Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

Now that’s a setback.

As gritty as this Cardinal team has been playing in recent weeks, it is difficult nigh impossible to beat legitimate national contenders on their home court in the last week of February.

The Tar Heels, many of whom were significant contributors on last year’s NCAA runner up, are nothing if not a legit contenda for the crown.

So a victory last night would have indeed been an upset of consequence.

But, after savoring Syracuse’s delicious victory over Duke on last night’s undercard, I became oddly hopeful. The only ACC team to beat the Orange at home is Louisville. Not only did the Blue Devils fall in the Dome, but so too Florida State, Miami, Virginia along with a few other league wannabes.

So, even though U of L has been winning more with grit and determination lately than excellent play, there were reasons to believe the Cardinals would perform well in Chapel Hill.

But, they didn’t.

And now have lost 10 in a row to ranked foes on the road.

 * * * * *

The Cards hung in during a herky jerky opening half for both teams.

Despite being ofer 6 from beyond the arc, ofer 3 at the charity stripe (- 17 in those two stats), giving up 8 offensive boards, not scoring for the last two minutes of the stanza after hitting 6 shots in a row to surge back into contention, Louisville was only down 30-33.

Twenty six of the Cardinals points were in the paint.

Hope remained in an ugly game where the Tar Heels couldn’t seem to find any rhythm.

Yet they did when play resumed after the break, pushing ahead by 7 at 33-40.

Then came U of L’s 1:08 of excellence. A Donovan Mitchell lay up. An Anas Mahmoud lay up after a Ray Spalding steal. And a Mitchell trey. With 16:08 to play, the score was knotted at 40.

Then the Tar Heels steadied. The Cardinals floundered.

Louisville pulled within a deuce at 43-45. Then Carolina pulled away, keeping the visitors easily measured the rest of the way.

 * * * * *

Louisville was abysmal at the free throw line.

The Cardinals missed their first six charity tosses, and didn’t make a FT until there was 7:41 to play and they were down a dozen.

They ended up 4/13 at the line.

Mitchell was the Cardinals’ only double figure scorer with 21.

Deng Adel had 8 points and 6 rebounds for the game. Deng Adel had 8 points and 6 rebounds in the first half.

Louisville was -13 on the boards. Carolina had twice as many offensive rebounds, 16, to Louisville’s 8.

U of L had four more FGs than Carolina, but lost by 11.

The Baby Blues stiffling D took U of L out of its offensive game. Such as it is. The Cardinals lost their mojo and started firing up bad shots. Meanwhile giving up some easy ones at the other end.

Louisville was slow to the ball. Louisville was weak underneath when it mattered after, as previously mentioned, scoring 26 of its 30 first half points in the paint.

The Cardinals, schooled by North Carolina, were totally out of sorts.

On this night at Tobacco Road, Louisville did not play like a legitimate contender.

It was a seriously disheartening performance, a clunker.

— Seedy K


4 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: North Carolina

    Don’t you think Williams made half time adjustments that took away the entry passes that were made to the low post in the first half? Also a couple of Anas’ baskets had him driving from the corner or beating Carolina’s big down the floor. Without a turnover or a defensive rebound you can’t run, and we spent alot of the second half in-bounding the ball after a Carolina score.
    While a fully agree with the wish for brisk accurate passing, that is apparently unlikely with the players we have this year. By the second half, Carolina new and anticipated the pass from the “4” to the wing on the left to “initiate” the offense, a pass from a player who is no threat to dribble, drive or shoot, and this was good for at least two turnovers. The open shots we got from the perimeter came from DM’s penetration drive draw and- dish, which he did well, but we couldn’t convert on the open “3’s”. Donovan appears to be much more adept than Q at being able to get into the lane and have the strength and elevation to fight through or over the defenders to find the open wing or corner shooter. He is also more reliable than Q at finishing in the paint, drawing fouls and making his FT’s. Although Q is not as tall as many “2” guards, he is much better as a spot up shooter than he is around the basket and maybe he and DM should reverse their roles when they are both on the floor. As Pitino is frustrated with our total inability to prevent opponents from driving into the paint, and we don’t get rebounds from whoever is in the back court with Donovan, might it be worth trying King at the “2” recognizing that his defense isn’t that much worse at preventing penetration, and he might get some boards and feel comfortable going against a “2” rather than an equally sized and strengthed ” small forward ?

  2. They haven’t quite meshed since the Q return and the Mangok-Deng suspensions. Even when they win, it “don’t come easy.”

  3. “It was a seriously disheartening performance, a clunker.”

    Sorry, I don’t buy it.

    We played a team with one of the best home court records in college basketball. The teams are side-by-side in rankings. UNC was a whisker away from winning everything last year (a year where we beat THEM at our house) and might just do it this year since they have virtually the same team. We played them even, except for a spot in the second half where they got hot and we went cold. They won by 11. Not 50, Not 25. Not 15. By 11. On the road. In the Dean Dome? Sorry, but I don’t see the need for hand-wringing and wailing. I DO see a need for better free throw shooting. I’ve said all year that the thing that will up end them at tourney time in a close game in foul shooting. They also need a better realization that a jump shot can be made from 23 feet. VaTech should have taught them that. They need better team defense, knowing if they guard the perimeter closely, they’ll get help with penetration. Also, Mango causes less damage when he’s on the bench.

  4. SmartGuy, I didn’t say the loss was disheartening. An L was to be expected. Legit contenders do not lose at home in February. A W would have been a pleasant surprise. No hand-wringing. But the manner of the loss was, well, disheartening. The Cards kind of spit out the bit. Lost their way on offense. Got brutalized on the boards. Not enough focus to make even 50% of their FTs. The lack of fight is what bothered me.

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