Louisville Card File: Cleveland State

joaniecardDid you hear the one about the turkey that couldn’t find the feed bin?

Oh, never mind. My sports writer’s license requires that, after a Thanksgiving Eve slogfest like last night’s, I start my game report with some sort of turkey-being-served-a-day-early humor.

Feel free to insert your own joke of that ilk here before moving on.

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I am surprised at myself that I’m not more distraught after last night’s laborious, low-scoring scrum.

A win is a win is a win.

The Rick was correct, Gary Waters’ well-coached Vikings were certainly more of a challenge than Savannah State.1

There are, one guy’s opinion, some long-term issues the Cards must fix, for a successful campaign. Beyond last night’s inability to generate any offense.

But I shall start with the positives.

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Chinanu Onuaku is going to eventually stand among the Top 5 Cardinal centers ever.

He’s certainly rising to the accolade of best shot blocker, perhaps ever, more instinctual than Gorgui Dieng, who was a pretty fair rock swatter. And those Samaki Walker and Pervis Ellison characters. He can pass, joining former Cardinal bigs who succeeded at that. Like Westley Unseld, Bud Olsen and David Padgett.

He’s only five games into his Louisville career. Last night, he grabbed 9 rebounds, had seven blocks and a couple of steals.

Anton Gill still has found his lauded shooting touch as a Cardinal. Yet, I thought he played hard last night, especially on the defensive end, his best effort of the year.

Another aspect about which The Rick was absolutely correct: Louisville’s defense.

It was stiffling.

After holding Savannah State to, what, 7 points in the first half, U of L smothered Cleveland State in the 2d last night, allowing the visitors but 11 points.2

The visitors were held to 25% shooting. They had 11 shots blocked, and turned it over a baker’s dozen times. They couldn’t and didn’t score for the final 6:01 of the tilt.

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U of L had but 6 assists, only one before halftime. Against 13 turnovers.

Cleveland State had 10 steals. Ten.

Louisville’s shooting was yet again woeful. 32% from the field, 3/20 from beyond the arc.

And, and, and, and . . . raise your hands if you’ve heard this before . . . the Cardinals hit only 12 of the 26 free throws it attempted. 46% at the charity stripe reads to me like a Round of 32 knockout.

I must respectfully disagree with Coach Pitino that fatigue is a factor in Louisville’s failure at the charity stripe. The Cards only hit 5 of their first 12 attempts, early, before being tired might be an excuse.

This aspect of the game rises to the top in category designated, Achilles Heels.

Of perhaps more concern should be this: Too Much Dribbling by Rozier and Jones. Especially the latter, who, too often, does his Dwayne Morton impersonation, driving the ball into trouble in the lane without purpose or outlet or chance to score.

Louisville hasn’t had much offensive flow all year. Even when the Cards attempt to get the ball into the post, the angles aren’t there. There is no inside/ out game that’s apparent.

There is little, if any, crisp passing, i.e. ball movement. Last night, U of L simply could not penetrate the Vikings OK but not transcendent zone.

There’s no BOOM!.

U of L nabbed only three steals, scoring only 2 fast break points.

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So, there ya go.

All the above said, I’m not in doomsday mode. It is still early, but . . .

. . . but there are some issues trending, which, if not corrected, shall ultimately be fatal to any legitimate national contenda status.

Next up: Ohio State. Tuesday. Get your nap in, tip off is scheduled for 9:30 in the p.m.

— Seedy K

6 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Cleveland State

  1. Ok, Seedy….at this point in the season, do you see anybody other than Duke, Arizona, Wisky your Cayuts and my Cards capable of winning the whole thing this year? Do you even give us a chance, assuming of course that we start hitting 65-70% of FT’s? Of course nobody saw UCONN coming last year I guess, but last year was really wierd. UK in the final game? No way…
    We should have been back to back, IMHO…Happy Turkey Day……….!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Through five games we have among our top (?) outside shooters (note I did not say makers) the following percentages on three point attempts: 30% (can you believe that’s Harrell?), 30% (Jones), 26% (Blackshear), 20% (Snider), 18% (Rozier may be the first guard top ten draft pick without a jump shot), and 8% (one would think any basketball player could do better than that but Gill proves otherwise).

    We also have pound the rock guards and inside guys who love to stand in the same spot casually waving their arms pretending to call for the ball. I watched Harrell (given he played 40 minutes he does have some sort of an excuse) and Nanu carefully the last 8 or so minutes of the game. They did not call for the ball much less demand it. Of course given the fact that our guards either drove into triple teams (Jones) or all the way to the hoop (Rozier – but at least he scored much of the time) I can understand it.

    As for FT’s another fan went to the trouble last year of researching our players’ high school FT percentages and comparing them to their UofL numbers. Virtually every single one of them shot better in high school than at UofL often by a significant amount. This is too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. I can’t explain the why but something smells and it isn’t teen spirit.

    When we cannot score off our defense we will struggle mightily on offense unless someone realizes it’s called basketball because the goal is to put the ball in the basket, both in play and at the line. This does not bode well against good teams, especially those that can avoid turnovers. Gonna be a strange season.

  3. In order to get an assist, the receiver of a pass must actually put the ball in the basket, not just near it. As very few baskets were scored, the opportunity for an assist becomes less likely. Then there is the issue of passing. As has been pointed out, our primary ball handlers continually probe and probe and probe of the dribble and then either try to force something up or reluctantly pass the ball as an “I give up” rather than “you’re in position for an easy two”. I saw but three exceptions last nite. There was an entry pass to Onuaku posted on the right block in the first half, there was a nifty attempt by Onuaku to deliver a bounce pass the “L”, and towards the end of the game, Rozier acted like a point guard penetrated off the Left wing and dropped off a pass to “L” who scored. “L” seems more intent on showing how his game has “developed” than demonstrating the strengths got everyone’s attention last season. If there is leadership on the floor, I am not sure where it is coming from, as Chris Jones’ negative emotions seem to bring out the worst, and Blackshear, our other senior has definitely stepped up his all around game, but doesn’t appear to be the leader.
    To me there appears to be too much 1-on-1 from a group that may be able to create some shots for themselves, but can’t make the shots created. Although we don’t have UNC’s athleticism, we suffer from the same issues that brought them to defeat vs Butler and Ballard’s Kelan Martin (17 pts, 6 or 7 boards in limited time). UNC doesn’t shoot well from th floor except for Paige, and they hit FT’s like us !

    1. after my approach Thanksgiving dinner I have clearly chosen petulant, but passionately (and bloatedly).

  4. 28-99. The combined field goal stat for the game. This may be the WORST college basketball game played by scholarship athletes I have ever seen. THIS was a turkey..

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