Over the last couple of days Rick Pitino was attempting to convince anyone who would listen that it was going to be tough for the University of Louisville to score against Virginia. He may have been too persuasive.
When a coach has obvious doubts about his team’s ability to beat a team, the uncertainty seeps into the minds of the players. They struggle on offense, make careless passes and bad decisions, turnover after turnover.
So many bad shots, blown crips, blind tip-arounds, air balls, clank, clank, clank. So much for getting fouled, going to the free throw line, making 13 out of 22 attempts.
The script is familiar. The Cavaliers hitting from all conceivable angles, sinking circus shots, making it look ridiculously easy. The Cardinals wandering aimlessly around, playing in a fog. Four minutes after tip-off, Virginia having raced to a 12-2 lead. Here we go again.
UofL working that ball around in the backcourt, around and back again, and again. Nobody looking for a shot it seems. All that passing and not a single assist in the first half. The Cardinals had seven assists in the second half, but Anas Mahmoud had two of those.
No double figures for any UofL players, Quentin Snider and Tony Hicks with 8 points, Mahmoud with 7 points.
“This team is our kryptonite,” he said after UofL’s 61-53 loss to Virginia. “To beat them we have to be a terrific passing team or a terrific shooting team, and we are neither.”
One has to wonder was it a case of UofL being such a bad shooting team or Virginia being so dominating on defense?
The answer is probably somewhere in between. No one who listened to Pitino the last couple of days should have been surprised by the outcome.