Five quick thoughts on what we just witnessed:
1) There's no excuse for what we saw from Montrezl Harrell this afternoon.
I get that there was some unwanted contact from the Hilltoppers around him, and I get that the "punch" looked more like a soft forearm shiver on replay, but you're a junior, a team captain and a national Player of the Year captain. Those three titles are supposed to put you above doing what we saw Trez do today.
There's no question that part of what makes Harrell so great is his almost unmatchable intensity, and while I'm not sure if that's one of those things you can ask him to try and harness (or if you'd even want to attempt going down that road), Trez has to understand that there's a line. When he crosses that line, he's dealing huge blows to both himself and his team. That can't happen.
It is worth noting that Harrell was ejected from the game for a flagrant 2 foul and not for fighting. The key difference there is that there is no automatic one game suspension for a flagrant 2 ejection, which means Harrell will be available to play in Tuesday night's game against Cal State Northridge.
2) Louisville was going to have to win a game without being able to rely on Trez eventually, and it was nice to see them rise to the occasion today.
Terry Rozier, obviously, was sensational. He scored 17 straight points for Louisville during the game's most critical stretch, and finished with a career-high 32. This may have been a huge afternoon in his hopeful transition from "really good" to "great."
3) This afternoon may have also been a huge step forward in the development of guys like Anton Gill and Anas Mahmoud, who both gave Rick Pitino huge minutes down the stretch.
Gill buried one of the game's biggest shots, created a key turnover and was a reliable presence while Louisville was facing a hectic WKU press. Mahmoud blocked four shots, made good decisions with the ball in his hands, and converted the dunk that probably put the game away for good. He also bore the brunt of separating Trez from the WKU players in the first half.
It's been widely discussed that this is as thin a bench as Rick Pitino has had to work with in some time, but today's events may have gone a long way towards changing that.
4) This is likely the last time you're going to see Louisville play in Diddle Arena for some time. U of L had already seemed hesitant to re-up on their current contract with the Tops, and today's events may have served as the death blow for the series.
I've always cheered for Western when they're not playing U of L, but I am not a Ray Harper fan. I don't like the way he handles himself during games, I'm not a fan of his past, and the stories I've been told from basketball people from around the state have all painted an eerily similar picture of the man. Today certainly did nothing to change my stance on the matter.
5) This was a misfire, Fox Sports 1.
That's not Rick Pitino's dandruff: it's fox sports one's completely necessary snow graphic pic.twitter.com/Dyr9tmFmQy— Husker Hoops Central (@HuskerHC) December 20, 2014
Just because you have the ability to do something, doesn't make it a great idea.
More in a bit.