A team meeting, a home court and DePaul, just what the doctor ordered.
Along with an extra-strength dose of the Smith brothers for a stuffed-up offense that was coughing up phlegm just a few days ago, wheezing and whining, a team many had declared was on life support.
Chris Smith, the player who called the meeting, and Russ Smith, who no doubt wanted someone to talk with besides Rick Pitino, would provide the ingredient the Louisville offense had been missing, players looking for the basket, creating opportunities for themselves and their teammates to score.
Russ Smith would score 25 points while handing out six assists, playing like his old self on offense, so what if he did take 22 shots? The kid brings excitement with every shot.
Rick Pitino taking note of Russ’s resilience on defense, including four steals, granting him a whopping 34 minutes of playing time. Sure to erase the pain of those 32 minutes on the end of the bench at Providence.
Chris Smith providing a much-needed three-point punch, hitting four out of five attempts. Making a key stop on defense when DePaul was within a basket of cutting the deficit to five. Having spoken up at the meeting, we doubt he’s going to be doing any disappearing acts, at least not while riding the positive vibes from that crucial confab.
Gorgui Dieng, who was probably puzzled by what happened at Providence, was back at full strength, responding in kind to his re-energized teammates. That total of 14 rebounds is a thing of beauty, as was the fact that U of L finally out-rebounded another team (by eight rebounds).
Peyton Siva appeared to be a little quicker, stronger, and more surefooted in this game, rarely showing the effects of the ankle sprain. Fast enough to make six steals, but sadly equaled by six turnovers … and more inadequate shooting.
If Siva ever hits that next three-point attempt, many more good ones will follow, and few fans will be surprised. No prescription for that, just time and he’s gaining on it. Going to need Siva at his best when these teams meet again in Chicago in four weeks.