Louisville CardFile: Clemson

This one didn’t feel right from the get go.

Instead of getting a “bye week” — Chris Mack’s words — and then hapless Boston College at home on Saturday; instead of time to give Charles Minlend more practices to acclimate, the team more reps to tweak offensive sets, some off days to allow for brief R & R; the Cards had about fifteen minutes to prepare to face the wounded Tigers in their cage.

Instead of just about a sure league W, U of L was rescheduled* to face a Clemson team that has beaten Purdue, Alabama, Maryland and Florida State, and two of whose post-COVID shutdown Ls were to legit Final Four contenders UVa and the Seminoles, the nation’s fastest rising power.

*The ACC Network announcing team, a pair I’ve never liked, made several references to U of L “accepting the game.” I’m not sure exactly what the league rules are about scheduling this pandemic season, but I’d bet the game was a mandate, not an invite.

Instead of facing a team whose best player is a stud in the middle later in the campaign when Malik Williams might be back, the Cards would have to try and check Aamir Simms with young guys who haven’t fully bulked up yet.

Plus the short notice tilt was in Littlejohn, where the Cards have never won as a member of the ACC, even at that substitute that Clemson called home, during a renovation.

And the game was a 9:00 pm tip, an hour when some of us long in the tooth, early to bed, early to rise fans are getting their jammies on.

So, yeah, grumpy and grumbling ol’ me had a bad feeling about this one from the moment it was announced. And that feeling of doom was more acute during the long day, leading to the late start.

 * * * * *

The legitimacy of my negativitude was confirmed from tip.

Simms got the game’s first rebound, then threw a nifty pass for Clemson’s first score, a back door baseline deuce in the paint. The tilt’s next points were a strong Simms tally on a post up in the paint.

Rare has been the game this season when Carlik Jones wasn’t the best player on the court.

He clearly was not Wednesday night.

Simms controlled the action early.

Simms controlled the action late.

The Tiger pivot finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block.

 * * * * *

Both teams played good defense.

Clemson’s was more better.

Louisville never really found a rhythm at the offensive end. It got called for at least four shot clock violations, and threw up bad, errant attempts on several other possessions just as the buzzer was about to sound.

The Cards did force Clemson to shoot more from outside than is the Tigers’ norm. 35 of 53 of the victors’ FG attempts were threes. They connected on but seven.

U of L was a similarly dismal 5/24.

The Cardinals connected on 32% of all attempts for the game; Clemson just a slightly better 36%.

U of L had twice as many points off turnovers (13-6), twice as many second chance points (8-4), outscored the home team on fastbreaks (5-1), and got significantly greater help off the bench (19-5). The Cardinals ended up only -4 on points in the paint (12-16).

But were just never able to surge and take charge of the affair.

 * * * * *

U of L battled to the end in the 50-54 defeat.

Down 8, 41-49, with 3:15 to go, U of L cut the margin in half on a couple Jae’Lyn Withers’ FTs, and a Jones two.

But couldn’t get closer, and the deal was sealed when Simms converted a +1 at 1:28.

 * * * * *

So, yeah, no offensive flow, poor shooting, not enough bulk inside, plus the Littlejohn Curse, and U of L’s chances for success were slim, despite pretty sold D.

It didn’t help that Louisville was 9/16 at the stripe. That poor percentage is actually misleading. It took making the last four, since U of L was 5/12 (42%), after missing the front end of a 1+1, when down 37-41.

 * * * * *

Carlik Jones was U of L’s only double figure scorer with 11, along with five rebounds.

Jae’Lyn Withers grabbed 12 boards, scoring 7.

Samuell Williamson had another good effort off the bench. He snared 10 rebounds, and also scored 7.

 * * * * *

I think Georgia Tech is next on Monday for that exceptionally rare except in the time of a pandemic weekday afternoon game.

Unless instead , that is, if the league invites us to play UVa and Carolina on consecutive days, or something like that.

— c d kaplan


2 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Clemson

  1. What a disjointed mess this entire sports season has become. Even the vaunted Fighting Jeff Walz’ have gone off kilter….I’m hoping that some sense of normalcy returns soon so I can start getting back into my 60+ years of passion for sports.

  2. I’m right with you on all counts. When, on the aforementioned second possession, Simms took the ball in the paint and dropped in a jump hook over Withers, I turned to my bride and said, “This is going to be a long night.” Also, we just can’t depend on Carlik to bail us out every night. On the bright side, Minland finally took a shot. And it went in. Sam had a really solid game. JJ continues to improve. But we will struggle against serious competition as long as Jaylen is our post guy. He’s just out of position. (Aiden is either hurt or God awful.) And Dave Johnson is a good player but he is no lottery pick. He is a negative assist-to-turnover for the year and, to my eye, seems to disappear at the wrong times.

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