Louisville Deals Setback To U-Calhoun

Any time less than five points separate two Big East teams with four minutes to go, anything can happen, positive or negative, anything but passive.

Fans lose all sense of control, forced to accept whatever fate chooses to throw in their collective lap that day. The frantic finishes are so wild, so unpredictable and so commonplace no one is shocked or surprised by any outcome.

Edgar Sosa, with all his ups and downs, indicating the game will be in his hands. At 29 seconds, it is obvious: He will make the move, and he does with 11 seconds to go.

UConn playing its best basketball of the season since the return of Jim Calhoun, looking good winning its last three games, ready to exact revenge, senior night, pumped, having its way, drumming Louisville 39-26 late in the first half.

But wait. One knows what happens more often than not in Louisville games. The team with the lead eases up a bit, the team behind turns on the defensive pressure. A couple of unexpected three-pointers from a surprising source, a turnover or two, and a bank shot at the halftime buzzer and Rick Pitino’s team trails by only five points.

Game on again, despite having thrown in the proverbial tower at the big screen just a few minutes earlier, having perceived no chance, no prayer of surviving the UConn onslaught.

Fast forward to midway in the second half, Louisville leading by six points at some point, knowing all the while the game will be decided at the horn.

Edgar Sosa, with all his ups and downs, indicating the game will be in his hands. At 29 seconds, it is obvious: He will make the move, and he does with 11 seconds to go. Running the gauntlet with all the swiping hands beneath the basket. Throwing up a shot between all the bodies and outstretched hands. Swish.

Too early, eight seconds left. Kemba Walker, with 28 points from all kinds of shots, with the ball, making the mad dash. Hello, Kemba, I’m Samardo Samuels, get that thing out of here. Hey ball, I’m Preston Knowles, boom, get out of here.

Louisville wins 78-76. Back in the NCAA tournament chase for a couple of days.

The one thing certain is the Louisville-Marquette game Tuesday will be decided on a buzzer beater.

Box Score

UConn Another Major Hurdle

By Paul Sykes

Not much time to lick wounds or reflect on losses. Connecticut is coming to town, presenting an entirely different set of obstacles for Rick Pitino’s team.

  • Guard play. UConn has one of the top back courts in the country. Shooting guard Jerome Dyson is the steering wheel in the Husky machine. Quick and tricky, he’s an exceptional shooter, leads the team in steals and will make you pay if you leave him open behind the arc. Point guard Kemba Walker is probably even faster than Dyson off the dribble and leads UConn in assists. He hit 80% from the free throw line so he’s not the player to foul.
  • Defense. They’re the prototype of Big East defenses. Big and bruising underneath, Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards, Alex Oriakhi and Ater Majok will bang you in the paint, swat shot attempts. If you try to beat them from deep, they only allow 37.5% from three point range.
  • Rebounding. UConn is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation again. Calhoun’s front line is adept at blocking the opposition out, swarming to the ball and crashing the boards on the offensive end. They boast a 3.6-plus rebound advantage on the boards.

For Louisville, a night of smart decisions and torrid shooting will be required. U of L is best when it can work the pivot with Samardo Samuels for  hooks and jumpers or allowing him to kick it back out for uncontested three’s. The UConn defense isn’t going to allow Samuels free reign in the paint, so the accuracy of Reginald Delk, Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva is mandatory .

Big Monday, Big East. ESPN, and Freedom Hall. Big game.