In a meh game like this 31 point stroll over a foe from the SWAC, when you wonder whether the people out holiday shopping who usually sit in all the empty seats didn’t make the right choice, one’s mind tends to consider peripheral aspects of the game.
So, when the Cards opened 4/20 from the field, most fans in the arena were scratching their heads and/or yelling at the lollygagging Cards to get their act together, I was pissed for another reason.
During Simba Cam, they showed a lot of youngsters, but failed to train the camera on the cutest and smartest kid in the joint, my granddaughter Claire. An egregious mistake of the highest order.
(I also recognize that playing Ray Charles’s “Hit the Road, Jack” when an opponent fouls out never gets old. And that Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is an odd choice as background tuneage for Smile Cam.)
As for the Cards, they soon got their act together after that lackluster start, hitting 12 of their last 22 FG attempts before intermission, churning out a 46-32 lead at the break.
Louisville continued to shoot well in the second half, draining half its shots, scoring 56 points, and wearing down road weary Texas Southern, which won’t play a home game until January 14, after starting the campaign with 16 tilts on alien hardwood.
* * * * *
Before I get to the Cards performance, a shout out to Derrick Griffin.
The Tiger forward dominated the glass.
26 rebounds, 15 of them off the offensive board. (The U of L Media Guide doesn’t list opponent’s bests, so I don’t know if this is a record? If not, it’s close.)
Griffin is strong. More important, he wanted it more, got position and wouldn’t allow himself to be blocked out. Not that this Cardinal team does a very good job of blocking out for rebounds, or attempting to do so.
He was also 7/11 from the field, scoring 15 points.
* * * * *
This Louisville Cardinal edition is capable of flurries, if not The Boom that was a featured characteristic of the ’13 champs, as acknowledged by his eminence, Coach K himself.
The Cards, only 5/23 from the field at the moment, led 17-16, but then put the game away over the next few minutes.
Quentin Snider converted a 1+1. V.J. King tallied a deuce, followed by a Q’s fast break snowbird. Jaylen Johnson nailed a put back. Matz Stockman hit a pair from the charity stripe, then a nifty follow shot. JJ hit another lay up, and Q a FT.
The 15-3 run put the Cards up safely at 32-19.
As if a loss to the nomadic, mediocre Tigers was ever a possibility.
* * * * *
Q, JJ, Mangok Mathiang (who sat for most of the 1st half), Deng Adel, Donovan Mitchell and V.J. all scored in double figures. Not a bad thing.
Though the Cards starting backcourt was only 9/27 from the field.
Again, Ryan McMahon energized off the bench. And Tony Hicks seems to be settling into the flow. Ray Spalding was MIA.
The Cards were a steady 23/30 at the line, and committed but 9 turnovers.
Yet only had 14 assists on 34 made FGs.
* * * * *
After the 102-71 W, which frankly was not very telling, Rick Pitino verbalized what has been obvious from the Cards inconsistent performances, his varying substitution patterns, his sitting starters for extended stretches, and his numerous defensive and offensive strategies.
“I really don’t have a great feel for this team.”
Well, time’s a wastin’.
Only a scrimmage next Saturday noon against Eastern Kentucky, before matters get most serious.
— Seedy K