Despite a dozen point advantage at halftime of U of L’s eventual 77-60 handling of the Middies, there was a certain uneasiness at the break.
For me, not so much that the Seamen had famously won in Charlottesville opening night. That was an outlier. The Cavaliers are down this season. The game was contested in John Paul Jones Arena, named for the Scottish “Father of American Navy.” (Not to be confused with that other JPJ from across the pond, who played bass for Led Zeppelin.) So Navy was ready for that moment. They lost by 20 next time out to Virginia Tech.
No, the queasiness came from how Louisville, despite its significantly better play — more intense, more focused — than against Furman, was still getting beat underneath. As in on the boards. Home: 11. Visitors 15.
Which included three offensive boards by the fellows from Annapolis in the first couple minutes. Navy had 7 2d chance points at intermission versus only a deuce for the Cards.
As has been the case all season, Malik Williams and Jae’Lyn Withers were getting schooled at the defensive end. Jae’Lyn thrice before the first media timeout. It is a significant problem that needs to be resolved if the Cardinals are to have any success at all.
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But, there were two reasons for optimism halfway through.
Perhaps most important. Alright, really only for me. I got to pet the Frisbee Dog on the way to the Media Room, before his performance.
Since I lost my beloved rescue beagle Abbey, I’m firm of the belief that I need to pet a canine every single day. Walking Cherokee Park provides plenty of opportunities. Monday was chilly. I worked out inside. That contact was necessary.
And provided. I considered it a harbinger of a successful evening.
As for hope on the actual hardwood, there’s this.
The first signs that Roosevelt Wheeler might be a factor sooner rather than later.
Other than just standing around he really really looks like a baller.
In 5:24 of first half action, he grabbed two rebounds. Which matched the total of both Williams, who was on the court for 12:40, and Withers, who got 13:25 of PT.
(Why beefy Sidney Curry was a DNP for the whole affair remains a mystery.)
Wheeler entered the battle at the 7:32 mark of the opening stanza.
Within a minute, he got a steal. Then he forced a turnover by pushing the Middie he was checking to the endline and out of bounds. He took a charge.
He also snared an offensive board, scoring on a follow to put the Cards up 38-26.
He was beaten on one play defensively, but continued to hustle, partially blocked a shot (for which he didn’t get credit in the box score), eventually forcing another turnover.
At 42-26, he snared a Big Man Board.
He was subbed out at 2:08 to an appreciative ovation.
Then . . . only got 4:18 of PT in the second half. ????
Mike Pegues, I scratch my head at your substitution patterns.
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The Cards were outrebounded by 5. Not. A. Good. Thing.
But, U of L had 14 steals — Most in Mack/ Pegues Era? — forcing 19 turnovers.
I find it interesting, given they sort of play the same position, that Sam Williamson and Matt Cross are on the hardwood together a lot. Not disturbing, mind you, just interesting.
They led the Cards in scoring. And energy. The latter, along with indispensable Jarrod West.
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I like how Williamson kept flashing to the middle O. Though there weren’t but a couple of high/low entries.
At one point, U of L ran a total 5 Out set. Everybody was on the perimeter.
Cardinals shooting slashline was sweet. 28/50. 10/24. 11/16.
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Bottom Line: Better.
Still a work in progress.
Next: Detroit Mercy. I would be nice to have more butts in the seats.
— c d kaplan