in a deuce. Chris Jones stole the ball yet again, and he tallied on a lay up.

During that nine-point, 2:23 blitzkrieg, which was eerily similar to the one the Cards executed at the Yum! against Cincy, U of L retook the lead, 36-30.

U of L actually pushed its lead to ten, and with 5:13 on the clock, led by by 9, 51-42, after Silent L converted a 1+1.3

At which juncture, the real fun began. Caveat emptor: flak jackets and armor required.

Cincinnati scored 11 consecutive points to take a 53-51 lead at the 1:40 mark. Thankfully for the Cards, it wasn’t a three point deficit. Kilpatrick missed the second of two FTs, after the Bearcats had drained 12 in a row.

* * * * *

Then Russ Smith dribbled the ball off his foot, and it ended up out of bounds.

Ball to Louisville, since it caromed off a Cincy baller’s foot.

Then, after reconsideration, ball to Cincinnati, because it didn’t hit the Bearcat.

Then, after further reconsideration, and more replays than the Zapruder footage of Dealey Plaza, ball to Louisville, because it did carom off a Cincy Baller’s foot.

Smith canned one of two FTs on the continuation of the possession, which were more than matched by a couple charity tosses by Justin Jackson.

Then Russ Smith won the game. An assist to Harrell for a slam. Another assist to Harrell for a lay up. Followed by the game-winning rainbow J.4

Oh yes, Wayne Blackshear, scoreless in his oddly low 16 minutes of action, made one of the key plays of the victory. That would be his block of Kilpatrick’s driving shot at the :47 mark, keeping the deficit at only a digit.

* * * * *

After shooting 27% (8/30) from the field before intermission, U of L hit 56% (14/25) after the break. And still needed a last second shot to win the game, because . . .

. . . because, as The Rick finally verbalized as the carnage was being addressed fter the battle — and as I’ve been carping about for weeks now — Louisville’s Achilles heel is free throw shooting.

The Cardinals hit 5/11 in the first half, 6/11 after intermission. While Cincinnati hit 80% (20/25) for the game.

Sure, the majority of those Cardinal misses were Harrell’s. But Smith and Jones  both missed important charity tosses at crunch time.

* * * * *

With Justin Jackson, Cincy’s premier big, on the bench most of the first half because of foul trouble, U of L held a one rebound advantage at halftime.

The Bearcats dominated the boards after the break, snaring 9 more than the Cards, including 11 offensive, three coming on one possession, and a couple on the next, both right after U of L had taken that ten point lead.

* * * * *

Notable numbers: MH had 21 and 10. RS had 10, 5 assists, 3 boards and three steals. CJ scored 8, to go with 3 assists and two steals.

Terry Rozier, as previously mentioned, didn’t turn the ball over. The team committed but nine.

U of L had 6 blocks, and nine steals.

* * * * *

Bottom line: Big W.

In front of a rabid, frothing at the mouth, white-out rabble, U of L withstood a 10-1 Cincy run at the end of the first half, and that 11-0 Cincy run to take the lead late, and WON the game.

* * * * *

The only question left is: What high schooler was The Rick going to see play last night in Phoenix?5

— Seedy K

10 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Cincinnati

  1. I have heard that the T wasn’t called because the UC player was trying to call the TO as he was falling out of bounds. The NCAA put through a rule a year or two ago saying a player cannot call a TO under those circumstances which would be why the zebra ignored the call.

    And for something completely different I can’t believe you didn’t mention the four point swing in UC’s favor when the goal tend wasn’t called on them. Totally blatant. Even the announcers agreed on that.

  2. as a model for all those end of the half/game situations in which we attempt to go to a 1-4 and bring up a late pick and roll for Siva, Smith/ Jones and the world converges on said player, it was nice to see Russ drive dish and find an open spot, with Rozier driving drawing the “D” and dishing to a reliable Smith who actually had a look and made the most of it. “We’re playin’ BASKETBALL, we’re playin’…”

  3. Without commenting on the game directly, I’d like to know if those “loyal readers” (and you know who you are) and the moderator of this here blog still thinks this is a “bubble team?” The same people who were wringing their hands this time LAST YEAR that these guys are no good. Does this still look like an NIT team? It’s the same guys that were on the floor three weeks ago. I guess Hancock is a failure since he only had two point yesterday, that Blackshear is worthless and that VanTreese is “garbage.” Are we back on the bandwagon?

    1. Undoubtedly, the confidence gained from a play like that—Russ’ shot—permeates throughout an entire team. They are likely a 5 or 6 seed. Tourney draw, and nothing more or less, determines how far they go.

      VanTreese is still garbage. Blackshear is a disappointment and “bandwagons” are for the Redskins (reference Tony Kornheiser.)

  4. I’m with cbcard. I believe the rule is if you are falling out of bounds and have broke the plane of the out of bounds line, you can’t call timeout.

  5. Two more comments before I go into hiding: Kirkpatrick is a helluva player. I’d love to have him. But he scored about half of Cincy’s points because he took over half their shots. He was 9-24. Finally, SeedyK and I have gone around more than once about officiating but I wonder if some of these guys know what they’re doing. (Anyone see the end of Duke-‘Cuse?) In the early part of the season, games took two and half hours because they called fouls for breathing. Then we have yesterday’s game where there’s no foul if there’s no fracture..except for Luke’s fifth. I think in “big” games, the officials just revert to what they are comfortable with which is the way they called the games the past several years instead of how it’s supposed to be called with the new rules. I think they are just as confused as we are and in times of stress just play dumb. Unfortunately, March is going be a fiasco.

  6. I know The Hoya Destroya to be a Cardinal fan, so it’s more than a bit disconcerting for him to call Van Treese, “garbage.” Decent kid. Doesn’t get in trouble. Has overcome some serious dissing to stay a Cardinal. Plays to the maximum of his ability. What more can one ask? I’m always fascinated when fans get down on players because they don’t meet the fans’ expectations. Which is not to mention that Georgetown, which stands under .500 in the Big East, with recent Ls to St. John’s and Seton Hall, and a glossy 16-11 on the campaign, appears on a collision course with the N.I.T.

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