I think it's time for the inconsistent talk to cease. In the last six weeks, a healthy U of L has lost to a Seton Hall team that morphed into the 1990 Loyola Marymount Lions, and missed a last-second shot at Connecticut in a game that was basically a battle for which squad would be referred to as the "hottest team in the country" on television for the next two weeks.
This team will lose again, but it's not going to be because they're "inconsistent" or "troubled," it's going to be because they play in the deepest conference in America.
Louisville is doing what a group with this much talent should be doing at this point in the season, and last night was Exhibit A.
Since the Butler/Wisconsin-Milwaukee barn burner forced all of us to miss the first eight minutes of our game, let's summarize the action using the internet voice of the Depaul radio play-by-play guy.
DAR TUCKER BANKED IN A THREE AND DEPAUL MISSED A BUNCH OF SHOTS FROM THE OUTSIDE!!
david padgett dominated the inside and terrence williams got hot from the perimeter as the cards opened up an early 19-8 lead
This is the spot where I usually talk about David Padgett and how awesome he is, but instead of doing that, I'm going to give you all ten seconds to come up with your own laudatory sentences.
That was fun.
The one worry I have with Padgett is that eventually a good coach (sorry Jerry) is going to instruct his center to just hang on David's left shoulder like we saw Aaron Gray do in last year's Big East Tourney semifinal. Padgett is more than capable of making the baby left hook, and a defender overplaying one side is more susceptible to falling for a pump fake and allowing a lay-up, but the right hook is David's bread and butter, and scoring will be more of a struggle for him if somebody takes that away.
Hopefully Tim Welsh isn't scouring obscure blogs as part of one final, desperate attempt to save his job.
I'm reticent to talk about anyone's offensive accomplishments against a team that plays less defense than Sam Waterston, but it was a sensational night for T-Will, who finished 9-of-12 from the field and crammed a dunk that I'm still not entirely sure went in the basket. He also said this:
"How much do people eat off plates?" Williams said when asked about Padgett. "We feed off him a lot because he's our point-center, our point-forward, our point-shooting guard. He's everything because he rebounds the ball, he passes the ball, he leads us. He could lead us out of the closet, lead us to the ocean. He's just our everything."
I guess Pitino thought that Depaul was bad enough on defense that Will Scott could come in and finally hit a shot to get some confidence back. Not so much. For such a smart guy, Scott sure has a hard time figuring out that hurling your body into a player isn't the best way to try and make up for letting him beat you off the dribble.
The open shots weren't there for Jerry Smith, so naturally he finished the game with six assists. People forget that Smith is actually second on the team in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. He's putting together a terrific all-around season.
It looks to me like the emergence of superhuman David Padgett has really gotten to Derrick Caracter. I think he was fine with coming off of the bench and playing 18-22 minutes, but now that it's become apparent that David is going to be on the floor at least 25 minutes every game from here on out, Derrick is really down.
He didn't give near the same level of effort he's given for the past month, his body language was back to the way it was in early December, he was back to sulking when he wasn't thrown the ball in the post, and he was really lazy on defense. It was not a good night for DC.
Pitino was hoping to sit Padgett for the last ten minutes or so of the game, but Caracter was so bad that he had to insert Farley, and then ultimately bring David back in once the lead dropped below 20. I'm almost tempted to say that the substitution of Farley with seven minutes left signified - for all intents and purposes - the end of the Derrick Caracter era at Louisville, but I think there's still a very real possibility that Padgett will get into foul trouble in a big game, and Derrick will step in and play very well.
You can go ahead and put aside the issues with effort level, weight and what he's doing off-the-court, the fact of the matter right now is that Derrick Caracter isn't half the player on the court that David Padgett is. He's still committing inexcusable fouls, he's still not finishing around the basket, and lately he's reverted to his old habit of refusing to kick the ball out when he's double teamed in the post.
He's still likely got a handful of solid stretches left in him, but I think it's time for all of us to finally let go of the delusional vision of Derrick Caracter the potential Louisville All-American.
Pretty solid effort from both point guards, although that crazy Sosa lay-up likely cost us two blocked shots in a bigger game later on. Both had brief stretches where they allowed the way Depaul was playing to dictate their own game and got sloppy, but again, the effort was there, and I think I actually saw Sosa smiling on the bench before he'd scored a point. Good sign.
Preston Knowles vs. a hurricane...BUT, the name of the hurricane is Hurricane Knowles.
I've said for a while now that I think Jerry Wainwright is the worst coach in the league, and last night did nothing to help dispel that belief.
Down 20? Don't say anything until there's a timeout, then clap, and draw up a play. Up 20? Don't say anything until there's a timeout, then clap, and draw up a play. He's the guy who's not good at basketball, so he "coaches" the over-40 men's league team that his friends play on.
Tucker and Koshwal have the potential to become all-league players on a team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament, or they could be the second coming of Wilson Chandler and Sammy Mejia, and beat only the teams they're supposed to beat on their way to the NIT quarterfinals. Show me something Jerry.
Seriously, 90-68 is SO much cooler than 88-68. There has to be something we can do about this in practice.
I've always said that I wanted either Jim Nantz or Gus Johnson to commentate a random day of my life, but now I'm starting to think that Bucky Waters could do wonders for my self-confidence. I've always wanted someone else to marvel at how well I hug the turns on I-22 or how smoothly I spread cream cheese on my morning bagel, and I think Bucky could help out in that department.
My friend called me from the Savannah State/North Florida game last night, and he said the seven other people there couldn't believe how dead it was inside the Allstate Arena.
While I was a bit disappointed with how sloppy we were for brief stretches after we built huge leads last night, anyone who bitches about any part of a 20-point Big East road win should be forced to be seen in public with Doug Gottlieb every Saturday night for one calendar year.
Providence enjoys running and/or gunning every bit as much as Depaul, so get ready for more fast breaks, soft defense and relatively uninspired home crowds on Saturday.