BOZICH | Sounds of February: Louisville loses, but Virginia lose - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Sounds of February: Louisville loses, but Virginia loses more

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.. (WDRB) – This is what February sounds like in college basketball:

There is a coach criticizing his team for not following the plan they had worked on for the last three days. The coach repeats his criticism, strongly, on his post-game radio show. Then he repeats it again in his post-game press conference.

That coach is Rick Pitino.

His Louisville team lost to Virginia, 52-47, Saturday night.

Nobody admires the way Virginia plays more than Pitino, but Pitino departed John Paul Jones Arena convinced that Louisville did more to stop Louisville than Virginia did to stop Louisville.

On his post-game radio show, Pitino told Paul Rogers of WHAS that his team played too much one-on-one basketball.

“I don't think I've been this upset since we lost on Senior Night at Kentucky one time (in 1997),” Pitino said. “Because we worked really, really hard on an offensive game plan to move the ball, create movement and not go one-on-one early in the shot clock.

“And all we kept doing was breaking the offense and they just refused to believe that Virginia is the best defensive team in the country.”

When Rogers suggested that the second half was better because Louisville made 52 percent of its shots while scoring 34 points after scoring 13 points while shooting 19 percent in the first half, Pitino had an answer.

“I told you, we ran our freaking offense,” he said. “That's why we shot well. We didn't go one-on-one. We had openings in the gaps, and we ran an offense.

“When you just go one-on-one against Virginia, you're not going to score. It had nothing to do with us shooting the ball better, it had to do with running an offense.”

There is a player wondering when some of the substitutes on this U of L team are going to play as if they belong on one of the best teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He doesn't deliver his request harshly, but there is a firmness in his voice.

That player is Chris Jones, the Cards' senior guard.

He is one of only four Louisville players to make a field goal in roughly the Cards' last 2 ½ games. Basketball, as invented by Dr. James Naismith, is a five-man game. The Cards are getting nothing from their starting center or bench. This is not a new development.

“That's for other players to step up and take care of their business,” Jones said. “We got four main players. I understand guys come off the bench and try to do their role, but you've got to chip in.

“But if Terry comes out and Anton (Gill) goes in you've got to do what Terry did. If I come out and Quentin (Snider) comes in, Quentin got to pick up where I left off. It's just something guys got to figure out.

“Coach will get it together. We'll get it together. It's the beginning of February. It's just something where we've all got to come together as one.”

I asked if the issue outside the Big Four of Rozier, Jones, Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell was confidence. Outside of those four, the others took four shots and made none. They did not get to the foul line. They contributed nine rebounds, but also turned the ball over three times in a combined 59 minutes.

“A lot of young guys, when you don't play a lot, you tend to drop your head, lack of confidence like you said,” Jones said. “They'll get through it.”

There are two players sitting alone in one section of the locker room. First one coughs. Then the other one coughs louder. Then the other tugs on his shirt and coughs into it.

One player is Terry Rozier.

The other is Chris Jones.

Rozier had the more persistent cough. But Jones said he vomited during the first-half.

That is what February sounds like in a college basketball locker room after a team loses a game it believes it could have won.

But before any conclusions are delivered, remember these things:

Louisville was one of seven Top 25 teams that lost Saturday. Duke is the only visiting team that has won in this building.

If you check the ACC standings, you'll notice that U of L (19-4, 7-3) is tied with the Blue Devils for fourth place. Some of the wise guys will tell you that Duke is one of the teams that can win the national title if Kentucky somehow stumbles.

Virginia (9-1) has two fewer losses than any other ACC but an ACC championship is not the thing people were talking about in this town Saturday night. Sometime in the first half, Justin Anderson, Virginia's leading scorer and most athletic player, broke a finger in his left (shooting) hand.

He missed eight of nine shots – and he also missed the entire second half.  Virginia looked vulnerable without him. Now Anderson will have surgery and miss four-to-six weeks.

So if you're Louisville you take the coughs and the invisible bench and the failure to follow the game plan, and you wonder if you had a better night than Virginia had Saturday night. Louisville lost, but Virginia might have lost more.

That is what February sounds like in a college basketball locker room.

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