An Examination Of The Final Play Of The Louisville-Syracuse Game

Eric Crawford and CL Brown did a good job of analyzing the last play of the game, but I can't help but throw in my two cents here.


On the initial drive:

Right here Siva's momentum is carrying him away from the paint as he's no doubt not wanting to get an offensive foul like the ND game. So at this moment, a bounce pass to Gorgui is very dangerous (because of his momentum) and anything short of a perfect soft pass to Kuric on the wing would easily have been closed out by CJ Fair.

Thus he kept driving and here is the result (less than .4 seconds later):

He still has two options for the pass, Kuric for a three or Gorgui for a layup.

If he passed to Kuric, Kyle either takes a moderately contested 3 from his favorite spot on the floor or if Kuric managed to get closed out, I'd bet he'd have found Chris Smith was WIDE-open for a three. Either one shooting a three is a high percentage shot, I'd peg it no worse than 50%. Syracuse would have gotten the ball, down two with around 5 seconds to go or we'd be fighting for an offensive rebound on a night where we collected 50% of our misses with a shot to throw up a final prayer or even call a timeout with 2-4 seconds left.

If Gorgui could have handled the pass, he would have easily either scored or at the very least earned two free throws. If he missed the shot and went to the line, that's a 49% chance for going up by 1, a 42% chance of tying the game, and a 9% chance of being down 1 with around 5 seconds to go. Remember, on a bad team FT% night, Gorgui was 5-6.

Finally, Here is the view that Peyton saw on that last play and shows why he made the choice he made. Gorgui looks pretty damn open and alert to me. The pass was about 6" high and about 12" too far to Gorgui's left side. I still believe Gorgui should have caught it. I'm not solely blaming Gorgui, but I am annoyed that the caption for the following photo on the C-J is "Uof L's Peyton Siva attempts to pass the ball while driving the lane. Instead Siva threw the ball away at the end of the game." To me, that statement, while I suppose accurate, just doesn't seem fair.

In the end, I think Siva made the right choice. The pass could have been more accurate (though it did hit Gorgui's left shoulder), but the velocity and delivery method (no bounce) were spot on. Gorgui definitely thought Siva was going to shoot it, because his eyes drift up to the rim. If he doesn't stop watching the ball, he would have caught that pass. I was 99.9% certain that Siva was going to pass on that drive, unless it was totally a blown help defense. I can't help but think the rest of the team should have figured on a pass too.

It's really only disappointing in that no shot was taken. I believe the play and the choice to let it play out live action was the correct decision by Coach Pitino, who said in the presser that they drew this play up in the timeout before. All the pieces were there: Siva the distributor, Kuric and Smith as shooters, Dieng the cutter off the roll and Behanan down low for potential clean up. The execution was just a bit off. Something tells me that falling on the wrong side of this one is likely to help us out in a tight game later on down the road, say March?

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