If there were a cliche more extreme and less worn out than “a tale of two halves,” I would use it here. Since, to my knowledge, there is not, let’s get straight to some thoughts on the evening that was at the KFC Yum Center.
—Forget the two losses, the first half of Wednesday night’s game was the low point of the season to date. The crowd was as bad as we’ve ever seen for a home game (more on that later), the team acted like getting out to a 12-2 lead was all it needed to do in order to blow Siena out, and the same mistakes that plagued U of L against Purdue and Seton Hall left them in a nailbiter with a 2-5 team from the MAAC heading into the locker room.
In a perfect world, what happened next will be discussed in the months of February and March as “the turning point.”
So disgusted was David Padgett with the performance of his team that he began his stomp to the locker room while Siena was still wrapping up its end of half possession. When he emerged, he did so sans tie and with a team that had quite obviously been laid into for an extended period of time.
Everything from that point on was different. The bench was up and enthusiastic on every possession, the players on the floor valued each and every offensive trip with a level of care that had been non-existent up to this point, and Louisville rolled to a final score that won’t make anyone do a double-take when they see it scrolling across the bottom line tonight and tomorrow.
Again, here’s we hear players talking about what happened around 8 p.m. on Dec. 6 as a season-shifting deal.
—The first half turnovers were once again maddening. It was like because the team was super successful offensively in the first five minutes guys just started thinking they could do whatever they wanted and it was going to workout. It didn’t, and U of L’s 11 first half turnovers resulted in 14 Siena points and a much tighter game than anyone would have expected given the way the Cardinals were shooting the ball.
The second half, obviously, was much better. U of L only gave the ball away five times, most of which came after an 18-0 run which effectively put to bed any fears of a disastrous December defeat.
The task now for Louisville is to not assume that this is the norm just because it happened for 20 minutes. Becoming an efficient offensive team requires constant focus and all five guys being on the same page possession after possession. We saw that for a half Wednesday night against a bad defensive team. That doesn’t mean the problem is solved, but hopefully it’s the first of many steps in the right direction.
—I loved David Padgett having none of Ray Spalding and Darius Perry getting into it with Nico Clareth.
I’m not saying this is why the 18-0 run happened, but I am pointing out that said run had just started when this went down.
—Speaking of Clareth, there was a key stretch in the first half and early in the second where we just refused to locate him on the court. This is becoming a bit of a troubling trend with this team where they can’t find the one guy on the court that they can’t afford to lose. They did a better job in the heart of the second half and it helped that Clareth also seemed to lose his head a little bit.
—Jimmy Patsos rules.
—I think we all knew Quentin was going to come around offensively, and it certainly seems as though that’s happening. He did a great job of letting the game come to him Wednesday night, knocking down four of the seven shots he took including two of three from beyond the arc, and finishing with 16 points.
—It’s hard to believe we’ve gotten this deep in the post without bringing up the fact that Anas Mahmoud was one block short of becoming the fourth player in U of L history to record a triple-double.
Some people are mad at David Padgett for pulling Anas out of the game with more than four minutes to play, but honestly I’m putting this on Kenny Klein. Anas was out there for like three and a half minutes needing one block for the triple-double. In that span he got his hands on the ball like two or three times during a defensive possession. You’re telling me you couldn’t write one of those deflections up as a block? Not one?
Don’t think Kenny’s going to be able to sleep tonight, and he shouldn’t. He deprived us all of some much-needed history.
Perfect horn placement. pic.twitter.com/zjiCM6Ra9I— E-totha-dubbel-L IOTT (@El_Dog02) December 7, 2017
—Jordan Nwora seemingly being a lock to score in double figures off the bench is an asset I’m not sure any of us were expecting. I also don’t want to think about where this team would be if they didn’t have it. If he sticks around, he’s going to be a terrific four year player here.
Please stick around, Jordan.
—Giving up 18 offensive rebounds to Siena is not good. It was something Rick Pitino harped on constantly, but this team really needs the guards and small forwards to help out. Anas and Ray have never been tremendous rebounders, especially on the defensive end. In fact, it seems like they rarely make an attempt to put a body on anyone, they just try and play the ball off the rim. That has to be improved, especially with much bigger and better frontcourts coming up on the schedule.
—I’m not saying you should have pulled his hood, but somebody should have.
For legal purposes, let me say that the statement above this tweet was a joke.
—Yes, the attendance was awful. Yes, there were (by the count of someone there) just 67 people in the student section. Yes, finals started today, but every school across the country has to deal with finals, and many of them (including Louisville in some years past) manage to fill their student section by more than 8 percent.
It’ll feel more like normal for bigger games, but this is kind of going to be the deal this year. As I always say when fan complaints start flooding in during football and basketball season: Don’t let it affect you too much one way or the other. You can’t control other people, and trying to do so is only going to ruin your good time.
Watch the games how you see fit, enjoy the games how you see fit, and then do the same thing the next time the Cards are in action. We’re all in the same boat, we’re just not all rowing the same way right now. But rowing in different directions is still better than jumping off.
Jimmy Patsos walks up to David Padgett’s tall microphone at the podium and grins. “I was a center in college, too, but that was Division III.”— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) December 7, 2017
—The defense hasn’t been the issue so far this season, but I’ve still been really surprised by our lack of pressure at every level on the court. In the second half U of L really ratcheted things up, including some full court stuff when Darius Perry was in the game. I would really like to see more of that moving forward.
As a former player told me, “these guys came here to play up and down, it’s what we do.” The press has been the great equalizer in so many years past for the Cards. Here’s hoping it can be again.
—This team needs another knockdown outside shooter. Ryan McMahon will play solid minutes whenever he’s healthy, and they’ll be important minutes.
—As impressed as I was with Anas tonight, I also don’t understand how one guy can have nine blocks against a team without a formidable post presence. Like, did Siena’s guards think that eventually the ball was going to magically start going through Anas when they kept driving right at him? I get that you want to be aggressive, but at a certain point you’ve got to realize that that type of aggression is counter-productive.
—Happy 14-year anniversary to Kendall.
Anas Mahmoud's 9 blocked shots are the most by a Louisville player since Kendall Dartez had 9 in a 56-40 win over Holy Cross on Dec. 7, 2003.— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) December 7, 2017
—An immobile 6’9 bench player named Sammy going for 15 and 15 against us is not a good thing. In case you were wondering, Sammy Friday entered Wednesday night’s game averaging 2.0 ppg and 2.8 rpg. This was just the third time in his college career that he had score more than three points in a game, and the first time he’d ever scored more than seven.
Shoutout to Sammy Friday. Reverse shoutout to the U of L frontcourt for letting Sammy Friday look like Ben Wallace for a night.
—Jacob Redding low leads the nation in both two-point field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Hell of a start to his college career.
—Even though it went against what I wanted to see, this was the highlight of the first half.
Jimmy Patsos, during an on-camera interview during Siena's game vs. Louisville on ESPN2, said he was running a play for Nico Clareth. He hit a 3. "See, my play worked." Then he walked away.— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) December 7, 2017
—Someone has got to make V.J. King relax or I fear that his entire sophomore season is going to go like this. Maybe buy him some essential oils to rub on before every game. Shit I don’t know. I’m just spit-balling here.
—One Gotham Classic win down, three to go.
Hit me, DJ ...
If we lock up a Gotham City championship with a win over Bryant on Dec. 20 and DJ K-Dogg doesn’t play this during the postgame handshake, then my Christmas is going to be ruined.
—Bring on the Hoosiers. These are the only three days all year where I’m really going to miss Crean in Bloomington.