CRAWFORD | Rozier rolls, and more: Eight thoughts on Louisville' - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Rozier rolls, and more: Eight thoughts on Louisville's win at Miami

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — By now, everyone knows that University of Louisville sophomore Terry Rozier is a Dwyane Wade disciple. Before the game, talking with Cardinals' play-by-play man Paul Rogers, U of L coach Rick Pitino said he thought Rozier would have a good night, playing in Wade's city.

He was not mistaken.

Rozier carried the Cardinal offense through a long stretch of the second half, scoring 12 straight points for U of L after Miami had trimmed a 13-point deficit to four with 12:55 to play. From the 15:50 mark in the second half until just 1:50 remained in the game, no other Cardinal scored a point.

Rozier made half of U of L's second-half field goals and finished with 22 points and six rebounds to lead the Cardinals to their fourth straight win, 63-55, before a crowd of 6,563 in the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

But the Cards were more than just Rozier. Chris Jones had a magnificent all-around game. Some other thoughts on the win:

1. JONES HAD HIS BEST STAT LINE OF THE SEASON. The Cardinals' point guard didn't shoot it as well as he has been, but take a look at his final line: 16 points, 8 rebounds, five assists, six steals. He was great in every phase. As good as Rozier has been, Pitino keeps reminding people how well Jones is playing.

“He had a tremendous game,” Pitino told Bob Valvano in his One Tom Drexler Coach's Corner postgame radio show. “You know what I think of Terry. He's absolutely awesome. What's being overshadowed is how great Chris is playing. Terry's the lovable teddy. Everybody wants to love on Terry Rozier because he's lovable guy. Chris is the little bulldog who — fans don't understand how good that kid is, because his stamina is like nothing I've seen before. Peyton Siva had that type of stamina, but Chris is doing everything for us.  At the end of the game, he's fronting a 7-footer, and still won't let him catch it. He deserves a lot of credit.”

Pitino also gave Jones credit for keeping Miami guard Angel Rodriguez in check. Rodriguez finished with six points on 2-of-9 shooting and fouled out late.

2. HARRELL HAMMERED, BUT COMES BACK. Montrezl Harrell took a couple of hard spills, one of which made him leave the game — for a whole minute — but could not be deterred. He finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, made a couple of perimeter jumpers and collected a couple of big rebounds late. He also blocked a pair of shots.

“Montrezl got a little tired and gave up two threes, but obviously I'm not giving him a blow,” Pitino said. “He's playing like a warrior. It's a major drop-off for us right now, although the other guys are playing well.”

3. NO PRESS, NO PROBLEM. Pitino did an unusual thing against Miami — he backed off his press almost entirely. He did it when he saw that Jim Larranaga had inserted a graduate senior guard into the starting lineup.

“I gambled,” he told Valvano. “Once he changed his starting lineup to put more ball-handling in there, I knew they'd been working the entire day on the press. So we were going to take it off and play half-court defense.”

Instead, Pitino relied on a frequently-changing zone defense to slow down one of the most three-point oriented teams the nation.

4. FOUR-MAN GAME. All of U of L's scoring came from Rozier, Chris Jones, Harrell and Wayne Blackshear. The Miami bench outscored U of L's 30-0. Pitino said he doesn't mind using his young players, but that Miami's pick-and-roll offense made it difficult.

“I didn't sub much,” Pitino told Valvano. “. . . We tired a little bit in the second half and they picked it up. but they come back almost against everybody. They did it against Virginia. And we didn't let them. We put it away with good defense.”

Pitino said his reserves — particularly Quentin Snider, Shaqquan Aaron and Jaylen Jonnson — are playing better every day in practice, but that he was hesitant to use them on the road.

“In the beginning I was impressed with Anas (Mahmoud),” Pitino told Valvano. “I'm really impressed with Jaylen, Shaqqan and Quentin. The last week they've made our practices great, because the black team can't dominate them anymore. It's been exciting. We've had great practices.”

5. BLACKSHEAR SEALED THE DEAL. The senior captain only took five shots in the game, but made one of the biggest. After Miami had cut its deficit to three points (the end of a four-point run) with 2:06 left, Blackshear took the ball at the other end, drove from the top of the key straight into the lane, muscled a defender from in front of him and put up a six footer to push U of L back out by five.

And with 35 seconds left, Blackshear got a deflection that wound up as a steal for Jones, who hit two more free throws to put U of L up nine.

“Wayne made two great plays,” Pitino said.

6. HOT SHOOTING EARLY, DOGGED DEFENSE LATE. The Cards shot 68.2 percent in the first half (15-22) with execution Pitino called “brilliant.”

But fatigue got to them in the second, and they had to dig deeper on the defensive end. They did that by mixing their defensive looks.

In the half-court, as soon as Miami would start running its zone offense, U of L would match up man-to-man. If Miami went to its man offense, they would go back zone. All within the same possession. At the end of the game, they showed zone but actually played man-to-man on most possessions.

“With the exception of a couple of bonehead fouls at the end of the game,” Pitino said. “We played a beautiful game mentally.”

7. PITINO WITH A MESSAGE TO HIS FOUR FINAL-YEAR STARTERS. With the calendar turning over into the month of February, Pitino took his team on a bit of an extended road trip to Miami, getting them there a couple of days early for their Tuesday night tipoff. He told Valvano that he had them stop for a moment, and stressed for them to take everything in that happens over the next month, because in some ways, they'll never see anything like it again.

“You're all going to go pro or go into business someday,” Pitino said he told them. “This is the last time you ever get to do this on a road trip. Put your phones away. Montrezl, they will never, ever — no matter how good you are in the pros — cheer for you like these Louisville fans. Look at Russ Smith. This is it for you guys. You will never experience this ever again, no matter how good you become. Nobody will show you more love than the people of Louisville. Enjoy it while you have it. When you're on the road, enjoy it. You're never going to have friends like this. You know what's going to happen in the pros? Team's going to get off the bus. You're not going to have a meeting. Thirteen guys are going to order room service and you won't see those guys until shootaround the next day. Enjoy this. And make the most of it.”

8. NEXT UP: NO. 2 VIRGINIA. Rozier said the Cards won't need much motivation -- or much of a scouting report on Virginia, the team U of L will visit Saturday at 7 p.m.

"We feel like we know them," he told Paul Rogers on the Learfield Sports broadcast after the game. "Coach has been showing us film of their defense all year. They've been the example that he's shown us on how to do it."

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