CRAWFORD | Red Flags: Looking at what didn't go right for Kentuc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Red Flags: Looking at what didn't go right for Kentucky and Louisville

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Louisville's Chris Jones tries to shoot over Aaron Harrison of Kentucky. Louisville's Chris Jones tries to shoot over Aaron Harrison of Kentucky.
 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — One of the great ideas for a book in recent years came from former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight: The Power of Negative Thinking.

I'm going to exercise some of that for a few minutes here. Obviously, for a Louisville team that fell to UK 58-50 at the KFC Yum! Center today, there are areas for concern. But even the Wildcats had a few weak areas exposed.

What went right? Read Eric Crawford's Silver Lining Playbook from the game

These lists won't be equal, because there's more work to do for Louisville, but here's a look at the negative from Saturday's game:


One assist in 40 minutes? That can't be how the game plan was drawn up. The bottom line is that, in the absence of a take-over player with the ball, this team is going to have to move the ball. Montrezl Harrell at least needs to touch it, and there were many possessions today in which he didn't — and not just because of Kentucky defensive pressure. The Cardinals seemed to content to shoot off the bounce — and UK coach John Calipari was happy to let them.

“We didn't let them get to the rim,” Calipari said. “We made them take a lot of jump shots, which is what our game plan was. We played pick and roll different than we've played it all year. We backed up our big men and just went in the lane and said, 'We're going to let you take jump shots.' 

“We were trying to get them to shoot. And then that meant that we spread out and they took those passes. Most of that stuff was going to be on the bounce, which means you don't get an assist."

Think about this: Louisville used an average of 18 seconds on each possession. UK used 22 per possession. It actually was the Cardinals who were looking to quicken the pace on offense. They might've benefited from a little more passing before driving into lanes or launching jumpers.

2. REBOUNDING REGRESSION. The only statistical edge U of L had in the game was its offensive rebounding prowess versus UK's lack of effectiveness on the defensive glass. That was a mirage in the first half, with UK limiting the Cardinals to seven offensive boards. One thing UK did to limit Harrell on the glass was doubling him in all rebound situations, making it difficult for him even if he did come down with the ball. The Cardinals' struggles on the defensive glass were just as glaring, however, Terry Rozier waded in for eight rebounds, but Chris Jones wasn't able to pull down as many as he usually does against UK's longer lineup, and Wayne Blackshear had just one rebound in 35 minutes.

3. THE FIVE SPOT. U of L's centers just didn't get anything going. Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang combined for 0 points (on 0-5 shooting) and 10 rebounds, but only three on the offensive glass. They also had three of the team's nine turnovers. The Cards needed more than that, and will need more going forward.

4. CHRIS JONES. He scored 13 points on 15 shots and while he worked hard defensively just didn't get the offense moving the way it needed to in order to challenge a team of Kentucky's quality. He had the team's only assist, but needed more. He took some wild jumpers that might as well have been turnovers. 

5. THE BENCH. This will be short, because in essence, there wasn't one for the Cardinals. Pitino essentially used two reserves, Mathiang and Aaron. The UK bench outscored U of L's 27-3. Anas Mahmoud did not play. Nor did Anton Gill. Quentin Snider played only one minute. Some of these players are going to have to develop into contributing roles, or it's going to be a long season for the Cardinals.

6. SHOOTING. Yes, UK deserves a ton of credit for the defense it played. A lot of times, no block is recorded, but a shot is altered. And that's especially the case when Willie Cauley-Stein is in the game. Still, the Cards went 0-for-4 on layups in the first half. Chances to score against UK are too hard to come by to blow what few opportunities you get at the rim when you create them.

7. ACTING. Jones had a second-half flop that was an all-timer, falling hard to the court after a rebound by Dakari Johnson. It was this blatant a flop: Manchester United has inquired about rights to Jones.


At one point, with UK up 50-42 late in the game, Calipari had to yell at Andrew Harrison for leaving the team huddle. On one late three, the entire Kentucky bench sprang to its feet, save for Harrison, who sulked on the bench. It shouldn't be overblown, but it does bear watching. Calipari knows, one of the few things that could seriously challenge his team is internal dissension. Expect him to step in and do something to address this quickly. He already was about that business after the game.

“They are not machines, they are not computers, Calipari said. “I told (Harrison) that I loved him and I had his back and that he is still my point guard. `Stop being down on yourself.' These kids, it's not fair being at Kentucky and what comes with it and what the expectations are. Then, everything you do is analyzed and it is not fair.”

2. LACK OF ATTACK. I don't want to say UK played too slow offensively, but in looking back at the game statistically, UK played slower than U of L on offense. A little bit quicker pace would've meant for more possessions, which likely would've meant a more comfortable scoring margin for the Wildcats. Still, that's something Calipari will have plenty of time to work on in the new year.

3. TURNOVERS. Three Wildcats had four or more turnovers, and it wasn't until freshman Tyler Ulis took the reins of the offense that things settled down. Andrew Harrison had six by himself. Again, it's nitpicking, and something that hasn't been a big problem for the Wildcats this season, but in looking at the handful of teams that might have a chance to derail UK at the season's end, it's something Calipari will want to watch going forward.

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