One doesn’t go into hibernation after a loss, hiding the ratty head in the sand, believing everything is for naught. Losses occur, but one has to keep advancing. Learning from mistakes this University of Louisville basketball team.
Syracuse, meanwhile, possibly afflicted with the not-taking-an-opponent-seriously virus, showing up for a sure win with its 31,000 followers. The number had to include a half dozen swollen-fingered twitterers who had predicted the Orange wouldÂ “pummel” Rick Pitino’s team.
- What will be remembered about this win is the play of Mike Marra, the freshman with the questionable three-point shooting ability. Apparently just a matter of time finding the right trajectory. Finding it against the second-ranked team in the country, showing why Pitino wants him in there.
- One could watch the replays numerous times and still wonder why Rakeem Buckles was getting so much playing time. He makes up for his shortcomings with boundless energy, getting in people’s faces, keeping the ball alive, even scoring at times.
- Samardo Samuels, still sluggish since the second half at St. John’s, finally coming around in the final 20 minutes at the Carrier Dome, crashing the boards, making impossible shots along with that thundering dunk.
- Edgar Sosa again missing a free throw and a chance to seal a game. But he’s going to do that, it’s part of his repertoire. So are those three-point shots he collects every so often. But when he adds five assists, Sosa is keeping Louisville in contention.
- Jerry Smith, back to slumping or not, not getting pushed around, somehow managing five rebounds. Making only two points, but two free throws coming when they are needed the most.
So Louisville is back on the rocky road to the NCAA tournament, the disbelievers forced to return to the wagon. Perhaps the best news is that Louisville will take all of the remaining opponents seriously, even DePaul. Surely.
Took four seasons but Jerry Smith may have a nickname that could stick. Or maybe not.
“Senior Bulldog” was the tag ascribed by Pat Forde, the ESPN writer serving in his first game as a TV color analyst. Probably because Smith is fearless, whether he’s going after a rebound or a loose ball, or driving in there among the trees.
Smith is fearless, whether he's going after a rebound or a loose ball, or driving in there among the trees.
Nipping at the heels of Mike Rosario all game long, holding the three-point shooting specialist from Rutgers to a dismal one of nine from behind the arc. Breathing down Rosario’s neck he was, only one of the pushing and shoving matches between the two being whistled for a foul this game — and that call should have gone the other way.
Meanwhile, Smith, who has shouldered more than his share of heat, breaking out of a season-long slump, with four out of seven three-point shooting.
Seven rebounds not too shabby either.
- Jared Swopshire better be careful or some real expectations will be applied to him. Coming from “somewhere out there” to earth and Freedom Hall, the Jared hitting five of six field goals, grabbing eight rebounds, and five assists.
- Edgar Sosa gets it half the time, that he’s expected to be the creator for other people. But when he doesn’t, he’s either hitting one of those long-distance shots or creating chaos for his own team. Hey, six turnovers?
- How does Terrence Jennings manage to make so much improvement smoothly hitting those two or three footers (4 of 5) while not coming close to a loose ball in his nine minutes? Much more “individual instruction” coming to keep him from getting lost on the defensive end.
Just when one has filed a University of Louisville basketball player in the marginal to wasted category, Rick Pitino does his thing, getting inside the player’s head, pointing out the obvious, showing him ways to get better, making him a contributor.
Yes, sometimes Pitino must go back to the well many times, taking a while for a player to grasp the obvious. He knows the players better than they do, so he often has to introduce and educate them about themselves.
- Who would have believed three weeks ago that Samardo Samuels would ever get the post-up move down so well, consistently connecting on hook shots or becoming a reliable rebounder. And how about the recent emotion, the smiles, even laughter from the shy one, and the swagger. Samuels is all in, believing in himself.
- Too soon to know whether Jerry Smith of the UConn game is the new one. He’s the last player one expects to be dribble driving, being an offensive force, with few vestiges of his three-point prowess remaining. Pitino says the three-point drought has made him a better player.
- Edgar Sosa’s tears after the Pittsburgh game may have had something to do with the decisions against UConn, finding his teammates with eight assists while hitting six of nine shots himself. More than enough points to go around, and he’s much happier.
- Terrence Jennings is still way behind on the learning curve but those blocked shots always seem to come at the right time. Pitino says he will be a very good basketball player. Trust him.
- Reginald Delk is enjoying the game, now that he’s more than a spot shooter, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal to go with his 10 points.
- Credit one Stephen Van Treese with some valuable relief work during his six minutes in the first half, getting schooled by the UConn big men, collecting three fouls destined for Samuels or Jennings.
- You can bet that Pitino is focused on Jared Swopshire, the player who hit the three-point shot from the corner but thinks too much and leaves other shooters open too often. Pitino is on the case.