Pitino finally gets a long look at his depth

Things are going well for University of Louisville basketball when the bench contributes 18 points as it did in UofL’s 78-63 win over Virginia Tech. Not one starter playing more than 30 minutes.

Mangok Mathiang breaks out.
Mangok Mathiang breaks out.

On and off again benchee Mangok Mathiang would set the tone for the game, shocking himself, his coach, the home crowd and the visiting Hokies with a slam dunk and a layup for UofL’s first four points, following them up with a steal, a rebound and two blocks in the first six minutes. He scored 10 of his career high 11 points in the first half.

Coach Rick Pitino would take advantage of the romp to give eight reserves a total of 58 minutes of sorely needed playing time, led by Quentin Snider with 17 minutes and Jaylen Johnson with 11 minutes apiece. Johnson would add six points, including a dunk, but Snider couldn’t buy a basket.

Shaqquan Aaron would get only seven minutes, taking full advantage, making good on two of four 3-point attempts for six points.

Pitino would grant Chinanu Onuaku, who had started against North Carolina, only three minutes of playing time, disappointed with his execution and effort. “We’ve got to get more out of Chinanu,” he said after the game. The coach wants instant impact from the 6-foot-10, 230-pound freshman when he gets in there — or he’s out of there.

— Chris Jones looking more and more like a point guard, embracing the role, passing up shots he used to take, looking for his teammates, handing out 11 assists while settling for seven points.

— Terry Rozier, continuing to hone his considerable skills, making six of 12 field goal attempts, including four 3-pointers for a game high 16 points.

— Montrezl Harrell, finally getting one of those rim rattlers midway through the second half, may be trying too hard to add to his record, aching after the game, nursing a hand, a knee and probably his butt on those dunking attempts. (No news is good news on his injury status.) He would wind up with 11 ponts, eight rebounds and three blocks.

— Wayne Blackshear, the ultimate role player, making six of 10 field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers for 15 points.

Louisville needed a game in which it could get some playing time for its reserves, develop some depth. Duke, Miami, Virginia, Pittsburgh and North Carolina State are straight ahead. One or two of those unfamiliar faces may actually see the floor over the next couple of weeks.

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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.

One thought on “Pitino finally gets a long look at his depth

  • January 13, 2015 at 10:27 pm
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    A game to relish, for sure. Made even more enjoyable by the most pleasing commentators of recent telecasts. And kudos to whoever chose and showed all those beautiful shots of downtown Louisville. Go Cards!

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