Gotta respect the opponent, especially when the foe has lost three games in a row, has its back against the wall, and is all juiced up about playing the No. 1 team. One team playing on adrenaline, the other all but resting on its laurels.
University of Louisville basketball entering the fray with a 9-0 record. Never resembling itself in 70-57 loss to Texas Tech in a nationally televised contest. One has to give credit to Texas Tech but has to wonder who couldn’t have handled the Cardinals this night.
Coach Chris Mack aware of leadership issues at guard. Indicating there's a lot of room for improvement, but not conveying confidence that that it's going to happen quickly.
The loss ending a 10-game winning streak for Louisville at Madison Square Garden, an embarrassing defeat in front of the prime time media influencers. Resembling a team from a season ago that was often unable to finish around the rim or make it through the second half.
Jordan Nwora, for example, back to the dazzle and shuffle from the hustle and muscle of the first nine games. Not finishing drives, taking early shots, questionable, awkward shots as well. No stepping up at crucial points, hard to find at crunch time.
Nwora topping his team with 14 points while making only four of 16 shots from the field, and five of seven from the free throw line. The lowest scoring output this season in which he was averaging 21 points per game. Definitely not prepared for that Texas Tech defense, not making himself available often enough on offense. Not valuing the basketball, oh my, coughing up the ball four different times.
Steven Enoch, the big guy consistently providing reason for caution when he gets the ball, not taking advantage of his brawn around the basket for easy layups. Preferring those difficult shots, the hooks, the jumpers, often favoring for 3-point shots instead of layups (though not this game). No telling what he going to do when he passes the ball, tallying three turnovers in his latest outing.
Darius Perry, still not comfortable playing point guard, not adept at communicating with his teammates, not necessarily leading from behind but not leading from the point either. Not a great stat line, not with zero assists, six turnovers and four fouls. Erratic and inconsistent.
Coach Chris Mack aware of leadership issues at guard. Indicating there’s a lot of room for improvement, but not conveying confidence that that it’s going to happen quickly.
A weird feel early on that Louisville wasn’t quite prepared for a scrappy Texas Tech team. Giving up a seven-point lead early, never to aggressively challenge the Red Raiders again.
A bad loss to mediocre team driven by adrenaline, providing a wakeup call and an ugly fall from the No. 1 ranking. Probably better for a loss now than later this month. Chris Mack should have the full attention of his troops for a while. The schedule continues to only become more challenging.