Louisville CardFile: Memphis State

More fascinating than observing these players and this team evolve amid the turmoil that’s enshrouded U of L hoops is the development of David Padgett and his staff.

So, it was illuminating to read Jeff Greer’s account in the C-J about assistant Greg Paulus’s recent contribution vis-à-vis spacing at the offensive end. One, because the Cards’ shooting percentage has improved accordingly thanks to those tweaks. Two, because my take on GP’s alma mater through the years has been that the Blue Devils never really run a lot of sets, that it’s more about spacing and movement. To significant effect, it must be acknowledged.

Padgett is, to his credit, turning into more of an in-game disciplinarian. Without the knee jerk tendencies of his predecessor. Especially with his more experienced players. In early tilts, he’d pull and sit VJ King for basic lapses. King, to his credit, has responded, playing with much more maturity the last several outings.

DP is turning his attention to Deng Adel, who for all his scoring acumen, has been a liability on defense and generally MIA on the boards. 

At the 13:36 mark of the 1st, with the Cards up 15-12 after a Quentin Snider trey, Memphis State’s Kyvon Davenport missed a dunk, with the ball caroming a distance from the hoop, to a spot where Adel was standing. Instead of going for and securing the rock which was within his grasp, Adel turned to break up court, allowing a Tiger to grab it and maintain possession.

Padgett immediately pulled Adel from the game.

 * * * * *

Unfortunately, the lesson wasn’t learned. A similar sequence occurred at 33-32. There was at least a third same ol’ same ol’ lame effort midway through the 2d, allowing a State +1.

I also made note of three matadorian moments, when Tigers blew by Adel for easy opportunities. There may have been more.

Adel was indeed hot from beyond the arc. 5/8. With three assists and a steal.

But, on an afternoon, when U of L was again outrebounded by a smaller foe, DA only snared three, another less than effort in an area where the Cards need bolstering if they are to have success this season. This after he only grabbed 2 against Siena, 1 against the Hoosiers and was ofer Bryant off the glass.

During the telecast, John Thompson III made a wise observation about Jordan Nwora, saying the rookie “pursues the ball, he’s not a watcher.”

For this U of L team to become fully realized, Adel needs to become a pursuer, not a watcher.

 * * * * *

The flip side is VJ King, whose game is maturing before our eyes.

During Louisville’s blistering start — after a miss on the first possession, the Cards canned six straight — VJ hit an in balance J, then a long ball. (Q was also smokin’. He had the other 10 of the Cards’ first 15.)

King gathered a nifty offensive board and tallied a follow for a 52-42 advantage. Next trip up court, he made a crafty skip pass feed to Q for a trey, and later notched another assist, when he passed up an attempt, feeding Dwayne Sutton in the corner for a triple.

He tallied 17 on 6/9 marksmanship, second only to Q’s 19 on the day.

He too only secured three boards.

 * * * * *

So, let’s talk about rebounding.

Winning the battle of the boards is not an imperative to win the game. Though my guess is champions rarely post a minus off the glass. And there’s a difference between grabbing offensive and defensive caroms.

But, Louisville, it seems to me, needs to head to Bargain Supply for a case or two of Windex.

What numbers display greater effectiveness?

Anas Mamoud blocked 7 shots. But only got his hands on 2 rebounds.

Ray Spalding had 5 blocks, but again was huge off the glass with 9 rebounds.

What might U of L be sacrificing by going for so many blocks? Of course, teams need to move to their strengths. Mahmoud has great instincts and the facility to block shots. But might a tweak in philosophy here be for the betterment of chances for significant future success?

Memphis State grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, scored 14 second chance points and 34 points in the paint; all significantly better stats than U of L.

If the Cards continue to go for blocks, as I’m sure they will, King and Adel have to be as voracious on the boards as Sutton and Nwora. Mahmoud, for all his blocking craft, needs to get more than a couple rebounds.

 * * * * *

As the Professor always says — I mean, always — “you look good when you make your shots.”

The Cardinals netted 14 of their 26 bombs.

Plus missed only one FT, their last when the game was well secure, going 11/12 at the charity stripe. The Cards didn’t shoot a FT in the 1st.

Louisville went through one cold stretch in the 2d, hitting only one of 10 attempts, but the defense held and the Tigers were only able to pull within four.

16 assists on on 28 made FGs. Nice.

 * * * * *

The attendance was announced as 6525 in Madison Square Garden, “the world’s most famous arena.” (Not to be confused with “the world’s most spectacular arena.”)

I wasn’t in the gym. When I saw all the empty seats on my new telly, I texted my man Doc who journeyed to the Big Apple for the game (and visit family) to inquire about the “crowd.”

“Not more than 1000.”

Whatever, a W is always good. A win over U of L’s long term rival Memphis State is ever sweet. Oh, for a return to the halcyon days of beating up on Dana Kirk.

The Cards have a couple more scrimmages this week, before it gets serious with a trip to Lexington and the ACC.

— Seedy K

19 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Memphis State

  1. other positive firsts for VJ who was less generous, was I don’t believe I had seen him post up and score before, which he did in the second half when he took is man to the block, called for it and scored over him, soon after his offensive rebound and put back. I also don’t remember him slashing to the glass as he did from the right wing and swiftly getting to the glass on the left side of the iron. Maybe he is realizing showing a complete game, rather just a “cool” perimeter game is in not just the team’s but his best interest. Wish that Deng started putting team before himself and his continued selfish, “look what I just did play”. One of his defensive rebounds was an inadvertent “the ball just showed up in his hands” while standing around being a spectator. Coach Padgett also sat Anas after a less than adequate hustle effort in going end to end.

  2. My comment is the same as my comment on the Bryant game plus one other point that is; Adel and King must give the ball to Snider to bring it up.They both would end up scoring more points and have less turn overs. Snider must demand the ball.

    1. Bob, as I’m sure you recall from the glory days of Denny, there are times when a forward or off guard needs to bring it up court. Even a center. Rodney. Billy T. But, it’s good that it’s a guy who can dribble and has good sense.

  3. VJ still makes careless turnovers but he’s getting better. I am still dismayed, however, with the singular purpose with which Adel approaches the game. He is not a great ball handler and is not looking for open teammates when he has the ball. I don’t know if he has an eye on his draft status but he needs to be introduced to the fact that there are other players on the floor with the same color jersey as his. Can he shoot? Absolutely. But he is just prone to take bad shots at really bad times and I can see that really hurting the team.

    1. SmartGuy, there does seem to be groundswell of disillusionment with DA, even though he’s the team’s leading scorer.

      1. recognition of reality as it exists is not necessarily negativity. Sometimes it is just honest assessment of a situation

        VJ has grown less”generous” with TO’s and lackluster “d” Will Deng recognize how to win instead of how to score?

  4. Let us now praise Raymond Spaulding. His, I dunno, ferocity and focus yesterday were very key. He is demanding the ball, his instincts are good, and he’s improving game by game. His defense is needed, fouls are not. He is by far the most NBA ready of the group. Truth is, no one else is even considered by the scouts from what I hear.

    VJ played his best game as a Card yesterday. He’s engaged and locking in. Posted his man up once! Never saw that before. He will improve steadily. Considering the anemic crowd yesterday, and the I-went-to-the-bar-and-a-basketball-game-broke-out BS at the Yum! (or Slurp!??) maybe he shines in solitude?

    Q was on, but I might be the only person here who sort of cringes at his ball handling. He gets it done for now. He has good vision. The ball should enter into Anas more. Disappointed with his touches.

    Nwora was terrific off ball. I really like this cat. And kudos to JTII for his remarks on it, and a very good analyst performance. Better than his coaching on the Hilltop the last few years.

    Albany will be tough. Hope the crowd puts down their cockie-poos and realizes it’s a game, and a high of its own.

    1. Oh. I am delighting in the increased realization the Deng Has No Game. Bench him. McMahon is 20 times more valuable. (What a transformation he’s made!! Kudos Dickie V Approved One.)

        1. Seems to me that McMahon is the only guard who can consistently give the bigs their alley oops.

  5. Stay cool SK, the McMahon comment was just an attention getter. Re the “Albany will be tough” comment could we have an explanation ? I’m all ears.

    1. OK.

      “Seton Hall is one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country, and that gave UofL a lot of problems. Memphis is similarly strong on the offensive glass, and used that strength to hang in against a hot-shooting Cardinals team. UofL’s starters again struggled on the glass in that game, allowing Memphis to collect 44% of their misses and being outscored by 1 point in 26 possessions. Unfortunately for the Cards, they face a gauntlet of strong offensive rebounding teams in the coming weeks:

      —Albany ranks 12th nationally in offensive rebounding rate, per KenPom.com”

      from the The Hoops Insight newsletter

  6. Got this email Sunday evening from a Tiger fan: “Seedy…fits…your disrespectful article to The Univ of Memphis…not Memphis State…shows your experience is not at the professional level yet. Your article headline gave me a Great first impression of, not only who your are, but the level of your maturity in knowledge of a storied sports rivalry.

  7. SK, I know where you are coming from on the “Memphis State” thing.They were “State” when we all all our memorable battles with them – the chair slinging, knife on the floor, the Dana Jerk episodes, etc. Ah, those were they days. Not so much since they became Memphis.

  8. Yeah, Seedy, busted by BK; it’s an attention getter comment. I honestly would take McMahon over Adel, because he’s becoming a Swiss Army knife out there—does a lot on the court, and does it capably; DA can spot up and shoot. That’s about it. His deficits out-weigh his strength. Nwora over DA is something I’d like to see happen in the rotation, and that’s just me.

    Albany? They aren’t Villanova, and their 11-2 record is deceptive (like the Hoya’s 9-1) but they’ve been to the tourney in ’06-’07 & ’13-’15. The American East is a good league, sans burger all-Americans, but scrappy. Memphis STATE beat them, true.

    More to the point, Wednesday’s tilt is one our guys might overlook with the Lexington Basketball Academy looming… capiché?

    Every game is tough from here on out. Or should be approached thusly… Go Cards!!

    PS–Where’s the Counselor on this thread? His keen insights and humor missed, this most wonderful time of the year. God Bless Us Hoopaholics!!

  9. love Nwora’s work ethic and knowledge of the importance of going to the glass, going after loose balls, and willingness to take contact on his way around the court and he probably better than average 3 pt shooting,,,,,BUT he is slow footed, and doesn’t elevate very well. His footwork suffers as he brings is feet together on defense and actually crosses his legs when trying to change direction and he rarely has been in a good defensive bent knee stance (see Ray Spalding). A day or two of work with a fundamentals coach like Jerry Jones was could make his lack of speed less of a liability on defense. Good fundamental footwork and b-ball IQ (“sechells”) made Luke H an adequate defender.

  10. Gents….having watched and rewatched the epic encounter in Gotham, I fear that my opinions are too closely melded to those of the “Great One” (eg. Seedy) to add much fodder to this discussion. I will try to get over that failing and quickly move forward.

    With that said, I read with interest the various views concerning DA and note that our “best” player has drawn the ire of many, if not most, true Cardinal hoops affectionados. The reason I rewatched a rather pedestrian game in front of a throng of dozens in NYC was to focus entirely on #22. What i saw was not pretty.

    I can’t believe I am saying this, but even VJ mixed it up more than Deng. That is really saying something because VJ plays like he is afraid he is going to offend somebody if he bumps into them . If he would try to draw contact with the ball instead of avoid it, he could go to the line regularly where he has a nice touch on the FT…..

    ….but back to the topic at hand….

    DA had 3 rebounds. One bounced out to the corner where he was kind of standing waiting and watching instead of going to the boards. The second was on a missed FT that fell off to his side of the lane. The third was on a rim shot that bounced out 10-12 feet from the goal where he was standing looking for his bung hole to insert his thumb. That’s it.

    Still, to compare him to Eddie Mac is not fair to either. One has an NBA body and a sweet jumper. The other would fit in at the JCC Biddy ball semi’s. Ryan is and will be a valuable asset to team this year. He is a willing passer and smart defender. But to say he is “limited” athletically would be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    To win in big time College Basketball, you can use a few McMonies, but you must have some studly studs who can run, jump shoot etc. DA can do all those things. I am anxiously waiting from him to break out and do it, because without it, we will be lucky to get to the second weekend of the NCAA—if we get there at all.

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