The Cards finally got back to their winning ways last night with a 64-61 win over a solid Pittsburgh team. It wasn’t the prettiest display we’ve ever seen (it typically never is against the Panthers) and Louisville still has not mastered closing teams out, but they did show a lot more positives on Monday night. First, Peyton Siva had one of his best floor games in some time. He got into the lane, made sound decisions, and outside of two plays, did not over-penetrate. His jump shot did not fall, in fact it looked pretty ugly, but Peyton dished out 10 assists to 4 turnovers, got a couple steals, and kept himself out of foul trouble, which was good to see.
Next, Gorgui Dieng was just tremendous. The Gorgeous One was the lone Cardinal getting after it on the glass recording 12 rebounds and owned the paint with 5 blocks, including several more shots altered. But the most impressive thing Gorgui did last night was pass the basketball. He finished with 4 assists, but could have had 7 or 8 had some shots fallen. Gorgui threw three sensational bounce passes leading to easy scores, and also found open shooters on the wing from the free throw line. It was very reminiscent of David Padgett.
This is an area where I feel Louisville can make some hay.
There is so much pressure on Louisville’s guards to make things happen, I think it would add a new dimension to their offense to run some things through Gorgui, whether it be on the block or at the foul line. We didn’t see it as much last night because he was at the foul line more, but Gorgui has shown the ability and willingness to pass out of the block and look opposite for shooters when double teamed. By throwing the ball to him, it gives him the option to make a post move, or if double teamed, he can pass out of it. It will facilitate more ball movement, which I feel has been lacking of late, and make UofL less reliant on ball screens with their guards.
I’m not saying they need to go exclusively to running the offense through Gorgui, but I’d like to see them look to do it more.
Finally, there has been a lot of consternation about the recent lack of playing time for Stephan Van Treese, and rightfully so in my opinion. To be clear, I’m not in the camp of SVT needs to be playing 15-20 minutes a game, but I am of the belief he can certainly benefit the team by playing 8-12 minutes. After last night’s game, Bob Valvano asked Rick Pitino why Stephan did not get in and Rick began to answer by talking about the reasons why he didn’t use him, and in short, the answer was along the lines of he didn’t like the match-up for Stephan in terms of what Louisville needed from that position.
However, Rick then stopped himself and basically reversed course and said, “You know what Bob, I have to just play him. I should’ve played him more.”
That was a very interesting thing to hear and I think Rick fell into a line of thinking a lot of coaches fall into. Sometimes, coaches worry more about what a player can’t do, rather than focus on what he can do. Last night, I think Rick focused more on the fact SVT has little post game, or at the very least little confidence in his post game, and he’s not a great passer. At the same time, SVT rebounds the basketball and saves possessions, something Louisville very much could’ve used last night. I’m not saying SVT would’ve considerably changed the outcome last night, but he definitely deserved to see the floor.
-Kevin Ware has been indefinitely suspended by Pitino. Rick would not mention what Kevin did, only to say in his postgame press conference, “I’m not thinking too much about it.” As well as telling Valvano, “Kevin’s not gonna be back anytime soon.” I won’t get into speculation as to what led to Ware’s suspension, but UofL could definitely use him and if he’s gone for good, that won’t help.
-Wayne Blackshear has a mild shoulder sprain, and according to Pitino, could’ve played if it were not his shooting shoulder. After the Pitt game, Wayne said he would be back for Sunday’s game against Marquette. That’s good news, and let’s hope there are not setbacks.
-Chane Behanan had 1 defensive rebound against Pitt. 1! Chane can be an animal on the glass, he needs to learn where his bread is buttered and set up shop in the post and take control of that area. We all know he’s capable, but until he develops that mindset, he will continue to be inconsistent.