Here’s why, if the discussion is who’s the best, most important player on this year’s squad, I am the contrarian. I’ll name TR, though I love and appreciate and acknowledge the burgeoning brilliance of one Silent L Harrell.
With the Cards cruising by 45, 67-22, with less than 13:00 to play in last night’s mismatch, Rozier drove into trouble in the lane, and got the ball stripped by Gamecock D.J. Felder for a turnover. Something startling, because such impetuous behavior is not Rozier’s norm.
Felder flipped the ball ahead to streaking teammate Avery Moore, who made like Secretariat in the Belmont, and was way ahead of the pack to the other hoop for a sure box score packing snowbird.
Except that Rozier turned on his heels after his gaffe, busted his hump and blocked Moore’s gimme.
Up 45. With 12:40 to play. In the relatively meaningless second game of the campaign.
That’s why I love Terry Rozier. That’s why he’s one of my fave Cards ever. That’s but one of the reasons why I opine he’s the best player on Louisville’s talented squad.
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If you read these Card File game reports often, you know I throw numbers out to bolster my opinionation. Stats can be telling, but they’re probably not as valuable as I’m inclined to believe and foist upon my readers.
One comparative statistic does nonetheless tell the tale of last night’s evisceration.
Another foretells trouble for this enchanting Cardinal edition’s chances for a deep March and April run.
As for last night, I note that James Green’s visitors tallied 39 for the game, twenty before intermission, 19 after. U of L scored 39 second chance points, twenty before intermission, 19 after the break. The Gamecocks were about as lame a foe as has come to the Yum!.
Of significantly more importance, and, frankly, concern, is this stat: 13/27.
In a game without a scintilla of pressure extant, Louisville hit but 48% at the charity stripe.1
The Cards are 61% for the short season, 42/69. Admittedly a small sampling. We can only hope it’s as misleading as those early polls that had Alison Grimes up 5 points on Mitch McConnell.
Here’s what history tells us. Louisville’s most successful teams made their free throws.
The ’13 national champs hit 71% on the season. The ’86 national champs hit 73% on the season, and something phenomenal, if memory serves, in the last five minutes of games in the tournament. The ’80 national champs were just a tick under acceptable 70% line at 69%.
Just sayin’. If this Achilles Heel doesn’t mend over the course of the campaign, it could haunt come tournament time.
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Other than that, there’s not a whole lot to take away from last night’s smackdown.
But there’re always a few things.
Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman will not be redshirted. Each scored the first time they touched the ball, Mahmoud on a nifty jump hook, Stockman on a follow.
Shaqquan Aaron looks really forlorn, sitting on the bench in street clothes, awaiting approval to play from the NC2A Clearinghouse.
Worries about Wayne Blackshear were woefully premature. He scored 8 before the game was ten minutes in. He finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Anton Gill finally showed some life, admittedly during mop up time. 4/5 from the field and 6 rebounds, with no turnovers.
Chinanu Onuaku appears to be the starting center over the expected Mango Mathiang. Nanu tallied a garbage time enhanced double double last night with 12 (hitting all 5 of his shots) and 10. He made follow deuces, after offensive rebounds on the first two possessions of the 2d half. Mango went for 9 and 10 in 20 minutes of action.
So, the Cards got 21 points and 20 rebounds in 36 minutes from its two primary post guys. That’s, uh, pretty acceptable.
Expectations after the opener that Montrezl’s outside game is going to be a consistent staple of this team may have been premature. Though he can dazzle. That Pervis-like follow with a slam of a short Jones jumper to push the score to 11-5 was stunning.
Quentin Snider continues to play with confidence. He made a lovely blind dish to Akoy Agau midway through the second stanza. Then hustled to snare the loose ball after AA lost it. 2
One great sign was that the bench was up and engaged to the very end, with the starters leading cheers for Stockman and the subs all the way to the buzzer.
Kiss Cam has replaced Dance Cam as the fans’ favorite timeout diversion.
Next: Marshall on Friday. Late tip. Be sure to take a nap.
— Seedy K