Louisville CardFile: Bellarmine

joaniecardA few observations about the Cards after the final tune up against crosstown foe Bellarmine.

Rick Pitino was not mincing words when he said postgame: “We have a lot of weaknesses we need to work on.”

They were masked in the opening half against the Knights. The visitors from Norris Place seemed blinded by the lights and the big stage.

Early on, Louisville used its superior speed, height and talent to overwhelm Scotty Davenport’s team. The Knights were spooked into 3/16 shooting (18.8%), and 16 turnovers before halftime.

The Cards ran and shot before halftime. Especially hitting half their treys. 7/14.

After the break, U of L showed how young they are, how much this edition of the Cards is a work in progress with a new O and new D to learn and execute, and what happens when they lose focus.

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The minuses:

The Cards only recorded 11 assists, but 3 after the break.

Remember how little scoring the Cards got from the post the year before last? Well, that problem is back. In spades. Jaylen Johnson is not a consistent finisher, though he does hit the boards. Anas Mahmoud holds the ball too low on his post up moves, and that’s going to be a problem, given the caliber of teams U of L faces. Mangok Mathiang is a steady, psychologically mature presence, but he’s never going to be a major scoring threat.

This U of L squad lacks bulk. The Rick is correct that rebounding help, especially defensive, is going to have to come the 1s, 2s and 3s.

Deng Adel is likely to be the Cards leading scorer. But he still needs major work on his ball handling. He gets stripped too often.

While the Cards have several players with exemplary form at the FT line, the team’s accuracy remains a question mark. Last night, they were only 10/15 at the line.

Both the new offensive and defensive schemes remain in their formative stages.

To run this motion offense, Louisville needs to become not a good but a great passing contingent. School is out. The team has so much O talent, so many scoring threats, that too often still the offense stops a pass or two short. Guys are being left wide open on the weak side. The proper instincts haven’t yet been developed.

The same inexperience is on display when the Cards are playing their new switching man to man. Bellarmine like Kentucky Wesleyan had guys wide open when they swung the ball.

It’s early. But, I, for one, will not be surprised if Louisville includes more zone in the plan as the season progresses.

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The pluses:

This team is fast. This team is quick. This team is deep.

And, to go cliché, “has lots up upside.”

Opponents, even the really top level ones, are likely to be worn down by U of L’s speed and relentless pressure.

This team can score.

Quentin Snider’s long range bombing might be the most startling development. Ryan McMahon also appears the consistent sniper. They are not alone.

Donovan Mitchell can also fire from outside, as well as take it to the hoop. VJ King began to show that same drive to the glass panache last evening. Adel can score outside and in. So too Tony Hicks. Who, if he starts to think assist first as Pitino pointed out after the game, will be really effective off the bench.

Ray Spalding is among the best defensive disrupters to don the red and black. He’s got great hands. If he ever comes close to his potential, he’ll be one of the great Cardinals ever.

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The ’16-’17 Cardinals have the potential — there is that word again — to become a legit national contender.

They are far from there now.

Watching this unit develop is going to be fascinating.

It all starts this Friday night against the Evansville Purple Aces at the Yum!.

Let’s get this party started.

— Seedy K

3 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Bellarmine

  1. I don’t think I saw any of our inside players box out an opponent when a shot went up. JJ continues to stand and watch, and unintentionally bolsters his rebound #’s on his misses. By not trying to put body on opponent, the refs will never see our slender yet tall kids get pushed right under the rim.
    Zone is going to be the only way to hide players who cannot defend both the perimeter and the post if they are going to try to play a man “D” with switching, as opposed to the old no switch, just stick with your man fight-through picks” approach. JJ and Mathiang cannot go out on the perimeter, and aside from Mitchell our guards don’t have the bodies/strength to not get beaten in the post. King will find defense counts in college.
    Discouraging deterioration in both play and camaraderie as it looked like only Mitchell was trying to pick-up or encourage others at timeouts.
    Other than that, great to be back at the YUM!

  2. It’s awfully early to make an accurate prediction concerning this years cagers stengths and weaknesses. How, after viewing (maybe) 2 scrimmages and 2 exhibition games anyone can say with a straight face that rebounding will be a problem or that scoring will be a strength is thowing darts. Everything is relative. I suspect in some games that rebounding will be an issue–in others, not so much. Same with scoring–eg. look at first half vs. the Knights vs. the second half.

    On the other hand, Cotton, you did somehow predict UbaK to win 3 consecutive SEC football games; but how did that 4th one turn out for you? Bold strategy, indeed.

    So, maybe you do have some limited ability to see into the future. Luckily, by the time March roles around, everyone (except maybe me?) will have forgotten your premature prognastications.

    We shall see Ol’ Blue, we shall see……..

  3. Somehow, JGJ, I feel I’ll be hearing about that predicted Wildcat threepeat from now until the 12th of Never. Just a feeling.

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