Few people expecting a shorthanded Seton Hall to provide much of a challenge for the University of Louisville basketball team and the game lived up to those expectations in an easy 79-61 for UofL.
What they couldn’t have anticipated, however, was an overwhelming offensive performance from Gorgui Dieng, looking like he did before he injured that left wrist in November. Feeling no pain, wanting to shoot for a change, making shots from everywhere it seemed.
Looking all the world like the player Rick Pitino says is ready for the NBA, the coach willing to deny himself a dominant player next season. Dieng will turn in best offensive performance ever, hitting 10 of 11 field goal attempts and three of six free throws for 23 points to go with his eight rebounds.
Again asserting himself on defense, Gorgui going for steals more and more often, succeeding with two thefts, while making three blocks. If they kept track of intimidates, he would easily have had another double-double.
- The roster says Luke Hancock is 6-foot-6 so we have to go with that but he looks and plays like a diminutive six-footer. Playing with shoulder pain, doubtful going into the game, hitting everything he throws up, four of four field goal attempts, including three three’s, and two of two free throw shots for his 13 points.
- Kevin Ware “needing more reps,” according to Gorgui, continuing to play more confidently, those long arms of his blessing him with four steals and three rebounds. Becoming more assertive on offense, two of two behind the arc and at the free throw line for his eight points. If can finish some of those layups, he could be a consistent threat.
- Russ Smith, heeding the passing advice from his coach, dishing five assists to teammates while taking only 10 shots himself, making four of them, not including 10 of 10 free throws, for his 19 points. His ability to draw fouls among his most valuable skills. Just ask Seton Hall’s 290-pound Gene Teague, unable to stop as Russ slides in front him, sending Russ sprawling.
- Peyton Siva playing smart on defense, committing only one foul during his 31 minutes, possibly because of a lesser opponent, hopefully taking notes. Matching Russ with five assists. Taking what comes his way on offense, connecting on three of eight shots.
- Wayne Blackshear limiting himself to only eight minutes with those two quick fouls in the first half, contributing two assists and two rebounds but no points. Maybe taking a day off for some reason.
- Montrezl Harrell, doing too much watching per Pitino, and will probably be the object of some of the coach’s motivational techniques in the coming days.
Another one of those late night games coming up next, at DePaul on Wednesday, a team that so often gives UofL fits in Chicago. The Blue Demons 11-15 overall but 7-7 in the Big East Conference.