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Ten Belated Thoughts On Louisville/Memphis

Can't let a Memphis State win pass without at least a little bit of commentary.

1. This was the most encouraging win of the season so far. Not because of the quality of opponent or because it was against an old rival, but simply because we scored 95 points.

One of the main reasons for Louisville's success in the Big East under Rick Pitino has been its ability to win while playing a variety of different styles. People talk about "Louisville's style," but the truth is Louisville hasn't really had a style for the past few seasons. The Cards have won while running with Providence and Marquette, and they've also grinded out wins against teams like Georgetown and West Virginia. U of L has been the rare chameleon that will let you dictate pace and style, and still win.

With that being the case, defeating Memphis in a game where U of L allowed the Tigers to score 87 points was actually a huge positive. Heading into Saturday, I wasn't sure if we were capable of beating a team like UM, especially at their own game.

Everyone knows that in reality defense AND offense win championships. It was a great sign for the future to finally see us win thanks to the latter.

2. This whole Russ Smith thing, whatever it is, continues to be absolutely mind-blowing. The truth, I can't think of any other (Louisville basketball) situation to compare it with.

A year ago I would have said it was about 50 times more likely that Russ Smith would not be playing basketball anywhere than it would be for him to score 24 points (U of L's first 20+ scorer all season, mind you) against Memphis and be named Big East Player of the Week as a result.

It's often the case when players go from unheralded to heralded that you hear people say, "you know, I saw a little flash of his ability" or "I actually kind of saw this coming." I never, ever saw this coming. I thought Russ was plenty talented enough to have a productive college Fordham or Duquesne. Instead, I'm watching him record seven steals in maybe the biggest game of the season so far, and finding myself saying "just get it to Russ" when we have the ball on offense.

That kid deserves all the credit in the world for his hard-work and perseverance.

3. I was lucky enough to sit about six rows behind our bench (if you know what to look for in the Villen vid you'll catch a healthy dose of mini right fist pumps), and to say I was distracted by Charlie Strong would be the understatement of the century. He didn't really start going wild until his kids left near the end of the game. Classic Charlie.

There weren't really any great bench happenings that I was privy to. The only sort of funny thing that happened was Pitino slowly walking down to Siva after he'd just made a fairly egregious turnover, kneeling down, staring at him for a couple of seconds, and then just simply saying, "what was that?"

There was a also a guy a few rows behind me who literally did nothing but shout insults at our own players. Because that's worth dishing out that kind of change.

4. The crowd reaction when they showed Charlie on the big-screen was easily one of the top five loudest I've ever heard a Louisville basketball crowd get for a non-basketball occurrence. The city loves that man.

5. We can talk Russ, we can talk Gorgs, we can talk Peyton, but that wouldn't do justice to the real star of the afternoon: Luke Hancock's outfit.

Button-up, tie, dress slacks, VEST?! Now I know exactly how Rudy's dad felt.

6. Player rankings from stat sheet:

Lville Players Mins Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk TO
A+ Gorgui Dieng 40 14 14 1 2 6 1
A+ Rakeem Buckles 13 12 6 0 1 1 0
A Russ Smith 25 24 2 3 7 0 2
A Peyton Siva 22 13 3 9 0 0 3
B+ Chane Behanan 22 10 8 2 0 0 4
B Chris Smith 27 11 5 2 2 0 2
B Kyle Kuric 36 11 2 0 1 0 0
- Jared Swopshire 6 0 1 0 0 1 1
- Kevin Ware 6 0 0 0 0 1 1
- Elisha Justice 3 0 1 0 0 0 0

I'm stunned by how good Rock looked. Not only did he look great for a guy coming off an injury, he looked better than he has at any point in his career when he's been healthy. That one-handed rebound off the Kuric miss was just tremendous.

7. This was far from Chance Behanan's best day, but the 8-for-8 performance from the stripe demands mention. This is the same guy who went 1-for-18 during the Bahamas trip...1-for-18.

Now I know exactly how Rudy's dad felt.

8. Will Barton is awfully good. He'd be borderline unstoppable if he weighed about 25 pounds more. I'd also like to work a "now I'm mad, real mad Joe Jackson" in here, but there's not really a creative way to just drop it, so I kind of just did.

9. Seeing Mark Jackson Jr. in street clothes was an awful start to the day. He and SVT went with the matching track suits, Wayne went fancy sweater and cords, we've already talked about Luke, and then Mike went with the t-shirt made especially for the game...of course he did.

10. Dude, we are 10-0 for the first time since '95-'96. I remember that team. I was in 6th grade. It was a long time ago.

This is pretty cool.