This isn’t what Rick Pitino had in mind.
When Louisville came off back-to-back losses to Georgetown and Kentucky – their first two of the season – the Cardinals coach termed the next four games as essential to its Big East finish. Otherwise, the Cards could be in for a long two months.
It’ll be a long two months.
No. 14 Louisville lost its fourth game in the last five outings and in jaw-dropping fashion. A 90-59 loss at Providence certainly signals that the Cardinals (13-4) will be in for a long conference race, what with games at Marquette, Pitt, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Syracuse still remaining. (Not to mention the home games against Syracuse and UConn.)
Adding to those concerns? Louisville’s defensive performance against the Friars.
The Friars made 53 percent of their shots and boasted an eFG% of 61.3, by far the best anyone’s shot against Louisville. (Georgetown’s 55.2 was the previous high.) Their 1.33 points per possession also dwarfed the previous high (1.09, also the Hoyas).
To top it off, Louisville forced just 12 turnovers on roughly 68 possessions. Part of it’s certainly that Gorgui Dieng, their 6-11 shot-blocker, played just 18 minutes and Louisville played more zone than it normally would. But nothing seemed to work. And it came against one of the league’s worst teams.
“There’s always that one game a year you can’t explain,” Pitino said. “Nothing goes right, everything goes wrong and they do everything right.”
For a team that relies on its pressure defense to force turnovers for easy buckets and rarely allows an easy look at the basket (teams make just 37 percent of their twos vs. Louisville), that’s bad news. Louisville got outworked, doesn’t appear to be having any fun on the court and is a shell of the team that started 12-0. The offense has vanished the last four games and if the defense follows … well, that’s a scary thought.
Gonna be a long few months for those Cardinals.
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