I’ll admit it. After a terrific performance against Cornell, I thought Louisville may come out a little sluggish against Hartford. I felt this way for multiple reasons: 1. Hartford is team that likes to drag games out & burn the shot clock, etc. 2. I still have apprehension about the maturity of this team. But that wasn’t the case tonight, Louisville looked focused. The Cards held a 15 point lead over Hartford after the first media timeout and never got within 15 again.
It says a lot about a team – in November, nonetheless- to come out with a killer’s mentality. Keep in mind, there are many 18 to 20 year olds on this team. Upper tier teams will struggle with lesser opponents that shouldn’t have any business being on the floor with them. Want proof? Look at Kentucky’s early struggles tonight with Texas-Arlington tonight or even a veteran leaden Michigan State team that eked out a victory against Columbia. Point being – it happens. It does, however, appear that it may not happen with this Louisville team. The early, questionable losses may not happen with this Louisville team. They certainly appear to be a team that is going to give the same effort on a nightly basis. That’s not to say Louisville won’t struggle at times with teams they shouldn’t, but it looks less likely each time they take the court.
“They Just Don’t Let Up”
Hitting off the point above. Tonight gave me great clarity on what Kevin Keatts was talking about when he said this team might be ‘meaner’ than last year. After the departure of Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, he said they would lose some of their basketball smarts but may become more tenacious. Early in 2013-14: Louisville Has.
They just don’t let up. The constant harassment, the high D pressure, the alley-oops…this all when they are up by 20 points. It never ceases. If Louisville is not the best team in the Country, they will certainly be the most annoying.
That type of maturity & approach, is rare in College Basketball.
Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino says his team needs to ‘catch up defensively’. That may be true, but if that’s the case, it’s scary for the rest of College Basketball. Louisville forced 25 turnovers on Tuesday night. With each possession, it looked like they were working for their first one. That type of approach in November makes me wonder how scary this team will look in March & April.
Chane Behanan Gets Back in the Fold
Lost in the shuffle was a very solid game for Chane Behanan. For the first time since his returned, Behanan appeared to be rounding into his old form. Behanan played 19 minutes, one less than Stephen Van Treese who started over him. He was effective each time he touched the ball going 3-3 from the field.
Behanan finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assist and a turnover. A very solid stat line. Where Louisville needs Behanan the most is on the glass. An early trend that I have recognized with this team is a lot of looking at the ball instead of moving into position to grab a rebound. That was evident once again tonight as the Cardinals only out-rebounded a Hartford team by 5. A team they obviously over-matched in a major way.
Louisville needs to look to Behanan to overcome their most glaring and perhaps only weakness of rebounding. He’s shown he’s capable based on the Chane Behanan that played in Atlanta last season. At Louisville there has been two different Behanan’s: Regular Season Behanan and Post-Season Behanan. Louisville needs the latter more and more. If Louisville can get a constant effort from Behanan on the glass, I believe others will follow suit which will allow to make up for a lot of their inefficiencies on the glass.
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