Ball dropping fast on the Cards

The U of L loss to UNLV is not my game to cover. Rick Bozich is there writing the official C-J column. I watched it on TV like everyone else, though I missed the horrible start. Still, it doesn’t take a courtside seat to see this team has problems. A quick take from the couch . . .

Happy New Year.

It’s only 8 p.m. Eastern as I write this, but the ball has officially dropped on the University of Louisville’s basketball grace period.

The Cardinals officially go into the New Year as colossal underachievers, and their job over the next month or so will be to shed that label.

Should old acquaintance be forgot?

U of L can forget its acquaintance with college basketball’s Top 25. For a team that began the season with more hype than the Times Square ad-scape, this one has done nothing, not the first thing, to distinguish itself against even decent competition.

Granted I watched this game from my couch. But it doesn’t take a courtside seat to see the problems with this team.

You’ve got Terrence Williams throwing up shots like he’s auditioning for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Brickin’ Eve.

You’ve got no offensive identity, no players who look as if they understand their offensive roles. Williams thinks he’s a jump shooter. Earl Clark is just looking to find what he can instead of being a focal point. The guards aren’t creating.

I missed the 2-for-17 start, but that’s all right.

I can sum up this loss in one play. With less than a minute to play and a one-point lead, Rick Pitino called timeout to set something up. The Cards then came out and did not make a single purposeful move with the basketball before Andre McGee lost it on the dribble — in a spot where he’d have been whistled for a shot-clock violation one second later.

When this happens, there are only two possibilities.

Somebody drew up a bad play.

Somebody didn’t care enough about winning to run the play that was drawn up.

Either way, it’s now officially a significant problem. For the record, I think Pitino can sit down in a timeout and design something that will work. In fact, I know he can. Because nobody — nobody — would draw up the kind of mish-mash that the Cardinals ran out of that timeout. Unless, somehow, a Jackson Pollack wannabe abstract artist got hold of the coaching clipboard and dry erase marker.

What I don’t know is whether his players ever intend to execute what they’re being told to do, or whether they now have the psychological fortitude to again use this backs-to-the wall mentality to make the kind of New Year’s runs they’ve made the past two years.

(U of L’s final play, by the way, was a decent one. Or at least, it produced a good scenario — Williams driving to the basket with what turned out to be a decent look. And for Williams, I consider any shot inside of four feet a decent look. He took a little contact on that shot, but not enough to force what happened — a tepid looking attempt that didn’t even get to the rim. For a guy capable of SportsCenter dunks, I expect a bigger explosion to the basket).

This team shot out like a New Year’s fireworks display a couple of weeks ago when it blasted out to a big lead against Ole Miss. And since that time, it has played like a dud.

Perhaps it’s time to go back to that game, establish Clark’s primacy in the offensive attack and move forward. That’s provided, of course, that Clark even feels like having a big season, something you have to question when he was withheld from the starting lineup game before last for not practicing hard.

Not practicing hard? That’s a bad sign after Christmas.

I guess, all things considered, I’d rather have great talent that hasn’t come together than a team playing well without great talent. Where there is talent, there’s hope, though as the Cards have demonstrated well enough to write a textbook on the subject, talent is not nearly enough.

I’ve seen it before. Dysfunctional teams with talent don’t take long to get well. But first, they have to admit they have a problem.

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet?

I wouldn’t count on it. Not with Kentucky coming in Sunday and the Big East season approaching.

Maybe they’ll get things together somewhere down the road, but the Cards will ring in the new year kissing mediocrity square on the mouth.

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16 thoughts on “Ball dropping fast on the Cards

  1. Very true words spoken here! Not the way I thought we Cards fans would start out the New Year! A lot of work needs to be done by this team…hope they can get it together before it’s too late!

  2. I did a real smear job on Tim Masthay in today’s paper, check it out!I’m wishing I could find a replay of T-Will’s last shot. I’ve heard from some folks I trust that he got banged on the forearm, and I’m willing to accept it from people who had a better view of it than I did. So I’ll modify that comment of the blog, in deference to the fact that I was just watching from home on this one.

  3. Eric, I must say you’re wrong to believe Pitino can draw up a play. He has to be one of the worst coaches in college basketball in the last three minutes of a game. Heck, just look at his strategy at the end of a half. He honestly believes that an end-of-half, “last possession” play shouldn’t be started until 6 seconds are on the clock to “ensure the other team doesn’t have a chance of scoring.” Are you kidding me? No other coach in college basketball employs this strategy. Everyone knows that you start a play with around 10 seconds, shoot around 5-6 seconds, and give yourself a chance for a putback. Unless Pitino’s teams are forcing turnovers and hitting outside shots, he doesn’t stand much of a chance.Also, why do Samardo and TWill not have such a short leash but others on the team do? If there was any time that Goode or Jennings should have gotten a shot, it was last night. Goode is a solid defender and there is nothing to indicate that he would be a complete liability on the offensive side. He was a top-50 player in high school himself. I’m not sure why he’s not getting more PT.

  4. Charles, every coach in the NBA waits until 6 seconds. Coach K over at Duke waits until 6.How many times have you seen a team miss, and the other team drive the length of the floor for a layup in transition?One aspect of the final shot yesterday that I didn’t get into — where were the offensive rebounders? I understand clearing out the lane for a guy to drive, but somebody needed to be crashing behind him.Otherwise, I’ll stand by my opinion of Pitino and play calling.

  5. This team has very little basketball IQ. We need one player like David Padgett who understands the game and can coach from the floor, someone who can help the other players fullfill their roles.The team has plenty of talent just not the know how to put it together.I beleive there are some players on the team that have this IQ but they need more playing time.

  6. Bang the ball inside for an easier shot. If one of my players ran down the floor and gunned a 3 without ay least having looked to pass it inside first, I’d bench him.We’ve got superior talent…let’s start using it properly.

  7. Eric, thanks for responding. NBA coaches wait later to start an end-of-quarter play because the rules are different. A timeout in the NBA automatically moves the ball to half-court. Therefore, the defensive team can immediately call timeout after a rebound, draw up a play from half-court, and potentially get off a decent shot. The same is not true in college basketball. The chances of your opponent scoring if you shoot the ball with 5-6 seconds left are so low it does not warrant jeopardizing your own chance of scoring by waiting late into the clock. I’m not sure about Coach K, but the large majority of college coaches do not use Pitino’s strategy.We need Pitino out recruiting and Crum coaching from the sidelines.

  8. For the life of me I do not understand why all our players are not being utilized. We have players taking preposterous shots early in the shot clock and clanking everywhere. I know Kuric and Swop are freshmen, but dang are the top 7 that play that good to where these guys can not touch the floor. I agree with everyone else regarding Samuels and Twill, they can do whatever and stay on the court. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!! Someone please help me too!!

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