If no one wipes that smile off Hareem Thabeet’s face, UConn will be foisting another NCAA banner in Hartford.

What’s bothersome is that Thabeet never works up a sweat. Just stands beneath the basket, blocking a few shots, making a few tip-ins, intimidating a few smaller inexperienced players. He is definitely a good free throw shooter, thanks to all the opportunities.

When one is 7-foot-3, one doesn’t have to be a good basketball player. Just don’t do anything stupid, which he doesn’t do, probably because the Tanzanian native is still fairly new to the game, not learning bad habits, but absorbing the coaching.

If Thabeet ever does become a good player, UConn could challenge a few of Johnny Wooden’s old UCLA teams.

— UConn coach Jim Calhoun says Rick Pitino made a mistake by pressuring his guards. Calhoun is dead wrong: pressure defense is Louisville’s game, the reason the Cards won nine consecutive games and are ranked among the top 10. Take away the pressure defense and Louisville is an average team.

One noticeable difference in Pitino’s approach was that Preston Knowles and Andre McGee were rarely on the floor at the same time. If there was a mistake, it may have been in not using the defensive combination that greatly exceeded expectations during the win streak. Put the microwave guards in at the same time, the pressure is multiplied by 10.

— Terrence Williams feeling it, obviously on his way to a special game before collecting two early fouls. His teammates, however, were apparently still thawing out from the weather emergency, their shooting still in the deep freeze.

— Is anyone else pleasantly surprised every time Earl Clark hits anything but a layup or dunk? He’s a physical specimen for sure, but two years of not taking full advantage of all the learning opportunities catches up with him at the most inopportune times. Those early morning solo sessions in the practice center need to become more intense. Two of 16 field goal attempts. Not good.

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By Charlie Springer

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

13 thoughts on “Lights Out: UConn 68, Louisville 51”
  1. A very good run is over…in a big way.

    Frustrating…not just with the loss, but with how they got the lost.

    A huge pat on the back for T-Will. Wow. Knowles and Jennings looked like they wanted to win too. But no others.

    Earl Clark. 1-16 shooting? what? He did nothing. Wonder if the row of NBA scouts was on his mind?? He was as cold as the ice storm. I would’ve put him on the bench a lot sooner and given Jennings the minutes.

    Kuric played 16 minutes? Why? 0-1 in shooting when he was in the game.

    Defense. What defense?…CT 24 free throws…us 2. CT with four players in double figures.

    Let’s hope they get back in the groove next game and when they head to South Bend.

    Go Cards!

  2. UConn is a very good basketball team that plays consistently well, not counting on the other team’s mistakes to do well themselves. Good offensively and defensively. U of L is good on defense, horrible on offense, with only one half decent shooter in Terrence Williams. We need more shooters, plain and simple. Come on Swopshire, get developed.

  3. As Pitino said, and it was painfully obvious…we did not match up well with UConn. The freshmen centers no match for the 7’3″ Thabeet. Forward Jeff Adrian schooled Earl on both ends of the court. The guards just weren’t quick enough or sly enough for the most part to keep UConn from breaking our trapping press. Thank god for T-Wiil. 26 out of the 51 points. The rest…besides Knowles….intimidated and schooled by the crisp playmaking of UConn. I’m really beginning to hate that state…

  4. LOL. Good one, CB. I have yet to figure out why Earl Clark still thinks he is a point guard. He got a taste of what awaits him in the NBA by playing against Thatbeet and Adrien last night. Nothing there to show me he’s ready to move on to the next level. Our motion offense was mostly ineffective against the Huskies and pure and simple, wewere intimidated underneath. Still, we lost to #1 in the country. Not nearly as bas as losing to South Carolina on your home court. Anyone who thought we would roll thru the Big East undefeated needs to share their meds with me. I do wish Rick would run some more plays that get the ball down low to E5. Then, again, after last night maybe there is a reason why he doesn’t. I’ve seen Otis Campbell stumble thru the Mayberry jail with more accuracy and purpose than the way Earl tried to attack the Huskies last night. Tear off the rear view mirror and trudge on, Cards.

  5. I can’t understand why none of our big guys tried to challange Thabeet in close with a pump fake. Samardo weighs the same as Thabeet and is more compact. If you get him off his feet, it allows you to initiate contact. Even if Thabeet blocks it, you still have a chance to get the foul call. Gonzaga managed to foul Thabeet out, but lost in overtime. Greg Monroe of Georgetown was able to score 16 against Thabeet. He was 2-2 from 3-point land, which required Thabeet to come out away from the basket to guard him. Fall-away shots by Samardo and others in close are what Thabeet feeds on. I just can’t figure out why one of the bigs didn’t try to go up strong against him. We played right into their hands by setting up around the perimeter and not going hard to the basket (except for T-Will). Their guards could play close to our shooters, because they knew we were afraid to drive past them and take it into the lane against Thabeet.

  6. Thabeet not a good player? Come on now…
    He was dominating. Like Vitale kept saying “Duke this, Duke that…” er, I mean “Having Thabeet on your team is worth twenty points whether he scores or not.” Just think how close we were to getting that guy. What could have been…

  7. A couple of rebuttals to points made above.

    1. Kuric played 16 minutes because T-Will got two fouls in the first 2:30 of the game and only played 10 minutes in the first half.

    2. Samuels tried pump faking Thabeet alot and it didn’t work. Thabeet didn’t go for them and Samuels ended up travelling half the time.

    3.We only took two free throws all game because it is difficult to get fouled when you don’t drive the ball to the basket or get shots out of the post. Most of our shots were jump shots from 12-21 feet.

  8. Thabeet is just big and muscular, and if that counts as being good, I guess he’s good. As 7-foot-3 players go, and there haven’t been that many, he rates as average. His primary strength is that he doesn’t do dumb things, like maybe a Ricky Gallon. I would never put him in the class of a Lew Alcindor (his Muslim name eludes me).

  9. No shame in losing to a great team who deserves their #1 ranking. TWill always gives 100% – for the life of me, I can’t understand some/a lot of the coaching decisions that were made last night. LOL at CB’s crack about signaling for fair catch…and yes, why or why is E5 playing at guard??? Someone, anyone please tell me why. He is NOT a guard and seems so uncomfortable playing at that position. He was horrible last night and his stock must have plummeted unless he can pick up his game and quit making such stupid decisions on the court. Oh well, like I said – no shame in losing to a team as good as UConn. We’ll regroup. Go CARDS!

  10. “2. Samuels tried pump faking Thabeet alot and it didn’t work. Thabeet didn’t go for them and Samuels ended up travelling half the time.”

    Scott, I agree with you that Samuels tried to pump fake Thabeet a couple of times and it didn’t work. The sad truth is that Samardo’s pump fakes don’t even work against the 6’6″ guys who were guarding him early in the season either (and they blocked his shot, too). Samardo’s pump fakes aren’t very good. He needed to try to simply initiate contact against Thabeet and hope we get some foul calls. Guys like DeJuan Blair, who is an inch shorter than Samardo do it very well and manages to score points against Thabeet and last year against Roy Hibbert. But the other guys who are more explosive like Terrence Jennings and Earl Clark were afraid to pump fake or try to initiate contact either. You’ve got to challenge Thabeet because he eats fall-away shots for breakfast. Not saying he won’t send some shots back at you, but Blair and Greg Monroe were able to put up respectable numbers against him, and Gonzaga managed to foul him out in 19 minutes of play.

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