Rick Pitino has been anticipating the day when his team’s defense caught up with the offense.

That time may have arrived this weekends for the University of Louisville basketball team with two blowout wins, coming on the heels of a second eight-day layoff.  An 82-58 thumping of Temple on Friday, followed by a 102-54 rout of Rutgers in front of 21,821 fans at the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday.

While he may have initially grumbled about the extra time between games, Pitino may have needed it to fully communicate what needs to happen on defense. Namely, to shut down the lane, challenge every dribble, every pass and every shot, every inch of the court.

Temple, a team that defeated Southern Methodist earlier on Sunday, obviously wasn’t as bad as it had looked in a 24-point loss to UofL on Friday. Dalton Pepper, the senior guard held to six points by the Cardinals, broke loose for 24 against the 23rd-ranked Mustangs. The Rutgers’ tandem of Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, averaging 15.4 and 14.2 points, respectively, per game, would be held to 10 points each by the Cardinals.

It’s the kind of defensive effort Pitino anticipates, demands and expects, the kind of defense that has served him well throughout his career. As with some of the familiar offensive shortcomings on some of his past team, he absolutely has to have an overwhelming defensive presence with the current version.

Sometimes it just takes a little more time to get there but the defense may have arrived just when UofL will need it most.

 

Charlie Springer

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