If Louisville’s first basketball loss was to happen this week, best that it comes at the hands of Georgetown University, conference foe or not.

University of Kentucky fans were salivating about ending the undefeated streak Saturday, having noted U of L’s less than convincing wins over College of Charleston, Memphis and Western Kentucky in recent games.

Not that a loss to UK is inevitable, but Louisville’s offensive shortcomings have become increasingly obvious. No loss is good but it does ensure Rick Pitino will have his team’s undivided attention in the days leading up to the showdown. Going into Rupp Arena undefeated would have practically guaranteed a defeat to the hated rival, inflating the flatulence of a wretched fan base.

But that’s getting off on a tangent, giving UK too much credit, which one should avoid at all costs. Louisville has become much too predictable on offense, too desperate on defense. All the bumping and grinding, the slapping and pawing doesn’t go over well with officials on the road … or against disciplined visiting offensive teams.

  • Those slippery moves of Peyton Siva down the lane are not as cutting edge or as marvelous as they once were, primarily because, for whatever reason, he’s not as quick now, almost in slow motion, easier to guard when defender know exactly what to expect. Good for drawing fouls now and then, but fewer as the novelty wears off for officiating crews.
  • Kyle Kuric is clearly the most dependable player on this team but 40 minutes is too much ask of him. With no other serious long-range shooting threats, the defense is quite content to focus on him. No Mike Mara or Wayne Blackshear around and Siva has quit hitting anything beyond the arc.
  • Chane Behanan can clean up the junk most of the time, but not consistently, and he’s not a threat from the outside. Rakeem Buckles, sorry, but his “improved” outside shot has yet to be manifest itself.
  • Gogui Dieng has improved, despite what Rick Pitino says lately. But the the competition thus far hasn’t provided him with the challenges that Georgetown brought. Tougher competition will make him better.
  • Russ Smith brings energy, plenty of it. Some offensive consistency would be a welcome addition.

No illusions going into Rupp but plenty of motivation and that should count for something.

 

Charlie Springer

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