It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky, then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. And at age 6 he already loves his Cardinals. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great one. We have one of the best and it deserves the credit.
This is one of those games that you could analyze to death and a player comes out of nowhere and scores 20 points to turn things upside down. I just hope that player is a Louisville Cardinal this year. You keep hearing a lot about Ray Spalding and Ryan McMahon being guys that could have a big impact in this game. Ray will have to play an important role and I think Ryan will hit some big shots.
The guy not getting much attention this week is Jordan Nwora. He is only averaging 5.5 points a game so far, this season but I do think he could be the guy that comes out of nowhere. Nwora looked great in the season opener hitting 3 Big 3-point shots in that one. I can see him have that kind of game tomorrow. He has the size and the athleticism to give the UK defense trouble on the wings.
We are one of the few teams in the nation that can match their size all over the court. According to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced analytics Louisville is ranked 7th in average height and UK is ranked 4th. In effective height the Cardinals are ranked 13th while the Cayuts are ranked 23rd.
Anytime the Cardinals get a win in Rupp Arena they win the rebound battle and hit their free-throws. This Louisville team has struggled at times on the boards. They can’t afford to do that tomorrow. This is one of the best free-throw shooting teams we’ve had.
This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both teams. Each must play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. Should be another great one in the series…
I didn’t get the dominant win that I wanted today but enjoyed a dominant performance by Ray Spalding. He put up one of the most impressive stat lines of the season today with 21 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocked shots and 3 steals. When Ray Spalding plays at this level this team can beat anyone in the country. Give me double-double Ray and I really like our chances Friday.
I would have liked to see a more complete game today but overall really can’t complain. This team had their world turned upside down to start this season. They have now won 6 straight and only dropped 2 games during this non-conference stretch. These kids seem focused. There was a local reporter trying to bait a few of the players today in the locker room. He asked them about Quade Green’s comment about beating Louisville for Christmas. None of our guys took the bait and each was very businesslike in their response.
This team has a lot of positive momentum and if they can keep improving they will be very good. Happy Holidays folks!
I’d love to caution fans that not every team is as good as they appear or as bad as they appear during this time of the season. Most teams are still learning to play together, and guys are still adjusting to their roles on the team. Who will take the big shot and what five do you want on the floor when the game is on the line.
Folks will snarl when they think about this game thinking that the Cardinals should have won by 20. Yes, a 20-point win would have been nice, but I don’t think that would have helped this team get better. The Cardinals have shown that there is still more than enough talent to be a serious ACC contender despite all the chaos. But there are still issues with consistency, which has allowed teams such as George Mason, Omaha, St. Francis, Memphis and now Albany to hang around. Albany was not a pushover team, they are experienced, solid offensively and have victories over Iona, Yale and more than hung in their game against Memphis.
The Cardinals found themselves down with just minutes to go in the game. That scenario provided an opportunity for Coach Padgett to see what five guys he wants on the floor in those situations moving forward. And it provided an opportunity to see what guys are going to step up in those moments. Ryan McMahon showed that he can hit the big shot. He hit several of them tonight with 15 points. He was 5-8 from the three-point line. Ray Spalding also hit a big shot down the stretch.
Our bigs struggled tonight especially rebounding the basketball. But credit some of that to a crafty Albany group who used technique to out-rebound the much bigger Cardinals. Those guys blocked out. Our guys tried to use their size advantage instead of their technique. But Learned tonight that doesn’t get the job done.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win… I’d rather have an ugly win than a loss any day of the week. I bet North Carolina fans would have rather had an ugly win tonight. This Louisville team is a work in progress and they will learn all season. I’m just going to enjoy the ride.
It really was a game of two halves tonight in the Yum Center. The Cardinals couldn’t find any answers on the offensive end of the floor during the first half and were out-rebounded by a much smaller Siena team. At times they just out-hustled the home team.
Give Coach Padgett an A tonight on his half time adjustments. Don’t know what he said to the guys, but they came back out for the second half playing with more intensity on both ends of the floor. The shots started falling and the Cardinals started taking the ball to the basket with some authority. They started using their size and athleticism to overpower the saints out-scoring them 47-24.
Siena Head Coach Jimmy Patsos is a character… he used a horse racing analogy to describe his team’s effort during the post-game. And he praised the Louisville team saying that their defense was a lot better than he thought coming in. Coach Patsos also said something about how every team builds towards the post season. Truth…
This Louisville team is a long way from reaching their true potential. They are going to lose games and have horrible halves of basketball like they did tonight. It’s the process. I believe in Coach Padgett and I believe in these players. I’m going to support them win or lose. It’s time to FAN UP.
Ray and Anas played in another gear tonight. Ray had a great stat line with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks and 4 steals. That’s hustle. Anas was one block from a triple-double. He had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 blocks. Going to need this kind of effort out of these guys every night. Especially in ACC play.
At this point in the early season the player that has me the most excited is Jordan Nwora. This kid is going to be a beast. You really must see him in person to appreciate his size. With that size and agility, he is a real weapon. He provided a spark tonight with 11 points.
It was hard to watch at times, but it was nice to see the Cardinals get back in the win column. Hopefully they will carry some of that momentum from the second half tonight into the game on Saturday against Hoosiers.