Louisville CardFile: Grand Canyon

ccjoaniecardDespite a regrettable but predictable performance, U of L prevailed 79-70 in the hothouse that was Grand Canyon’s hostile home court.

Thus it is unlikely, despite its magnificence, that Cardinal historians like myself will long remember DeWayne Russell’s career, retell it to your grandkids ad nauseum performance as much as a couple of others I feel compelled to mention. (Because I couldn’t stop the images crossing my brain, as Russell stopped and stepped back and popped and swished trip after trip after trip down the hardwood.)

The Antelopes’ guard blistered the Cards for 42 points on 14/27 shooting, 3/6 from beyond the arc. He netted 11/16 at the line.

He was en fuego. The Rick was unable to find a Cardinal who could check him. Though for some reason, quick Tony Hicks was again a DNP. Nor was the coach, never among the best when it comes to in game adjustments, able to fashion a defensive triage. So Russell was able to have his way.

Yes, what Russell did was impressive. But it didn’t carry the day. The Cards won. Plus Russell was so self absorbed with his game that, at the end when the Antelopes still had a bit of a chance to catch Louisville, he hopscotched up the court for some selfish shots, instead of thinking about a possible W.

The names his game reminded me of:

Roger McClendon. He was the Cincy guard who lit up Freedom Hall for his career high 35, when the Bearcats overcame a 17 point deficit to beat the Cards’ eventual national champs 84-82 in January ’86.

And, of course, DePaul center Dave Corzine, who went for 46 in the Blue Demons 90-89 double OT win over U of L in the ’78 NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal at Lawrence, Kansas.

Enjoy it DeWayne. Since his moves are similar to another guard U of L will soon face, let’s hope Russell’s performance helps U of L prepare to check De’Aaron Fox.

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So lackluster were the Cards, I jotted this note right before the second half tipoff..

“Win and get out of Dodge as quickly as possible.”

U of L, which gave up a Russell trey at the first half buzzer to suffer the intermission one down, 37-36, did do just enough in the second to beat the Antelopes, who were without three key players, including conference pre-season POY Josh Braun.

After intermission, Louisville hit 17/31 from the field (54%), and canned 6 of its 8 FTs. The Cards dominated inside with 17 boards to the Antelopes 10, and 26 points in the paint. Plus the Cardinals actually tallied a couple of times on fast breaks. They were ofer the first half in that stat.

U of L’s bench continued to be solid in the second, scoring 22 to go along with its 16 point anschluss in the opening period.

The game finally turned when Pitino called his second to last available timeout with 14:16 to play and the Cardinals down, 44-43.

V.J. King found Ray Spalding in the paint for a lay up. Russell parried with a jumper, but King immediately countered with a layin. Donovan Mitchell then scored underneath after an Antelope turnover. Deng Adel stole the ball and took it the length of the floor for a 51-46 advantage. After a Russell miss, Adel hit another deuce. Russell netted another J, but it was answered by a Ray Spalding lay up.

The interlude, a 12-4 run, was aided by a couple GCU goal tending calls. (And an interview with Michael Bush by brittle voiced sideline announcer Kate Longworth.) When Dan Majerle called a timeout to, as we say, stop the bleeding, the Cards had connected on its last seven FG attempts.

Louisville, dominating underneath, kept the Antelopes measured the rest of the way.

Louisville’s steadiest play down the stretch came with a lineup that included King, Spalding, Adel, Mangok Mathiang and David Levitch.

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A couple other takeaways.

Donovan Mitchell continues to struggle. Just a slump, which shall eventually abate? Too little body fat, adversely affecting those powerful leaps we saw last season? Lingering symptoms from his “minor” surgery? Something else?

Thanks to GCU’s lack of presence underneath, Matz Stockman had his best half/game as a Cardinal. Before the break, in nine minutes of action, MS dominated. He scored 10 points (3/3 from the field, 4/5 at the charity stripe). And three I’m bigger than any of you guys in purple rebounds.

Deng Adel scored 15 on 7/16. But failed to get to the line, where he’s money, because, when he drives, he never takes it all the way to the hoop. (Which was also a habit of my least favorite Cardinal ever, Terrence Williams.)

V.J. King, with three key assists on the night, was more than solid, scoring 12 of his 14 points during his seven minute stint after the break.

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The Grand Canyon TV feed had a public access quality to it. There weren’t a whole lot of commercials, but we did get to hear the prayer before the national anthem.

Play by play announcer Barry Buetel needs to cut down on the caffeine. Barry, last night’s game was not “college basketball at its finest,” as you screamed during the second half.

That low angle corner camera shot at one end of the court, which the producer went to incessantly, was absurd. Awful. It made it impossible to decipher what was happening on the court.

 * * * * *

U of L did get out of the ol’ west with a W, which is all that really matters at this point, and now has three scrimmages in a row to prepare for the meat of the schedule.

— Seedy K

8 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Grand Canyon

  1. Backcourt ??? Feed Donovan; his heart is there, his power isn’t. Snider got to see how the team appeared to find open opportunities when he wasn’t on the floor. Can he sink a layup off the glass?? It would have been nice to see if Hicks might have been able to stay in front of Russell (is my last name, not my first name). It would appear that we may have to be a zone defense based squad, and take advantage of Ray and Anas’ length. Is Matz on a Felton Spencer trajectory but at a somehwta shallower slope? An off season of boxing and ballet might help him attain a post-college career in the US basketball world while never bring impressive at the college level. J Johnson… I need say no more about the still starting forward.

  2. Ah yes. The Dave Corzine game. Had not thought of it in years. But then, how could anyone ever forget the immortal Ricky Gallon?

  3. While not immortal, Gallon was better than you remember, Mr. Wildcat. (Though he certainly was schooled that particular night against DePaul.) He scored 1355 points as a Cardinal, averaging 11.6 ppg, and was the team’s leading scorer in ’75-’76 at 15.3. He had 777 career rebounds, averaging 6.6. His career FG % was 55%, and he hit 73% of his FTs. Be careful with your naysaying negativitude, son.

    1. Has Ricky Gallon turned twenty-one, yet? Seems like Coach Crum was always commenting about how young he was.

  4. In the first half, Matz Stockman was a perfect 3 for 3 from the field. He was 4 of 5 from the line and pulled down three rebounds… in nine minutes. In the second half? He mostly sat. What is up with this? The announcers complimented his form and agility. But the Rick has this crush on Mango and apparently JJ, too. I don’t get it. The highest player efficiency ratings went to non-starters: Matz, Ray and VJ. And I have no idea what’s up with Donovan. I listened to Rick after the game and he seemed OK with the overall performance. Except for a stretch in the second half that was effective enough to pull our a win, I thought that they were collectively -C. Sure, Russell can shoot but he doubled his average against a team that’s supposed to be a defensive powerhouse.
    Aside from all that, the show was an impressively engineered infomercial for Grand Canyon.
    I wonder if Lamar has a jump shot?

  5. Our opponents are going to be a lot more talented and the crowds just as loud as we go farther.
    3 for 9 shooting from our point will either change or it will be a long season.

  6. I’ve always thought that any time you can beat a for-profit Christian research institution is a good night. I had an uneasy feeling about Grand Canyon U. during the opening prayer—the other guys had god on their side! [Although, I’d bet even god couldn’t have guarded GCU’s fast, little ball hog last night.] Not pretty, but a fine win over a decent team in a raucous gym far from home.

  7. BlindLuck, glad you mentioned the school’s status and religious affiliation. At least that explains the prayer before the game. Which I must admit really really bothered me.

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