Virginia and Louisville have a lot in common. They will never score a lot of points or blow out a decent team but they won’t allow opponents to get many points either.
What Virginia had going for it Saturday, besides a strong home court advantage, was Louisville’s 10-minute scoring drought in the first half. Too much to overcome for the Cardinals in a 52-47 loss. Debatable whether the lapse was because of Virginia’s stifing defense or UofL’s lack of assertiveness.
Coach Rick Pitino choosing to experiment during the dry spell, mysteriously inserting Anas Mahmoud, Jaylen Johnson and Shaqquan Aaron into the game. No surprise his team wasn’t converting anything during this latest maneuver. He loves to keep everybody guessing, with his oddly-timed mind-messing logic.
When Pitino does something so bizarre, obviously harmful to his own cause, he's more than just a little angry.
When Pitino does something so bizarre, obviously harmful to his own cause, he’s more than just a little angry. One could see the fire in his eyes while he was dressing down a perplexed Anas Mahmoud, of all people.
Pitino always sending messages to this players, this time for attacking too early during offensive sets. Too much one-on-one, he said afterward, not adhering to the offensive game plan. He wanted and they had practiced patience and ball movement for three days, but resorted to dribble drives early in the shot clock, playing right into Virginia’s hands.
After some fiery coaxing from the great motivator, they finally resorted to game plan in the second half. Pulling to within three points with 18 seconds left in the game. Twenty minutes too late. Chris Jones will miss the free throw attempt, foul an 84 percent free throw shooter and the game is over.
Truly amazing UofL had Virginia on the edge during the final minutes, but all the more reason to believe Pitino knew what was needed to compete with the Cavaliers.
The next several days of practice are going to be very long ones for UofL players, with a coach who is going to hold them accountable. He will have their full attention.