CRAWFORD | Harrell, Rozier named All-ACC, and nine other post U - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Harrell, Rozier named All-ACC, and nine other post U of L-UVa thoughts

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It was the biggest win of the season for the University of Louisville basketball team, and the best basketball the Cardinals have played all season.

By now, everybody knows the story of Mangok Mathiang's big shot. But there were more stories than that in the aftermath of the Cardinals' 59-57 win over No. 2 Virginia Saturday night.

Let's look at some of them.

1. ACC MEDIA VOTED HARRELL AND ROZIER SECOND-TEAM ALL-ACC. The first responses I've gotten to Montrezl Harrell being voted a second-team all-conference player in a vote of ACC media have been incredulous. But the league had a number of great performances this season. Boston College's Olivier Hanlan was the league's overall leading scorer. Malcolm Brogdon of Virginia was the best player on the league's best team. Rakeem Christmas was the league's most improved player and led the league and ranked third in the league in scoring and fourth in rebounding. Jahlil Okafor of Duke was the first freshman ever named ACC player of the year and Jerian Grant not only was Notre Dame's leading scorer but led the ACC in assists at 6.7 per game. Harrell averaged fewer points than Christmas (15.8) put more rebounds, but was outscored 29-15 in a loss in their only head-to-head meeting. Regardless, second team in this league, given the individual performances this season, is a high honor, as it was for Rozier, who finished the regular season with a 17.0 scoring average. Louisville, Virginia and Duke were the only three teams with two players on the first and second teams. For a full list of the teams, click here. The ACC coaches all-conference teams will be announced tomorrow.

2. AGAINST VIRGINIA, LOUISVILLE TRAILED FOR ONLY 1:09. Against a team that has been the most consistently dominant as any recent ACC champion, the Cardinals grabbed a lead and held it for nearly an entire game, then when pushed, responded in a big way. Rick Pitino admitted, matchups are going to go a long way into how long a postseason this is for U of L, but beating the clear No. 2 team in the nation should provide a good object lesson for Pitino to use going forward. There aren't many teams U of L can't beat. But there's very little margin of error. Attention to scouting report and execution will be everything.

3. A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY FROM THE FIVE SPOT. Louisville's centers combined for just eight points and six rebounds. But they went 4-4 from the field and didn't get dominated defensively. When they did struggle to rotate and block shots, it was because guards were beaten off the dribble — but even that happened less against Virginia than it has in the past several games. And of course, Mathiang's lone field goal attempt was a big one.

4. STAT LINE COMPARISON. Terry Rozier and Quentin Snider went a combined 8 of 14 for 22 points against Virginia. They went a combined 6 of 21 for 17 points against Notre Dame. Lesson: less is more. Pitino wanted his guards to focus on running the offense, and for the most part against Virginia, they did, with positive results.

5. REVIEWS ON THE SIMPLIFIED ZONE WERE POSITIVE. Pitino explained his changes in the U of L defense.

“We have a very complex system defensively where we have three different presses and we go man, zone, (and if the) ball goes to certain spots we go back to man, (and when the) ball goes back out we go back to zone,” Pitino said. “All we were doing is confusing our own guys. We were okay with Chris (Jones). Once Quentin had to go in there, it's too many changes for a freshman to have to come in and play that many minutes. I took out the (defensive) film of the T-Will (Terrence Williams) Era, and I showed them exactly what I wanted them to do defensively in this situation. We messed up a few times, but what happens with the way we're playing is, the forwards have to play the high post. When a guard bumps the forward, he doesn't go low. Wayne, if you remember, played the low post, the center came up and played the high post, Wayne tried to front him and they got over the top. That's why you don't do that unless you have Syracuse-type wings."

“I just think that guys like Quentin and some of the young guys, they have to think too much. It was very easy for the veterans. They love confusing the opponent. They love the fact that the shot clock is running down and they don't know what to run. These guys, when we lost Chris, they were just not capable of doing that. A lot of coaches call it dumbing it down. It's not dumbing it down, it's just limiting, just giving a few defensive options so they don't have to think, they can just react. That's why we got our deflections. One of the reasons why we haven't been getting our deflections is guys are thinking too much rather than just playing aggressive basketball.”

6. SNIDER IMPROVED DEFENSIVELY. One of the biggest problems against Notre Dame was Snider getting beat off the dribble. Against Virginia, that happened much less.

“He took a quantum leap tonight in what we want him to do,” Pitino said.

7. PITINO GUARDED THE INBOUNDS PASS. With a one-point lead and 2.7 seconds left and Virginia having to go the length of the court, everyone looked to the baseline to see if Pitino would repeat his strategy from Duke, 1992, when he didn't put a man on the ball. He'll probably never repeat that strategy again, if only because he's tired of being asked about it. He put 7-footer Anas Mahmoud on the ball, and Virginia's three-quarter-court pass was errant and sailed out of bounds — even though Pitino said his team made a mistake in its defense by letting itself get taken out by a screen.

“You can still lose a game,” Pitino said. “I told our guys, `We're going to get this deflection, and we're going to get the steal, we are not letting them get a shot off.' I remember that one other time in my life."

8. ACC TOURNAMENT LOOK-AHEAD. With the win, U of L secured the double-bye, but no matter what happened Saturday, the Cards figured to be on a collision course with North Carolina.

Boston College and Georgia Tech will play in the ACC Tournament opener on Tuesday at 2 in Greensboro, N.C. The winner of that game will get North Carolina at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The winner of that game gets Louisville at 2 p.m. Thursday.

In the most recent Bracket Matrix, U of L is listed as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UNC is a No. 5. So a potential ACC Tournament meeting could have big seeding ramifications. Either way, U of L could find itself set up for another potential Sweet 16 collision with Kentucky, depending on how the final-hours bracket adjustments go.

9. ODDS AND ENDS. No. 2 ranked Virginia is the highest-ranked opponent to fall in the KFC Yum! Center. The win improved U of L to 26-5 in the month of March over the past four years. But think about this: This win was U of L's first over an opponent ranked in the AP Top 5 since beating Michigan State in the 2012 NCAA Sweet 16.

10. SENIOR CLASS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. It's easy to forget, this could have been Senior Day for Chane Behanan, and for Kevin Ware (as well as Angel Nunez and Zach Price). Instead, Blackshear was a one-man senior class. As such, it's the second-winningest class in school history, with a 120-29 record. It would need only two more wins to be the winningest class in school history.

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