Flash column: MSG Fail

I wasn’t at Madison Square Garden tonight. But you don’t need high definition to find the right words for the University of Louisville’s 74-55 loss to St. John’s tonight.

Uninspired. Ineffective. Listless. Unprepared.

[Insert your adjective here.]

It’s as bad as U of L has looked in a Big East game since a 90-57 loss at Notre Dame last season, with this qualification: St. John’s is nowhere near as good as that Notre Dame team.

The Cardinals couldn’t even start their offense several times down. In the first half, guards were being stripped before even initiating the offensive sets. And the defense, which kept them close despite a horrid offensive start, began to fail them in the second half when the Cardinals couldn’t pull even.

Here were the biggest problems:

1). The Cardinals couldn’t stop anybody off the dribble.

2). The Cardinals couldn’t beat anybody off the dribble.

St. John’s got to the loose balls. Got into the passing lanes. Got into the Cardinals’ heads.

The Red Storm went on a 25-5 run fueled mostly by blow-bys and put-backs.

We’ll hear what Pitino says about this one afterward, but there’s no excuse for not being ready in a game this important. With your NCAA Tournament chances in the balance, with a chance — despite all that has happened — to stay in a tie for fourth in the league in the loss column, the Cards came out and played like a team for whom all those bubble scenarios and standings projections are irrelevant.

The national media has spent all day speculating about Rick Pitino and the New York Nets. All that, of course, is beside the point. But if the Cardinals don’t whip things back together, what’s happening on the court could cede center stage very soon.

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