Louisville Card File: Cal State Northridge

joaniecardRick Pitino began his brief post-game press conference with praise for David Levitch, by saying, in essence, and to paraphrase, “Levitch knew what we were running offensively, he knew what to do.”

Which is more than can be said of his parents, who initially dropped the ball during the Kiss Cam thing that’s one of the fans’ timeout faves at the Yum!. The heart shaped spotlight focused on Ma and Pa Levitch, but it took several moments and Sean Moth’s urging for them to buss.

Such hesitation was not the modus operandi for their progeny David, the Cardinal soph walk on, who is an even bigger fan favorite than watching other fans go deep tongue. He was the catalyst for U of L’s Boom Du Jour, a 21-4 run that extended the lead from a squeaky 51-43 advantage to a way more comfortable 72-47 margin.

Levitch entered the fray about a third of the way through the second half, when it was obvious The Rick was pissed at Chris Jones’s play.1

That thunder started quietly enough. Two Mango Mathiang FTs, then a steal and two more charity hits by Anas Mahmoud.

Then — BOOM!!! — a crowd invigorating, team igniting three by Levitch. Followed by a Terry Rozier +1, and six straight points by the evening’s dominant force, Mr. Wayne Blackshear.

TR converted both ends of a 1+1.

Levitch open, then aimed and bullseyed his second bomb for that 25 point advantage, allowing the Cardinals to cruise home during the game’s final six + minutes.2

Levitch also hustled his butt off on D, had a steal, an assist and a rebound, all the while facilitating the flow of the ball on offense against Reggis Theus’s Matadors’ vexing zone.

* * * * *

The Professor left me a late night phone message after the tilt, the gist of which expressed a common consternation among Louisville fans.

What da fuck with Chris Jones?3

I’m not sure I know exactly why Jones dribbles too much, still feels he can take it to the hoop against guys much taller and doesn’t find his teammates running the lanes on fast breaks? And, why he’s as ineffectual running the end of half Edgar Sosa play as Edgar Sosa was?4

I chalk it up to Juco Syndrome. As well as to a diagnosis of acute 2d Degree Russdiculousness.

His inclination is to try and dominate, which he’s done at every level of hoops before this one. And he watched last season as The Mad Ant Russ Smith was able to attack the tall timber and tally, figuring if Russ could do it, so can I.

Well, it ain’t so.

There have been, and will be as the season progresses, games when Jones will take charge. And, it will be a good thing. But there shall be many more, when he would be best served by tom tomming the ball less and getting it to open teammates.

How he adheres to the grand plan will be a significant determining factor in the upside of the ’14-’15 edition of the Cardinals. Or, Levitch and Snider will get a lot more PT.

* * * * *

Pitino was also displeased with Chinanu Onuaku, whom he sat even sooner than Jones, with 16:02 to play. Like Charlie on the MTA, Nanu never returned.5

He’ll be fine. He’s a freshman. He’s still in the proverbial learning phase. Inconsistency is the norm, not the exception.

He’s going to be part of something good in the future. As I watched Shaqquan Aaron move smoothly about the court, not forcing anything, intent on staying in the flow, I realized how much I like the base for the next ideation of the University of Louisville Cardinals.

Onuaku. Aaron. Snider. Mahmoud. Johnson. Levitch and Mango for a couple more years. Sweet!

But I digress.

* * * * *

Let us now praise Wayne Blackshear.

The Wayne Blackshear, who matched his career best of 23 points . . . in . . . the . . . first . . . half.

The Rick advised the media, “I told Wayne, you’re going to get the ball.”

To which, I, the pundit who wishes it all to be perfect for the Cards, opine, “It’s about damn time.” For this Cardinal team to remain a legit Final Four contenda, WB needs to be one of the focuses of the offense, not simply an adjunct, stationed in the corner.

Pitino can carp all he wants about how Wayne didn’t do this or that, Blackshear had a magnificent game.

He hustled. He played D. He grabbed six boards. He had a couple assists. He pilfered four (4) steals. All the while, canning 11 of his 17 FG attempts, six of which were long balls.

I, for one, have no intention of being picky after a performance of such magnitude, one of the better outings by a Cardinal in recent times.

* * * * *

Two stats jump out from the box score.

For the third outing in a row, U of L was steady at the free throw line. 15/19 for a glossy 79%.

Eighteen assists on 27 made baskets, a far better number than recent games, an indicator of better, if not yet perfect, passing.

Okay, one more number. Eleven, as in 11 blocked shots. The Cardinal record for a game is 18, so that wasn’t threatened. And, Samaki Walker blocked 11 Kentucky Wildcat shots by himself during U of L’s sublime W over its arch rival on New Year’s Day twenty annums ago.

* * * * *

Richard Pitino, apparently visiting mom and dad for Christmas, got a nice ovation during a timeout.

Peyton Siva, star of U of L’s recent national title, got a stupendous, standing ovation when introduced.

* * * * *

Next up . . . oh you know.

— Seedy K

19 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Cal State Northridge

  1. Jones refusal to give up the ball on a 2 on 1 (or even 3 on 1) break is infuriating. Rick has shown more patience than I would have shown.

  2. Chris Jones is a major impediment to the Cards competing with Duke, UNC and UVA in the ACC. Phil is correct; his selfishness on an open floor break is maddening. His style driving the lane is more reminiscent of John Riggins: low center of gravity, protecting the ball, and head down. Reducing his floor vision to almost zero. With one thought in mind. CHRIS JONES. He’s horrible, always has been. And last night’s result was predictable. jones was all over social media after the WKU. He didn’t “put the phone down” as CRP implored him too earlier in the season. And the result was evident. He’s a legend in his own mind. Period.

    It’s time The Rick lets Quentin run the offense. Q’s style is poised, calm, and he scans the floor for the open man. Levitch was spectacular. Rozier and Blackshear need a floor general who distributes the ball.

    The game made me very uneasy. Yesterday, UK opened as a 2.5 Vegas fave; I’m thinking the final spread will be 25. Or more. Benching CJ will moves the odds slightly more to our favor, but the rim rattling dunks we’ve grown accustomed to the first third of the campaign will not be available Saturday. Much as it pains me to write.

  3. I am stunned by the opening line of UK -2 1/2. My guess is so much $$$ will come in on UK that it’s close to double digits by tip. Somebody asked me last night what I thought of Saturday’s game, I immediately, without pondering, said, “20.” What scares me about what I perceive to be the nature of this U of L team is that if it falls apart, it may shatter entirely. Though they have persevered in tight situations so far, like last Saturday. I realize we Cardinal fans learn every nuance of the team’s play from close examination, and therefore are more likely to pick apart and emphasize imperfections, rather than viewing the whole picture. Thus we move to a woe is me position. At least, I do. U of L obviously can beat UK, but it does not appear likely. My sense is there’s a better chance of it turning into the Rex Chapman game, than it is a Card W. I hope I’m wrong.

    1. when i first heard two and a half i thought it was the over-under on the number of points the cards would score in the first half,

  4. How nicely the game flowed with a guard (Levitch) assessing who was open and then if he was open, and getting rid of the ball to the open person so that the next pass was available.
    If I was Nanu, as a freshman, I’d be disgruntled and frustrated and then not feel much like running the floor when the point guard doesn’t look for me when I am posted up, or when i do fill a lane, and only calls for me to come to the high post to set picks for him to try to force something for himself. Inexcusable, but understandable. Not naming names, but in the first half both the starting guards were guilty of this and self-inflicted turnovers, only one persisted until yanked and passing, not pounding the rock returned.
    When Anas gains strength, WOW; if Mathiang had bigger, stronger hands that would be nice too. Couldn’t agree more with pleasure in watching Aaron try to be part of team and not show the crowd “what they’ve been missing”. Looked for teammates, and may find more of a role in the defensive schemes with time and experience.

  5. I haven’t looked this a.m., but think the spread slid to 6.5 by midnight. I’d bet the farm on that line, still. “Rex Chapman game” and “shatter entirely.” Ouch. And spot on, Seedy, as usual from your wonderful analysis. I concur. Maturity and leadership are wanting in this year’s model. Yes, Trez leads with intimidation, but the steadiness we’ve grown accustomed to with Siva, Luke and even Russ are sorely missed. I’m not The Rick, but I wonder if Gill and Mathiang would make a scintilla of a positive difference starting? Nanu and CJ don’t grasp the offense. Wouldn’t it be nice if Johnson or Aaron came off the bench and played the role of Jerome Harmon years ago v. IU, catching the Cats off guard? Unknowns who don’t know any better, and dominate the tilt. Not happening, alas. UK 82, Louisville? Can they even score 50 versus the Lexington D-leaguers? Like you, I hope I’m wrong. But the Cards can’t get on the same page like, say, the Wahoos, a team who is unfazed by size, speed or talent. They force you to play their game for 40 minutes. It’s the precise recipe U of L needs…

  6. What in the name of holy Santa Claus? I am reading Seedy’s comments and (blush) am agreeing with EVERYTHING he says….

    Then, I read the comments and some negative nabob pops us from the District and poops all over himself—and SEEDY jumps right back on board.covering himself in dung as he does so.

    Have either of you actually seen your Blew boys play in person? They may be tall and there may be a lot of them, but I think sitting bull may have some tricks up his sleeve for General Cal Custer this Saturday. Last year at the Rupp dome, lil’ Chris had a fine game and if he pulls up and shoots the 12-15 foot jumper, he will be open all day. He and Terry will both easily get past the Tweens and Booker and so long as they don’t force it all the way to the glass could have a field day. I hope WB keeps his stroke and then we will see if we might just be a little better than Buffalo, Boston U or Columbia.

    Remember, this is the first true road game for the GREATEST TEAM EVER ASSEMBLED. I suspect that the rim will get pretty small if the game is close late. If we continue to make our FT’s I think (hope?) we can win and the initial line will prove to be more in line with the teams relative skills than your predictions of a 20point Chapmanesque beat down.

    Very Merry to All…..

    1. Mr. Joyner–Since, other than yourself, I am probably most responsible for your being the multimillionaire that you are, I think I have the right to tell you that I think you are most naive about this game. I hope I am wrong.

  7. Ken, I must disagree a little about getting the ball into the low post. I jotted in my notes, that it appeared TR and CJ and WB were looking to make that pass. At least, some of the time. But that the spacing and D was such that it was not open. I would suggest The Rick show his bigs video of Jim Price posting up, getting low, pushing his butt back into the defender, driving the defender underneath, and holding his arms up and wide to be a big — and, more oft than not — open destination for the dump down.

    1. even last evening early in the game there were guys posted up and open with targets given but not passed to until the defense had enough time to adjust; If not selfishness, then lack of confidence which may be deserved or not.

  8. Mr. JGJ — You know that I know that you know that I hope you are totally correct. I shall gladly don a hair shirt and wear it through our next noon repast, which will be on me.

  9. Good morning to you, Mr. Joyner, from your Nation’s Capitol. May I say from the outset, I truly enjoy your banter and analysis with our friend, Seedy. Thank you. Now…. Covered in dung, I believe still the enemy (UK, and I am no fan of the team, but appreciate great basketball) the Kayuts will dominate the glass this year. Defensively, they are light years better than last year. Their length will bother anyone who takes the hardwood against them (witness Kansas, Texas and UCLA) WB retaining last night’s shooting groove is unlikely; his M.O. has been inconsistency shooting. Our DC area prep cage star of yesteryear, Mr. Onuaku, is backsliding. Anas is a delight, and a year away from Dieng-esque ability.

    And perhaps no two players in D1 are better at getting under the lid of an opponent than the Tweens. You can bet there are crosshairs on Mr. Harrell. I stand by, and raise you, the opinion that Chris Jones is a detriment to the squad. His only thought is “hunting points” as The Rick has stated. Leaving the outcome of the game for louisville in the hands of the wonderfully gifted Terry Rozier. But it will take more than one player to corrall the Kayuts.

    Where have you gone, Jerome Harmon? A very Merry to you, and all back home.

  10. It’s not really a problem, per se, that the Cards will lose to Kentucky on Saturday. Or that it will probably be an ugly loss. [It should be a tough afternoon at the Yum!: Do the Cards even score sixty points? Will they make it to 50?] The most troubling thing is watching my good Cards go down with Chris Jones at point guard. It seems to me that Jones clearly suffers from a case of the d.o.g.s [delusions of grandeur]. So did Russ Smith, I suppose. However, at least the beloved Smith’s grand delusions were balanced by an infectious joy for the game, a sense of humor and the consistent ability to score big. Jones may come up large for the Cards on Saturday or against an ACC opponent here or there. Who knows?. But no way Jones can run the point effectively for six games in a row, which is what it takes to win a national championship. He’s too unsteady. Bah Humbug and Merry Christmas!

  11. Maybe Jones will declare for “the league” (what an arrogant appellation) and Rozier will stay

    1. Jones, as a Juco transfer, will (thankfully) exhaust his eligibility after this season. In other words, he’s outta here!!!

  12. 1. What I liked most about Levitch is what he didn’t do. Dribble.
    2. Was in Boston this summer and happened to pass the Sculley Square Bay Area Transit station. It has a large sign saying “Charlie’s here.”

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