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