Hell in the Hall – Louisville Sports Blog

Dedicated to the joyful noise of the Card faithful

U of L K.O.’s IUPUI 90-60–So Why Am I Concerned?

Posted by frankpos on December 8, 2011

Well, we just dismantled an alphabet school that we were supposed to take apart.

So why am I more than a  tad worried?

Freshman Chane Behanan slipped this nifty behind-the -back pass in, and contributed 4 bounds and 6 points--but failed to earn praise from Pitino because of his lack of D.


Part of that worry stems from just being a U of L fan– there always seems to be a concussion or catastrophe of some kind lurking around the corner.

Lord knows, we’ve seen enough of that this year, with nine different players  going down with a variety of exotic contusions.

Gorgui Dieng dropped a double-double on IUPUI, including draining all 8 of his shots, and earned the only true praise from Pitino in the post game presser.


But it’s more than the injuries and NCAA delays in processing.  We are simply not playing top 10 ball right now.

Maybe top 20-25– which, hey, is still damn good.

But…Card Nation salivates for more than that this year.

I know we have started the season 8-0 ….but we did that last year too, with the same carefully orchestrated, home-cooked schedule.  So, sorry, that stat does not impress me.

In his first return to action this season, Rakeem Buckles showed a nice move in traffic on this breakaway. He also importantly grabbed 4 boards in only 11 minutes of play.


What has caught my attention from the beginning is this:  We struggle to score.

Preston (!)  is not walking through that door.  Admiringly, we spread the scoring around, with  all five starters averaging double digit scoring or close to it.  But– we still do not have a go-to guy when we desperately need a score.

Although we did not experience a long scoring drought in this game, we have had 5-8 minute lapses in many of the previous games which was pointed out well by Chick-Stratino in the Card Chronicle http://www.cardchronicle.com/2011/12/5/2612536/the-droughts-of-a-rainy-winter.

Russ Smith slammed this one home...but is still not the answer at the point.


This game, the usual potpourri of players stepped up, with Gorgui Dieng and Chris Smith posting or matching personal bests. Russ Smith and Kyle Kuric top double figures too.  Coach Pitino was unimpressed.  So was I.

As Rick Bozich highlighted in his CJ coverage, this Cardinal team took 8 games to reach 90 points for the first time in the season.  Nine of Coach Pitino’s ten Card teams have reached 90 points in their first three games–the other one took  five games.

Chris Smith came alive in the second half, scoring 12of his 19 pts and dishing 3 assists--to at least earn praise from Pitino for one half..


Injuries have been blamed. Well, there have been plenty of injuries to past teams, and they still got it done.  So…what’s going on?

Here’s my take on it:

  • Besides the lack of a go-to guy, the ball movement this year has been much slower, even in the half court sets. You can blame injuries and the addition of a new player of two some for this, but the core from last year’s team  is the same.  And they moved the ball like lightening.  This is simply a matter of effort and concentration– there are spurts of that every game, but nothing sustained so far.
  • Coach says this will be a good rebounding team–and it still may be–but right now I just don’t see it getting done.  So far we have played a fair collection of stumble bums outside of Vandy, and we still struggle to get the rebound against these severely undersized teams.
  • An adequate back-up for Gorgui has yet to materialize.  Though obviously blessed with a ton of raw talent, Gorgui is still a unassertive  work in progress in the middle.  Say what you will about Terrence Jennings, but he did bring energy to the game, and that effort, size, and ability are missing in any of the back-ups Pitino has tried.  This lack of  true back up center has obviously affected the game flow and rebounding too. Rak Buckles may be the answer here, as he gets healthy–maybe not.
  • Finally, the lack of a back up point guard continues to screw up the O flow.  No more need be said about Russ Smith’s fill-in  efforts at the point.  Even though Russ contributed 12 points in this game, Pitino didn’t want to talk about Russ’s game last night at the presser.  And for good reason– it’s obvious to everyone that Russ is just winging it most times.  But, this must be said too– we didn’t score 90 points even when Siva was healthy.

So, we have to go back to lack of a go-to guy, ball movement, rebounding, and  back-up center…


Peyton Siva is the straw that stirs our drink, and he is slowly rounding back into shape. He had 8 assists and only one TO, but struggled at times in his drives into the lane


How do we fix all this and get to the Promised Land?

The next five games before the New Year’s Eve tilt with Big Blue will yield a couple of tests in Memphis, Western Kentucky, and Georgetown–and some time for Buckles  to get healthy, and for Kevin Ware to make his first appearance as a Card–most likely at the point.  It will also give Elisha Justice time to recover.  Perhaps all three will have enough playing time to be ready for a contribution in the Big Game.  And Wayne Blackshear should be ready –again– in late January.   So time will heal some problems, possibly at the point (Ware and Justice) and at the 5 spot  (Buckles).


Card QB Teddy Bridgewater was in the house, and came to center dourt to acknowldege the cheers of the crowdfor him being named by CBS Sports to its Freshman All-American team.


The other concern points?  Well, frankly, they are question marks that will be answered in  the crucible of tougher competition–which now looms on the  near horizon.  So….  We will find out very soon what this team is truly made of….

(BTW, Matt Wickham took over 100 pics of the game for HITH and his full set is here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/kylures/sets/72157628327597425/detail/

Freshman Angel Nunez got in on the fun, sinking all three of his shots at the end for 7 pts.

Chane Behanan again, with a power put-back.

Oh, yeah....the Ladybirds were there....


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: