A couple of basketball games over the weekend provided some valuable insight into what life could be like in the Atlantic Coast Conference for University of Louisville athletics next season. Kind of scary.
North Carolina dispatching the national defending champion men’s basketball team in a no-nonsense fashion, winning with ease, exposing major UofL weaknesses on both ends of the court. Doing this with two starters sidelined with eligibility issues.
The distractions from over the summer taking their toll, with Chane Behanan and Luke Hancock, returning from a suspension and an injury, respectively. Mere shadows of themselves, reduced to ineffective support roles.
Russ Smith and Chris Jones shooting well, but not looking for their teammates on the front line. Combining for 56 points between them but managing only three assists for their teammates. In their defense, however, what were Stephan Van Treese, Mangok Mathiang or Behanan going to do if they did get the ball?
Worse, Rick Pitino’s team appeared to be totally unprepared for the breakneck speed of an offense that has long been a hallmark of North Carolina basketball. The ineffectiveness reminiscent of Denny Crum’s early games against the Tar Heels. Denny would eventually catch on, however, defeating UNC to his second national championship in 1986.
Pitino says the loss may have been good for his basketball team. Back to school for the coach, too.
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Meanwhile, the fourth-ranked UofL women’s basketball team had to dig itself out a deep hole for the second Sunday, falling behind ACC foe Florida State 19-4. The Lady Cards would rally to take the lead but would be forced into overtime again before emerging with a 69-59 victory.
“I keep trying to tell our kids, right now we are ranked third or fourth in the country, and everyone you come out and play is going to give you their best shot,” said Walz. “If you get beat, it is a huge win for whoever that team is. I am not sure we quite understand what is at stake for these other ball clubs.”