Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

joaniecardJust how justifiably pleased was the often prickly Rick Pitino after the focused Louisville Cardinals 59-41 Big East-ish beatdown of rival Pitt?

Well, during his meeting with the media, he shared some personal info, which is an alien concept for him, contrary to his default MO. He shared that he never eats on game days, such is his nervousness, but had chosen to do so Thursday, due to the late tip. And that he had to take his leave for a moment during a break in the action mid-game for a bit of personal purging.

Said he’d eaten a taste of turkey. No bread. Apparently it wasn’t bland enough.

But, a more telling expression of his pleasure at the Cards’ performance came during his radio interview with Bob Valvano. During which, he further extrapolated on his gastrointestinal discomfort, and the reasons therefor.

He threw his bride Joanne under the bus, claiming she’d cooked for the first time in decades, he had a snack and it hadn’t agreed with him.

Ah, nothing like the thrill of victory, that allows the reticent to share the agony of deletion.

 * * * * *

The W was indeed U of L’s most intense effort, and best all around game of the season.

There are any number of stats that tell the tale, that emphasize the thoroughness of Louisville’s dominance.

Imagine your surprise that I’ll start with free throw shooting.

Pitt entered the contest as the best FT shooting team in the land, connecting 79% of the time. Yet, so worn down were the Panthers by the Cardinals’ relentless pressure, they made but 12 of 20 attempts at the line, a severely mediocre 60%.

At the 12:50 mark of the second period, when U of L had pulled away by 10, but was still in reach, Sheldon Jeter missed all three attempts during a charity trip, after being fouled by Chinanu Onuaku on a trey.

With six minutes or so to go, and the game still winnable, Pitt was only 7/14 at the line. Only that late 5/6 stretch, when the Cards, a might fatigued themselves, committed a few too many silly fouls, allowed the visitors to improve their percentage.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Louisville had its most bountiful game of the year, netting 16 of 19 freebies, a glossy 84%. Including 4/5 from improving by the minute Onuaku, now finding some comfort at the stripe with his Charlie Tyra throwback throws.

 * * * * *

The Cards held the Panthers to less than half their season scoring average.

The Cards forced the Panthers into 19 turnovers, while allowing the visitors just 14 made FGs in 49 attempts. That’s 29% shooting. That’s serious FG % D. Allow me to say suffocating.

After hitting but 9 of 32 attempts itself before the half, Louisville was 12/19 (63%) as it steadily pullled away after intermission.

The Cards blocked six shots, the Panthers only one.

The Cards had 10 steal, the Panthers only 3.

The Cards, last in the ACC in assists/game, had 11 on 21 converted shots, six on their first 9 made FGs, while the Panthers dished only 4.

According to The Rick, in loquacious mode after the win, U of L had 40 deflections.

 * * * * *

Chinanu Onuaku’s numbers speak for themselves. 18 points. 10 rebounds. 3 blocks. 2 steals. (And, to share the whole portrait, almost half of Louisville’s 14 turnovers with 6.)

The numbers of Damion Lee, who played far and away his best game in red & black, don’t really reveal the completeness of his game. Of his team leading 4 steals, two were consequential, late when they really mattered. Of his 8 FTs (out of 9 attempts), 5 were tallied in the final three minutes.

He also scored a couple of FGs in that final interlude, meaning he scored half his points at crunch time, thwarting any thoughts of a Pitt comeback, and sapping the visitors’ will.

They were not garbage points.

I loved the play of the Thin Twins. Both of whom played with a heretofore undetectable intensity.

Ray Spalding had 4 points, 4 rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and, it seemed, at least a third of those 40 deflections.

Anas Mahmoud scored five, snared four caroms in only thirteen minutes of action.

Trey Lewis, who was solid without scoring, and Quentin Snider were steady at the helm.

Donovan Mitchell secured five boards.

 * * * * *

I loved how positive Coach was about Jaylen Johnson and Deng Adel.

They will both be significant contributors at U of L. Last night simply wasn’t their’s.

 * * * * *

How suffocating was U of L’s D?

Did you notice how much trouble Pitt had inbounding the ball?

Twice the Panthers had to call a timeout to save possession. On one of those, the ref by the inbounder actually called a five second violation, before he was overruled by another who heard Jamie Dixon call time.

 * * * * *

The best part: When Pitt fashioned a mini run near the end, cutting their disadvantage to 9, Louisville held steady and closed the deal.

Second best: The Cardinals charged from the get go in the second half. The three point margin at the break increased to 27-19, forcing Pitt to halt play just 2:45 into the period.

 * * * * *

Louisville gets another week to tweak and tune up further, before Florida State comes for a visit @ 9:00 next Wednesday.

 * * * * *

Before I bid my adieu here, a shoutout to U of L’s distaff hoopsters, who won their 10th in a row last night at Virginia.

By, coincidentally, the same 59-41 score.

Myisha Hines-Allen led Cardinal scorers with 16. Cortnee Walton tallied 12, Mariya Moore, 11, and frosh phenom Asia Durr, 10.

Jeff Walz’s Louisville women have won all five of their ACC tilts by double digits.

— Seedy K


14 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

  1. The older I get, the more former players I can draw from in making comparisons with the current team, so here goes:
    Ray Spaulding-at times, reminds me of Purvis, particualrly his length, shot blocking, and on that nifty reverse layup he had Thursday.
    Mitchell reminds me of a smaller Derek Smith with his toughness and his apparent complete lack of fear.
    I’ve mentioned previously that Jalen Johnson reminds me of Charles Jones.
    My question: Is this our “best win” or did we expose another imposter? (N.C State anybody?)

  2. You think Trey Lewis was “solid”!? I thought his game last night was atrocious. He’s averaging less than 6 points/game in ACC play, and his shooting has been abysmal. I’m not sure he can play in the ACC. He has a role on this team, but less Lewis, more Donovan Mitchell! And, how about Scotty Davenport’s stellar Bellarmine Kinghts!!?

  3. Phil, good ??? “Our best win or expose another impostor?” Definitely the first. No question in my mind. Pomeroy has Pitt at #32. Which, to me, is formidable, if not Top 25. They’re always tough, and the Cards broke ’em.

    I’ve always referred to my propensity to talk about players from days gone by as going “Earl Cox.” Who, when he was still writing for the Voice, found an
    excuse to mention Wah Wah Jones every week. Physically Spalding is like Pervis, but we’ll have to see how he improves. As I’ve written, Mitchell reminds me of LaBradford Smith, with the hops of Grif. If Jalen Johnson becomes as relentless as Charles Jones, it would be great. CJ had the ability to jump as high on his second or third effort as the first, a most unusual physical trait.

  4. Lewis hasn’t shot well since his ankle injury. So, we don’t know how much that’s a cause and effect. While 0/6, he didn’t force any shots, grabbed 3 rebounds as the smallest guy on the court, had four assists, only one turnover against a really good defensive team, while playing balls out on D himself. To me, that’s solid. His maturity an leadership are real, not just hyperbole from the Rick.

    1. Seedy, fair enough about Lewis. I do hope his scoring comes back around once his shooting ankle heals. Please note that, as of this morning, the Cards have Pomeroy’s No. 1 defense in the nation. Our offensive trend (at about #25 and dropping) is not so positive.

  5. best team defense this year…..Deng is coming around but he thinks a little instead of just doing….Lewis played really good defense and sort of keyed everything in that area….just like the coach said…once they get used to playing that type of defense all the time, their legs will come around and Lewis will be fine…also thought Anas played his most aggressive game ever///man once he gets mean, he might be really something….Pitt is for real….that was a great win

  6. Blind Luck, I’ll take that trade off. (Actually Pomeroy has U of L’s adjusted O at 38th.) Last year, we almost sneaked into the Final Four with the worst U of L offense in memory. While I always take what The Rick says with a grain of salt, I agree that this gang will be fine on O. 59 was plenty enough last night to beat a formidable team by 18. The more Onuaku scores in the middle, the more that opens up the rest of the court.

    1. Seedy, as you well know, it doesn’t have to be a trade-off between offensive and defensive efficiency. Had the Cards’ offense been nominally better last year, they could have won it all again. Hey, I love the D. Given an exceptional defense, however, more points, I’d think, are better than fewer points. Until Trey Lewis’s ankle and shooting heal, it would be helpful if he shot less rather than more, and fed it to his teammates with healthy ankles. I enjoy your blog and appreciate your considerable wisdom on Card b-ball.

  7. Phil….I can only hope you will be correct about Ray being Purvis II, but I think he has a long way to go to even approach those heights. Early in the year, I thought RS had really good hands; but lately, he is 50-50 to catch and retain any ball thrown or batted his way. Maybe not as bad as Chane “Skillet Hands” Bo-Hannon, but not good. CRP’s post game comments lead me to believe he may be thinking too much and not reacting—or maybe its just the step-up in competition?

    As for Donavon Mitchell, I hate to agree with Seedy, but I also think of L.Smith’s game when I watch him play. Hope he can keep getting better and become the next great Cardinal guard. I have to say (despite my profound love for Russ Smiff–maybe my all-time favorite Cardinal BB player) that LaBradford was the last “Great” cardinal guard, even though Russ was first team AA his senior year.

    Because of my affinity for Cardinal Guards named “Smith” I am championing a movement for him to officially change his name to “LaDonavon MitchellSmith”. All in favor…….

    As for Lewis, again, I shamelessly agree with CDK. The guy probably should still me soaking his ankle, yet he is busting a gut playing hard d, handling the ball and being very aggressive…(witness 19 shots vs. Clemson.) I will give him a pass until he heals.

    As for Pitt, I have never been a Jamie Dixon fan. I think Rick has his number—what 7 wins in a row? I also don’t think that Pitt has that much ‘talent’ and that Dixon gets about much out of them as he can. Example would be that 6″6″ (maybe?) center that tried to play Nanu—- a classic mis-match. Now, the refs might foul us to defeat when we play them in P’burg, but considering all other things being equal, that’s the only way we can lose. So, I tend to think that the Panther’s may be a tad over-rated.

    I want to say that esp’ly during my recent coughing spell, that reading Seedy’s blog and the comments of his bloggette’s have kept my spirits bowed. I always look forward to the recap’s that Chuck makes as well as reading the comments that follow. Keep ’em both coming…

    1. Yes, JGJ, Lewis did take 19 shots against Clemson. He made three. I don’t have access to a shot chart, but he probably made, say, two of his first 10 shots. Maybe that’s the point where someone should have suggested to Lewis that it just wasn’t his day shooting the ball. 3 of NINETEEN! Trying to shoot your way out of a slump during the second half of an important ACC road game isn’t clever. Play D and hustle, but, for god’s sake, distribute to a teammate who can hit the side of the barn. At Clemson, it was probably the difference between a win and a loss.

  8. JGJ is obviously running a dangerously high fever. Otherwise, there is no explanation for his kind words. Which are appreciated.

  9. BL and JGJ, I just got in touch with my inner Ron Jaworski and watched most of the game on tape. At some juncture, Seth Greenburg made a point that I have talked about before. I call it Lewis and Lee’s mid-major tendencies, and that they have to mature past that. Greenburg pointed out that at Drexel and Cleveland State, they took the shots, even if not dropping. After a career of that, it becomes a habit not easily overcome. Last night, Lewis didn’t take a bad shot, but he ratcheted up the rest of his game considerably. Lee fired a couple of forced bombs, but less than usual. But he was all over the court on D. And, instead of settling for jumpers, he took it to the hoop, and ended up at the line. So, let me repeat, our senior saviors have stuff to work on, just as much as the newcomers. It’s just different stuff. Patience.

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