So many big men, probably the most ever on a University of Louisville basketball roster. They make quite an impression in airport concourses. But that’s where the positive impact ends.
So little impact in games against good teams, not much better against the others.
Rick Pitino can choose from 6-foot-10 Chinanu Onuaku, 6-foot-10 Magok Mathiang, 7-foot Anas Mahmoud and 7-foot Matz Stockman at the center spot. He could also give 6-foot-9 Jaylen Johnson a shot at the position.
However, Onuaku has problems staying focused, Mathian is awkward and Mahmoud is so skinny. Stockman looks the part but is still learning Pitino speak and basketball.
Pitino tried three of them — Mathiang, Onuaku and Mahmoud — in the 63-52 loss to Duke on Saturday. The cumulative total: seven points, 14 rebounds, one block and a steal.
Mathiang had three points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. Onuku had four points and six rebounds in 14 minutes. Mahmoud had a rebound in the stat column but he was only in for less than two minutes.
Against a smaller Wake Forest lineup, the results were even less promising. Mahmoud started but had zero points and just three rebounds in 17 minutes. Mathiang fouled out in just 12 minutes, going scoreless and collecting four rebounds. Onuaku played seven minutes and didn’t collect a point or rebound while garnering three fouls.
Mathiang did have 11 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes against Virginia Tech but Pitino discounted it because of the competition. Onuaku, Mahmoud and Stockman collectively added four rebounds but no points.
Pitino has to decide soon who he wants to play, stick with him, developing him. That’s what he did with Gorgui Dieng during his formative seasons. He said at one point last season that Mathiang was ahead of Gorgui during his freshman year. Onuaku isn’t seeing the floor much, playing a total of seven minutes in the last two games. Mahmoud saw 11 minutes in them.
Right now their teammates have little confidence in any of them. Nor does their coach seem to trust them.
That’s going to have to change quickly if UofL is to get better and make one of those classic February runs this season. A tall order for the great motivator.
There are days when nothing goes right, as was the case Saturday when the University of Louisville men’s basketball team couldn’t hit wide open shots all day long.
Then there are some where everything goes right. It was one of those days Sunday for Sara Hammond, Myisha Hines-Allen and the UofL women’s team in a 67-55 win over a tenacious Virginia team before 11,332 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The second largest home crowd of the season.
Hammond had one of her better games in four years, finding numerous ways to get open, making good on her opportunities, scoring 16 of her team’s first 20 points in the first half. The law of averages would catch up with her in the second, and she would wind up with 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists and only one foul.
Hines-Allen, a freshman center, would play the game of her young career, emerging from the second 20 minutes with 15 of her 17 points.
Couldn’t come at a better time, against a determined Virginia team that refused to go away, rallying time after time on the back of Faith Randolph. Randolph seemed capable of hitting shots from any spot on the court, winding up with 22 for the game.
The women are 17-1 overall, 5-0 in the ACC. Next up is Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday.
Anybody’s game until Chris Jones has to go to the bench.
The University of Louisville had made three of 10 field goal attempts when Jones committed his second foul at the 11:08 mark in the first half, his team leading 10-9. Duke was even worse, hitting only three out of 11 attempts.
Wayne Blackshear would slash through the middle for a rare dunk to push the lead to 12-9 — the closest thing to a highlight for UofL.
But Jones was out. Everybody in the arena knew the situation had changed. Palpable.
Wide open shots bouncing off the rim time after time, Louisville making only seven of 31 shots in the first 20 minutes before a disbelieving crowd of 22,791 at the KFC Yum! Center. For the game only 11 of 22, Duke taking full advantage to claim a 63-52 win, employing a zone for the first time in recent memory.
UofL unable to hit from outside, or penetrate. Clang, clang, clang.
While Jones could never match the intensity of former Cardinal Andre McGee, he is the heart and soul of UofL’s defense. Duke would outscore the Cards 21-11 for the rest of the half. He’s also leader on offense, deadly when he’s on, a force to be dealt with, motoring, finding open teammates.
Jones made his first three-point attempt, getting UofL off to 3-0 start, but managed just two points the rest of the way. He still managed four assists.
No one coming off the Louisville bench could disguise the loss of Jones, lacking the experience, speed, savvy, or confidence of their UofL teammates. Nor does any sub have Rick Pitino’s trust or the skill and audacity to largely ignore the coach as Russ Smith did over the past three seasons. At least not yet.
Terry Rozier missing his running mate, the player who sets him and his teammates up, while UofL was still in contention. The first half had set the tone for the game, Rozier managing to hit five of 16 attempts for his team high 17 points, struggling to get open, forcing shots.
The current UofL version will continue to struggle against the better teams until it gets more shooters on the floor, The leading candidate is Shaqquan Aaron who had only six minutes of action in the loss. He clearly has the shooting ability but is obviously lacking Pitino’s confidence on the other end of the court.
Until some shooters emerge who embrace Pitino’s defensive philosophy, the script is not going to change much.
Welcome to Louisville, Duke. This is one town in Kentucky that has the utmost respect for your basketball program.
Never mind the Univeristy of Kentucky hate-mongers in our midst. They’re still feeling the pain from the Christian Laetner shot in 1992 that felled their idols in the closing seconds for the East Regional championship.
What a relief that was for Louisville fans, watching a team coming off two years of probation get sent back to Lexington. That was Rick Pitino’s first season as UK coach, proving he could compete at the highest levels with an assemblage of perceived leftovers and wannabes.
Duke has long been considered by UofL fans to be a premier program, not only in terms of NCAA championships and number of wins, but in the way the program has been managed. Appearing in 15 final fours, 10 national championship games, winning four national titles, most of them during Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure. A clean program, devoid of NCAA probations during Coach K’s 35 seasons.
Duke owns 5-4 edge in meetings between the basketball programs, but Louisville has won four of the last five games — including a 72-69 win in the 1986 championship and an 85-63 regional bracket win en route to a third NCAA championship in 2013.
Great to see two great programs finally coming together, beginning a new chapter in the ACC.
Bigger and better.
A new LED video board is in the works for the University of Louisville baseball team and will be ready for the opening game against Eastern Kentucky University on Wednesday, Feb. 18th.
UofL is partnering with ANC Sports for the installation of the new board in right centerfield at Jim Patterson Stadium. The all-digital surface will more than quadruple the size of the current video space and will measure 36-feet wide and 23-feet tall.
The high-definition video display system will feature live action and video replays becoming more prevalent as well as added statistical information, graphics and animation.
ANC Sports Enterprises, the industry leader in team and venue services, has also done work with Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Safeco Field, as well as Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium, the new home of the UofL men’s and women’s soccer programs.
No, Mariya Moore isn’t an Angel McCoughtry or Shoni Schimmel, at least not yet. She will, however, be considered in that elite company before she graduates from the University of Louisville.
The 6-foot freshman forward is still feeling her way, getting the job done in a variety of ways. Nothing flashy, just contributing in a 64-57 win over North Carolina State.
Leading the team in points with 17, hitting nine of 12 free throws on a night while her teammates were connecting on four of 11 attempts, and turning a game-high nine rebounds to go with four steals and four assists.
Louisville would jump out to 28-6 lead in the first after scoring 20 straight points, only to see the lead whittled to four points at 55-51 with under four minutes remaining.
Moore would calmly sink two free throws at that point, steal the ball a couple of possessions later, make a lay up and a jumper over the next couple of minutes to seal the win.
Good night for Sara Hammond, too, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Teaming up with Moore for eight straight UofL points during that decisive spurt.
The fourth-ranked Louisville women are 16-1 overall, 4-0 in the ACC, with Virginia (12-4) coming to the KFC Yum! Center at 3 p.m. on Sunday.