Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

Well alrighty then, riddle me that one, Batman?

I mean, really, what is there to say?

Yes, Pitt is a broken team, despite — or because of — the fact that it starts four seniors, one of which is the league’s leading scorer who lit up the Cards for 43 last time out. Yes, the Panthers have a new coach and, given his post game comments, are bristling under his command. (Wonder if Kevin Stallings was muttering under his breath after he got the Double T Ejection, “Now I know why Jamie Dixon skipped Dodge for TCU.”

And, yes, U of L, as any legit squad would be, was ready, after having blown a big lead to hold on in the schools’ first encounter a few weeks back.

But . . . but . . . but still, how do you explain 106-51 in an ACC game on the road? Without your spark plug starting PG? Especially after the Haz Mat Squad has sifted through the carnage at the Peterson Events Center, you can interject a cliché that is absolutely appropriate:

The game wasn’t that close.

U of L tallied more points in the paint (52) than Pitt scored in toto. The Cards were up 50 with 12:42 left on the clock.

Geesh, a 55 point W on the road.

It doesn’t get more elegant than that.

Smooth. Bottle it up and call it Pappy Van Cardinal. 

 * * * * *

Like these movie awards shows, there’s not going to be enough time or space here to give everybody the props they deserve, before Rutherford cues the orchestra and CC cuts me off for a commercial break.

I’ll do my best.

Tony Hicks. I’ve been following the Cardinals since 19 & none of your business, and I never remember a player with defects mature as much from one game to the very next.

Thrown into action because of Quentin Snider’s injury, the Palestra Kid had a reasonably good but still flawed coming out party in Tallahassee. He got to the bucket, but like Peyton Siva before his senior season, didn’t really know what to do with it once he got there. He attempted eight layups that were blocked or simply errant, not seeing open teammates.

Fast forward to Steel City. At the last media timeout of the first, U of L led 37-13, and had 9 assists on 15 made FGs (out of 23 attempts, 65%). TH, who had no turnovers all evening, dished four of those dimes. Which is how many he had on the night, because the Cards were so far ahead he courted limited minutes.

Against Florida State, when he played just about the whole game, he had but one assist.

He was alert, looking for his mates. He was also locked and loaded, hitting 4/5 from the field and 2/3 at the line.

What a difference a game makes.

What an asset off the bench to rest Q as the season gets serious.

 * * * * *

The Cardinals have recruited several “shooters” during the Pitino Era, one The Rick called “the best high school shooter I’ve ever seen.”

But we’ve seen nothing like Ryan McMahon, the Floridian with Dickie V’s imprimatur.

Given that he was 5/7 from beyond the arc in extended minutes last night, hyperbole must prevail.

I recently saw one of those ESPN pieces where they scientifically explain some sports phenomenon. The show was breaking down a Seth Curry one step over midcourt rainbow bullseye. And how if the shot had been an eighth of an inch offline when it left his hands, he would have missed by a foot and a half. Or something like that.

Well, that’s how McMahon was gunning last night. Those rainmakers were not only majestic high arcing artifacts of beauty, they were all net, net, net, net and net. For a point/minute 15 points in 15 minutes on the hardwood.

Plus he had a steal and — count ’em — five assists.

What an asset off the bench to rest Q as the season gets serious.

And once again, as loathe as I am to say it. Thanks for the tip, Dickie V.

 * * * * *

Coming off a no show in Tallahassee, when Anas Mahmoud was zeros across on the stat sheet, Louisville’s ever improving pivot was a perfect 7/7 from the field, along with 2 blocks and 2 steals. That’s impressive even though Pitt has no inside presence, and the little the Panthers do possess decided not to play D.

His right to left across the lane stop and net J to make it 14-5 proved just how agile he is, and how much potential remains.

AM’s output came in just 14 minutes of action. That’s both good and bad. Good, obviously, because of the efficiency. Bad, because of his limited PT directly related to AM’s propensity to foul. When the game was still somewhat in doubt, The Rick gave Mangok Mathiang more time, simply to save Mahmoud should the tilt get tight.

 * * * * *

Unfortunately, this is the kind of performance from Donovan Mitchell that makes the Cardinal Nation fearful he might not be around next season.

He started a bit slowly, turning it over on Louisville’s first possession, then missing a trey.

Still the Cards jumped on Pitt early. The possession that ended at 13:26 with Mitchell’s 1st of 6 bombs was U of L’s prettiest of the season. Player movement. Crisp ball movement. Golden State Warriors pretty. San Antonio Spurs pretty.

17-5 and the hammer was raised.

Another DM three to make it 22-7, followed by his deuce for 24-7 advantage just about nailed the coffin shut. His trey to make it 27-9 and another for a 30-11 lead sealed the sarcophagus tighter than that rubber stuff they shill during timeout commercials.

Mitchell tallied 16 by the break, finishing with 29 on 9/13 marksmanship.

Donovan, I implore you on behalf of my brethren and sistren who love the Cardinals, don’t go, please stay.

 * * * * *

Like everything else, Louisville dominated the glass, 48-26.

Jaylen Johnson snared 11. Silent K grabbed 9. Deng Adel had 6.

Despite again playing somewhat lackadaisically, Ray Spading pulled down 5 rebounds.

One can only imagine how complete this team will be if and when the light goes on for the soph from Trinity?

Same for V.J. King, who continues to try and force matters.

 * * * * *

So, yeah, it was a thing of beauty.

Watch it again. Savor it like a sip of fine Cabernet or a cone of Graeter’s chocolate almond.

Glory in the smile on your face when your head hit the pillow, that was still there the morning after.

But remember it’s only one single digit bump up on the left hand side of the ledger. Danger lurks ahead, starting with hard to figure out N.C. State Sunday at the Yum!.

— Seedy K

9 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Pittsburgh

      1. now if we can go from the Drifters to maybe have VJ stop drifting to the right when he drives into the pain of the left wing we might have something!

  1. Seedy, I really thought the ACC schedule would expose the Cards for a lack of depth. Apparently, Pitino is developing his talent. Again. Go figure. Late January and the Cards are a legit eleven deep.
    David Levitch is more than just competent, steady and smart. And, now, McMahon: dear lord, if that kid continues to hit a few threes and dole out some assists, look out.
    And, hey, I prefer the 4 of 5, 20-minute Tony Hicks to the 6 of 17, 32-minute version.
    The Card’s fast-improving offense and their length, I think, could make this a special team.

  2. This is the time of year traditionally under The Rick, when the inconsistency starts to abate, we fans who have been fretting start to think, “Hmmm, maybe we’re better than we have appeared.”

    BlindLuck, it’s still early. There’s plenty of room for development and maturation.

    1. I should have said we’re a legit ten deep. And, hey, I definitely prefer the 6 of 17, 32-minute Tony Hicks to the version with a broken hand.

  3. Kevin Stallings quit on his kids. He effectively said, ” You guys can stick around and endure this, but I’m outta here.” Disgraceful.

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