It doesn't take a professional scouting report or a hall of fame coach to let the world in on Louisville's obvious flaw. The Cardinals appear immune to burning up the nets, and the recent brick barrage against Duke could have built countless homes throughout our community. Many people have discussed this unseen phenomenon for a Rick Pitino team and we must accept that the Cardinals are never going to morph into Pete Maravich. However, the underlying issue in Louisville's field goal percentage is the KFC Yum Center, not their shooting touch.
Louisville has played five contests away from home, two at neutral sites and three true road games. Each contest has been against possible or probable NCAA tournament teams. Outside of the Ville, the Cards are scoring 81 points per game, averaging 46% from the field, and 35% from behind the arc. Those numbers would signal top-10 team to any analyst or coach, and Louisville is one answered miracle away from being 5-0 away from home.
Inside of the friendly and overly comfortable confines known as the KFC Yum Center, Louisville is averaging 76 points per game, 41.4% from the field, and just 27% from three point land. Those numbers don't sound alarming, but only five of the 13 home games have been played against power conference teams, and a few of those teams would lose to Trinity High School. Louisville's best performances have been on the road or at neutral sites and can anyone figure out why?
I will offer a few reasons, none of them proven or offered as 100% fact. First, the Yum Center has become too comfortable, laid back, and for lack of a better word, boring. In our quest to squeeze every possible dollar out of the community, corporate sponsors, and national media, the University has perhaps sold out past the point of no return. Every timeout or dead ball is filled with annoying corporate sponsored games, oddly timed interviews, inconsistent music, and the complete ignorance of the cheerleaders, band, or student section.
The fans do their best during the premium matchups, but instead of feeding the frenzy during downtime, Louisville chooses to annoy, pester, and silence 22,000 supporters. I am not advocating for the abolition of all corporate sponsored activities during games, the kiss cam and boogie cam are institutions at this point (so happy to have the Boogie Man back), but is it too much to ask to have the student section, cheerleaders, and dance team light up the crowd to continue the enthusiasm?
This comfortable and relaxed atmosphere has perhaps invaded our Cardinals reducing their effort, focus, and intensity. This team appears to be a roller coaster of emotional messes, but they feed off positivity and surges of reinforced enthusiasm. Let's return to our roots, if possible, and push this team over the edge with true fanaticism.
Another reason could be negative distractions that this team seems to focus too much attention on from time to time. Social media, press clippings, and pessimistic fans seem to drastically affect the mood of this year's team. Louisville Cardinal Fans are a collection of some of the best supporters in the entire world of athletics. Our enthusiasm and pride for our school and city truthfully stands alone in the category of collegiate athletics.
Louisville's teams and its fans will always be a symbolic representation of the working man. We are constantly told by others we aren't the elite, our teams have to overcome hurdles and bias not faced by other top tier athletic institutions, and the fans are willing to sacrifice their personal income to partake, elevate, and enjoy what Cardinal Athletics have to offer.
With all that being said, the cliff jumper's among us have to breathe and relax before signing up with Chicken Little in his mission to convince us the sky is falling. Louisville Basketball has never been in a better place, never been more successful, and our team is made up of great representatives. Voice your opinion, criticize and analyze all you want, but the personal attacks and sweeping negative generalizations have got to go. Louisville is a title contender for the fourth consecutive season, enjoy the ride.
Louisville laid a massive egg Saturday, the open shots were there and they simply didn't go in. Bad games happen and the Cardinals have an entire week to improve and rest. I will offer three opinions after the loss: Harrell must recommit himself to an interior presence, Shaqquan Aaron should start over Wayne until Wayne takes his game to the rack, and if Onuaku played with Mangok's energy 100% of the time he'd be one of the best centers in basketball.
Officiating aside, the ACC is living up to our wildest dreams and Louisville is primed to make another February surge. The Cardinals are a good basketball team now, the opportunity to be great is blossoming, and the team's choice to excel is 100% their own. The win streak starts in Pittsburgh.
All Hail UofL !!