Honestly, where do you start?
A part of me wants to lay into the team and advocate everyone panicking because of that type of effort this late in the season. Another part wants to write this off as a team in an offensive slump running into a team with its back to the wall playing in an arena that has historically been a tough place to win for visitors. And a third part wants to say that sometimes this sort of thing just happens. It's happened to Duke, it's happened to Clemson, it's happened to Wake Forest, it's (sort of) happened to Connecticut and it happened to the '05 Final Four team.
The truth is we won't know whether Thursday night was a sign of impending doom, an aberration or a complete fluke for another month or so.
Right now, it's simply embarrassing.
Let's start with the head.
Terrence Williams: if you want everything you say you do, you can't do that, my man. A hurt wrist isn't an excuse for playing devoid of any sense of energy or passion, it isn't an excuse for refusing to rebound and it isn't an excuse for leaving Ryan Ayers alone for uncontested three-pointers on a handful of key possessions.
Leaders don't take nights off, they don't let their energy level drop when things aren't going their way, and they don't let the teammates who look up to them get away with half-assing anything and everything for 40 minutes.
It's on you to get this fixed.
If anyone deserves to be spared from having their feet put to the flames, it's Samardo Samuels. Not only did the freshman come out looking to prove a point in the game's opening minutes, but he and Preston Knowles were the only guys on the floor competing when the game was out of reach in the second half.
It's a good sign for his progression, but not a real good sign for the team's.
Nobody thinks of Luke Harangody as a great shooter for his size, but if he had better form, wouldn't everybody? The shots look so ridiculous, but night after night he knocks them down with consistency, a fact that does make him a tremendous jump shooter for his size.
A shot that goes in by any other name is still worth two points.
I realize the game was, for all intents and purposes, over, but why Will Scott in that situation? Sure he can shoot, but against a team playing man, having Scott in makes the game 4-on-5 on both ends of the floor. Apparently Pitino was mad at Preston for something, but give me some Kuric or some Delk.
I was pissed at the end, but I still really, really wanted a Lee sighting.
I don't want to go through this without praising the Irish, because they played well and with heart, and they would have won even if Louisville hadn't spent 40 minutes thinking about Party of Five.
Pitino said earlier this week that the media needed to respect this team for what it is: an outstanding defensive squad that's going to have its struggles on the offensive end. That's fine, but teams fitting that description don't win national titles or make it to Final Fours. Teams like that do what last year's Washington State team did: look impressive in its opening weekend games in the NCAA Tournament and then get pounded when they run up against a team that can get it done on the offensive end against anybody.
Points off turnovers will work against a mid-major conference champion in the first round, but this team has to find a way to get points out of its offensive sets if it's serious about making a run to Detroit. The offense has to center around Williams, the one playmaker the team has who has proven himself capable of making the right decision (*cough* Earl *cough*) once he gets into the lane.
I suppose all we can do is hope something clicks in practice sometime very soon.
I love the way Terrence Jennings has been able to transform his game in such a short time, but somebody tell me why we were so adamant on feeding him in the post when we were down 18 early in the second half? What has he shown offensively to make the other four guys on the floor so confident that he was going to be able to score consistently on Harangody and Hillesland? That made no sense to me, but then again neither did the whole night.
Simply put, our points guards have to be better. They don't have to be Ty Lawson or Steph Curry, but they just can't be as bad as they've been for the last three games.
Why in the world did Mike Brey have Jackson, McAlarney and 'Gody in the game with his squad up 30 and less than three minutes to play? I don't think he was trying to run up the score or anything, I just think it's odd to put yourself in a position where if one of those three guys goes down you're going to be crucified by your fan base and the local media.
You really only go seven deep and those guys just had a hell of a night, let them chill for a little bit, Mike. The Big East is a rough league, I'm told.
Earl Clark seems to have adopted the pre-'08-'09 Terrence Williams mentality of making one bad outside shot justifies taking three more.
Go. To. The. Bucket. Earl.
Also, apparently it takes someone hitting him across the face with a bottle to draw a whistle. I'd be a lot more angry about it if he weren't putting up 0-fers from the charity stripe.
That's seven straight bad halves since these guys looked like national champions for 20 minutes in Morgantown. If there isn't marked improvement on Sunday against Depaul - a program whose thorough domination will be discussed tomorrow - you have my permission to loot each and every establishment on Frankfort Avenue.
Again, I apologize for not taking a firm stance one way or the other on what took place last night, the fact of the matter is I simply have no idea as far as what to make of what I witnessed. Yes, the Irish were playing for their NCAA Tournament lives, yes Louisville came into the game struggling offensively, yes the Joyce Center is a tough place to play, and yes the team was at a disadvantage not getting in until game day, but...90-57??? It's simply astounding.
Still, let's end with this: Louisville just tasted defeat on the road in the Big East for the first time all season, and still sits with a record of 9-2 and a real shot to capture the regular season crown in the toughest conference in America. The Cardinals' next seven Big East games will be nowhere near as difficult as their first seven, a stretch U of L made it through unscathed.
Last night was indescribably brutal, but the opportunity to make it a distant memory come mid-March certainly exists. This can be fixed, and Thursday can be forgotten.