Few negative ramifications for the University of Louisville basketball team from a 76-71 loss to Duke in the fifth game of the season. A learning experience that could reap multiple dividends as the season progresses.
No reason to hate Duke, that’s silly. Duke, as usual, has a team of exceptional players that will rarely beat themselves.
U of L, on the other hand, was making so many miscalculations that it was surprising Rick Pitino’s team was still around at the end. So many blocks of lay ups it seemed but the box score revealed there were only six.
Maybe it seemed that way because Peyton Siva was turning the ball over six times, usually on those trips into the tall timber. Doing it so often that it takes away him element of surprise, except when the ball goes in.
The good thing is Siva seems to be find his shot more often, hitting better 50 percent against Duke to lead all scorers with 19 points.
Russ Smith was a menace to Duke only on offense, collecting 17 points and keeping UofL in the game. Russ willed UofL back into the game on numerous occasions, not particularly impressed, and certainly not cowed by the Duke on the on the opposing jersey.
Russ wasn’t his usual self on defense, turning nobody over, not even once. He helped wear them down a little, but not enough. Maybe three games in three nights was too much for a guy who expends more energy than anyone else on the court.
Stephan Van Treese deserves almost as much credit, surprisingly filling in more than capably for the injured Gorgui Dieng. With his nimbleness and tank like physique, Van Treese is never going to get pushed around by anybody, future draft pick or not. He may not get any blocks but nobody’s going over the top of him. And he will get his rebounds, eight of them in this affair.
Despite all the bulking up over the last three years, Gorgui had been getting pushed around lately and not showing much initiative on offense, except for those shoulder shots. If he has a radial bone break, he’ll have about six weeks to watch and learn from the bench, and he will if anybody can.
Chane Behanan is blessed with bulk but he lacks control over his body much of the time. Missing nine of 11 shots, most of them within five feet of the basket. Making awkward, unnecessary and inexplicable fouls, costing his team dearly against a team that thrives on good free throw shooting.
Montrezl Harrell, on the other hand, is much more natural, more fluid. But he hasn’t been around as long as Behanan so he backs him up. Rick Pitino had it pegged during the exhibition games, but he not about the second guess himself after the final four charge last season.
This should have the game Wayne Blackshear broke loose and became a star, But as Pitino noted on his radio show, Blackshear still lacks a little confidence. Just being a starter isn’t doing it for him.
Luke Hancock just kind of disappeared into the woodwork after the career game against Missouri. Still trying to absorb it all probably, not a good time against Duke.
Losing by only five to a decent team at this point in this season is encouraging, especially if the Cards can acknowledge their deficiencies. Plenty of time to work on them, all of them.