Cronin beats his old boss again

Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick in a familiar place, at the free throw line where he swished 11 of 11, oblivious to all the distractions behind the basket, leading all scorers with 28 points (Click on photo to enlarge.)
Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick in a familiar place, at the free throw line where he swished 11 of 11, oblivious to all the throw-back distractions behind the basket (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Give Rick Pitino eight days to prepare for an opponent and he will shut down that team’s best player. Often the case, but nothing was normal in the University of Louisville basketball team’s 69-66 loss to Cincinnati.

Sean Kilpatrick, the conference player of the week three times already, dispelled that myth. He will be the man again this week after a silky smooth performance against UofL, unstoppable at times, leading all scorers with 28 points.

The long layoff a hindrance to the momentum UofL had achieved with three convincing wins. Managing only seven points in the first 11 minutes, when’s the last time that happened? The no bumping, no touching rules were supposed to eliminate those kind of games.

Mick Cronin with still another win over his mentor, his fourth over Pitino in the last six meetings. He will probably always look more like a student manager than a coach but he gets the job done against his old boss one more time. The Bearcats are 9-0 in conference play, Louisville is 6-2, and still must face Cincinnati and Memphis on the road in what’s looking like an uphill battle.

The lackluster post play not encouraging, Pitino acknowledging after the game that Mangok Mathiang has the experience level of a high school sophomore. The coach was too kind to discuss some the challenges continuing to hinder Stephan Van Treese’s development. Between them, Mathiang and Van Treese combining for one shot, zero points, nine rebounds, two blocks, and an assist. They don’t provide stats on lack of blocking out, thankfully for Van Treese.

  • Russ Smith, the leader in steals on a team leading the nation in steals, had only one steal but it wasn’t from lack of effort. Twice reaching in on Kilpatrick in the closing minutes, twice getting whistled for fouls against one of the better ball handlers and free throw shooters in the league.
  • Had to love the three straight ball fakes by Smith on that one sequence, however, in collecting two of his 16 points. Only Russ has the ability to do that.
  • Luke Hancock, trying too hard at times to get fouled at times, getting called more than once for plowing into defenders. Managing only five of 12 attempts, winding up with 16 points as well, while handing out six assists, most of them to Montrezl Harrell.
  • Harrell continuing to diversify around the basket, adding an arsenal of jumpers and hooks, leading his team with 18 points. He could have used some help on the boards, those six rebounds of his giving the front line only seven in the game. The Cards were out-rebounded 36-25 against another “quality” opponent.
  • Terry Rozier played 10 minutes less than he had averaged in the three previous wins, thanks to the availability of Chris Jones, but raising questions about chemistry, something Pitino wasn’t about to entertain immediately after the loss.

Doubtless some momentum was lost with the eight-day layoff but UofL won’t have to wait for long, hosting Central Florida on Saturday and traveling to Houston on Wednesday. But wait, there’s still another eight-day vacuum after the Texas trip, just what the Cardinals don’t need going in February.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Cronin beats his old boss again

  • January 31, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Not blocking out, standing around and getting outrebound by 11 is not a way to win…especially against a team who hit 95% of its free throws!

    I always thought we’d miss Dieng more than Siva.
    Hopefully we’ll have some strength inside and rebounders in Stockman, Johnson and Onuaku.

    What’s the word on Michal Cekovsky? Reading he’s better than Stockman. Is Louisville still in the hunt for Anas Osama Mahmoud? Anyone have an update on these big men? Thanks.

  • February 2, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    One bright spot: the return of the giant heads to the student section again…though they were ineffectual at distracting UC’s free throw shooters.

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