“I’m as proud of this basketball team as any game I’ve ever coached because I’ve never seen a team have so many open looks from layups to wide open shots off good ball movement and (the shots) not falling. Earlier this year we had the same thing happen and we got down and we didn’t play good defense. But these guys kept their attitude and just focused on one thing: winning the game. You know Georgia Tech is just like us. We have two better players than them, but they’re just like us. They run great stuff, but the ball doesn’t go in. They’re not a good shooting team and we’re not a good shooting team. And that’s the most frustrating thing because they do so many great things offensively and so many great things defensively, and so did we. But when the shot doesn’t go in, you struggle. But they’re a team that played Duke to the wire and had them. Notre Dame in overtime. They’re young right now and they suffer the same things we suffer and that’s ‘you have wide open shots and they don’t go down.'”
Anybody know what the heck happened in those last 30 seconds? Wow! Louisville battles all the way back after looking so bad offensively and they finally get the lead back at 48-46 with 1 minute to go. Then with 25 seconds left Georgia Tech scores, and “just like that, in the blink of an eye” Terry Rozier gets a layup and the Cards lead again by 2 with 22 seconds left. After a turnover, a missed shot, and clutch free throws by Wayne Blackshear, Louisville held on to beat Georgia Tech 52-51. I plan on this being a few quick thoughts. We will see…
This team still has some fight left
Regardless of what Chris Jones did or didn’t do to get himself dismissed from the Louisville basketball team, the fact is that it happened and now it is over with and time to move on. There will surely be people for the rest of the season that play the “what if” game if the Cards struggle. “Well, if Chris Jones was still there….” and so on and so on. Bottom line: it doesn’t matter now. Chris Jones is not on the team. “What if” scenarios are for discussion and don’t mean much more than that. This team still has talent. Although Jones is very talented himself, it feels like this may be a case of addition by subtraction when it comes to the locker room and team chemistry. Because of that, I feel like a new season of Louisville basketball begins tonight at Georgia Tech.
“Well I’m buying beer because we finally got 35 deflections. And we needed it. Montrezl (Harrell) got 11. We needed the deflections tonight because our defense had to win it for us. The reason we got off to such a bad start- I haven’t seen our guys do this- on every drive to the basket, including Montrezl, we were trying to lean into the guy to draw the foul, and it was taking us out of our offensive rhythm by doing that. Then, when you have a start like that, the guys start to panic and they don’t want to shoot, as Chris Jones had a wide open three. But in the second half, I said, `Let’s just play defense every possession. We will win the game. Get our deflections picked up because we had 20 at halftime, and that’s what I want to see.’
Rick Pitino met with the media on Friday afternoon for about 20-25 minutes to talk about the Miami game, along with many other things. He talks about Chris Jones, Wayne Blackshear, team meetings, and much more. Here is the transcript.
There are a lot of big games that come into play when you’re in a league like the ACC, but by far this game has the most significance to us at this time. It’s probably the most important game for us that’s come in here this year with more significance than just an outstanding opponent. Because if you look at the standings, if our hope is to finish in the top four and get a double bye, we suddenly go with three other teams, including Miami, record-wise. So we need a win desperately at this point. There’s a lot at stake for both teams and certainly we need a very loud, very enthusiastic crowd, we need great defense from our team, need a lot of emotion tomorrow afternoon.
You know, we played well. I thought Quentin Snider played outstanding. It wasn’t his play, it was Wayne Blackshear not getting in foul trouble. We had to go substitute out of weakness rather than strength. But I thought we moved the ball great in the first half, did a lot of really good things. We missed a lot of shots that would have kept us in the game in the second half, wide-open, we had two in the corner.
But what’s stopping us from being a very good basketball team is the last three years we’ve been one of the most feared defensive teams in the nation, with steals, turnovers, and we’ve just been void of both. I’m going to put out there on Kenny (Klein’s) web site to try and motivate our guys — who’s getting the deflections. Again, we’re falling short of it, so I’m using you to motivate my players.
Nevermind the freezing temperatures outside. If you get on social media, the world seems to be ending and it has nothing to do with weather. It has everything to do with Louisville losing their second basketball game in a row. This game had plenty of storylines if you are a Cards fan, from a suspended point guard to a senior not exactly stuffing the stat sheet. Here are just some of my quick hitting thoughts after the 69-59 loss at Syracuse. I won’t try to paint a National Championship picture, but I also won’t act like we should give up the sport for good after this season. This will just be honest opinions from yours truly, a fellow fan of the Cards.
Chris Jones did it to himself
“I am really, really excited about this game tonight because we had a surprise at the beginning of the game, that Wayne Blackshear couldn’t play and then Quentin Snider had to come in and give us a good performance and he did. So I am really, really happy. Obviously, I am kind of amazed that Montrezl Harrell could play the entire game without a break and play as hard as that. His motor is kind of incredible, but the only bad thing is we are shooting 50 percent which is good execution, the other team is not, but we did not get a steal in the first half. The reason our press is not as successful is that we are not trapping. We are letting them clear us out and in the second half we went after them, and our 4’s and 5’s made a lot of key plays. So we are playing good defense, our offense executed well, but we got a big lift tonight from guys that don’t normally play, I thought Quentin (Snider) did an excellent job.”
Right after the game ended, Coach Pitino did a quick interview with the ACC Digital Network. He raves about Montrezl Harrell, and says they caught a bad break with Wayne Blackshear.
Here are Coach Pitino’s comments after the thrilling comeback win over North Carolina on Saturday. The video is from TheCrunchZone.com and the transcript from the Courier Journal is also included.
(Opening Statement) “As far as playing at home, what’s really applicable is what John Wooden said a long time ago, `Be quick but don’t hurry.’ That’s really the reason why we haven’t played well at home, we are rushing things offensively, from the pick and roll on and not letting our movement set in. In the second half, we didn’t do it but I am real excited because we didn’t play well offensively and we won it. This team needed to get back to, I told them in the one timeout we were up 11 at their place and now we are down 11 and we need to get this game back, but I needed the old Louisville team back. I can’t have the one that just wants to score and they dug in, the rebounding was a big edge in their favor, in the second half we held them to two and we got 22 second-shots ourselves. Real, real proud of our guys, took a heck of an effort to win the game but we believed we were going to win it.”
Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen after a loss is a lot of time off between games. It feels like the Cards haven’t played in a month. They will finally hit the court again on Sunday at 4 p.m. when they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers on the road. The game will be on CBS.
Rick Pitino talked about the game at his press conference on Friday afternoon. Here is what he had to say.
“As you all know, Pitt’s had a great winning record at home, nearly 88 percent, and certainly, they have a great home court with their student body. It’s always been a tough place to play, and we’re looking forward to it. Obviously it’s a nationally televised game, and I know our players are fired up about it.”
When there is a week off in between Louisville basketball games, any kind of story will turn into a big deal. This time it is the fact that junior Montrezl Harrell is no longer a captain on the team. When I first heard that news, it really wasn’t a big deal to me because I couldn’t have told you who the captains were anyway. In my book, the captains are Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier. So my first reaction to the news that Montrezl was no longer a captain was basically “Oh, he WAS a captain?”
On his weekly radio show on WHAS, Rick Pitino went into detail about why Harrell isn’t a captain anymore. He said it was actually Montrezl who asked to have that title stripped from him.
Entering the game against Duke on Saturday, junior Montrezl Harrell needs just 12 points to reach 1,000 points for his career at UofL. He would be the 66th career 1,000 point scorer in UofL men’s basketball history. That ranks 2nd only to North Carolina, who has 70 players with 1,000 points.
Harrell is averaging a career high 15.2 points per game this season. The most recent Card to reach this milestone is Russ Smith, who also reached it as a junior. He finished his career with 1,908 points, ranking him 5th all-time in UofL history.
Coach Pitino met with the media on Friday afternoon to preview the Duke game. The Cards will face Duke on Saturday, one week after facing North Carolina. These are regular season games for us now people. How cool is that?
Video from Howie Lindsey of CardinalSports.com. Transcript from Courier-Journal.com.
Opening statement: Well I like 12 o’clock games much better than 9 o’clock games so we’re looking forward to this. Certainly this conference is different on every given night. Any time you have a large conference, you’ll see things that you don’t expect. Certainly, you did not expect the Miami victory that way in the last 10 minutes of the game. But nonetheless Duke presents a lot of problems for us that we have got to take care of in order to get a victory.
When the schedule for this basketball season was released, one of the first things that most people looked for was probably when the Cards would play North Carolina and Duke. If so, they would see that at this time in January, they would face those teams on back to back Saturdays, which is pretty awesome. What they may have overlooked was that little game in between, which is tonight’s matchup against Virginia Tech. In what would usually be a classic trap game, I don’t think that will be the case tonight.
Coach Rick Pitino spoke to Terry Meiners on Monday afternoon about the Kentucky game, a lineup change, and more. You can click the link and listen to the interview, or check out the full transcript below from courier-journal.com.
One of the main reasons I have this website is to be able to voice my opinion and have a forum to do it on. Rather than send 50 tweets or make a Facebook status (which I rarely do about sports anymore) about a particular game, it is easier to be able to make a post on here, where I have all the room that I need. If people choose to read it, then that’s great. If not, well I still survive so it’s OK.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Louisville-Kentucky basketball game on Saturday afternoon. Like I did a few times during football season, this will be a post of thoughts from me without watching the replay yet on TV. It is always different being at the game or watching at home, where you can hear the announcers and probably have more information. I am not sure I will watch the game again, but these are just 5 thoughts that stick out just from being at the game and seeing it only once.
When the Cards and Cats take the court on Saturday afternoon in one of the most anticipated regular season games of the season, Kentucky will do so with a significant height advantage. This is a pretty well-known fact, however I feel it is still worth noting. I knew Kentucky overall was just tall, but looking at the heights side by side, it is pretty staggering.