Take a quick recess as I share with you my thoughts and opinions regarding last night’s win against the Fighting Irish and tonight’s game against the North Carolina Tar Heels in, “Ross’ Ramblings On Louisville Basketball.”
I don’t know about you Cards fans, but the jitters were real last night before tip off against Notre Dame. AND FOR GOOD REASON! This Louisville basketball team really struggled down the stretch of February into March. Finishing 3-7 in their final 10 games; blown leads against Florida State, Duke, Clemson, Virginia and Boston College cost the Cards at least 3 wins in that stretch.
Meltdowns were the ‘Topic Du Jour'( We’re a French city right?). While there was reason to be optimistic heading into last night’s game, you just didn’t know which UofL team was going to show up.
It was positive to see Jordan Nwora start off hot. His shooting touch seems to have come back around, but he also was aggressive and getting to the basket as well. His offensive game is absolutely essential for the Cards to play at their best.
The Cards ended the 1st half a little sloppy in the last 4 minutes and reverted to their old bad habits of chucking up too many 3 point shots when they have a lead. Chris Mack wasn’t happy about that as he felt his team left the door open for Notre Dame to begin the 2nd Half.
Louisville received Coach Mack’s message at halftime and came out and quickly took care of busy. Within the first 5 minutes of the 2nd Half, the Cards extended their lead to 16 points after a Ryan McMahon 3 and never looked back.
What was most encouraging was the Cards dominance on the offensive glass and their ability and discipline to be able to control tempo. When they needed to, Christen Cunningham and the Cards pushed the pace; when they needed to slow it up and run their half court offense, they did so as well. They will need that same dominance in both the offensive glass and ability to control tempo to beat the Tar Heels tonight.
Jordan Nwora last night after their victory told Allison Williams of ESPN that this Cards team had to find themselves. That it was really hard for them after the Duke collapse and it took some time for them get themselves off the mat again.
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I’m highly encouraged by the performance of the Cards in the last 3 games (yeah they lost the game to UVA, but it was extremely positive to see the Cards execute their offensive and defensive game plans to Coach Mack’s approval). UNC arguably is playing the best ball in the country right now. Clearly they provide a much greater challenge tonight and are a more talented opponent than the Irish, but the Cards have beaten them (UNC) once already. If you ask me, I like our chances in the rubber match vs. the Tar Heels tonight.
With the Cards having found themselves again, a recommitment to the facets of the game that made them successful through January; getting into the paint, drawing fouls/getting to the free throw line, attacking the glass, taking care of the ball, playing with grit, toughness and maximum effort; the Cards appear poised for tonight’s game against the Tar Heels.
A reporter asked Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora who were both available for comments during the post game press conference about their thoughts on Carolina and the kind of challenges they present. McMahon said,
“Well, they just play fast, and they’re men on the glass, those are the two keys to the game, honestly.”
Nwora would reaffirm that assessment saying,
“we got to keep them out of transition and fight them on the glass. Those are going to be the two keys to the game. If we want to have a chance, we’re going to have to do that.”
It certainly appears the players are aware and prepared for what it’s going to take to beat UNC tonight. A win would certainly help bolster the Cards already solid tournament resume. A win tonight likely means the Cards move up a line in seeding and more importantly possibly draw better matchups come Selection Sunday.
Thank you for taking the time to read Ross’ Ramblings. Enjoy the game tonight and check out BigRedLouie.com after the game for the post game recap and in the coming days for the non-stop content heading your all’s way. – GO CARDS!