Everyone take a deep breath. The Cards survived and advanced. We will be playing on Saturday for a chance to go to the Sweet 16. This game will be put behind us and it won’t matter. Here are my initial thoughts just a few minutes after the buzzer…
*I thought Wayne Blackshear played a GREAT second half. While everyone else was struggling, he kept hustling and getting offensive rebounds and put backs. He kept us hanging around until the other guys took over at the end.
*Luuuuuuuuuuke! What can you say? The Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four last year showed up in the clutch and hit two huge threes. Louisville shot 4-13 from three point land, and those two along with Russ’ near the end make up 3 of them.
*Luke also had that big steal on the inbounds play and got fouled to go to the free throw line. I thought all game while people were playing out of control, Luke remained calm and still played his game.
*The body language for about 39 minutes was terrible. We hadn’t seen that from this team in quite some time. Montrezl yelled at Russ. Luke ran back in transition and was the only one back and when Manhattan scored, he looked back as if to say “Anyone else want to play defense with me?” After any foul call against us, our guys looked disgusted and would complain and it just didn’t look like the team that finished the season on such a high note.
*I don’t think people realized what a tough matchup this really would be. Coach Masiello was calling out our offensive sets to his team and they knew what was coming. You can’t overlook that. You can’t just say “Well we have the better team so we will win.” If we play 10 times, yes we probably win 9 of them. They only had to be better than us one time, and they were for most of the game. Most of those kids are from New York and if you let them hang around, you are in trouble. You know they don’t lack confidence.
*Speaking of Coach Masiello, what a game that he coached! It really is a shame that this was the matchup because that Manhattan team probably could have made it to the Sweet 16 if they were in another region. I mean they were a few bounces away from beating us and could have beaten St. Louis. So just a heck of a job by Coach Masiello. There are some big named jobs that are open, and expect him to get some calls about those. That man can coach.
*I thought Russ seemed completely lost in this game. He looked to be playing like “Score first, score second” Russ that was trying to get his, and it wasn’t working. He did make a good pass to Montrezl Harrell down low, and I thought that would turn the game around. But even after playing bad for most of the game, it was his HUGE 3 pointer with 3:24 to play that tied the game back up when we were down 3 and it started to look like the season just may end.
*The good thing about all of this is as bad as we played and as stressful as it was, this game is over. We won and now we will move on to play St. Louis. The bad body language, the selfish play, the stuff that we just weren’t used to seeing, none of it matters now. If the Cards come out Saturday and play like we are used to, then tonight is just a stepping stone on our path through this tournament. You have to win 6 games to win the National Championship. Very rarely are all 6 games pretty.
*Go Cards. Beat St. Louis.