Not much surprises one after decades of following University of Louisville basketball, not even a heart-stopping improbable 79-78 double overtime win at UConn.
UConn with a six-game winning streak, fifth-ranked nationally, playing at home where it was 11-0 this season, with all-everything Kemba Walker running the show. UofL with almost a third of its troops in the infirmary, no shot whatsoever.
Don’t ever talk like that around Rick Pitino, or even in the vicinity of the practice facility. If one has doubts about any chance of winning, why play the game. As long as there are five players available, Pitino has a chance of winning. That’s his mindset.
Terrence Jennings has had Pitino in both ears since the horn at the end of a one-pointer over West Virginia, Pitino filling TJ’s head with visions of rebounds, follow-throughs on free throw shots, a few field goals.Â Don’t have to be a star or have much balance. Just stick close, hang around that basket and some good things could happen.
They would and did, the big guy coming up with 16 points and 10 rebounds, the most memorable double-double in Jennings’ career. Something to build on, something to get him through his self-imposed barriers. Something of which to get his doubters reason for renewed optimism.
Peyton Siva has uncanny speed at the end of games, when everybody else is trying to catch their collective breath. Â He also has some unorthodox shots and a knowledge of ball English that gives UofL a great new weapon when games are on the line.
Siva also is gaining truckloads of confidence with his recent success, realizing he has another option besides his buddy Preston Knowles in those closing seconds, elusiveness and speed unmatched, just take advantage of one’s special gifts, and take it to the basket. Gotta do something about those sneakers, all that slipping and sliding. Some give adidas a call.
Preston, of course, will always be a good option, no fear of taking the difficult shots, even one from in the corner behind the basket, making the impossible look normal.
Then there are those Indiana kids, Kyle Kuric, connecting on six of eight field goal attempts, coming home with 15 points, and Stephan Van Treese, perhaps setting the tone with his opening basket from 15 feet out. Treese, where did that come from?
And what about that shot by Rhode Island’s Mike Marra, very necessary, crucial, no way of emphasizing how important that basket was, giving UofL a six-point lead in the second overtime.
Pitino thinking positive, as he noted after the game, making the seemingly impossible most plausible.