Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech

joaniecardThe first name my fingers seem compelled to type in the wake of  Louisville’s latest ACC road W, 91-83 over Virginia Tech, is neither Damion Lee nor Trey Lewis, the Cardinal done&ones who led the way.

The name is Ken Pomeroy. (Not to worry, I’ll get to the Cardinal stars in a bit.)

Pomeroy is the hoops computer geek whom I and other scribes locally and nationally are referencing this season with increasing frequency. He’s risen to guru status.

We adore him around here, because he’s valued the Cardinals higher all season than the humans who actually watch games and vote in polls. Pomeroy considers many variables, way too many for me to understand them all.

What I do know is they add up to #3 national ranking for U of L, behind Oklahoma and Iowa. Though the Cards’s defensive efficiency ranking has slipped from #1 to #5, its offensive ranking has been steadily improving in league play, and is now 21st best in the land.

Anyway, my point. Yesterday I dug deep into Pomeroy’s subscriber site for explanations of his many stats. Most, I frankly didn’t understand.

What struck me though was this admission. He acknowledges that his system is slightly biased in favor of teams with weaker schedules. U of L’s overall schedule is the 144th toughest in the country, but its non-conference slate was ranked #301. Which is perhaps a reason why his computers so admire Louisville.

The only Top 40 teams U of L has played so far are Michigan State and Kentucky, both losses. The highest ranked team U of L has beaten is #53 Pittsburgh.

Which I mention to temper my own increasing enthusiasm about the ’15-’16 edition of the Cardinals. While even I have bandied about the term “legit contender,” I feel compelled to maintain some perspective. Until, that is, U of L charts some Ws over other legit contenders.

As we know, the rubber hits the road this very weekend, with the toughest Sunday/ Monday home double down in memory. Virginia. Carolina.

I have a theory, which is merely intuition, and, more than likely could not stand even the most cursory computerized investigation. Which theory is that legit contenders — there’s that phrase du jour again — do not lose at home after February 1.

So, should Louisville sweep this big time basketball bonanza, smite the Wahoos and Tar Heels, I shall be shorn of my skepticism, and intend to sweep all my chips into the middle of the table. I’ll also need to commence a regimen which includes not only Prilosec, but Tums for the Tummy.

The higher the expectations, the greater the acid reflux.

I gotta tell ya, after those dastardly performances in Puerto Rico, I sure wasn’t expecting this kind of success.

 * * * * *

What so encourages me about last night’s victory in Blacksburg is that U of L won despite playing its most poo poo kah kah D of the season. The Hokies, who get to the line a greater % of the time than anybody else nationally, had a great offensive game plan and executed it damn well.

When they weren’t heading to the foul line, they were netting wide open layups.

Remember that FT% of total scoring algorithm thingie just mentioned, and that Tech is best in the country? Well, last night their number was 74.5. The national average is 36.7.

In simple English, that means U of L couldn’t stop the home squad from getting to the line, which the Hokies did with impunity.1

Louisville’s rebound advantage was miniscule, of no consequence. The Cards committed more turnovers than they forced.

 * * * * *

Which brings me to one of The Professor’s pithy aphorisms. And, yes, finally, to Lee and Lewis, last evening’s co MVPs.

Prof has been known to opine this so much one is inclined to punch him in the mouth when the phrase slips through his lips: “You look good when you make your shots.”

As I advised him last night post-game, the win at Cassell might have been the exception that proves the rule.

Because U of L didn’t look particularly good, especially on defense, except . . .

. . . except on offense when they were moving the ball like a race-calibrated Beemer engine, to the RPM of 19 assists on 27 made FGs.

. . . and except when they were shooting the rock.

U of L was 27/52 (51.9%) from the field for the game, 13/22 (59.1%) in the second half. The Cardinals’ effective FG% — It recognizes that a trey is worth 50% more than a deuce — was 63.5%.2

 * * * * *

Damion Lee, playing his best game at Louisville for the second time in a row, was in the zone from the get go. Seconds after the opening tip, he bullseyed a three on the game’s first possession. He kept firing, and didn’t miss from downtown until five minutes into the second half. None were forced.

Lee missed his only attempted deuce, was 6/7 from beyond the arc, including a dagger just before the first half horn. He drained 11/12 FTs. He also snared 5 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and grabbed a steal.

For Trey Lewis it was a Tale of Two Halves.

Before the break, he was 1/7 from the field. On one awful miss he looked like a fourth grader, trying to throw it in from underneath against his older brother’s college pals.

He was 5/7 after a rest and lecture from Coach. He converted four treys in 7 attempts on the night, and all six of his FTs. He also corralled 5 boards.

Jaylen Johnson also had his career game. 11 points. 9 caroms. 3 assists. A block, and one turnover. He netted a monster trey from the corner midway through the opening half. Tech was 8 points up at the time, pulling away.

The rest of the Cards, despite committing way way way way too many fouls, were steady, not to be denied in a hostile environment against a team ready and itching for a breakthrough W.

Louisville showed its mettle to begin the second half. A Quentin Snider triple, another by Lee and an old fashioned +1 three point play against a couple Hokie tallies doubled the Cards lead to 8.

They kept Tech at bay, measured the rest of the way.

 * * * * *

Saturday: Virginia.

— Seedy K

13 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Virginia Tech

  1. Seedy, please help refresh my memory… did the announcers say JJ’s three ball was only the second (or third) he has ever made?

    Plus his tumble in the game provided a heart stopping moment. Apparently, I was not the only person who thought he broke a wrist or bone in forearm. (But he sees Fred Hina, and is back in game 34 seconds later.)

    I withhold saying much about this year’s model until the UVA and UNC games are completed. But there is a lot to like with this year’s model.

  2. Anyone notice how Buzz and his coaches blew by Rick on the postgame handshake and never said a word or even looked at him. Screw them ! Hope the ACC office saw that.

  3. The announcers did say that, Hoya Destroya, and were actually correct. He is now 3/10 from beyond the arc.

    1. That’s pretty incredible; if nothing else, the moxie he demonstrates by taking the trey. You penned one of my favorite lines this season, referencing JJ’s “newfound admiration for his shot.” Spot on.

  4. Seedy, didn’t you recently say something about hosting a feast in honor of Matz? He’s coming along–Matz provided some solid minutes last night. You might want to start thinking about your menu… I can bring the Akvavit and a six-pack of Crowberry beer.

  5. How dare you not mention the exploits of one Applesause Stockman, without whose efforts my darlings would have surely gone down to a bitter defeat last evening!? I can only presume you were too caught up in watching your beloved University of Kentucky Willises’ nip the hard-luck Tigers of Missouri to have noticed. Who gave you an update on the second half of our game anyway?

    Are you now (finally) ready to admit that Norway’s finest not only will contribute during his soon to be storied career at the UofL, but already has done so?

    As for JJ,–he obviously played the best game of his life—though his final feeble FT was either the sign of a broken wing or was the result of complete and total exhaustion. In fact, it reminded me of a couple Biddy ball games I ref’d at the JCC back in the day….

    What you and the meek non-believers refuse to acknowledge is that there are ZERO super teams this year. We are as good as anybody (See Pom,Ken et.al). While we might not be a cod-lock cinch to beat any of the top teams, neither are we ever going to face an insurmountable squad this season against which we have no chance—and that includes Monday nights tilt vs. the #1/#2 Heels.

    If I were you, I would double down on my Prilosec and Tums—you may need ’em both.

    1. You are so right, Counselor. Nary a word about the Norwegian Truth. Seedy, you do have some ‘splainin’ to do

  6. Gentlemen, and I use that term in the broadest and most inclusive sense of the word, I shall have to go back and review the tapes to discover what, if any, proclamations I made about Matz and the exact wording thereof. I trust I used the wording “significant contribution,” though am willing to admit otherwise upon production of empirical evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    While he has been able on a couple of occasions, including last evening, to provide stopgap relief, kind of like using spray seal to plug a hole in a dike — something his neighbors to the South in The Netherlands would never consider — I daresay his “contributions” have not been significant . . . yet.

    I will be only happy to eat my words. To that end, I purchased a new bottle of Original Worcester Sauce this very afternoon.

    I can only hope, come Tourney Time, my medicine closet looks like Antacids ‘r’ Us.

    1. Seedy, replay the tapes, I offer humbly. Matz has this uncanny presence and a damned nice jumper at short range. He seems focused; strong, but does make über frosh missteps. He DOES contribute. We’re lucky in that we fans are standing at the mouth of a cornucopia of big men. Rare for U of L…

  7. JJ had the best Rick Pitino MVP number for the game: +9 Damion Lee was +6. Trey Lewis had the worst. -10.

  8. Though it is empirically impossible to prove, I submit that but for Anas’ play last night at the end of the first half, and esp’ly considering the foul trouble we were in, his contribution last night was “significant”….unless you consider losing a game in the middle of the ACC pennant race not to be significant.

Comments are closed.