Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Iccjoaniecardt was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . .

Charles Dickens, a Louisville Cardinal fan?

Who knew?

Has to be, right?

His opening of “Tale of Two Cities” is as fresh and wise a descriptor of last evening’s survival against Pitt, as well as the confusing state of U of L hoops as conference play gets serious, as it was of Britain and France in the 18th century.

Louisville’s isn’t it time for the final buzzer to sound 85-80 endurance testing W over a Pitt squad with no quit was, to morph Dickensian one more time, a Tale of Two Halves. (The Rick’s exact words to open his post game presser.)

U of L won the first by 21, hitting 50% of its shots, 5/7 from long range and 10/11 at the line. The Cards outscored the Panthers 18-4 in the paint, 15-4 off turnovers, 11 of which they forced. They got 14 points from guys who started the game on the pine.

U of L lost the second by 16, hitting only 44% of its shots, draining but 1 of 7 threeballs, and missing 10 of 23 FTs. Including 5 of 6 during a 50 second Pitt flurry near the end that cut the Cards lead to six with :35.9, plenty of time for a couple more treys to send the game to OT. U of L was outpointed 18-0 off the 11 turnovers it committed.

So, yeah, it was the Best of Halves, it was the Worst of Halves. 

Though the Cardinals survived, and that’s never to be discounted, last night’s second stanza dissonance was more disturbing than the Baylor meltdown. It’s January now, not November. This one was at home, and in the league. And the Cardinals didn’t have tired legs from playing a third game in three days.

To be frank, there were signs during U of L’s exemplary first half performance that the team might not be fully focused.

The Cards threw it away on their third possession, causing The Rick to call a timeout 2:03 into the tilt. Anas Mahmoud missed two point blank layups and had another blocked in the Cards’ first five possessions. (Was it the missing bandage over his eye that sapped him of his prowess?)

During the Cards run up to its big lead, Quentin Snider inexplicably committed a rookie error, the kind of mistake he rarely if ever makes. Against Pitt’s full court press, he dribbled into a trap along the sideline and mid court stripe.

Jaylen Johnson continued to refuse to close with authority. V.J. King continued to shoot it short.

In the corridor bars during intermission, Cardinal fans were talking Duke.

The way Louisville played after the break, the players might also been thinking ahead.

They played on cruise control and it got them in a heap o’ trouble.

The most noticeable events of the second half to me: 1. U of L never solved Pitt’s 1-3-1. 2. Pitino, for the first time I can remember, was so disturbed by the Cards play, he shedded his coat and tie and unbuttoned his shirt.

Frankly, the second half remains a blur. (Unfortunately I forgot to tape it, to rewatch.) Pitt, an experienced squad, was relentless. Jamel Artis tallied 32 himself, just 6 short of the entire Cardinal contingent.

So, this vexing ’16-’17 Cardinal edition continues to confound.

At times, this team’s defense is smothering. But at moments, it fails to rotate properly, giving up easy shot attempts. The offense has been, is now, and is likely to remain inconsistent. (Kinda like that ’11-’12 squad that still fought their way to the Final Four.)

But, a W is, you know, a W.

The Cards are 14-3.

And you know who is coming to town Saturday.

— Seedy K

3 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

  1. additionally, it appeared coach P was unable to have his troops get the ball out of Artis’ hands. I thought surely when Artis received inbounds pass at corner baseline, Ray S would have joined D Mitchell in a trap as the team has done before and forced him to relinquish the ball, rather than let him drive the ball from backcourt baseline all the way to a score. In the halfcourt it looked like at least some tried to deny him the ball, but clearly not all players and clearly not successfully. Conventional wisdom has been to attack the 1-3-1 with a diagonal to the opposite corner; never tried. As has been complained about before, and Pitino explained post game, we have athletes, not necessarily basketball players. It remains evident.

  2. Just posted this comment in thread at Card Chronicle:

    Not playing smart. This has been and will continue to be an ongoing issue if The Rick doesn’t start taking hoops savvy into consideration when recruiting. This is not meant to diss the players he’s getting. AAU phenomenon has ruined the teaching of fundamentals. Players are more athletic than ever, able to leap and score and run the floor. But the basics have been lost. Because most of the time, superior McD AA talent prevails. Villanova a wonderful exception. Notre Dame, UVa, West Virginia are all just MFs to play, but mostly in the end, the teams with the lottery picks prevail. We were an exception in ‘13 and there are a few others. Seems to me, the trick is getting the superior athletes, who also understand the game. Uh, duh. Or, even slightly less superior ballers who have fundamental skills. That’s why I like Hoosier high schoolers. Until then, the Cards — and other teams — are always going to be works in progress. Fortunately U of L has a RP, who can coach ’em up, and relishes the challenge.

  3. I am very sure Coach Pitino will have the team practice very hard on some of the fundamentals that were lacking at times during the game. Only reps will allow the players to develop to the point where they execute without hesitation.
    Shooting the ball one foot short on a free throw by two players can also be solved by reps and a little humor.
    You can bet we are going to see a i/3/1 again. Lets see how they handle it the next time. That to me is what makes basketball fun to watch this time of year.

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