—Spread Check (TaxSlayer Bowl): Louisville by 6.5.
—The Hoops Insight newsletter has a great read on Louisville through 10 games. The newsletter analyzes the differences in the losses to Purdue and Seton Hall, and outlines the one major issue the team needs to correct moving forward.
When we look at the specifics of their poor performance against Seton Hall, the takeaway is a mixed bag. The starters have not had any turnover problems in any other game besides Seton Hall. In fact, in every other game, UofL's starters have committed turnovers at a lower rate than the team average. Seton Hall isn't among the nation's leaders in forcing turnovers, so that feels like a fluke. The defensive rebounding issue, however, may be more real. Louisville has struggled on the defensive glass this season, rating 243rd by KenPom's stats by allowing opponents to collect 31% of their misses. UofL's starters have been slightly worse than the average, allowing 33%, and only managed to dominate the overmatched Siena and George Mason teams.
Seton Hall is one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country, and that gave UofL a lot of problems. Memphis is similarly strong on the offensive glass, and used that strength to hang in against a hot-shooting Cardinals team. UofL's starters again struggled on the glass in that game, allowing Memphis to collect 44% of their misses and being outscored by 1 point in 26 possessions. Unfortunately for the Cards, they face a gauntlet of strong offensive rebounding teams in the coming weeks:
—Albany ranks 12th nationally in offensive rebounding rate, per KenPom.com
—Kentucky ranks 14th
—Florida State ranks 9th
Looking ahead further in conference, Duke and Syracuse are #1 and #2 in offensive rebounding rate. So, UofL is likely to have some struggles in those games, even if the Cards shoot well. They will simply give opponents too many chances.
—Bovada says Alabama beating Georgia is the most likely result of the College Football Playoffs.
2017-2018 Bowl Season - Exact Outcome of the CFP Finals
Alabama Wins Vs Georgia 7/2
Alabama Wins Vs Oklahoma 4/1
Clemson Wins Vs Georgia 4/1
Clemson Wins Vs Oklahoma 6/1
Georgia Wins Vs Alabama 25/4
Georgia Wins Vs Clemson 13/2
Oklahoma Wins Vs Alabama 6/1
Oklahoma Wins Vs Clemson 7/1
—U of L does not appear in Gary Parrish’s top 25 and one rankings for CBS.
—Sports Illustrated says that amid chaos, Louisville is one of college basketball’s most intriguing teams.
All of which, six weeks into the season, makes Louisville one of the country’s most intriguing teams, as well as one of its most difficult to assess. With a program-rocking scandal hanging over their heads and a novice, throw-in-the-deep-end coach at their helm, the Cardinals have neither excelled nor truly disappointed. They have taken care of business when they should have, and their losses have at least come against high-quality competition. While their four-forward lineup is far from conventional, by many measures they do not look terribly different from Louisville teams we came to know under Pitino in recent years: they pressure opponents, don’t shoot many threes, are better at stifling scoring (15th in defensive efficiency) than doing it themselves (51st on offense), and block a lot of shots (20.9% of opponents’ two-point attempts, most in the country). If the same overall caliber of play is not quite there, it is at least not dramatically different in style.
“We’re getting better,” Padgett said Saturday. “Early in the year, our defense was ahead of our offense. I think our offense is starting to catch up a little bit.” Indeed, the Cardinals’ two wins this past week have been their most efficient offensive showings yet: 1.25 points per possession against Memphis and 1.46 versus Bryant. But that too comes with the caveat that Bryant has been one of the country’s worst defensive teams and that the only teams the Tigers have held under 1.00 PPP have been Albany, New Orleans, Little Rock, and that same Bryant team.
But from his spot in the hurricane’s eye, Padgett is trying to keep his evaluations simple and short-sighted. “We haven’t put expectations on our team at any point this year,” he said. While other aspects of his job remain complicated for reasons beyond his control—asked about recruiting, Padgett said, “I don’t think you’re gonna get a kid in the country to commit to Louisville until they know who the head coach is gonna be moving forward”—his weekly goals are simply to go 2–0, which his Cardinals have done for two weeks now.
Soon we will find out how many more 2–0 weeks remain in their future. After pre-Christmas home dates with Albany and Grand Canyon, Louisville travels to Kentucky on Dec. 29 to face a very talented, extremely young group of Wildcats also in the process of figuring themselves out. An upset in Lexington would go a long way toward signaling the Cardinals may remain competitive when ACC play begins in January—and, in a change that would surely please many Louisville loyalists, make the team newsworthy on the court.
—I remember the “Teddy and a baby” night vividly. This is awesome.
Not sure I could be a bigger fan of Teddy Bridgewater autographing a printed out Card Chronicle post. Just fantastic.
—The longest home court winning streak in college basketball will be tested tonight when Le Moyne visits Bellarmine for a 7 p.m. tip at Knights Hall. Michigan head coach John Beilein will be among those in attendance, as his son Patrick (‘sup, 2005 Elite 8) is the Le Moyne head coach. Should be a great night of hoops.
—I’m not sure Quade was aware that the Cats play UCLA this week and not Louisville, which is understandable given how much his fan base talks about U of L.
“We gonna best Louisville...that’s gonna be my Christmas present for y’all”. — Quade Green on Postgame Show— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) December 16, 2017
We’ve got a Gotham Classic to win, kid. We’ll get back to you.
—Early bowl season always gives us incredible gifts, like an assistant coach wearing an awful Christmas sweater trying to hold his head coach back because he’s about to kill an official.
—LeBron James is now calling Donovan Mitchell “young king,” which is pretty awesome.
—The Athletic is a subscription site, but they have a deep dive on Russ Smith averaging 60+ points per game in China.
—Rob Dauster of NBC is not buying Louisville as a contender.
Prior to the season, reasonable minds could disagree about the status of the Louisville program in the post-Pitino era. There still was talent on the roster, and that talent was old enough that, in theory, they could coach themselves. But that hasn’t exactly worked out. Shockingly, replacing one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time with a 32-year old interim in his first season as a head coach is not easy. Louisville will probably make the NCAA tournament still, but I can’t see them being a contender for much of anything this season. Cut your losses now. (RD)
—U of L recaps the women’s basketball thrashing of Kentucky.
—Deng Adel is off to a pretty damn good start.
Deng Adel, through 10 games, has 04-05 Larry O'Bannon scoring numbers: 16 ppg, 49% FG, 37.5% 3FG, 80.5% FT.— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) December 18, 2017
16-17 Mitchell: 15.6/40.8/35.4/80.6
14-15 Rozier: 17.1/41.1/30.6/79
12-13 Smith: 18.7/41.4/32.8/80.4
05-06 Dean: 17.1/38.2/38.2/86
04-5 O'Bannon: 15.2/49/42.5/84.7
—Louisville is not in the field of 68 in the latest Bracketology from CBS.
—The C-J’s Danielle Lerner says spectacular is the new normal for U of L women’s basketball.
—This is promising.
#ESPN class rankings starting early signing period week:— Gerry Hamilton (@HamiltonESPN) December 18, 2017
—Archie Miller’s reaction to Bonzie Colson nearly sending the IU-Notre Dame game to double OT with a halfcourt buzzer-beater was pretty terrific.
—ESPN president John Skipper resigned Monday morning citing substance abuse problems.
—I’ll post about it again later this week but we’re officially doing one final pre-Christmas book signing for 100 Things Louisville. It’ll be from 10 a.m.-noon at the Barnes & Noble in the Paddock Shops (Summit) this Saturday, Dec. 23.
—We’ve all been there, Myrna.
The outburst I had at JoAnn’s Fabrics is not reflective of who I am.— Myrna Tellingheusen (@PearlsFromMyrna) December 16, 2017
—Jeff Greer details how Greg Paulus and a look at some tape help Louisville increase its offensive efficiency.
—Wayne Blackshear has signed a new contract with a professional team in Lebanon. Blackshear had previously been playing in Italy.
—If you’d like to sign your kid up for the U of L swim camp, you can now do that.
—With Florida applying late full-court pressure, this is good to see.
I will officially be a Cardinal on December 20th...— jordan travis (@JTravis10) December 16, 2017
—Eric Crawford recaps the U of L women’s team’s blowout of Kentucky.
—C.L. Brown writes about U of L’s freshmen answering the call so far this season.
“We’ve had a couple of lineups this year where Malik Williams might have been playing the five for us,” Padgett says. “He’s got Jordan and Darius (and) whoever else out there with him. We’ve had lineups like that. Not only have they maintained what we’re trying to do, but helped us.”
The Cardinals’ 71-62 win over Indiana was a perfect example. Williams scored all nine of his points on three 3-pointers. He’s only made six the entire season.
“Malik comes in and makes three 3s otherwise it’s probably a totally different game,” Padgett says. “They come in they do different things. They’ve all learned their roles a little bit and try to execute them when they get out on the court.”
Padgett wasn’t sure it was going to be easy to get them to buy in, especially with none of them being asked to be big scorers. Nwora has the biggest scoring average among the reserves at 6.6 points per game. Convincing Perry, who is an otherwise talented scorer, to accept the role as a defensive stopper also turned out to be easier than he thought. “I said, 'Look, you need to make a name for yourself,” Padgett says. “You need to have a field day soon as you come in the game. You need to take our defense from a nine out of 10 and make it a 10 out of 10. You need to spark us.'”
Padgett says Perry has taken to the role, even though his effectiveness doesn’t always translate into a contribution that can be quantified.
“Sometimes, with freshmen, you never know if they get in the game and they don’t score, they’re down and they’re letting it affect their defense,” Padgett says. “They’ve all helped us at different times in different areas.”
—And finally, R&R is back from 3-6 today recapping all the news of a big weekend. Jeff Walz will join us at 3:30 to talk about his team’s thrashing of Kentucky. Listen here.