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Seedy K’s GameCap: Virginia

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The Cavaliers school Cards yet again, 68-58.

When the pack line defense is working at its best, the purpose is to funnel the offense into a clogged middle, where the player with the ball will be surrounded and smothered.

Even in an off season defensively, Virginia plays that defense better than just about everybody else.

So, it’s a head scratcher that Louisville’s offensive game plan appeared to be: Give the ball to Indispensable Carlik Jones or David Johnson on the pick and roll, and have them drive the ball into . . .

. . . the middle, which is clogged, and where they will be surrounded. And, especially in diminutive ICJ’s case, smothered.

So, it is only mildly surprising that Jones did not tally from the field until the 16:50 mark of the second half. He was 0/8 in the first, 2/15 from the game, while having several shots blocked.

David Johnson, taller and longer, had a smidge more success when driving into the middle, where he was surrounded and occasionally smothered. He was 6/15 from the field.

When your starting backcourt, which played every second of the game, takes 32 of your team’s 57 FG attempts and convert but 8, the team’s chances for success are, uh, nil.

Louisville 58, Virginia 68.

There was never a point in the contest when it seemed like U of L might get over the hump.

* * * * *

But, for argument’s sake, if there was such a juncture, it came with 9:39 left, after ICJ’s second and last FG of the tilt to pull within 4 at 47-51, a rare Sam Hauser miss and a Sam Williamson rebound, and Jae’lyn Withers at the FT line for two freebies, which could have cut the disadvantage to a deuce.

He bricked them both. Soon thereafter compounded that misdemeanor by fouling Tomas Woldetensae on an errant trey. The Wahoo made the FTs, because that’s what UVa does. (11/11 for the afternoon.)

A couple of empty possessions including an unforced turnover, juxtaposed with mature play by the visitors later, and the deficit was 13.

The Cardinals never threatened again. If they ever really had at all.

* * * * *

OK, there was one other :55 seconds when hope sprang delusional. It came about five minutes before the interlude above. Coming out of a timeout, Withers got an offensive board, followed, and converted the +1. Which was followed by a stop, and a Dre Davis trey to pull close at 38-41.

But Uncle Mo abandoned the Cards, and the Cavaliers immediately pulled away again, after Tony Bennett called a settling timeout.

* * * * *

I find Dan Dakich as insufferable as the next hoops fan. The few minutes when he lost connectivity from Indy were a welcome respite.

But there are times, when even he gets it exactly right.

As when U of L had yet another of its way way way too many moribund offensive possessions, and the former IU Hoosier player and assistant coach declared, “Louisville loses by 20 if that’s their offense. No movement.”

I watch a lot of college hoops. Louisville’s offense is inexplicably more static than any other school’s I can think of.

I don’t understand.

* * * * *

Though it’s still not a given, actually far from a given, one supposes the Cards will slip into the Dance.

Without Malik Williams. Without a real personality. Without any discernible sense of focus. Without any reasonable hope of making any noise, should they make it to the semi-bubble in Indy.

* * * * *

Mack and his players weren’t the only ones with a less than exemplary performance Saturday.

In the school’s post game notes, there was this:

“Samuell Williamson recorded a double-double, posting nine points and 10 rebounds, the fifth double-double this season for the sophomore.”

* * * * *

Without Malik, U of L has zero post presence.

UVa scored 32 in the paint. Almost at will, frankly.

U of L is now 2-11 against UVa as a member of the ACC, 5-17 overall.

Next up: An early round Must Win in the ACC tourney. It appears, as of Saturday night, it will be against the winner of Duke vs. Boston College.

— c d kaplan