Louisville CardFile: Michigan State

Some observations, the morning after U of L’s 73-64 loss to Michigan State in East Lansing.

True road games are tough!

Especially in front of a genuinely hostile crowd.

Given the team’s scatterbrained nature of play.

More composed, experienced teams get to the free throw line more.

Here’s the gotcha:

Those are the words of my favorite hoops scribe, the eminent Eamonn Brennan, when writing about Duke’s performance in its defeat in the ACC/ Big10 Smackdown in Columbus to Ohio State.

But they surely could be Seedy K’s about the Cards last night, and their spotty performance in Chris Mack’s first regular season coaching appearnace after a six game suspension.

 * * * * *

Hearkening back to my macroview, stated several times already, I’ll posit one more once.

Given the squad turnover, given a new offense, given Mack’s suspension, no long term take on this edition of the U of L Cardinals will be legit until at least Dick Clark’s reported on the Ball Drop from Times Square. Possibly even later, the Ides of January.

So, what I feel I must remember is: In many regards this was the first game of the season.

On the road. Against a legit, well-coached, talented Top 25 team. (Boasting the nation’s second highest rated D.)

In a genuinely hostile environment. (I love how it’s a rabid student section that surrounds the court in the Breslin Center. If only . . .)

 * * * * *

The chance for victory in such situations are increased if you can put the biscuit in the basket.

After a 12-2 Spartan surge, State led 52-39 at a TV timeout with 12:14 left.

At that juncture, Noah Locke (0-7), Matt Cross (1/6), Samuell Williamson (0/1) and Jae’Lyn Withers (1/2), Louisville’s 1st, 2d, 5th and 6th leading scorers had 5 (five) points on 2/16 shooting.

It is tough to over come that.

My point is not to throw these Cards under the bus.

It is up to U of L’s purported guru OC Ross McMains and Mack to get these fellows the rock in spots where these scorers have the optimum opportunity to tally.

Locke appears more capable as a spot up, or one dribble/ shoot guy. Fashion some sets to free him in those situations.

Williamson’s best game is 10-12′ from the hoop, but isn’t a great ball handler. Fashion some sets to free him in those situations.

Cross can both spot up and take it to the rim. Actually he had a couple of semi-open looks, but the ball didn’t find the twine.

Withers’, one guy’s opinion, doesn’t seem to be workin’ to make it work quite as hard as last season. When, by most accounts, he was playing out of position.

So, it says here, for U of L to have some quality O from here on, these guys need to get the ball where they can do some damage. Let’s see if the staff can coach it up.

Plus they need to run the offense crisply, using good technique with intensity.

 * * * * *

Bless Malik Williams’ heart.

The kid simply isn’t very mobile. And has limited hops.

But he battles. He leads.

So, another factor in the Cards’ success moving forward will be the development of relief in the pivot.

Roosevelt Wheeler, still raw, is showing signs that he’s going to get it.

Mack is enamored with Gabe Wiznitzer, who also saw his first action of the campaign last evening.

 * * * * *

There’s a reason why Jarrod West and Dre Davis were the only Cardinals to see more than thirty minutes of action against State.

West for his maturity, steadiness, leadership and great defense.

Dre Davis, somewhat flawed as his game might be, is R E L E N T L E S S.

  * * * * *

Which brings me to a consideration of El Ellis, without whom the Cardinals L last night would have been significantly embarrassing.

He scored 18 of Louisville’s last 19 points.

He was ballin’ like he was still down in Tallahassee, dominating in the Bill Hebrock EagleDome.

His 8/12 (4/7, 2/2) scoring stat line is way more than acceptable.

The former Juco phenom can play out of control. More than occasionally. But last night, even during that en fuego finale, he was somewhat under control. He drove to the hoop a couple of times, but didn’t throw up any of those cockamamie twisting bank shots. One attempt to dish it to Williams was thwarted by stellar Sparty D.

If he plays with a modicum of control, within the new, increased flow of the offense, it will be, duh, a good thing.

 * * * * *

U of L had 10 assists on 25 made FGs. Contrast: State had 20 assists on 23 FGs.

U of L was -13 in fast break points. And -15 bench points.

So, yeah, I’m bummed. I hate when the Cardinals fall.

And I’m wondering whether Sidney Curry and JJ Traynor are going to contribute at all. Wondering whether they, and maybe Mason Faulkner, are the ones Mack was talking about when mentioning a few guys need to get with the plan.

(Actually it’s time for all, coaching staff and squad, to roll up their sleeves and get to work.)

But it was a true road game. Against a legit Top 25 team, yada, yada, yada, you’ve heard me say it already.

On December 1. The pop up Christmas tree stands still have plenty of inventory. Holiday traffic by the Malls and along the Dixie is just ramping up.

ACC play opens Saturday at NC State. The Wolfpack needed four OTs to down visiting Nebraska last night.

— c d kaplan

5 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Michigan State

  1. I hate when I agree with most if not all you say…

    …with that said, it appears that for the most part we still shoot the ball like blind men in Central Park— I thought this team was compiled to move past that affliction? Locke still hasn’t seen a shot he doesn’t like–and often times can’t make the ones he is chucking up. Cross seems to rush his shot or take so long he can’t get it off. He seldom seems to be in good balance when he shoots unless he is trying one from Little Ronnie Lyons territory.

    West remains our most solid contributor, backed up as best as he can be by our crippled center who looks better suited to join the 40-somethings at the Y than to play top level college hoops. Davis tries his butt off but is very limited in his skills. Sam still can’t dribble more than once without losing the ball or pushing off. Withers must be having girlfriend issues or something.

    That leaves El. He may be the only dude on the team that has top-level basketball skills. Last night, he went away from his tendency to play like a Burger chain (I call him Five Guys because he generally goes one on five driving steadfastly into the lane with 5 defenders at the ready with no plan or companion to bail him out.) Last night he proved that if he can reduce that to Three Guys or better yet Two Guys, he has a chance to be a pretty decent player—although I fear his 4/7 line from three point land was more of an anomaly than the norm.

    We need to win Saturday and after NC State’s 4 OT win last night and the injuries they are suffering from, I will be disappointed if we don’t.

  2. I’ver yet to see any sign of U of L’s purported guru and offensive majordomo, Ross McMains’ new and improved offense. Looks as bad as last year.

    Enamored of G-Wiz, but Traynor and Curry languish, inexplicably, on the pine. Withers? He never seems to give 100%. Wheeler played like the kid I saw in VA prep ball.

    But hey! Seen Trezl ball his guts out for my Washington Wizards? I may slip into watching the NBA solely, based on what the teams I pull for have done, or NOT done, thus far.

  3. It would be verbose for me to write more than what has already been above written, save one observation. Each time the ESPN cameras fashioned a tight shot on Mack, he appeared to resemble a deer in the headlights. Most telling. This coach just ain’t use to or just doesn’t know how to drive a ” hall of fame ” program. Let’s pray he doesn’t crash and burn.

  4. Addendum to my comment.
    Just left the Yum Center and watched the Lady Cards mop the floor with the 12th ranked and undefeated Lady Wolverines. Yes these are women but they are coached up, they play unselfishly, they know how to pass and run sets. They can spell also. They know there is no “I” in team. Just sayin.

  5. Speaking of students at courtside, I loved the kid with the phone comments while the refs watched the video replays.

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