Pitino may have been too persuasive, Virginia lives up to expectations

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.

No fun to be found in the UofL huddle against Virginia (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

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.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “Pitino may have been too persuasive, Virginia lives up to expectations”

  1. Hopefully, one of these days Mr. Pitino will learn to keep his big mouth shut, publicly, and let his advice to his players remain private in players’ meetings. It doesn’t accomplish anything to publicly announce that the players you recruited and awarded an athletic scholarship aren’t capable of defeating another team. It’s as if he wants to make sure that the public knows a potential loss isn’t his fault. To be sure, no one’s holding their breath that this will ever happen.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Bruce. Nice to hear from you again. Most observers will quickly give Pitino his due for the loss. He apparently was so elated over beating Kentucky that he gave the players four days off prior to the opening of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. Couple of days for Christmas would have been appropriate. Too much adulation, too much time off. Now he’s going to be fighting an uphill battle for at least the next few weeks.

  3. Charlie: I’m glad we agree on this. He’s a great coach, no doubt. But he, like all of us, have a flaw or two. In my opinion, he needs to reduce the press conferences by about 70%. What he thinks about the next game (or most anything for that matter) is unimportant in the greater scheme of things. His coaching advice needs to be given to the players, not the fan base. He’s already in the HoF, so he doesn’t have anything to prove to the public. Great coaches (Bear Bryant, Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Peck Hickman, Casey Stengel etc.) didn’t publicly mouth off about their teams’ weaknesses before a game.
    Have a great 2017, Charlie.


  4. I counted 3 turnovers that occurred when guys went up for a shot, changed their mind, & passed into traffic – or to nobody. It was as if they were afraid to shoot because they believed that every shot had to be made to beat this incredible defensive machine. Wrong message.

  5. Rick knows there are many different ways to get a team back down to earth after a big win, and to call attention to the ‘little’ details they haven’t quite absorbed into a habits. This team is mostly a bunch of really good basketball players that Rick is massaging/sculpting into a tightly-focused team. Sometimes that massaging is face-to-face, and sometimes it’s indirect. Our HOF coach knows the ropes, uses the tools and gets the results. It’s December–keep the faith.
    Go Cards!

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