Louisville thrives as the streakiest team in the country

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For 30 minutes of Saturday afternoon’s 74-69 loss to No. 16 Louisville, No. 12 Syracuse was the best team on the floor.

The Orange took a 26-19 lead with five minutes left in the first half, and for the final 15 minutes of the game, Syracuse outscored Louisville 32-16.

The problem?

Those middle ten minutes. Over the last five minutes of the first half, the Cardinals outscored Syracuse 21-4. Over the first five minutes of the second half, Louisville went on a 17-7 run. All told, the Cardinals outscored Syracuse 38-11 during that ten minute stretch.

And that is precisely why Louisville is such a dangerous team.

I said this on twitter during the game, but there is not a more “spurtable” team in the country than Louisville. They thrive on momentum, but there is more to it than that. Louisville is a pressing team, and a press is much more effective off of a made basket than off of a miss. When they score, they are a much better defensive team. Force a turnover, get an easy bucket, and all of a sudden the Cardinals are energized and their opponent is flustered.

Louisville is also a streaky team from beyond the arc. Their threes come in bunches. It seems like when one players can hit one or two, the entire team gets more confidence. It didn’t help matters that the Syracuse zone has proven to be utterly inept at defending the arc the past month.

The tendency of a team that is getting pressed is to rush, even when the press is broken and the ball gets over half court. Its takes quality point guard play to settle into an offensive possession, and the knock of Syracuse this season is that Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche are not great point guards.

Louisville is the kind of team that is never going to be out of a game. Between the multitude of three point shooters on their roster and the way this team buys into what Rick Pitino wants to do defensively, Louisville can overcome their lack of individual talent by playing as a team.

Imagine what will happen in the next couple of seasons when Pitino brings in some top level talent.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

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“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.