You might be able to relate more to this year’s team than you think… One of the most popular New Years resolutions is to start working out and going to the gym. I have made that resolution in the past. You start working out see some results but after about a month those gains slow down and so does the drive. You hit that wall.
This Louisville Basketball team had nowhere to go but up when Chris Mack and his staff got to campus. They were energized by the change and you could see some of the results immediately. The new season gets started and this team appeared to be making some great strides. They beat Michigan State, Seton Hall and demolished Central Arkansas. Then they take that trip to Bloomington. This is the game where I believe this team hit its wall. They haven’t played a really solid game since especially on the defensive side of the ball.
I’m sure it was exciting for the guys learning some new stuff and getting to do something new every day in practice. But the honeymoon is over. Now it’s all becoming more routine. The grind of a College Basketball season has set in. These guys are now competing against the opponent and themselves. Coach Mack mentioned the lack of effort on defense in his pre-game press conference today. It takes digging deep to play that slap the floor defense every trip down the floor.
In that solid three-game stretch I mentioned above the Cards averaged 3 blocks, 5 steals, 12 turnovers forced and 12.6 points off those turnovers. In the last three games they have averaged 2.6 blocks, 2.6 steals, 11.3 turnovers forced, and only 10.3 points off of those turnovers. You can see how those important defensive numbers have dropped off a bit. And the ”defensive kills” that Coach Mack preaches have also dropped off. They had 8 kills in that great win against Seton Hall I think they might have had 1 maybe 2 against Pitt on Wednesday.
This North Carolina team presents a match-up problem with most teams they play due to their length and athletic ability. The Cardinals are going to have to play great in transition defense and limit the Tar Heels in their fast break points. And they must have a good day on the glass just to be able to stay in this game. UNC has scored 280 points off turnovers and average 18.7 points a game off turnovers. They have 205 fast break points this season averaging 13.7 fast break points a game. That’s 32.4 points a game off of those opportunities. Cards have to limit these opportunities.
Even slowing that part of the UNC game plan they still have some pretty good players to stop. Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cameron Johnson are one of the best trios in all of college hoops. They each have their names at the top of every statistical category at UNC. If these three guys have a great day it won’t be a good one for Louisville.
I’m not too concerned with this Louisville team on offense. I think we have enough firepower to compete with anyone. But this team has been too careless with the ball on the offensive end of the floor. In the games against Mich St, Seton Hall and Central Arkansas the Cardinals had 36 turnovers. They had 18 turnovers in the last game alone. The turnover bug has bit this team all season. If they turn the ball over Saturday they will get run…
All of this talk of walls in the news lately… The only wall I’m worried about is the one this Louisville team is facing. This team has done some things wrong but they have never given up. Not last year, not this year. I love this Louisville group. All of the adversity these young guys have faced and they stuck it out. I will be behind them win or lose.
Hope they can find a way Saturday. A lot of things gotta go right to win on the road. Especially at the Dean Dome. Go Cards!