Tagged with Rick Pitino

Louisville poised to exploit a manageable field with talent and maturity

This post appeared on Rush The Court’s Big East microsite on Wednesday, but it’s still relevant after the Cardinals dismantled North Carolina A&T in the Second Round the following night. UofL will face much stiffer competition at 5:15 on Saturday in a Colorado St. team that rebounds well, scores efficiently and averages fewer turnovers than all but 12 teams in the country.

With seven regular season games remaining on the schedule in mid-February, Rick Pitino called on his team to win them all. The Cardinals had just lost a demoralizing five-overtime road game to Notre Dame, capping a precipitous three-week fall that saw his team lose four of seven games and drop from #1 in the country all the way out of the top-10. While the Cardinals’ bout with the Irish was heralded by some as the game of the year for its suspense and intensity, Louisville fans shook their heads in resignation after their team choked away an eight-point lead in the final 45 seconds. The team hyped as the strongest national title contender in the Pitino era at Louisville couldn’t seem to generate enough offense outside of Russ Smith, couldn’t seem to generate the fast breaks it desperately needed, and couldn’t seem to close out games.

Chane Behanan was Montrezl Harrell's biggest fan last Saturday, watching from the bench (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) Continue reading

Syracuse win breaks cycle of road setbacks in March for Louisville.

The biggest shocker following Saturday’s big win over Syracuse was this statistic:

Not only was last Saturday Louisville’s first March road win over a ranked team in the past decade, but it was also only the second time the Cardinals had won their first road game of March against anyone––ranked or unranked––in their eight seasons in the Big East. (Bear in mind, Louisville didn’t play a true road game after February in 2007.)

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 5.46.13 PM Continue reading

Gorgui Dieng the key to what could be a historic defense

This entry appears on Rush The Court.

Dieng elevates Louisville's defense from very good to great (US Presswire)

The narrative of today’s defensive match up between #1 Louisville and #6 Syracuse has already been explored extensively. A collision of defensive juggernauts: the nation’s first and third most efficient defenses, respectively. The two lead the Big East and are top-five nationally, again, in creating steals. The Cards check in at #2 in the country in turnovers generated; the Orange: #8. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams leads the conference with a staggering 3.18 steals per game and combines with Brandon Triche to produce 4.8 SPG; Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are top-five, producing a cumulative 4.6 pilfers.

On paper it’s a push, and a juicy storyline to hype. In reality, Syracuse fields an excellent defense, but Louisville’s has the potential to be historic, and it’s just now hitting its stride. Continue reading

Boeheim has a hankerin’ for a South Carolina Grand Slam

I first dropped this image in the 01.11.13 Edition of the Big East Morning 5 on RTC. It feels appropriate to repost here, with not only a top-10 showdown between #1 Louisville and #6 Syracuse looming tomorrow in The Bucket, but also years of tormenting the Orange in the ACC to look forward to. Rick Pitino’s Cards will follow his mentor down the ACC rabbit hole into Boeheim’s Southern dystopia of plebeian diner food, and there’s substantial comfort in that knowledge for UofL fans, win or lose.

The ever-affable Jim Boeheim is going out of his way to make new friends in the ACC. Speaking nostalgically of his final Big East road trip to Providence after his team beat the Friars on Wednesday night, Boeheim lamented that he’d have to negotiate the new physical environments in his next conference. “I know where all the good restaurants are now, and now I’ve got to go down to Clemson, South Carolina. I’m sure there’s a couple of Denny’s down there.” The millionaire coach either believes Denny’s is actually a “good restaurant” or he’s painting Clemson with the podunk brush. Knowing Jim’s flair for the cynical and alienating, it’s probably the latter. Bret Strelow and Stephen Schramm at the Fayetteville (NC) Observer provided Boeheim with a helpful map. The good news is that the nearest Denny’s is 14 miles from campus –– a veritable hop, skip and a jump by ACC scale. Closer examination on Google Street View reveals that Jim is one step ahead of all of us:

dennys boeheim wm

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The debut of Dark Slime

I should preface this post by apologizing for this blog’s descent into neglect. The world of part-time retail beckoned, and I abandoned unemployment to answer the call. Having just experienced my first (and last) Maine winter, I sense a return to productivity as the glaciers enshrouding my apartment recede and the roving mammoths’ blood lust subsides. Look forward to more unsubstantiated gossip and juvenile photoshops pertaining to your Louisville Cardinals as my metabolism returns to normal.

What better way to dust off birdswag than with a blog update from Rick Pitino––the Narcan of Louisville sports writing:

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Cards hang tight, fall short, bring home a Final Four

This Louisville team could have played in a national title game tonight, had they not drawn Anthony Davis in the Final Four.

I’ve been hesitant to read much coverage of this game, because I already know what some will say. “The outcome was never much in doubt.” “The game was never as close as the final score indicates.” Many writers explored the rivalry exhaustively during the proceeding week, aware of the millions of clicks any bullshit headline containing “Louisville” and “Kentucky” would effortlessly generate. But I question how many of those media commentators––especially the younger ones––perceive any measure of parity in the rivalry; and whether these clichéd refrains were scripted well in advance of Saturday’s tip-off.

To dismiss Louisville’s effort yesterday is a disservice to a team that acquitted itself well with a scrappy, defiant performance, which fell short in the face of missed dunks and overwhelming talent. The Cards were irreverent underdogs, bent on postponing UK’s media coronation and never losing sight of the pugnacious style that had gotten them to an unlikely Final Four. Continue reading

updated Gorgui Dieng foul analysis

In the wake of Louisville’s surprising Big East Tournament championship run, the dominating narrative going into the NCAA tournament is the transcendent play of Peyton Siva last week. But it’s impossible to appraise the Cardinals’ revival without acknowledging the play of Gorgui Dieng, who received All-Big East Tournament honors and averaged 8.8 ppg, 9 rpg and 3.25 blocks over the four games in the Garden.

Another impressive stat that falls through the cracks is 23.5. That is, Gorgui received his second foul after 23.5 minutes of game time on average. In my first post on the timing of Dieng’s fouls, I mentioned that the big man picked up his second foul after 20.3 minutes on average through the USF game. My argument was that Gorgui entering halftime with 2 or more fouls was, statistically, a kiss of death for this Louisville team.

That argument still holds water:

  • Louisville is 7-6 when Gorgui has 2+ first half fouls
  • The Cards are 19-3 when Gorgui has fewer than 2 first half fouls
  • Gorgui averages 2.5 more points and rebounds––and 1.2 more blocks per game––in games where he avoids 2 first half personals
  • More after the jump: Continue reading

Louisville caps resurgence with 2012 Big East championship

I apologize for the delay in getting this post up. I spent my four-hour drive back to Maine processing my experience on Saturday night and trying to wrap my head around this team’s accomplishment.

Four wins in four days. Three avenged losses. Two wins over ranked teams. One dominant leader emerging from a team that lacked identity all season.

On Saturday night, the Louisville Cardinals defeated Cincinnati, 50-44, to claim the title of Big East Tournament champions.

(observations from MSG after the jump) Continue reading