Time: 8:02 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Vegas Line: Louisville -13.5, o/u 133.5
Time to 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐝.
🏀: vs. Navy
⏰: 8 p.m. ET
📺: @ACCNetwork pic.twitter.com/HsmmuEj6MW
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) November 15, 2021
The Louisville men’s basketball team is back home on Monday night for a matchup with the Navy Midshipmen inside the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville finds itself in an unfamiliar spot after losing in overtime to Furman on Friday. The Cards enter at 1-1 and had won 59 consecutive November home games dating back to 1972.
Navy is less than a week removed from a road win over Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena, UVA’s first home-opening loss under head coach Tony Bennett. The Midshipmen came back down to Earth over the weekend in a 20-point loss at home to Virginia Tech. The reigning Patriot League regular season champions return four starters and nearly all of the total minutes from last season’s roster.
Through two games, the backcourt trio of John Carter Jr. (11.5 pts, 5.0 reb.), Sean Yoder (10.5 pts., 3.5 reb) and Greg Summers (9.0 pts., 5.0 reb.) have led the way. Six players in total are averaging more than 6.5 points and 3.0 rebounds on the season. It is a small, perimeter-based team that has caused opponents trouble with their ability to rebound out of the backcourt. Where they have not particularly shined is when shooting the basketball, something Louisville has struggled to defend on the young season.
The Cards’ interior defense has been rock solid through two games, but they have still struggled rebounding the ball. Simply put, there has been a major lack of focus on both ends which has allowed two smaller, less athletic teams to hang right with Louisville in its own arena.
The story for Louisville continues to be on the offensive end of the floor as it heads into the second week of the season. Any excitement around the new-look offense has quickly evaporated, and the Cards find themselves in a prove-it position already at this point in the season. Some early struggles could have probably been expected after the massive roster turnover, but things are starting to look worrisome for this group. Style can only go so far if the execution is not there.
It would be a mistake to call Monday’s game a must-win for Louisville, but the pressure is officially on this team to show why they should be taken seriously. After escaping in the final 10 minutes against Southern last week, Furman came to town and really stunned the Cards in the second half and overtime before winning by 8. If there is any reason to be hopeful, it is that these early season struggles look more like a confidence or effort issue rather than a problem with the talent level on the court. Playing without your head coach for six games is not an easy situation to be in, but struggling like this against sub-100 mid majors is inexcusable no matter who is coaching from the sideline.
One win in November won’t mean all that much in the bigger picture. That said, things are looking much more dire than anyone would have guessed. The truth is, nobody knows who is going to step up and lead this team statistically. Someone will eventually rise, but as of now, it is totally unclear how good or bad this team can be in 2021-2022. We probably will not figure that out for quite a while. Win in style on Monday, and you will have bought yourself some time to get things right before the return of Coach Mack. We will see if the Cards can deliver.
Louisville 77 Navy 61