By Justin Renck:
Villanova 73- Louisville 64
It’s been a while since I have had a post-game write-up. I figured I would come back and do one tonight after a Cards victory, and by the looks of it, I had plenty of things to write about. Wayne’s shooting, Stephan Van Treese sparking a 1st half run, Gorgui finding his offensive rhythm, and Peyton Siva’s double-double. Well obviously the Cards didn’t pull through, but there was still plenty to say, so here it goes.
What jumps out at me right away are 3 things: 1) Free throws, 2) Russ Smith, and 3) Energy.
1) Free throws: The Cards shot just 12-24 from the free throw line. 50% is a terrible percentage to shoot from the free throw line. They are free, and no one is guarding you. Frankly, there can never be excuses for missed free throws. Villanova shot 22-29 (75.9%) for the game.
Here is the free throw break down for the Cards: Peyton Siva (4-4); Russ Smith (4-6); Chane Behanan (3-9); Gorgui Dieng (0-2), Montrezl Harrell (0-2), and Stephan Van Treese (1-1).
2) Russ Smith: Apparently Russ did not eat his waffles today. Something just was not right. Well, a lot of things were not right for him. Russ shot 2-13 and was 0-4 from the 3 point line. He also chipped in with 4 turnovers and only 1 rebound. He never took over the way we are used to seeing from him.
3) Energy: Villanova came out to play, and it did not look like the Cards did. Maybe we just expected to show up and win? I am not sure, but ‘Nova definitely had more energy and effort out there. With a few minutes left in the game and the score pretty close, I said “We don’t deserve this one.” Of course I said I would take the win, but it did not feel like we deserved to win this Big East road game. It takes a lot to win those, and I didn’t think we brought what it takes.
Now those are just the 3 biggest things that jump out at me right away. I haven’t seen any replay of the game, and I started writing this right when the game ended. But those are all just my opinions.
Last year, we had a 30 point (or so) loss to Providence. We also got beat by over 30 to Notre Dame a few years ago. There always seems to be that head-scratcher of a game that the Cards just don’t show up for. Maybe this was that one. I am not sure a team will beat us by 30 this year, so maybe this was the bad loss that usually seems to happen.
There were some positives that happened in this game as well. Wayne Blackshear shot 5-8 from 3 point land and scored 17 points. He also had 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Peyton Siva had a double-double with 15 points and 13 assists. Gorgui Dieng also had a decent night with 10 points and 9 rebounds. He seemed to find his offensive game, which has been missing since he returned from the wrist injury.
I was very impressed with Stephan Van Treese in the 1st half. With the Cards down 23-13, SVT made a lay up and got fouled, and made the free throw. Then he grabbed a defensive rebound, and that led to a Wayne Blackshear 3 pointer. Next possession, SVT took a charge, which led to a Blackshear dunk on the Cards’ next possession. SVT and Wayne Blackshear were the big sparks in the 12-0 run that got the Cards back into the game.
Clearly, I am still very confident in this team, no doubt about that. I just think it was an off night. It just happened to be after a tough loss against Syracuse, so it seems a lot worse than it really is. So just relax Cards fans. There is still plenty of season left, and we know that UofL is known to play its best basketball in February and March! Here’s to hoping we get back on track this Saturday at Georgetown! Go Cards!