Louisville CardFile: Virginia

The metrics indicated before the game that UVa is a ten point better team than U of L.

The oddsmakers advised before the game that Virginia is a ten point better team than Louisville.

So it came to pass.

Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers are indeed a better offensive team than Louisville, a better defensive team, more focused and mature.

Ten points better all around.


In recent years, I’ve taken to using the same word to describe UVa’s performance when outmatching the Cards, so clearly superior has their play been. The Cavaliers “schooled” Louisville.

But, while UVa was clearly the better team last night, easily one of the best in the land as the college hoops season begins the turn for home, that whole teacher/pupil analogy doesn’t resonate for me this time around.

The Cardinals did what these Cardinals do against Tony Bennett’s squads. They got impatient, often dribbled too much, failed any number of times to make the extra pass, fell prey to the wiles of UVa’s feisty D by moving the ball to dead end alleys from which there was no escape, failed to get the rock to the hot shooter, lost attention to the shot clock and turned it over.

Yet, U of L hit 50% from the field (25/50) including  8/18 threes. And grabbed a rebound more than the home team, 26-25, matching them on the offensive glass at 6 apiece, allowing no second chance Cavalier points. They made all their chances at the charity stripe, but it was only six.

So it took a big effort by Virginia to win. 54% shooting, and 9/16 from beyond the arc.

The difference was turnovers.

Louisville gave it up 13 times; UVa but 7. However, the victors tallied 22 points off those Cardinal mistakes, compared with the 6 U of L countered off Virginia errors.

 * * * * *

Deng Adel hit a trey with 4:20 to go, cutting UVa’s once 14 point advantage to 60-54. After a U of L timeout, bunless Kyle Guy, whom I dubbed last season “the Guy we’re going to hate for four years,” hit a deuce. But that was immediately matched and more with a Ryan McMahon three.

The deficit was only 5. And Guy turned it over, falling to the hardwood with the ball while trying make a hard cut.

Ray Spalding was baited by Virginia’s clever defensive scheme into launching a bad three from the top of the key, when McMahon was open to his right. Ty Jerome drained a long ball, then another, and Virginia was out of harm’s way.

Yet I’m disinclined to go coulda woulda shoulda.

 If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.

As feisty as the Cards were, as much as they didn’t give up, this U of L team, a gang that still hasn’t revealed if it’s a first weekend out in the Dance or capable of sneaking into the Regionals, wasn’t going to conquer the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.

Yes, there are moments you can point to. Anas Mahmoud’s two traveling calls while trying to post up late. Dwayne Sutton’s missed trey in the 1st, another time when McMahon was open. Adel’s and VJ King’s regression to hero ball from recent outings when they looked for teammates. Etc, etc. You can do things against Boston College and Wake Forest you can’t against Virginia.

It wasn’t going to happen.

Louisville did some good things. They handled Virginia’s hedge on ball screens pretty well early on. Sometimes reversing the ball to an open Cardinal, sometimes waiting for the double teamer return to his man. They were also patient, though the incessant nature of the pack line finally wore them down.

The Cards get another shot at UVa at the Yum!. It is a winnable game.

But not as important as holding serve against Florida State, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and North Carolina at home. And taking care of business at Pitt, and stealing one or both at NC State and Virginia Tech. A win in Cameron Indoor is unfathomable for this group at this juncture.

This gang of Cardinals isn’t going to be struck mature. Louisville has flaws.

The question is whether this Louisville team will continue to grind, clean up stuff and approach its potential?

Next: A rematch with the Seminoles.

— Seedy K


8 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Virginia

  1. Is Q unable to resist the challenge of UVa and that is why he seemed intent on trying to get to the basket himself rather than trying to penetrate and dish. He did once try a floater from the mid-lane, but never seemed be looking for teammates. Although he was credited with 2 assists I only recall his early diagonal lob to Ray for a jam early in the game. It appears that Ryan had much less of a problem getting the ball to the post and involving others in the attempt to run offense against a difficult defense. It apparently is a defense that loves to have opponents pound the ball into the floor rather than making swift decisions to shoot , ball fake, penetrate or pass. When Q or Deng made quick decisions better things happened rather than when they “probed without purpose”. Similarly, Anas probed himself into walking twice when he hoped to make something happen rather than knowing what he could immediately do. Ray seemed to catch, make a move and either shoot or pass, only once do I recall him hesitating in the first half and having the double team get the ball.
    Also did it appear to others that when they showed some replays of Guy’s successful moves, he adeptly once used to hands to push off Ray to step back into the corner to make space for a “3” and on a curl into the lane have a very quick lleft forearm (bent) extensionout and in to clear off defender ? Very smooth operator https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TYv2PhG89A

    1. Kyle Guy arm bars very well. Very kenai player. I think you nailed it, Ken. UVA can be beat when a team makes “swift” decisions. Not hurried, but decisive and fast. The Wahoos are a fun team to watch.

  2. Virginia’s less physically talented players had a knack for playing basketball. Our more physically talented players don’t seem to have the same knack. Plus, they seemed to be able to spot up and shoot much better than our blind ballers.

    Is it coaching? A different pool of players? Maybe we should get some of them, since only Mac$$ and sometimes Q seem to have a knack to play the game. Peyton had it; Luke; Russ; TWill….we need more of these types…

    1. I think it might be that the average to above athlete early in life realizes that if they want to compete against better, older, stronger faster athletes they must develop the “savvy” skills rather relying on “I’m just better than you” having nothing to do with ethnicity, the less athletic or the younger kid who shows up at the gym or playground or school yard for pick-up basketball has to learn how to stay on the court. Hence the Russ’s, and the Guy’s, and the Trae Young’s and Ellis Miles’ and the Jerome’s who aren’t complete R Westbrook or Demarcus Cousin’s, Or D Griffith’s learn how to take advantage of their opponents and the skills they do have.
      BTW, Ray definitely had to take that shot; if he doesn’t establish himself as a threat to shoot from that spot, and he is to set that high pick and roll from that spot, he will never draw a defender out and he will have no chance to deliver a high low pass to Anas or whover might be able to get shape in the low post. He needs to shoot that shot multiple times after practice when his legs are tired, but he cannot pass up an open shot from that spot. If the defense tries to close out on him, he does have the skill to take a dribble drive and get a better shot or draw wings in and give open shots to the wings or baseline

      1. Ken, I respectfully disagree. Ray CANNOT take that shot at that point in the game. It is exactly why less talented teams often beat more talented teams. There are times that the future doesn’t matter—it is that game situation, right then, that matters.

        I agree, he needs to practice that shot for his NBA future. But he didn’t need to take it in the last 3 minutes last night against UVA down 5 points with better, open shooters on the wing.

        1. and it seems the only time in this decade we’ve beaten UVa it was a jumper from just inside the 3 point line made by M Mathiang who made us all wince when we saw who it was and what he was doing…

  3. Ken, I agree with JGJ on this one. Mango’s shot was from the foul line. Spalding fired from beyond the arc. He is 3/15 on the year from that range. If our favorite coach, D Crum, were still on the bench, he’d have been livid. Had Ray taken a couple dribbles in, come within Mango’s game winning range, and still been open, it would have been legit. As taken, not good. Especially with McMahon open on the wing.

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