A week without UofL basketball is pretty unbearable, although this week has been much better knowing that a few days of practice leading up to the home stretch coming off a great win is probably the best thing for the team. As Chick pointed out, the tightness we all saw after the Syracuse game should start to loosen right about now, and as we head into March, we should hope and expect our team to start playing a much looser style that is more natural. Also, Pitino said he gave everyone 2 things to work on. I wonder if we'll be able to tell during tomorrow's game what that is for everyone.
The South Florida highlights are so much fun because of all the dunks, but re-watching it a bunch, one thing that appears clear is that a lot of those dunks came off passes that were split-second decisions. How many times have you seen a play developing, seen the guy with the ball in his hands see it, then wait just a split second too long to throw the alley oop? Or not throw it at all? Our 3-on-1 breaks have become a pet peeve of mine because we never seem to score on those, and we are missing that "soccer assist" gene. Anyway, the South Florida game featured Siva and Russ both throwing natural, without thinking alley oops and Chane and Trez rewarded them for it. We also had Siva, Chane and Russ somehow finish that 3-on-1 break, and Russ's weird accidental pass that Siva caught and threw to Wayne without even landing. Plays that work when guys just play, and aren't over-thinking. Play like we had last March.
We get to keep building confidence and try to get into tournament form against the Seton Hall Pirates tomorrow at noon in the finest arena in all of college basketball. The last time these two teams played, I waxed philosophic about the fleeting nature of the Era of Goode Feelings and how the way things turned out would color how we looked back. That has turned out mostly true. The 3-game slide and the 5 OT game felt like they burst our bubble of unbridled enjoyment and enthusiasm about this year's team and our prospects for March, and even a game like the USF game and how good we looked for stretches had the 7 minute scoring droughts that haunt our dreams.
Seton Hall has had a rough stretch since that game: they lost 10 of the next 11 games, including the last 8. None were blowouts until their most recent 21-point defeat to Marquette. Their scorers Edwin and Cosby are still scoring, but have not been efficient enough. They need a 3rd scorer and they need to improve their defense, although expect a heavy dose of boring Big East basketball unless we can successfully impose our pace.
Five more games until New York, five more games and a couple weeks of practice to add a couple offensive wrinkles (which we always do towards the end of the year) and solidify the rotation (SVT! SVT! SVT!) and have Chane flip the on switch. That, and 30% shooting from 3 point range, will give us something good to remember about this season.