In his post game comments, after a lesser effort such as last night’s disengaged let’s-get-this-over-with victory against the Colonials, the master Denny Crum would have said as he did many times, “You need to have a healthy respect for your opponent.”
Chris Mack wasn’t as succinct as that, while offering the same observation.
”To me, this game was about our inability to be ready to play. We were playing uphill the entire game and it was because of having the wrong mindset.”
It’s the holidays. Too much egg nog. Too many cookies. Too much distraction. Team leader on the bench, nursing a bopped noggin’. The Big One next Saturday after a tiring interlude of gotta-get-home-for-the-holidays-and-back-for-practice-Tuesday.
Too much wassail. Too little, uh, “healthy respect for the opponent.”
It happens when that opponent is ranked #288. Especially this time of year.
So, the Cards came out, let’s say, less than enthusiastic, in a front of a relatively somber gathering at the Yum!. Read: Flat.
The first sign it wasn’t going to be easy going came when Steven Enoch missed a point blank dunk on the Cards’ first possession.
En fuego, the visitors drained 11 of their first 15 shots, scored 14 points in the paint, and led U of L 25-17 at the second to last media stoppage of the 1st. Soon enough, at 6:02, Matty McConnell netted a three, and the deficit was 11.
Nervousness among the faithful ensued.
The Cardinals then showed they had a heartbeat, running off 12 straight. A jumper then a couple of FTs by Enoch. An aggressive follow by VJ King. Two Darius Perry charity connections. A Jordan Nwora deuce. An Enoch slam.
Then they gave four back and trailed by 3 at the break. The Cards were -12 off the bench, and had coughed it up 9 times. That they were in the game was a testament to their lack of fouling. Robert Morris missed its only FT before intermission. The visitor’s shooting touch went in cold storage. They missed 11 of their last 14 attempts.
After the break, U of L quickly fell behind by 8, but immediately righted the ship with a nine point run for a 40-39 advantage. After trading buckets, the Cards inexorably forged ahead in steady, if less than spectacular fashion.
* * * * *
Not much else to say. (And, frankly, I gotta get out and finish my shopping.)
The Cards were 22/27 at the line, finishing +17 on freebies. Louisville was +15 on the boards.
Efforts like last night’s listless performance happen. The Cardinals get a pass here. They took care of business, and now can look forward to the serious part of the schedule. Arch Rival, then conference play.
-- Seedy K