It was a long night for the Louisville Cardinals as they battled through a complete game and then five overtimes against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. You can learn a lot about a team when they have to play through adversity and there was enough adversity in this game to write a book.
Coach Rick Pitino said after the game:
We made a few mental mistakes down the stretch by forcing the issue when we had the lead, but sometimes when you’re a bad foul shooting team at times it’s not the worse thing in the world to get two points. I’m proud of our guys. It was a five-overtime game. Hopefully we’ll learn from it.
So what did we learn about the Louisville Cardinals? A lot really, but let’s look at just a few things.
Louisville needs Peyton Siva to be consistent. The senior point guard played 41 minutes, but you wouldn’t know that if you looked at the stat sheet. He had just two points and four rebounds before he fouled out in the first overtime. Notre Dame did a great job of switching defenders on Siva, keeping him out of the lane.
Siva must play well for Louisville to be successful since they really don’t have a good backup points guard. Russ Smith tries to step in, but he doesn’t have the basketball IQ to play the point guard position.
Rick Pitino has given Luke Hancock the green light to shoot threes. Hancock went 4-13 from behind the arc as he scored a career high 22 points. Some of those shots came at very important parts of the game, some were very ill-advised. If Hancock is Louisville’s three-point shooter, he must learn to be mature with his shot selection.
Chane Behanan can be Louisville’s go to man. The sophomore power forward played stronger than he has all year, scoring a career high 30 points. He also added 15 rebounds. In each of the overtimes, Behanan continued to play hard and didn’t look tired. If Louisville works on finding him more in games he will be come a NBA draft pick by the end of the year.
Wayne Blackshear is a great player, but is too inconstant. Everyone knows this kid can play, their has been several glimmers of greatness already this year. But against Notre Dame he didn’t score a single point and only played 20 minutes.
Kevin Ware needs more minutes. He made some great plays against the Irish, including a big three from the corner in the third overtime. He has great athleticism and is very long for a 6’3″ guard.
Most of his issues is his attitude. Pitino has already suspended him once this season, if Ware can get his head straight, there is no telling what he can become.
The Cardinals struggle with free throws. If Louisville could hit free throws, the game Saturday night would have been a different story. The Cardinals went 30-48 and missed some big winning ones in each of the overtimes. Pitino has mentioned that his players need to be more gym rats and practice free throws in their own time.
There are several more things that Louisville can take way from this loss. Luckily this isn’t the worst loss in the world, Louisville will get another chance to play Notre Dame on senior night in the Yum! Center, March 9. College basketball is about playing through adversity, Louisville can either grow from this or spiral down.
Louisville will take on St. John’s Wednesday day at home at 9pm (EST) on ESPN.
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