They say defense wins championships. While that may not be true, good defense sure does make winning a lot easier. The Louisville Cardinals basketball team used their superior defense to suffocate the Fairfield Stags‘ offense today on the way to their fifth victory of the young season.
The Cardinals held Fairfield to a paltry 37.7 percent shooting from the field, including missing 12 out of 14 from three-point range. Reminiscent of Rick Pitino coached teams of the past, the Louisville defense starts with quick, athletic guards who make the other team work hard just to get into their offense. That pressure leads to turnovers; Fairfield gave the ball up 19 times, over half of which came from freshman guard K.J Rose.
With the new emphasis on aggressive defense on the perimeter, high-pressure teams like Louisville will need to fine-tune the way they play. Guards Chris Jones and Russ Smith are typically known for the damage they can do on the offensive end of the court, but against the Stags they showed they can win on defense too. Performances like these go a long way towards proving that the days of dominant perimeter defense aren’t gone, at least not for teams that have the kind of athletic talent to stay in front of ball handlers without fouling them.
As defending national champions, the Cardinals have their sights set on another deep run in the tournament this year. If the defense plays like it did against Fairfield, forcing turnovers and making it hard for sustained offense, they’ll be one of the toughest teams to beat in the country.