Back in the Big East championship game for the third straight year, at the top where University of Louisville basketball belongs. The last time at Madison Square Garden, the scene of some pretty incredible memories.
One last game as a member of the Big East, with a band of Catholic schools taking the league in a different direction. First three seasons in the tourney abysmal, the Cardinals struggling to find their way only to finish the final three years competing on the last night for the ultimate prize, and for the fourth time in five years.
Peyton Siva has been here before, in a semifinal game, playing some of his best basketball, directing traffic, playing through some brutal hits, maintaining focus, staying out of foul trouble. With his seven steals, he will surpass Darrell Griffith, the Living Legend, as UofL’s all-time steal leader, and tie a Big East Tournament record. Perfect form with those two three-point shots, turning in 12 points for the night, while also making three rebounds and six assists.
Russ Smith still enjoying the homecoming party, turning in six assists himself and eight of 14 field goal attempts, capturing scoring honors again with 20. He has perfected the art of collecting fouls, making free throws when UofL needs them down the stretch.
Luke Hancock missed seven or eight three-point attempts in one of the early exhibition games this season. He’s making them now, making a huge difference in the nine-game win streak, this time three-for-three behind the arc. Keep those daggers coming, Luke.
Gorgui Dieng has become the focus of opposing defenses, taking a beating under the basket, taking notes, he won’t be contained forever. Still managing 12 rebounds and four blocks to go with his eight points. That mid-range shot will surely return.
Stephan Van Hess making people pay when they get in his space, just not a good idea to get in his way. He will add a couple of points when he doesn’t have any time to think about shooting. Part of the game, Stephan.
Wayne Blackshear has it all, just not totally committed or something. Rick Pitino knows it, has to be pondering how to get through to him, combing through his long list of motivational techniques, hopefully find the right one soon.
Back to another championship game. Seems like old times.