Ran into an old pal the other day. Big Cardinal fan, he. Huge. And no a Johnny Come Lately, he’s been rooting red & black since his youth. Which was a long time ago.
But he happens to be one of those fans — we all know some, may even be of the ilk — who expresses his emotions negatively. Of course, we talked Cardinal hoops. He was all over Chris Jones.
The juco can’t do this. The juco can’t do that.
You’ve heard it. Hell, you might have even said it about a baller on your favorite team. Sometimes, we take out our frustrations, when a player isn’t meeting our expectations, by dissing the kid.
I attempted to make some rational arguments about Jones’ game to my pal. To no avail.
Well, avail this, dude.
Here’s what Jones did during the first 4:32 of last night’s battering of the Owls.
Assist to Russ for a lay up. 4-2.
Another assist to Russ for a lay up. 6-2.1
Assist to Silent L for a jumper. 8-2.
Lay up himself. 10-2.
Then he stole the ball, got it to Russ again for another assist. 12-2.
At which juncture, they could have shipped the visitors from Philly to the Denny’s over on Eastern Parkway to be served on a Lumberjack Slam®. Temple was toast.
At halftime, Jones had 5 assists and 3 thefts. After the break, he dished out three more assists and snared another steal. He also scored 9 points and grabbed a couple boards. Oh yeah, he perped only one wafer thin turnover.
Which performance could be considered merely anecdotal, but for his part, along with fellow newcomer Terry Rozier, in that second half blitz in Cincy that got the Cards back on track and positioned for victory.
I think I’m going to take a moment here to give my buddy a call and see what he says about Jones?2
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Montrezl Harrell is turning into a beast before our very eyes. His improvement and accelerated aggressiveness have ratcheted up dramatically in the last several weeks.
Those of us who were hoping he would improve, but not quite enough to enter the draft, best accept the inevitable. He gone.
As woeful as his form is at the FT line, he’s starting to can that jumper from the elbow with regularity. Kind of like what happened with Gorgui Dieng last season. It’s a good thing.
He only grabbed six board last night to go along with his 21 points, on 9/12 shooting. But SVT also grabbed a half dozen, as did Wayne Blackshear.
Okay, if you don’t want to hear this rant you’ve heard before, put your hands over your ears. Harrell has got to stop hanging on the rim for dramatic effect, after his dunks. I’m tellin’ ya, there’s going to come a game that matters, and Valentine or O’Neill or Burr or one of these persnickety zebras is going to T him up.
Silent L is, let’s be honest, the reason U of L’s FT percentage is less than acceptable. For the year, he is hitting 46% (50/108). As a team, the Cards stand at 66% (450/687). If you eliminate Harrell’s woeful stats — along with those of the departed, now Colorado State Ram Chane Behanan, who was also sub-50% at 21/47 — the team’s FT numbers on the year are significantly more palatable. 71% (379/532).
Harrell has been to the line more than any Cardinal besides Smith. Given his increased dominance in the paint, that is sure to remain the case. Cardinal fans must hope he strengths those slams through the nets before the foul. Missing a +1 isn’t as bad as missing an ofer 2.
Let’s hope that Hack Harrell ≠ Cards’ Achilles Heel.
* * * * *
Russ Smith: 24 points on 8/12 shooting. 4 rebounds. 3 assists. 0 turnovers.
* * * * *
Terry Rozier: 19 points on 8/10 shooting (3/4 from beyond the arc). 3 assists, a couple boards, a steal and, as is his modus operandi, zero (0) turnovers.
* * * * *
Rick Pitino’s beard is truly U.G.L.Y.
Given his innate vanity, it is obvious coach is really giving it up for the team this season.
* * * * *
@ Memphis. @ SMU. UConn. AAC tourney. The Dance.
This season is now officially serious.
— Seedy K