Game face time.
1. Defensive Rebounding
Pittsburgh killed Cincinnati with second chance points last night, which is exactly how they almost beat us three weeks ago. Eight or ten of DeJuan Blair's 20 points in the game at the Peterson Events Center were the direct result of his work on the offensive glass. It goes without saying that David Padgett will have to board better than he did against Georgetown, but we also need Earl Clark to play with the same reckless abandon around the rack that he has in the last two games, and guys like T-Will, Palacios, and even Jerry Smith to step up and do their part.
2. Perimeter Defense
The Panthers were just 6-of-21 from three in the first game, but the better part of those attempts were uncontested. Obviously, Ronald Ramon is a guy that must be marked at all times, but LeVance Fields is starting to find his shot and Keith Benjamin was a solid 2-of-4 from deep last night. If we again give these guys time to catch, think, change clothes and shoot this evening, then we might not walk away as fortunate.
3. Figuring Out How To Defend Sam Young
This is one that I have absolutely no answer for.
If you're going to play zone against Pitt - and we are - defending Young is a double-edged sword (are there single-edged swords?). At the beginning of the first game, we let him catch the ball in the middle and our big guys stayed back and keyed on Blair. Young lit us up. Then we started bringing Padgett up to defend him when he caught the ball at the free-throw line, and Blair ate us up with both easy baskets off of passes and offensive rebounds.
Young can kill you with the mid-range, off the dribble, and from out-of-the corner. So aside from hoping for an off night, what can you do? Again, I'm not sure. I think you'll see Louisville stick with the man off of misses, zone off of makes philosophy, and you might actually see the Cards go straight man for stretches if Young is especially effective on offense in the first ten minutes or so.
4. Earl Clark Coming To Play
Clark played arguably his worst game of the season in the win at Pitt. He didn't rebound, he scored just four points, and his overall look of lethargy was maddening. Against a team that relies this much on defense, offensive rebounding, and cheap points around the basket, we can't afford for E5 to give a similar performance.
5. Someone Other Than David Padgett Scoring Well Above His Average
Padgett scored 21 in the first game, but my guess is that Jamie Dixon will have gone to extreme measures to make sure the big man doesn't eat his team up again. This means that someone else is going to have to take advantage and get hot from the outside. Three weeks ago it was Edgar Sosa, but given his recent shooting slump, I would prefer it to be Jerry Smith tonight. Of course I don't really care as long as it's somebody...and we win.
6. Shooting From Behind The Line That Counts
Again, you don't get an extra point for shooting from behind the second line. Swallow your pride, step up, and shoot from the spot that gives you the best chance to make the shot.
7. Turning Pittsburgh Over More Than Four Times
Four was all it took in the first game, but in this tournament and on this floor where they've had so much success, me thinks it's going to take more this evening.