I have been especially strapped for time today, so this review is coming without any rewatching of the game or any editing. Just like you enjoy it.
A hot shooting night is going to make any player look good, but Quentin Snider's performance Thursday night wasn't just about the fact that he made 4 of 6 3-pointers or dropped a career-high 21 points. Q played with a noticeable increase in passion which played a huge part in Louisville winning this game. It's not that he typically doesn't give maximum effort, he does, it's just there was a little something extra there ... I mean, he yelled after scoring on an and-1 in the second half. When's the last time you remember Quentin yelling?
I'm not sure if it was Cat Barber's comments from last March or just the knowledge of what it takes to win on the road in the ACC that had Q fired up Thursday night, but it was both awesome and vital to the team's success. With Mitchell and Lewis both saddled with foul trouble for the bulk of the evening, Louisville doesn't beat NC State if Quentin Snider doesn't play his best game of the season.
The move worked out all right for the ladies though.
THESE TWEETS pic.twitter.com/9NHh0mV8il
— Big Game Hunter TBG (@ThatBoysGood) January 8, 2016
It's the first non-holiday weekend of 2016, which means all those resolutions of yours are going to be tested. When that test comes, just remember the message that topless Damion Lee delivered to us.
Speaking of Shows and Stephens, I tried to tell y'all on both the radio and the Twitter yesterday that it was going to be bad. It was bad. We even got treated to the token "Shows stopping play for no apparent reason at the end of the game to make sure people saw him on TV" moment, which was a real treat. I'm sure he vined it with his phone and then streamed it through AppleTV so he could watch himself on a loop before drifting off to sleep. What dreams did he have, you ask? Mostly ones about Doug Shows making a huge call that pissed off the entire crowd at the Final Four.
Was really surprised to not see more of a big-time atmosphere inside PNC Arena. That was a big game for that NC State team and the fans (outside of the student section) treated it like the season was already over. I'm not going to say it was "docile" (a comment from our radio show that drew a bunch of ire from Raleigh before the football game), but it certainly was not hostile.
There's a reason why both NBA scouts and advanced statistics have been loving Chinanu Onuaku's game this season more than general college basketball fans, and now I think everyone else is starting to see why. That revelation occurring at the same time as Nanu learning how to stay on the court and out of foul trouble is no coincidence.
The first half of last night's game was as well as we've seen Louisville play defensively all season. In fact, if the Cards had been rebounding at all (and not getting hit with bogus fouls after said offensive rebounds), I'm not sure NC State would have been in double figures at the break.
I thought it was interesting to hear Rick Pitino on the radio the other day talk about his zone defense and use the term "pack line principles," because it has seemed like at times this year there has been a pack line-esque emphasis on playing both your man and the ball. One guy wasn't going to be able to slow down Cat Barber by himself, and it was apparent that every U of L player on the floor was aware that it was going to take a team effort to keep him from going off. The result was a lot of help in isolation situations and a lot of bigs stepping up to prevent free drives to the hoop. Barber scored 20 points, but it took him 22 shots to get there. That's a win for the good guys.
Even though I literally just said "one guy wasn't going to be able to slow down Cat Barber by himself," let's all take a second to acknowledge the 1-on-1 Barber v Levitch moment right before the end of the half.
You lose that battle. You lose that battle nine times out of ten.
I know when I tune into a Louisville-NC State basketball game on a Thursday night, one of the first things I'm looking for is the announcers' thoughts on the upcoming college football national championship game. I'm glad those guys could get that out of the way within the first five minutes of the broadcast. That's why my TV was on ESPN2.
I don't think he'd be averaging double-figures if he had come here, because he can't keep me or you from getting to the basket and that never plays well with Rick Pitino, but Maverick Rowan is an awfully talented offensive basketball player. You can see why the staff was so willing to put up with the drama of his recruiting process .... for a while.
The numbers don't really indicate how bad it was for a stretch, but Louisville needs someone other than Chinanu Onuaku to hit the glass. Anya and Abu are both big-bodied dudes, but so are the post players for like 65 percent of the teams in the ACC. The Cards have to do a better job at getting big, and they also need more help from the guards.
"What's that? What? Oh no, I'm not gonna pass it, I'm just gonna set up the off--" pic.twitter.com/7glacnRq7J
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) January 8, 2016
We need Donovan on the floor. That was very apparent last night.
Watching NC State play a full 40 minute game for the first time, it's pretty apparent why Cat Barber ranks 2nd in the country in minutes played and why his usage rate is so astronomically high ... there's not another ballhandler/playmaker on that team right now. Getting Terry Henderson back in a few weeks is going to help, but right now, the other playable guards on that roster are predominantly spot-up shooters. That being the case, the fact that the Pack are one of the better teams in the ACC in terms of taking care of the ball is pretty remarkable. Cat is good.
Chinanu Onuaku was "wooing" and giggling as he ran around in the backcourt, trying to get away from Lennard Freeman, who wanted to foul him.
— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) January 8, 2016
It's a rare combination these days.
Even though his minutes came during what was the second-worst stretch of the game for Louisville (the worst being the very end), I think it was a positive that Deng Adel was able to play through some mistakes and stay on the court for an extended period of time. The ability is apparent, and getting past the point where he's either trying to do too much or playing scared because he knows his court time is limited is big.
Favorite Jaylen play of the night: going to the wrong bench, winking/blowing a kiss to the camera before shooting a hufe free-throw, or the one-handed hammer putback dunk? I can't decide. So much Earl Clark in that young man.
I know the ending kind of tempered the enthusiasm over this win, but that will improve and it doesn't change the fact that this was both a big-time learning experience and a big-time win for this team. Can't wait for Sunday.