Ninety minutes prior to tip-off in Memphis, Paul Rogers broke the news that Louisville forward Stephan Van Treese is the mystery Injured Key Front Court Player hinted at by Rick Pitino during Friday morning's pre-Memphis press conference. Rogers said Van Treese has a bruised left knee but added he will be available to play if needed, so this does not appear to be serious. Courtside reports from Memphis indicate SVT is warming up but looks gimpy.
How will this affect the game? The Cards are Top 25 nationally in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, but will be tested this afternoon without their best offensive rebounder, SVT. Yes, he is. And with Gorgui Dieng still out with a wrist, the Cards will look to Zach Price and Montrezl Harrell to step into bigger roles and Chane Behanan to possibly play the entire 40 minutes if SVT can't go.
For Memphis, forward Adonis Thomas leads the Tigers' frontcourt in scoring and name recognition, but the key matchup to watch will be the Louisville frontcourt versus Memphis forwards Shaq Goodwin and Tarik Black on the boards. If the Tigers can seal off the offensive glass, they'll take away the second chance points that U of L thrives on when jump shots aren't falling.
This feels like another game where Russ Smith doing Russ Smith things is a large part of Louisville's game plan. Couldn't be more excited. Russ that is, I'm already getting the nervous sweats.