Still waiting for Matz Stockman to make that breakthrough to the next level? Not going to happen, at least not at the University of Louisville.
Hopes that the 7-foot, 240-pound Stockman could someday be a dominant force in the middle for the UofL basketball team were dashed Tuesday. Stockman is transferring to the University of Minnesota.
Rick Pitino was obviously involved in the decision, possibly frustrated with Stockman’s lack of progress during three seasons at UofL. He was rarely used this year, playing only 74 minutes in 18 games and averaging 1.7 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.
But the elder Pitino is also aware that if someone with Stockman’s physique and personality were to somehow become motivated, he could make a difference for some team. Best to keep him in the family, encouraging Stockman to play for his son Richard at Minnesota.
Stockman will have to sit out a season, becoming eligible for 2018-19 campaign. “Matz has been a great team member with our basketball team and we appreciate his efforts,” said Pitino. “Transferring to Minnesota is a great move for him, as he’ll have an opportunity to make an immediate impact when he becomes eligible to play.”
Stockman is looking forward to getting much more playing time. “I’ve been looking for an opportunity to play quality minutes for a long time now and I think this will be a great situation for me,” he said.
Hopefully a motivated Stockman doesn’t come back to haunt his old UofL coach in a couple of years.
That dark cloud is back, the one emanating from the NCAA investigation of the University of Louisville basketball program, casting an ugly shadow over an already deeply scarred Belknap Campus.
The NCAA enforcement staff, one of the world’s slowest deliberative bodies, has finally gotten back to UofL’s response on a charge that Rick Pitino did not monitor the activities of Andre McGee. The reaction from the NCAA is disturbing, claiming that the UofL coach should have been much more active in supervising McGee.
This coming from an organization that goes overboard to promote racial equality, essentially suggesting in its response that Pitino should have micro-managed McGee. That somehow the coach should have known that illicit activities were occurring at Minardi Hall. That the individual Pitino made Director of Basketball Operations was not worthy of his trust. That Pitino should have been looking over McGee’s shoulder.
If Pitino is guilty of anything, he is at fault for trusting McGee not to drag UofL’s basketball program into the gutter. As a result, the university has been exposed to shame and ridicule. The coach’s demands for strict adherence to NCAA rules were obviously ignored. And his reputation, personally and professionally, has taken a major blow.
Simply because Pitino trusted McGee.
In essence, what the NCAA is suggesting is that Pitino knew that McGee was up to no good. The NCAA enforcement committee avoids making a direct accusation but its response also could be interpreted to mean that Pitino actually knew what was occurring at Minardi Hall.
Pitino has probably produced more successful college basketball coaches than anyone in the profession. Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith, Ralph Willard, Kevin Willard, Jim O’Brien, Mick Cronin, Travis Ford, and Scott Davenport, just to name a few. He didn’t achieve that monitoring their every move.
The UofL coach no doubt had high hopes for Andre McGee, hoping he would join that group some day. McGee probably would have followed a similar path had he acted responsibly. From all indications, McGee just wasn’t mature enough to handle the expectations.
As a result, Pitino may well be subject to a severe penalty, possibly a temporary suspension similar to that incurred by Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Boeheim was suspended for nine games for a number of years of illegal recruiting activities.
The difference is that Boeheim was actively involved. There is no evidence that Pitino knew, or should have known, that illicit activities were occurring at Minardi Hall. No evidence whatsoever.
Pitino’s knowledge, or lack of it, seems to be beside the point. The enforcement committee report goes into great detail on the sexual activity and seems determined to ensure that someone pays dearly for it. Rick Pitino just happens to be in the line of fire.
Someone around here once said if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Possibly true but there seemed to be little difference from beginning to the bitter end this year.
One long basketball season for the University of Louisville, a few peaks but too many valleys. A failure to maintain focus on defense, accompanied by the lack of any sustainable offensive threat. proving fatal in the end in games that counted the most.
So many times UofL was unable to finish games, to rise to the challenge, even when it was obvious what the opposition was going to do.
The Cardinals caving again on Sunday, giving up still another nice lead in the second half, this time to Michigan 73-69. The loss sending the Louisville home after the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Never has the pick and roll looked so easy as it did for Michigan’s Moritz Wagner in a 26-point performance. Probably the most dominating performance by a big man against Louisville in three decades.
The last time was when Iona’s Jeff Ruland scored 30 points in a 77-60 win over the eventual national champs in 1980. Iona, which was coached by the late Jim Valvano, had a 35th year reunion a couple of years ago to celebrate that win.
One of the most maddening things about this team was the inability of Louisville’s big guys to hit the close-in shots or cash in on the gimme’s, consistently missing wide open, uncontested dunks all season long. Followup tip-ins always a bonus, coming as a complete surprise all too often.
Reminiscent of the first couple of seasons after Rick Pitino arrived in Louisville. Lack of confidence, not much scoring from the bench, a poor shooting team, shaky from the field and on the free throw line, and unable to defend the basket.
When the deterioration sat in in the second half, it was quickly apparent there was not going to be a happy ending. Not surprisingly for close followers of this Louisville team.
A little shaky getting out of the gate, understandable with so few members of the University of Louisville basketball team having NCAA tournament experience. Good to get those first few minutes out of the way, get down to business.
Not the best of starts for Donovan Mitchell, his first ever appearance in the tourney, missing all of his first eight field goal attempts in the first half. Actually a good day for Mitchell, not allowing his lack of scoring to affect the rest of his game. He would wind up with nine points, 10 rebounds, fives assists and three steals.
“I was very impressed with Donovan Mitchell,” said Coach Rick Pitino afterwards. “I’ve been trying to get him to focus on other things other than scoring. If it’s not your night because you’re the main target to do other things … To me, he’s come a long way.”
Equally encouraging was the fact that his teammates picked up the slack in UofL’s 78-63 win over Jacksonville State in the tournament’s opening round. Playing aggressively, dominating the backboard 36-23, making 11 of 14 free throw attempts, and hitting 48.4% of their field goal attempts, including a third of their 3-point attempts.
Fifth-year senior Mangok Mathiang looking very comfortable around the basket lately, connecting on eight of his 13 field goal attempts, and leading his team in scoring with 18 points. Made both of his free throw attempts as well. Hopefully, he’s finally getting it in the twilight of his college career, maybe just the right time for UofL.
“Coach has made a big point of trying to go play inside-out,” said Mathiang. “And it’s been working out pretty well for me. A lot of guys that are not expecting me to make a move in the post and going up and scoring. I mean, it’s working out pretty well for me and for my teammates because I’m kicking that out as well.”
Deng Adel may have taken his play to another level, becoming one of his team’s most consistent players, reliable on both offense and defense. Adel making six of seven field goal attempts, including both of his 3-point attempts, for 16 points. Two of two free throw attempts.
A collective sigh of relief for free throw concerns, with the Cardinals making 11 of their 14 free throw attempts. Quentin Snider made one of two attempts, but Anas Mahmoud missed both of his.
Come on, Anas. Every shot matters this time of the season. Especially with a rematch Sunday of the schools that competed for the national championship in 2013.