Up one week, down the next, incredible highs, insufferable low points in the world of athletics.
The slide from No. 1 continues unabated for the University of Louisville basketball team, descending in agonizingly slow motion.
Three losses in a row, transitioning from what Bobby Knight called a team with few weaknesses to a team now struggling to make baskets and unable to contain anyone for very long.
Remember Rick Pitino complaining about lack of defensive intensity a couple of week ago, even with his team on a 12-game winning streak? That look of dire concern, the tongue lashings, the constant harping about defense. It was not the look of a coach returning to the Final Four, more a sense of foreboding.
After still another loss to Georgetown, this one 53-51, Pitino acknowledged that his team is severely challenged on offense. This from a coach who rarely discusses offense, wanting to dominate defensively. But even when the current unit is successful on defense, it is unpredictable when it gets the ball.
- A familiar sight Chane Behanan bobbling passes, frozen between taking a dribble, making a fake or going to the basket. His big body going to waste for now, lack of focus and control, not outmuscling anyone, no sure things ever.
- Gorgui Dieng still hasn’t returned to his pre-injured-wrist form, those mid-range shots looking more like mistakes than good decisions.
- Russ Smith, the leading scorer, relegated to a relief role, forced to hesitate, play more under control — confusing challenges for a player who wants to go full speed, taking any shot at any time.
- Wayne Blackshear will lead the charge if this team ever gets it together offensively. But he’s not doing that anytime soon, hitting only one for nine against Georgetown.
- Siva taking only two shots, making none, while getting into early foul trouble again. A good shooter one game, fearful of shooting the next, a dereliction of his leadership role.
- Luke Hancock making broadcasters look good with his early three-point shooting, but unable to create shots late. Pitino has to decide between Luke’s steady approach vs. Russ’s frenzied one, somehow keeping both of them happy, just has to.
This was a team that had little time to realize it was No. 1 in the country before the distinction was taken away. Now it has to deal with falling off the cliff.
Filed Under: Basketball