You too, Doc.
No, really, be quiet, I need to try and hear something.
Yeah, that’s what I thought . . . silence.
There now seems to be a void, the sound of silence, where just recently there was a cacophony from a most vocal segment of the Red & Black Faithful. They wanted Chris Jones gone, packed in a crate on a freight train back to Memphis. They were decrying every moment of his existence. The knee jerk reaction to Jones’s play and that recent flopping peccadillo turned the naysayers into blathering Michelle Bachmann territory.
And now, silence. Because, like Marvel Comic’s super hero Captain ComeToSaveTheDay, Chris Jones grabbed last night’s game in Winston Salem, Louisville’s first ever in the ACC, by the short and curlies and declared, “I got this.”
His best move of the night came arguably post-game, when he got in touch with his inner Russdiculousness, by needling The Rick, after Pitino said Jones only listened to him 70% of the time, and could become the nation’s best PG if it were 100%.
With a grin, Jones responded, “I’d say I listen 80 percent. Coach is wrong. I’ll tell him he’s 10 percent wrong.”
On the court however, there was no disagreement.
At one juncture of the opening half, the Cards led by 13, and still had an 11 point advantage at the break. After which, the host Demon Deacons reeled off ten straight points, turning the game into a nailbiter.
During that interlude, I jotted in my notes, for the second time, “BAD FEELING!” I also put in writing the ever sage wisdom of Mr. Bunny, “Do Not RELINQUISH THE LEAD.”
Which the Cards did with 12:55 to play, 54-55, on a Codi Miller-Mcintyre layup.
But :13 seconds later, Chris Jones blasted his way through the lane for a go ahead layup. Cards, 56-55.
Here’s what ace hoops analyst Andy Kaufman observed of the moment:
U of L pushed ahead by as many as five, but, again, with 5:44 on the clock, WF tallied another of their way way way way way too many open layups, leading again by a digit.
The teams traded ill-advised missed threes on each’s ensuing possession, after which Jones morphed Mighty Mouse again, draining a helter skelter jumper, for a lead the Cards would not relinquish.
In the opening stanza, Jones scored but a deuce, yet already had 8 assists against a single turnover.
In the second half, Jones realized what had to be done with no inside game whatsoever and his runnin’ podner Terry Rozier shackled with foul trouble, and did what needed to be done. 20 points on 6/10 shooting from the field, and 8/9 at the charity stripe. He added a couple more assists and a steal, and committed but one turnover while handling the ball . . . a lot.
The lesson? Well, on a team with abundant flaws, we now are absolutely sure that both starting guards can, if necessary, take charge of a game and will it to victory.
Which is not to say that this Cardinal team, despite its glossy record and high regard in the rankings, both computer and human, are legit national contendas . . . yet.
* * * * *
I’m not sure there’s a word I dare use in a public forum to describe how awful the Cardinals’ interior defense was last night. Wake tallied 44 points in the paint.
In a single forty minute span, U of L hoisted Demon Deacon pivot Devin Thomas onto the Wooden POY Watch List. He dominated the paint, like he was playing against a bunch of Biddy Basketballers. 31 points on 11/14 shooting. Had he not missed 8 of his 17 FTs, the home team would probably have carried the day. He grabbed 11 rebounds. It was a career game.
More discomforting is that, three times, Louisville surrendered second chance points after missed Wake FTs. What an alarming trend that became. I trust box out drills shall be run today in practice. That is, if The Rick didn’t have them running them in the aisle on the plane ride home.
WF shot 52% from the field, many of which made FGs, as already mentioned, came on wide open layups. It was not a pretty sight.
U of L gave up the baseline for several WF scores, especially when rookie Anas Mahmoud was on the floor.
Louisville couldn’t get the ball to its bigs underneath. Wake Forest did so at will.
Success on the end of half Sosa play continues to be unimpressive to nonexistent.
It was a grinder. It was ugly.
It was also a win in a conference game on the road. Those are always — always — tough, no matter the foe. So, the W is to be savored, the many flaws exposed to be addressed.
* * * * *
Montrezl Harrell was all he is lauded to be early.
He had 20 points and six rebounds before intermission.
He also took charge on the glass late. Most of his seven second half carom retrievals came in the last five minutes, when Louisville needed to secure the W.
He also confirmed Pitino’s observation that his players don’t always listen. Silent L jacked up a trio of threes early in the shot clock, which he had been admonished by his coach not to do. He made his first two, but that’s beside the point.
His interior D, like that of his fellow big uns, was sketchy.
* * * * *
Shaqquan Aaron showed us why we’re glad he’s a Cardinal, and glad he’s now eligible.
He doesn’t play scared.
In twenty three minutes of action, he had 11 and 5.
Hopefully, the zebras won’t start calling him for a travel on that hop he takes when receiving a pass at the top of the key.
U of L got 64 minutes off the bench. The inexperience showed; but the experience gained is invaluable.
Terry Rozier was in foul trouble and on the bench much of the second half. He still scored 18, many of them at critical moments late, when a tally was imperative.
* * * * *
Brad Daugherty called the game like it was the Darlington 500. Because, well, the former Tar Heel is a NASCAR announcer.
While I love watching hoops anytime, there’s something odd about watching a college game on Sunday nights. It was the ACC that started this trend. But, it just felt kind of weird.
— Seedy K