-It was good to see the Cards get back on track at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Any road win in the ACC is a good one. Let’s knock out some quick hitters and film review and turn our attention to the next game. A little one on Saturday.
-Welcome back, Carlik Jones! He let us all know he had returned when he buried the first three of the night for either team on his way to 11 points. He also dished out seven assists, grabbed four rebounds, and only had two turnovers. He didn’t shoot the ball that well and Chris Mack said that Jones got winded during the game (due to lack of practice lately), but having him back to knock some rust off was huge.
-Carlik coming back also took some pressure off of David Johnson, who played much better than he did against Wisconsin when he probably tried to overcompensate for Jones being out. Johnson had 17 points and 11 rebounds and was dominant down the stretch to help close the game out. Pittsburgh could not stop him on drives to the basket. He was 8/12 from the field and 7/7 on his two-point shots. The six turnovers are still too many, but he took a step in the right direction.
-Joining David Johnson in the double-double department was Samuell Williamson, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. You will see on a couple of the film review plays that Williamson does a really good job of moving without the ball and cutting to the basket. It sounds simple, but doing that as opposed to just standing and watching the ball is a big deal. The defense gets locked in on the ball handler and Sam is able to sneak behind them and get open looks.
-Jae’Lyn Withers and J.J. Traynor battled with Pitt big man John Hugley. He is listed at 240 lbs. While Withers is listed at 230 lbs. (it sure seemed like more than a 10 lb. difference), Traynor is just 200 lbs. They played their butts off and held their own against Hugley. It would have been easy to accept he was just bigger, but they did anything but that and they made him work for everything and even frustrated him at times.
-Louisville won a game where they shot 4/17 from three (23.5%) and 12/21 from the free throw line (57.1%). Not a recipe that I want to see continue. Let’s get those numbers up.
-Speaking of, Quinn Slazinski has GOT to start knocking down some of his open looks. He is 2/16 from three. From two, he is 10/15. With Carlik Jones and David Johnson driving the lane, the threes will be there. But 2/16 just isn’t going to cut it.
-Good to see Josh Nickelberry back on the court and also knocking down a three pointer.
-Louisville had 17 turnovers. Way too many. David Johnson and Sam Williamson had 10 of those. Three of the turnovers were our guys simply stepping on the out of bounds line when they caught the ball. Can’t happen. You can not give up possessions by making mental mistakes like that.
-Pitt’s acting head coach does not understand the whole wearing a mask thing.
-Boxing out was a lot better in this game for the Cards. And that resulted in a 45-26 rebounding edge.
-In summary, it wasn’t a great performance, but a win nonetheless. After the debacle at Wisconsin, we’ll take the victory and move on to Saturday.
-As always, thank you for checking this out. Go Cards!
This seems so small, I realize that. But you run faster without the ball than with it, so the less dribbles you need to make, the better. Carlik Jones putting the pass out in front of DJ and making him go get it could be the difference in this and-one or DJ getting caught. pic.twitter.com/kWOTuUQps4— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
J.J. Traynor is fronting the big man down low, so there HAS to be help on the backside from Sam or Carlik. Otherwise it is an easy lob and finish. The passer also has no ball pressure from DJ so he easily makes that pass. pic.twitter.com/AEXkHhuiVs— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Pitt is in a zone here and Carlik ends up with all 10 eyes from the defense on him. Sam is really good at cutting to the basket and not just standing still. It pays off. Cutting behind the bottom line of the 2-3 and not where they can see him is why he is open. pic.twitter.com/6uj8V0H1Wm— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Feel like I always have to show this when it works. Set play all about timing. DJ breaks out to catch the ball. At the same time, Dre Davis sets a back-screen for Traynor, who draws the foul. pic.twitter.com/5FtgkDEygx— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Josh Nickelberry (guarding the ball when this starts) should have just followed his man straight off the screens to stay with him. Instead he takes a really bad angle to maybe cut him off? I don’t know, but it took much longer to get there and ended up as three points. pic.twitter.com/neVjRTkyCh— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
This was looking like a beautiful play with Carlik making the extra pass. Quinn just has to start making these. He is now 2/16 from three this season. Eventually you just have to knock them down or get someone else in that corner. pic.twitter.com/YoWj1Ei63N— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Withers switches on the ball screen here but is not ready to defend it. His feet get crossed up, he is not low enough in his stance, and he gets blown by because of it. pic.twitter.com/285LaFNCbI— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
DJ has the big man on him because of a switch. He takes advantage and drives to make a play. Again, Sam does a good job cutting to the basket and then delivering the ball to Traynor, who has an easier time scoring with his original man guarding David Johnson. pic.twitter.com/kBeFCIYQC9— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Good sequence from David Johnson. He keeps the play alive with the offensive rebound and ends up getting the bucket. This pushed the lead from six to eight and helped keep UofL in control the rest of the way. Huge made basket. pic.twitter.com/8Zsmt3LbBp— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
How important is Carlik Jones on defense? Remember all of the miscommunications and easy baskets that Wisconsin got? All he does here is help and get in the right spot. Pitt ends up turning the ball over on this possession. Easy dunk to cut it to eight, or a turnover. Big play. pic.twitter.com/rdnYRfFDfS— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Sam takes a bad angle on the closeout. Not really sure why he angled his body the way he did and gave up the easy drive to the middle. But up 12 with under two minutes to play, just be solid and under control. No need to be super aggressive (or turn the opposite way anyway). pic.twitter.com/6TMS6SnZKp— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020
Ending on a positive. David Johnson just going coast to coast. I thought he was great in the final few minutes to close the game out. They could not stop him going to the basket. Much better when he plays his game and doesn’t try to do too much. pic.twitter.com/m2aDMYjtCW— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) December 24, 2020