Louisville Card File: Wake Forest

joaniecardOkay, okay, okay, everybody shush up for a second.

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.

Etc, etc.

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.

* * * * *

Other stuff:

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

22 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Wake Forest

  1. Seedy, I appreciate your consistent good humor and positive vibe. I was beginning to think you’re a Romantic. But after your analysis of Chris Jones vis-a-vis some Cardinal fans [including me], I’m thinking it could be an issue with your short-term memory [I hope not]: only two games ago [that’s just last week!] Chris Jones was AWFUL offensively. He was shooting, what?, 30% for the year. One assist against Kentucky to go with the one flop. Then zero shots against Long Beach State or whoever. At Wake last night, Jones was brilliant. He was so obviously thinking pass first. If he can continue to play this way, and to evolve into a consistently effective point guard, the Cards can be special. It was fun to watch him last night.

    Speaking of awful: Brad Daugherty—the worst major-network television analyst I’ve ever listened to and a charmless homer. He added nothing to last night’s telecast.

    One final point: I’m beginning to think that Rick Pitino is just going through the motions. Last night, the knot in his tie was, again, fat, lazy and unfocused. Really, what’s the point? For god’s sake, man, tie that Windsor knot like you mean it!

  2. Wake had no shot blockers in the paint, and their interior defenders well hellbent on not allowing CJ or anyone else deliver a pass to Trez, so it made his ability to score in ther paint possible. I was impressed that he did a whole let less pointless dribbling, but being me, was not happy that he was caught on the basekine when his co-guard Gil drove to the basket missed and a run out was there because he was not back out as a protector as soon as he saw Gil begin to drive ! Now I’ll shush.
    Brad D not only added nothing, but he evidently found it necessary to tell a story that threw Stuart Scott under the bus as “only a club football player” rather than just acknowledging that they shared some communication classes together at UNC. Clearly only one of the two excelled at their studies

  3. I believe Blind Luck has cut through the muck, and revealed what’s askew with this edition of the Cards. It’s the knot, Rick, it’s the knot. Astute analysis at its apotheosis. Jealous I didn’t discern it all along. Hats off to you, sir.

  4. Brad Daugherty’s commentary seems to have struck a chord. An off key one, out of tune. I didn’t find him that bad, but, as usual, I’m in the minority.

  5. Renderings from ACC first game bliss….

    CJ will probably (possibly?) shoot 60% the rest of the year to make up for his early season poor shooting….water always seeks its level……Screw that head on straight CJ—-just because Russ is gone doesn’t mean you get all of his shots……

    “Turry” as we fondly call him, is our best player; The beginning of the second half clearly proved that postulate. Trez is great, but he is busy now trying to build an NBA resume showing he can shoot the mid-range jump shot…If he stops that and goes back to being the beast that was born in the “Gahden” at the 2013 BE tourney, he will get what he wants…..

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Mr. Wayne Blackshear. After 4 years, we get what we get and can expect nothing more. He has PF “skills” in a SF/SG body. He doesn’t like contact and air-balls more layups than CDK at the JCC back in the day. He continues to find ways to disappear that would make Harry Houdini blush.

    Shaqq is too skinny to do anything other than hope he doesn’t get drawn and quartered when he crosses the lane. Maybe it’s because of his lack of strength, but his jump shot looks forced and his arms and feet are never in a classic, balanced position. Whenever one goes in, I am surprised. You are right–he walks every time he gets the ball up high….

    Our 5 spot is basically non-existent. Folks, we are playing 4 on 5 with any team that has 5 guys that can breathe.

    Before the ankle sprain, I thought MM was continuing his upward curve. Now, not so much. Hope his digression is merely injury related. One thing for certain is that The Big E is better than Nanu, who has completely lost any resemblance of being a BB player. Is he thinking too much? Has Rick torn him down so much so that he can’t function? He is the key to a run in the NCAA tourney imho; All he has to do is give us 15 minutes, 4 points and 5-6 Reb’s or blocks and we will improve our inside presence immensely. Now, he is a fouling machine and nothing more and is worthless outside of 3 feet from the basket. Anas, otoh, has some skills, but would be better off playing high post only; he gets destroyed physically the closer to the basket he goes. I hope he gets to 220 soon, because how long can we continue to play Nanu when he is basically the other teams best player?

    The others, like Motts Applesause, JJ and QS had better grow up soon or next year could get real ugly real fast; and I am the ultimate optimist….

    So there, Chuckles, tell me how I am wrong as you are so wont to do…..

  6. Seedy, I concur with my fellow hoopaholics above. One game does not make CJ a great, or even very good, player. 1 outstanding game out of 14, is a .071 success percentage. That says a lot to me. Lavishing praise on number 3 is selective amnesia.

    True, he did not endlessly tom-tom the ball last night. True, he shot well (Ken offers a great reason why above). True, he passed the ball. Yes, he hit FTs and avoided turnovers. For one game.

    The question I have is “How does Mr. Jones handle success?” Hopefully, by listening.

  7. Given its flaws, this team remains iffy. Reminds me of those Preston Knowles, Kyle Kuric squads. A chance to make it to the Elite Eight, more likely to lose to Morehead or Cal in the rounds of 64 or 32.

    I forgot to point out what really might have been CJ’s most important revelation last night, his admission that he was never coached before, that nobody told him no. My hope, and the basis for my optimism, is that he realizes The Rick can coach him up, and that’s he’s willing to buy in. Jury is out.

    Who called Rozier our best player from the get go? Me. Welcome aboard one and all.

    Blackshear is an enigma. He has been been prone, and continues to be prone, to having nights, when we wonder why he simply didn’t stay in the dorm to study. He shall never live up to his McD AA hype and “potential.” I continue to have faith that he will be a positive contributor, even if not to the level we expected. And that, in an important game along the way, he’ll take charge. I’m not selling WB stock.

    Aaron does have a funny shot, but that might just be how it’s developed, not as a result of his concentration camp lack of physicality.

    I agree about Onuaku. It appears he didn’t understand Parris Island, when he signed up. He’s been beaten down by the drill sargent, and has yet to start recovery.

    There are those who opined Mango would turn into the next Gorgui, I never believed it and still don’t. He plays hard, is serviceable, and looks like a future Van Treese off the bench to me. Good teams have those kinds of players. He’s not afraid to mix it up.

    And the freshmen are just that, rookies. Recall if you can how awful E5 was his first year, and how his game blossomed. I love our base for the future.

    As for this season, if The Rick works wonders — and he might, even if his tie knot stays too fat — this team could surprise us. Or, flipside, have us thinking tee times and the beach and JazzFest by the middle of March.

    For all our carping, we still have statistically the #2 D in the country, and Ken Pomeroy’s numbers have us moving up 27 spots in offensive efficiency to # 50. We are considered a unanimous Top 10 team, though I admit, we fans who pay attention see the flaws more readily than others.

    Hey, this is our team for this year. As I’ve opined before, for me, after the ’13 title, it’s all icing.

    Go Cards, Beat Purdue.

  8. I feel it necessary to use the announcers’ oft used “Are you kiddin’ me??” when you compare MM to SVT. SVT had high basketball IQ as a Hoosier high schooler who knew when, where and how to set picks, box out opponents and look for the open man. Mathiang is long and means well. His length makes him a potential project still, but as pointed out here, by so many, breath may have to be held for a long time. Something about Aaron’s loose arms on his jumper, as well as his physique still reminds me of Tayshaun Prince just without quite the length, and as said before Cheryl’s kid brother Reggie.
    I ask again….will Wayne continue to resemble Mc Ribs as a McD’s product that shows up but only occasionally??

  9. Yeah, I’m not hearing the Sounds of Silence either. Re-Write this column when CJ puts together several of those as-a-point-guard-looking-to-get-others-involved-as-much-as-himself games in a row. Like 6.

    Still, all in all it’s a good win.

  10. I am buying a lot of CJ before one cent worth of Wayne. CJ had a number of good to excellent games last year. WB, not so much.

    BBall is so down this year, we could make the FF by default.

    Any of you have UbaK or UConn in the final game last year when the tourney started?

    Didn’t think so.

    Hope CRP is not blowing smoke when he talks about upside, because with even a small amount of improvement, the FF is very reachable this year. I still think we had the 2 best players on the court vs. the Cats. Who was better ? Ulis?

    Depending on the draw, Lexington, Duke, Wisky Ariz., UVA and UofL all look far more impressive than anyone else…except maybe UCLA and Chuck’s Vill. Wildcats.

  11. If he watches a load of film and learns how to play away from the ball, and how to see the floor. It would also be nice if Mango could learn how to throw a two handed chets pass, over the head pass and bounce pass instead of the lazy flips or sort of handoffs he makes that are ripe for steals/turnovers. He has gotten bigger in the upper body, yet he is still not strong with the ball in his hands, nor does he protect it well. Am I critical enough ???

  12. Two things: The announcers were worse than Dick Vitale on his worst night ever and Two: I don’t know all of you guys but of the ones I know, the only one I know for sure who knows anything about basketball is Ken. Therefore I felt good a few nights ago when I said to him that Terry Rozier has as much business leaving for the NBA as I do. Ken agreed and said the NBA advisors would surely disabuse him of that notion. He is a terrific players, but all you have to do is watch just a few games on ESPN to see that there are multiple terrific guards around every bit as good. Also there is now an app called PeeRun which tells you the best times in a movie to run for a piss. It was made specifically for Mr. Kaplan.

  13. Rozier’s numbers for the last 7 games. 21.3 ppg 5.4 rpg 2.4 steals per game. Leads ACC in steals.

  14. Not sure why Big’un pissed you guys off so much Sunday night. It was obvious he was pulling for an entertaining game rather than a blow out. I think he afforded us appropriate props considering we are the new guys on the block.

    On the other hand, after watching the SEC announcers tonight beg for the refs to keep looking at the 3 point shot made by Ole Miss at every dead ball for 4 minutes(!) until they finally reviewed the 3 pointer 50+ times to get the point taken away?

    To me that was becoming overly involved in the outcome of the game and should never happen. But for that travesty, the Rebs win by one. I guess if they didn’t change the call at the four minute mark, the SEC network would have mandated that the point be taken away after the game and the win be awarded to UbaK on style points or for riding time.

    Pitiful display and I feel awful for Ole Miss to lose that way to those bums………

  15. John Wall the best underclassman since Alan Iverson has taken seven (maybe this is his eighth) year to become a great guard. If he had stayed two more years at Ky. it would have taken him one year. I personally think Trez could do with another year. How’d all that work out for Tim Duncan.

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